Series Title: What It Is and What It Is Not
The Fear Of God – What It Is and What It Is Not
Genesis 22:12 KJV … now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
Why do Christians avoid this subject? What are they afraid of? … smile…
Before I get into “what the fear of God is” and “what it is not”, let me say you “do not” need to feel uncomfortable about this subject. More than likely you will be pleasantly surprised how simple and clear your understanding will be by the time you finish reading this post, for what I am about to teach you – life itself has been teaching you your entire life, so there is nothing to be uneasy about concerning the fear of God. However, don’t be scared off by the first few sections because they might seem a little scary until you finish reading the complete article.
The Fear Of God – What It Is Not
Philippians 2:12 KJ2000 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.
We have been taught the fear of God is simple respect for Him – to be in awe and reverence of His majesty. While I certainly agree with that definition it is incomplete and has little practical use for our everyday lives. God is a practical Lord and He wants us to use the knowledge and truths of His word in our practical everyday lives.
The author of Philippians admonished us to serve the Lord “in fear and “trembling.” So let me ask you, Just how afraid do you have to be in order for your physical body to start trembling? I know many will say I am taking the verse too literal, but whatever the meaning, surely it is more than simple respect or awe.
I can tell you one thing for sure, that if an angel of the Lord appears to me one hour after I finish writing this article I “will be” physically trembling!!! Why? Because to be in the presence of pure holiness is frightening and while I know the Lord intimately there is much I do not know and that is scary – especially when I consider my sinful life. In such an experience I would need to be comforted and assured there is no reason to be fearful.
Daniel 10:10-12 KJ2000 And, behold, a hand touched me, which made me tremble upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. 11 And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto you, and stand upright: for unto you am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. 12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that you did set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come because of your words.
There are many such instances when God or an angel of God appears and speaks those comforting words, “fear not”.
“Fear Of God” or “Fear Of Satan?”
Much of the confusion about the “Fear Of God” comes from ignoring the blatantly obvious fact there are two sources of fear 1) The fear “OF” God – that fear which is “OF Him – which originates from God as His gift and 2) Fear which is “OF” Satan – which originates in hell and only serves to torment and destroy.
I have heard preachers preach-against people turning to God as a result of fear saying that such experiences never last. Oh really? I would like to ask them does that mean each and everyone of their converts never backslide? That is so ridiculous I have to wonder how an intelligent Christian could ever say such a thing.
One of the most famous sermons in American History was from Jonathan Edwards – Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God.
From the book: Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God:
“As Edwards preached, strong men and women held onto the pews and cried out for mercy, pleading with the preacher, ‘Is there no way of escape?’ Hundreds were converted as they heard that sermon…”
Or how about the many times the fear of God fell upon the early church: Act 2:43; Act 5:5; Act 5:11; Act 9:31; Act 13:16; Act 19:17
When the fear of God falls upon your life you are “driven” – complacency is no longer an option – you are compelled to act on God’s behalf.
Please let such fear fall upon me!
The Fear Of God – What It Is
At the beginning of this article I mentioned the “Fear Of God” is practical and has a practical use in our everyday lives.
To explain let me share with you a somewhat humorous and a little embarrassing experience I had many years ago. Back in my preaching days, when I was young, I wanted God to heal a toothache without going to the dentist. My tooth was so bad the raw nerve was exposed and whenever I mistaking touched it with my tongue the pain was so severe that I would almost pass-out. I told God at the time, “If only I could feel such pain when I was about to disobey Him I am sure I could live a much better life.” Of course eventually I made my way to the dentist.
In reality and in a very practical way God has done something like that for each one of us only we keep rejecting it’s gift. God has given us the gift of His fear which when we welcome it into our lives motivates us to do His will and shun evil. But we keep rejecting it because the popular social gospel of today tells us that all fear is bad.
The fear of God is that fear which is “OF” God – in other words it comes from God. Not simply the fear which holds Him in awe and reverence, but any fear that motivates you to do good.
For example, if a mother runs out of her burning house only to discover her child still inside and fear grips her heart as she runs back into the house and saves her child, where did that fear come from? – God or Satan? It has to be one or the other so which do you think? Of God of course! Any fear that results in righteousness or doing good is from God, while Satan’s fear only serves to torment and destroy.
So the next time you experience fear ask yourself, “Am I being driven to do something good, something responsible, something righteous? Or are you simply being tormented and paralyzed. If it is the later then your fear is from Satan and needs to be rejected, but if it is the former then you need to welcome it and pray that it will continue until it has accomplished it’s desired result in your life.
It is really very simple:
- Fear which motivates you to do good is the “Fear Of God” and comes from Him.
- Fear which paralyzes, torments or motivates you to do evil comes from Satan.
Does not everyday life teach you this? I dare say you could not exist one day without God’s fear. How about your fear to not miss work? Or your fear you have concerning your kids which motivates you to be the very best parent you can be?
Every single day we are driven by God’s fear and every single day the enemy tries to torment us with his fear also. We need to welcome and thoroughly open the door of our hearts to God’s fear and reject Satan’s fear.
So how do we cultivate God’s fear in our lives? The first thing is to pray and ask God for His fear to saturate our lives. And the next thing is to take the advice of God’s word to the king in Deuteronomy:
Deu 17:18-20 18 (NET) When he sits on his royal throne he must make a copy of this law on a scroll given to him by the Levitical priests. 19 (NET) It must be with him constantly (GW) and read it his entire life. (CEV) Each day the king must read and obey these laws, (NKJV) that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 (NLT) This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. And it will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel.
We should never forget the Bible is a living book – it speaks to us and teaches us and instills God’s love, His fear and His faith into our very souls. Daily reading is a must if you want to fear God in this complacent and apathetic world.