The concept of fearing God is one area in which the Bible's translators may have done us an injustice. Instead of fearing sin and the consequences of unrighteousness, we fear appearing to be too righteous. Instead of running "helter skelter" from anything of the devil, we are of the dangerously mistaken belief that he was a beautiful angel who succumbed to sin and is now being punished by God. So we align and empathize with Satan instead of aligning with God. God is viewed as angry and vengeful, the cause of all of our ills and all of the world's ills.
Our fear also is misplaced in regard to the things of God or the gifts of God. When we think of the Holy Spirit, for example, our understanding is fueled by television shows portraying loud, excited and unintelligible utterances, uninhibited dancing and frenzied movements in the aisles of the church, wearing white uniforms at every service, and/or having a somewhat performance oriented form of worship. For the average conservative congregation, this vision of chaos is frightening. But it is a caricature designed to keep us from desiring close contact with the Holy Spirit. We speak of him tentatively, but hope and expect that he will maintain a comfortable distance.
The biblical description of the reality and role of the Holy Spirit is far removed from the popular perception. The Holy Spirit has unsurpassed creative power. When God infused the light of his Spirit into the dead waters that comprised the earth on Day 1 of creation (Genesis 1:1-3), he called forth land and water that was energized and capable of sustaining all life. It is that life-giving land (dust) and water that he then used as the building blocks for everything on the earth, including humans and animals (Genesis 1). When this same Holy Spirit whose power was used to create the earth indwells us, the possibilities are boundless. He purifies us because a cleansed vessel (not unlike a clean engine) is significantly more powerful. He also teaches and instructs us in the ways of God, and enables us to speak intelligible and translatable foreign languages so that communication with God's people is never inhibited.
There are many other roles of the Holy Spirit as described in Scripture, but perhaps the most important role is that he marks us as people belonging to God. In the same way that your DNA identifies your parents, the indwelling Holy Spirit marks and identifies you as a child of God. Many people spend an entire lifetime working in a religious or ministry capacity. Nonetheless, when Jesus returns to establish his kingdom, he likely will say to them, "I don't know you." His sacrifice on the cross was for the purpose of cleansing and restoring us so that we can become children of God, reborn through the water of spiritual cleansing (immersion baptism), and filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 3:1-5). Irrespective of your religion, denomination, or spiritual discipline, if you wish to be identified spiritually as a child of God, your most important quest is to be cleansed and to receive his indwelling Holy Spirit.
A healthy fear of God is one in which, like the sons of Issachar described in 1 Chronicles 12:32, we understand the signs of the times and, like Noah, who undoubtedly sensed the urgency to complete his ark as the time of the flood approached, we too sense the urgency to prepare our hearts and minds for Messiah's return. A healthy fear of God is also one in which we humbly acknowledge our human limitations, recognize that our world is in its current condition because individually and collectively, we are powerless against Satan, and only by the power of God's Holy Spirit can we expect any form of victory (Zechariah 4:6). Finally, a healthy fear of God is one in which we are willing to surrender to his love and say, "Jesus, our Messiah and savior who, by his sacrifice, enables us to have God's indwelling Holy Spirit, is Lord."