Follow Us Online
Previous News Topics
« My Dad, My Trainer | Main | Fear of Missing Out »

Fear Can Be . . . Good? 

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Philippians 2:12b

It’s easy to see how this verse could be confusing. You might be thinking, What do you mean “with fear and trembling”? The Bible says that God is love, and there is no fear in love.

You’re right! That’s what 1 John 4:18 says, and on this basis, a lot of people will reject any notion that fear can be good. But Paul wrote the above verse in his letter to the Philippians and is known as the apostle of grace and a huge proponent of the love of God (1 Cor. 13). I don’t think that he was contradicting his other letters when he wrote this one or that he was suggesting you should pick and choose which parts of his letters to believe. Can you imagine Paul saying, “If something I wrote doesn’t agree with your theology, just rip that part out of your Bible and believe what you want”? I sure can’t.

So, what does Philippians 2:12 mean? Well, it doesn’t mean you should be afraid of God! You can have fear in your relationship with God without being afraid of Him. After doing a double take, you might ask, “How does
that work?”

A lot of scriptures explain this, but what God has been speaking to me lately is from Proverbs 9:10, which says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

The word “fear” in that verse can also mean “reverence” (Strong’s Concordance). What helped me understand the fear of the Lord is understanding that it’s humility toward God. Andrew talks about the correlation between fear and humility in his book Proverbs: Timeless Wisdom for a Life of Blessing:

“Part of fearing the Lord is hating pride, hating self-promotion, hating doing our own thing. We love God and would rather live for God than live for ourselves. Most people would love to have honor. They would love to have trophies and have people acclaim all the things that are happening in their lives, but they don’t want to humble themselves. Outside of the Lord, there are people in this world who are promoted and who receive honor from others that doesn’t come through humility.” (p. 376)

Look at this verse:

“By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life.”

Proverbs 22:4

Riches and honor and life sound good to me. I believe this is part of what Paul was talking about in Philippians 2:12 when he used the word soteria, translated “salvation.” Salvation is everything that pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), and life and godliness come through walking humbly with God (Mic. 6:8).

Humility does not mean to think little of yourself. It means that you agree with what God thinks about you. Andrew says:

“True humility is not having an opinion of yourself. It means you don’t promote or debase yourself. If God says you are the meekest person on the face of the earth, then you’d say it, too, because you don’t care what people think. You aren’t trying to promote yourself nor are you trying to debase yourself. You aren’t self-centered. You aren’t focused on yourself.” (p. 297)

I believe this explains Philippians 2:12. This is how fear can be good, and it’s what I’ve been striving to walk out in my life. To walk in humility toward God, you have to see yourself the way that He sees you.

What do you think? How do you work out your salvation with fear and trembling? Please share in the comments below. And watch Andrew on the Gospel Truth broadcast, where he’s teaching from the book of Proverbs throughout the year.

Written by David Moore II

For resources and products or to partner in the U.S., visit; outside the U.S., visit

Reader Comments (3)

Great! It's always nice reading from your blog! That verse Phil 2:12 has confused many believers (especially because of the way its worded!) Thanks for elucidating. People really need to know this.
Firstly, you cannot work out something that God has not worked in!
Secondly, the word 'soteria' is so rich its impossible to fully explain with our English vocabulary, hence we just say 'salvation'. And here salvation is not necessarily talking about our escape from hell. Like you said, "salvation is everything that pertains to life and godliness", so it is referring to other blessings e.g healing, prosperity, etc.
Thirdly, you rightly explained fear as humility which means to agree with what God thinks/says about a person.
In summary when you agree and say what God says about you [Fear & trembling], the blessings of [Salvation] will become manifest [Worked out]. Hallelujah!

July 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterOsama Osasuyi

It's good to read messages like this, growing up in a pentacostal church, fear & trembling meant just that, they taught saved & lost and that some day you'd think you are saved but you get there & Jesus says go away I never knew you. it caused me to go up front & accept Christ every sunday thinking I forgot to confess something & during an alter call or communion, I never thought about what Jesus came to accomplish I kept looking at my self to see where I screwed up. I told God send me to hell I cant do this any more & the next morning I found Andrew's program on Harnessing your emotions & it's been a long journey to renew my mind to fact & not church doctrine. sometimes I do catch the bad teachings creeping up, but Grace It's all Jesus & in Him I'm safe and saved.

July 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Andrew Wommack not only reads The Bible, but he explains it so that it is understood! Plus he walks the path of righteousness! I respect a man like this! Thank you for sharing the True Word of God!!

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSue E

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>