How To Live A Life Full of the Fear of God!
Never in my seventy-two years of life have I seen so much fear, fear-mongering and panic precipitated by the potential devastation and death of the coronavirus. Great numbers of leaders, medical experts, and church leaders are assuring us to be cautious and play it safe, but all in all, we have nothing to fear.
Yet, in spite of their "FDR" type of "we-have nothing-to-fear-but-fear-itself" type assurances, fear and panic flames out of control around the globe.
One of the most popular teachings in Christian circles for many years has been on the theme of "How to Live Free from Fear." However, in contrast, one will search in vain for those books, blogs and podcasts that tell us "How to Live Full of the Fear of God." Because fear of God is at an all-time low, fears of everything else internalize our focus, and terrorize and paralyze our faith. Living in the grace of godly fear will liberate us from the grip of all other fears.
Have you ever wondered why is it that modern Christians in particular, for the most part, will not accept the truth of the fear of God? Why do we consistently try to "explain away" the fear of God in Scripture by taking the terror and trembling out of it and making it mean only to revere, to stand in awe of, or to respect? I think the musical play, “The Wizard of Oz” provides a part of the answer to these questions in that in the mind of so many moderns there is a feeling that behind the curtain of time there must be a harmless old man type character pulling levers to make all the smoke and flames. And if we could really get the whole picture, we would see that God is just a gentle con-man, who means well, but is really harmless.
What is your concept of God? Is it consistent with the revelation given in Scripture, or do you believe in a God who is kind of like the old Wizard of Oz?
After fifty years in vocational Christian ministry, it is my persuasion that the single greatest cause of weakness, wickedness, worries and woes in the lives of Christians is due to the lack of the grace of godly fear!
Dr. L.E. Maxwell exercised the office of a prophet when he declared, "If it is not already manifest, the future may make it clear as the noonday sun that the greatest crime committed against this generation has been the stubborn and stupid extermination of fear from the churches.
Mike Yaconelli was right when he said: "We have defanged the tiger of truth. We have tamed the lion... The tragedy of modern faith is that we no longer are capable of being terrified." He went on to say, "Our world is... longing to see people whose God is big and holy and frightening and gentle and tender... and ours; a God whose love frightens us into His strong and powerful arms where He longs to whisper those terrifying words, 'I love you.'"
Jerry Bridges writes: "There was a time when committed Christians were known as God-fearing people. This was a badge of honor. But somewhere along the way we lost it. Now the idea of fearing God, if thought of at all, seems like a relic from the past"
But I hear someone protest, “Preacher, there seems to be a contradiction in the Bible as relates to the subject of fear. For example, Jesus said, in Mt 10:28, "But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Then in Lk. 12:32, Jesus said, "Fear not little flock." (Jesus said fear and then fear not) Paul says, in Phil 2:12, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. But John writes in 1 Jn 4:18, "There is no fear in love: but perfect love cast out fear, because fear involves punishment and the one who fears has not been made perfect in love."
One can anticipate someone saying, “It must be that different words are used in the Greek.” No, it's the same word, "phobos." Then the typical modern day student of the Bible would stand and declare, "I know! We must understand that fear simply means "reverential awe, or to respect and revere or honor." No! Then there is a contradiction, right? Wrong! Then what's the answer? The truth is that there is a no fear and a fear, and a fear that is a right fear. We are told in Romans 3:18, that the unsaved "have no fear of God before their eyes," yet they display that they fear God. This means they have no godly fear but the fear that a guilty criminal has before a righteous judge. So there can be no fear and fear present at the same time.
In the Old Testament the “fear of the Lord” is a major theme. Here are a just a few verses from the book of Proverbs that help us understand what it means to fear the Lord:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (1:7).
“To fear of the Lord is to hate evil” (8:13).
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (9:10).
“He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge” (14:26).
“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death” (14:27).
“Better a little with the fear of the Lord, than great wealth with turmoil” (15:16).
“Through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil” (16:6b).
“Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth, honor and life” (22:4).
Two other Old Testament verses give us an even better understanding of what the fear of the Lord is: It is an attitude of the heart that loves God: “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29). It is a choice of heart that trembles in awesome, respectful love. “Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord” (Proverbs 1:29).
True, Spirit-birthed, biblically defined fear of God is a godly, loving, trembling fear that cast the great shadow of eternity upon our every footstep. It causes us to rejoice with trembling; to work out to its final conclusion our salvation with fear and trembling; to fear because our God is a consuming fire. We are to rejoice in God, but in the posture of holy trembling. We are encouraged to come freely to God, but not flippantly. God is our Father, but he isn't our buddy. Jesus is our Elder Brother, but he is also our Sovereign Lord and King. The indwelling Holy Spirit is our Comforter, but He is also the Controlling Christ