You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name.~Deuteronomy 6:13
But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! ~Luke 12:5
And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.”~Genesis 26:24
Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. ~Luke 12:32
So which is it? Guess what, it's both. Sin is serious business and Satan and Hell are real. All of us have sinned and the consequences of sin is eternal conscious death. BUT GOD, in His grace, mercy and love made a way for us to be righteous before Him through the sacrifice of His one and only Son, Yeshua/Jesus. And though we cannot live, being in constant dread of punishment, our initial reaction to God should very well be a healthy humbling fear, because otherwise no one would ever repent.
Fear Of Man
The fear of God is both complex and simple, but before we ease our minds about being God fearing, we should be real and clear about worldly human fear. Since this world is full of sin and trouble there is plenty to be fearful about, anything from what our friends, family and coworkers think about us to physical harm, loss of loved ones, health, possessions, and/or life. It can be a daily struggle that steers our choices, many times based on our own understanding. BUT GOD tells us to not trust the world which leads to destruction, BUT to trust HIM and follow His Way which leads to life, with the help of the Holy Spirit. (Proverbs 3:5-6, John 14:26, Matthew 7:13-14)
“Do not be afraid of them (people), for nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing is secret that will not be made known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light, and what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the housetops. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” ~Matthew 10:26-28
Then Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice. ~1 Samuel 15:24
When there is a conflict between choosing the way of men (the way of the world) versus the Way of God, as believers, we must choose the way of God. When we choose out of fear of what people or government will say or do to us, it is sin.
Make no mistake, If you are not covered by the redeeming blood of Yeshua, then you do have everything to fear. As we are moving closer to the end of days, “There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars. And upon the earth nations will be confused by the roaring of the sea and its waves. People will lose heart from fear and anticipation of what is overtaking the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, stand straight and lift up your heads, because your salvation (Yeshua) is near!” ~Luke 21:25-28
Therefore, since we have these promises, loved ones, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of body and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. ~2 Corinthians 7:1
Fear Of God
However, we are not meant to live, being always dreadful of punishment. Like any loving parent, God wants us to enjoy His company, loving, living, laughing, singing, dancing, playing, working, studying, etc. He tells us not to be anxious or afraid about the necessities of life, He knows what we need and makes provision for it. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. ~Matthew 6:33
God desires for us to know and be known by Him so that we can live to our full potential in love, in joy and in peace. What the enemy, Satan and the world, has for us is a lie that leads to our ultimate destruction. The ways of God are for our protection, like fences and guardrails. And when we learn about Him and begin to love Him, His ways become easier for us. “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and ‘you will find rest for your souls.’For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” ~Yeshua, Matthew 11:28-30
So, keeping in mind the vast complexity of the meanings in Biblical text, let's take a look at the word, fear. The Hebrew word is yirah יִראָה (yod, resh, aleph, hey - Hebrew reads right to left). The spectrum of meaning ranges from anticipation of punishment, dread, that which strikes terror to awe, reverence, amazement, worship, teachings, flowings. We will take the following verse and rephrase it to make it clear:
The fear (yirah) of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding ~Proverbs 9:10
The flowings (Yirah - the teachings (torah) and character (ru'ahh)) of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom Hhakhmah - the ability to distinguish between good and evil.): and an intimate relationship with the special one is understanding. More on this lesson in the following helpful link: The Living Words: Fear
In other words, being mindful of the teachings and character of Yahweh is merely the beginning of the ability to distinguish between good and evil. A child of God lives to please Him and therefore desires to be free from sin. We learn His ways by studying His Word so we can know what sin is and how to avoid it and we pray for His help through the Holy Spirit when it gets difficult.
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands (prayer in fellowship with other believers). For God has not given us a spirit of fear (concerning the world), but of power and of love and of a sound mind (through the Holy Spirit). ~2 Timothy 1:6-7
Did you get that last part? A sound mind, unafraid and at peace. Shalom Shalom
Another helpful study on fear: The Awe Of The Lord
One of my favorite songs: Chris Tomlin - Whom Shall I Fear [God of Angel Armies] [Lyrics]