therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling [philippians 2:12]
when was the last time you to trembled–really trembled? have you ceased to fear God’s awesome wrath and power? take time to meditate and feel the weight of the following:
it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. [hebrews 10:31]
from his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. he will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. [revelation 19:15]
God’s fury for sin creates in believers a humble posture of the heart–a heart of fear and trembling. john piper states that “God’s countenance shines with favorable grace upon trembling people.”
tremble, o earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of jacob, [psalm 114:7]
my flesh trembles for fear of you, and i am afraid of your judgments. [psalm 119:120]
all these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. but this is the one to whom i will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. [isaiah [66:2]
what must we do with this fear and trembling?
we work out our salvation–knowing that we have been snatched by Christ from certain death of the oncoming train that is God’s coming wrath, still trembling, still confirming that our confession is real as we seek obedience and purity. do we do this because we are still destined for his wrath? no!–we work precisely out of the truth that the sin is not held against us–Christ’s death defeated sin and has given us the power to overcome sin!
one of my favorite hymns, “rock of ages” puts it this way:
rock of ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy riven side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure,
save me from its guilt and power.
be of sin the double cure!
victory over the guilt of sin, the stain of sin, the wrath that was being held against us, yes–but just as important, victory over sin’s power to continue to hold us captive to it! the cure to our inability to resist satan’s snares and remain pure!
there is a kind of fear and trembling that is rejoicing:
serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. [psalm 2:11]
what will you say about your purity when you stand before his throne? when you feel his presence here, and now? will you boast in your work and obedience?
or will you in joyful trembling in his magnificent presence, bow in fear at his glorious feet, and say “it was Christ! it is Christ! let me hide myself in thee!”
~ conor eastman