“Why should we fear God (2 Cor. 7:1)?”
Our apostle Paul says we should be “perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Christians needn’t fear that God will take away our salvation if we don’t perfect holiness in our lives, for we are saved and eternally secure (Rom. 8:35-39). But Paul says to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12) because we must never forget the majesty of the God who gave us our salvation.
Consider that when God appeared on Mt. Sinai, “all the people that was in the camp trembled” (Ex. 19:16). God was not angry with His people here, so it was not His wrath that induced their terror. It was the thunder and lightning and the “exceeding loud” voice of God, the manifestations of His majesty, that struck such fear in their hearts. God is not angry with us either, but we should be just as mindful of His awesomeness, from what we know of Him in His Word, even though we cannot see or hear the physical manifestations of His majesty.
We might compare how every time an angel appears to men in the Bible, the first words out of his mouth are usually “fear not” (Matt. 28:4,5; Luke 1:12,13; 2:9,10, etc.) That’s because angels are so awesome in appearance that men naturally cower before them. Well, if they cower before angels, and angels are mere creations of Almighty God, how much more would we fear the Creator Himself were we to be able to see Him.
BBS founder Pastor C. R. Stam used to compare our fear of God to an invitation you might receive to dine with the president. While you would delight to go, you would no doubt go with fear and trembling. Not fear of what he might do to you, but out of respect for his office, and fear that you might disappoint him with your conduct and perhaps, in the extreme, even disgrace your family name. Likewise, we are not afraid of what God might do to us if we work out our own salvation poorly, but we fear disappointing Him, or disgracing His name by our conduct (cf. Neh. 5:9).
Finally, you might also compare how a husband who has a godly wife fears to hurt her—not because he is afraid she’ll leave him, for she has vowed she never will. But rather because he is afraid to presume on her grace by grieving her. Similarly, God would never leave us, but we don’t want to presume on His grace by grieving the very Spirit that seals us (Eph. 4:30).
~ Pastor Ricky Kurth