1 Peter 1:17-21
And if you call on the Father, who without respect of persons judges according to every man's work…
There is a fear towards God that might be denominated the fear of terror. It is the affection of one who is afraid of Him. There is in it the alarm of selfishness. It is at all times connected with a view of one's own personal suffering; and the dire imagery of pain, and perhaps irreversible wretchedness, is perhaps that which chiefly gives dismay and disturbance to his soul. It carries in it no homage to the sacredness of the Divinity, yet is aggravated by a sense of that sacredness; because then God, regarded as a God of unappeasable jealousy, is deemed to be intolerant of all evil; and the guilt-stricken soul, in looking up to the holiness of the Lawgiver, looks forward to its own destruction in that everlasting hell where the transgressors of the law find their doom. Now it is obvious that, while haunted by a fear of this sort, there can be no free or willing or generous obedience. There might be a service of drudgery, but not a service of delight; such obedience as is extorted from a slave by the whip of his overseer, but not a free-will offering of love or of loyalty. It is reserved for the gospel of Jesus Christ to do away this terror from the heart of man, and yet to leave untarnished the holiness of God. It is the atonement that was made by Him which resolves this mystery, providing at once for the deliverance of the sinner and for the dignity of the Sovereign. But while this view of God in Christ extinguishes one fear — the fear of terror — it awakens another and an altogether distinct fear — the fear of reverence. God is no longer regarded as the enemy of the sinner; but in thy Cross of the Redeemer, where this enmity was slain, there is full demonstration of a moral nature that is in utter repugnancy to sin. Now that we have entered into reconciliation, we hear not the upbraidings of the Lawgiver for the despite which in former days we have done unto His will. But the office of the gospel is to regenerate as well as reconcile; and every disciple who embraces it is met with the saying, "This is the will of God, even your sanctification." Such is the wide difference between these two affections; and, corresponding to this, there is a difference equally wide between the legal and the evangelical dispensations. Under the former economy, the alternative to do this and live is, that if you fail in doing this you will perish everlastingly. Now let this be the great stimulus to the performance of virtue, and then think of the spirit and of the inward character wherewith they are impregnated. It is, in fact, a character of the most intense selfishness. It is the fear of terror which goads him on to all his obedience, and compels him to act religiously. For such a religion as this it is not needed that he should have any capacity of moral principle. It is enough if he have the capacity of animal pain. He is driven along, not by the feelings of his spiritual, but by those of his sentient nature. Now it is not so with the economy of the gospel. The gate of heaven is thrown open at the outset to its disciples, and they are invited with confident step to walk towards it. God holds Himself forth not as a Judge who reckons, but as a Father who is reconciled to them.
(T. Chalmers, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: