To people like himself who joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man yet find a different law in the members of their bodies, waging war against the law of their minds and making them prisoners of the law of sin which is in their members Paul says,
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
To people like himself who have the principle of evil present in them , wretched men that they are, he says,
….do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant….
It is no wonder (I am being facetious) then to a people who on the one hand, they with their with minds, are serving the law of God, but on the other, with their flesh the law of sin, he would need to say…..
…..work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ). (Amplified)
I have not studied the greek but it seems the Amplified translation certainly amped up verse 12. The New American Standard translation simply says..
…..work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
By just setting Romans 7 along side Philippians 2 it would seem that Paul is a deeply conflicted man who has constructed a spiritual tight wire that we are to cautiously navigate with temerity and self doubt. I get push back from some on this but I don’t believe Paul spent his life on a wire of introspective worry, freting that he may offend God. Read the New Testament, Paul was not a shy or hesitant person. I don’t believe the story of his life at all portrayed God as one easily offended. Listen….
I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men. Acts 24:16,
But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. 1 Corinthians 4:4
No, I believe the broad sweep of Paul’s life conveys something entirely different about God. At the end of Romans 7 Paul asks and then settles this question for himself.
Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
I believe Paul and all who come to know the Father receive a revelation of his heart. They all learn that the Father’s love is not easily offended; it’s patient. It’s not harsh; it’s kind. It’s not touchy; it bears all things, endures all things. It does not take into account wrongs suffered. This enduring love equips saints to say with Paul….
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace
And with Jude….
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy…
At some point in a saints life, they do hopefully reach a crisis where they throw up their hands and say with Paul, “The Christian life is impossible!” Ironically, when we do reach this place we may think we are washed up when in fact the opposite is true; we have actually been positioned to begin living out of His life instead of our own.
For us to have this servant attitude that was in Christ we must discover that we are in fact in Christ. This discovery usually requires some humbling and some emptying out of ourselves. Until this happens we typically are deluded with fleshly notions born of human strength alone which, by nature, cannot live the life of Jesus Christ. Only He can do that. And that is precisely what He is endeavoring to do. He aspires that His Word be made flesh through us for the joy of our own hearts and ….
…..so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Father, Help us to see in Christ the basis for our confident declarations of ourselves as new creations and temples of your Holy Spirit. Remind us that greater is He who is in us than our opposition who is in the world. Lead us in triumph for Your name sake. Thank You that as we work out our salvation with awe and wonder we discover that it is Your good pleasure that we find pleasure in You. Oh Lord, help us to believe the truth about ourselves no matter how wonderful it is. Amen.