“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
There was a time, before Jesus came into this earth, when human being was trying their best to save themselves, but nothing they did was good enough to bring them to heaven. God even called every righteous deed of human being or every self righteousness, being: “filthy rags” as said in: Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
The term “filthy rags” is quite strong. The word “filthy” in the Hebrew language comes from the word “iddah” which literally means “the bodily fluids from the woman’s menstrual cycle.” The word “rags” comes from “beged”, meaning “a rag or garment.” Therefore, these “righteous acts” are considered by God as repugnant as a soiled feminine hygiene product.
But thank God, the era was over, men finally see that they could not achieve God’s required righteousness by self effort. You see, in order to see God face to face in heaven, you and I must not have even a tiny bit stain of sin and must possess God’s required perfect righteousness, which can only be given as a gift by God (Jesus) Himself who possess perfect righteousness. Jesus came to impute righteousness of God in Him.
2Co 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Now after we were made righteousness of God in Him, there are some Christians who still be left doubted about their future salvation from then onward (from the moment they receive Christ Jesus as their Lord & Savior). Many Christians still believe they must work our their salvation with fear and tremble. Like the fear and tremble as in the old covenant of Law, which is truly being in fear/scared. However, in the new Testament’s “fear and tremble” is having a different meaning.
The problem stemmed from this verse: Php 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
If we just pluck one verse like that, we may get misunderstanding, but when we see the next verse it is clear: Php 2:13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Look carefully: For It is God, and NOT you and I, but it is GOD who works inside you and I, and for us and through us, according to His will, and His good pleasure. It is really awesome isn’t it ? We ought to feel amazed by the fact that it is not us who work it ! It is God who works it. And, if it is God who does it, then it surely will be perfect ! If we were to do it, then surely only “filthy rags” as the result.
Another instance in the New Testament where we can see the Bible interpreting the bible, in the meaning of Fearing and Trembling, was in the story of woman with the long suffering of blood disease for 12 years she had been suffering. She had seen many physicians yet to no avail. She touched the garment of Jesus in hoping for miracle. Indeed, she got healed.
Mar 5:30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”
Mar 5:31 But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ”
Mar 5:32 And He looked around to see her who had done this thing.
Mar 5:33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.
Mar 5:34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”
Do you see why the woman fearing and trembling ? The verse clearly said it was because of her knowing what had happened to her. What happened to her ?She was completely healed ! after 12 years of having the issues of blood. So, fearing and trembling is a good expression of awesome and admiration for the Lord. Amazed by what had happened, the splendor and glory of God.
I was fearing and trembling too, When I saw miracle happened to my court case during my prison trial in 2006, in the court room when I learnt my sentence was only 6 months just nice and precisely as what had been foretold by the Lord, instead of the sentence I deserved, a Long sentence-years, as expected & told by my Lawyer. I really feared and trembled, not because of fear / scared, but because of being awed – awesome !, unspeakable Joy and unexplained blow in my mind, I just could not believe it ! I was so amazed in fear and tremble.