“Wherefore, my beloved…work out your own salvation — with fear and trembling; (13) for it is God which worketh in you — both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Phil.2:12-13
Fear and trembling is specifically mentioned 7 times in scripture — although as a theme — it is found throughout the Bible to be a description of the Godly demeanor of every true Christian. Ps.2:11 dogmatically says: “Serve the Lord — with fear — and rejoice — with trembling!” This exhortation is given to each and every true child of God. It speaks of serving Christ with a holy fear of failing to please Him in anything that is done, or not done — and, at the same time, rejoicing in serving Him with an unnatural humbleness of mind. Fallen flesh is naturally joyful in something that it can be personally proud about. Therefore, it is not natural to rejoice with trembling, which in this case denotes reverent and Godly humility.
This is much like that which Paul exuded when he was with the Corinthians. 1Co.2:3 gives expression to this truth when Paul says: “I was with you in weakness — and in fear and in much trembling.” Hence it is obvious that this fear and trembling is an evidence of the indwelling, in-working presence of the Holy Spirit. For these Godly things only show up after God grants unto us His grace of repentance — which becomes for us a demeanor of how we live out our life.
2Co.7:15 — which was written in the context of how obviously repentant the Corinthians proved to be — demonstrates in what demeanor they had received Titus — who was sent by Paul unto them to see if they had in faith received Paul’s reproof of them. And, Paul commends them for their obedience. He says of them: “…how with fear and trembling ye received him.” This means that they exhibited this trait as a proof of their walking — in the Holy Spirit.
This is what is also obvious from our text selection from Phil.2:12> “work out — your own salvation — with fear and trembling.” This can only be done by the Holy Spirit because it is a working from the inside out — and the Holy Spirit indwells the true believer! We cannot fulfill what this text describes without the Spirit of God. There would not be any fear and trembling experienced in obeying the command that is here given — if we could work out — on our own — our eternal salvation! God — who only gives grace unto the humble — does not give an inch to any scenario where personal pride may be able to gain any ground! Pride cannot abide — where the Holy Spirit genuinely indwells! Hence, Phil.2:13 is an eternal truth of God’s sovereign almighty grace: “For it is God that worketh in you — both to will and to do — of His good pleasure.” Just as the Holy Spirit was intimately involved in every aspect of Jesus’ life — from His conception unto His ascension — even so the child of God — the saved one by Jesus — comes to realize by regeneration the same intimacy with the Holy Spirit’s involvement in every aspect of their life and being and walk!
“As many as are led by the Spirit of God — these are the children of God!” Ro.8:14
For Christ’s Glory Only!