Lucia's Blog: PERFECTING HOLINESS IN THE FEAR OF GOD
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

PERFECTING HOLINESS IN THE FEAR OF GOD

"Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."  
2 Corinthians 7:1


The word "fear" has an evil connotation for most of us. We fear that bad things may happen to us. Some preachers have latched onto this feeling and found enthusiastic support for positive messages that say something like, "We have nothing to fear if we trust in Jesus." The only problem with that is that the Bible is full of warnings to all men, including the saints of God, that we must serve our God with fear and trembling.  Fear of what? The wrath of God if we depart from serving Him! Let us be honest with the Word of God and search out this question as carefully as we can.

In the Proverbs, the “fear of the LORD” is mentioned at least 15 times. According to the wise, it is the only source of wisdom, knowledge, discretion, prudence, truthfulness, and righteousness. The fear of God enables us to live a godly and holy life in a sinful world.  So, what is wisdom?  It is the discernment of everything from God's viewpoint.  What is understanding?  It is the ability to respond according to God's Word.  
"The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death."    (Proverbs 14:27).  

Godliness in the Bible is literally the fear of God and the devotion that grows out of that fear. The proverb says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." (Proverbs 1:7).  The fear of God is a fountain of life!  The one who fears God can sleep peacefully because he knows that evil will not touch him, for the LORD encamps around those who fear Him.  Jesus teaches us the fear of God by describing a place of everlasting punishment called hell. The fear of God is clean, (Psalm 19:9). There is nothing evil about fearing God.  The fear of the LORD is the key that unlocks the door to the treasure house of God.  This "key" unlocks the haven of God's blessings.  

The word "fear" appears in the Bible 367 times.  In many of these instances, it is expounding on "the fear of the LORD" and its connection to wisdom (cf. Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7). In both the Old and New Testaments, God commands His creation to fear Him, (Leviticus 25:17; Deut. 6:13; Matt. 10:28, for example).  It is important to stress that God's "mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation."  (Luke 1:50).  The Bible speaks of those who fear God, His name, His Law, and His Word.  The Old Testament mentions the fear of God at least 235 times. In the New Testament, we find at least 43 references to the fear of the LORD, which by the way, is the same number of references to man's love for God.  From Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures proclaim the fear of God as a fountain of life.  And those who drink deeply of it will receive the blessings of God in this life and in the life to come.  However, those who reject the fear of God will wind up in ways of death.  Fear is the necessary and appropriate response toward God, His Word, His Law and His name because God is worthy.  I think that is why it is mentioned in the Scriptures more than any other attitude of vital devotion.  

Consider the number of expressions the Bible uses:  
  1. Fear of the Lord, 30 times. 
  2. Fear the Lord, 32 times. 
  3. Fear Him, 21 times. 
  4. Fear God, ten times. 
  5. Fear of God, 8 times. 
  6. Feared the Lord, 8 times. 
  7. Feareth the Lord, 7 times. 
  8. Feared God, 5 times. 
  9. Fearing the Lord, 1 time. 
  10. Fearing God, 1 time. 
  11. Fearest God, 1 time. 
  12. Feareth Him, 1 time. 
  13. Fear thou God, 1 time. 
  14. Fear my name, 1 time.  

Today there is a widespread heresy, that since God is love (1 John 4:8b), and perfect love casts out fear, (1 John 4:18b), then no Christian should FEAR God.  Is this correct?  NO! and NO!  They have taken this Scripture out of context. They are not handling it correctly.  Many feel, that we should avoid mentioning the fear of God because it makes them uncomfortable.  They ignore that "the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him." (Psalm 147:7).  They forget that in the Old Testament, Joshua exhorted and encouraged the people to "fear the LORD and serve Him with all faithfulness."  (Joshua 24:14).  From Genesis to Revelation, we are taught to serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling, (Psalm 2:11).  Jesus said, "Do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!"  (Luke 12:4-5).  Jesus spoke more about the fear of hell than He did about the glory of heaven!  He thought it to be urgent. That ought to make us love Him and fear Him!  

The design of this study is to instill in you and me the fear of God, for His glory and for our salvation.  Fearing God brings many great blessings and rewards.  Let us not deprive ourselves of the fulfillment of God’s will in full obedience, so that we may meet Him confidently.  It is my prayer that you and I will serve the LORD with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling that we may enter the gates of heaven forever.


I.   UNDERSTANDING THE FEAR OF GOD: 

1.   The Meaning of the Word Fear:
  • Strong's Concordance:
The word fear is phobos meaning panic flight, fear, the causing of fear, terror, reverence.
Definition: (a) fear, terror, alarm, (b) the object or cause of fear, (c) reverence, respect, sense of awe. Fear (5401 /phóbos) is commonly used in Scripture – sometimes positively (in relation to God) but more often negatively of withdrawing from the Lord (His will).  Phóbos ("fear") means withdraw (separate from), i.e. flee (remove oneself) and hence to avoid because of dread (fright).
  • Thayer's Greek Lexicon:
STRONGS NT 5401: φόβος

Fear, dread, terror; in a subjective sense.  Reverence, respect (for authority, rank, dignity): Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:18; 1 Peter 3:16 (15); ἡ ἐν φόβῳ ἀναστροφή, behavior coupled with (cf. ἐν, I. 5 e.) reverence for one's husband, 1 Peter 3:2; φόβος with a genitive of the object: τοῦ κυρίου, Acts 9:31; 2 Corinthians 5:11; Χριστοῦ, Ephesians 5:21 (not Rec.); Θεοῦ, Romans 3:18; 2 Corinthians 7:1; (Ephesians 5:21 Rec.).  
  • Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:  Fear, Fearful, Fearfulness
1.  Phobos first had the meaning of flight," that which is caused by being scared; then, "that which may cause flight,"  (a) "fear, dread, terror," always with this significance in the four Gospels; also e.g., in Acts 2:43; Acts 19:17; 1 Corinthians 2:3; 1 Timothy 5:20 (lit., "may have fear"); Hebrews 2:15; 1 John 4:18; Revelation 11:11; Revelation 18:10, Revelation 18:15; by metonymy, that which causes "fear," Romans 13:3; 1 Peter 3:14, RV, "(their) fear," AV "(their) terror," an adaptation of the Sept. of Isaiah 8:12, "fear not their fear;" hence some take it to mean, as there, "what they fear," but in view of Matthew 10:28, e.g., it seems best to understand it as that which is caused by the intimidation of adversaries; (b) "reverential fear,"   (1) of God, as a controlling motive of the life, in matters spiritual and moral, not a mere "fear" of His power and righteous retribution, but a wholesome dread of displeasing Him, a "fear" which banishes the terror that shrinks from His presence, Romans 8:15, and which influences the disposition and attitude of one whose circumstances are guided by trust in God, through the indwelling Spirit of God, Acts 9:31; Romans 3:18; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 5:21 (RV, "the fear of Christ"); Philippians 2:12; 1 Peter 1:17 (a comprehensive phrase: the reverential "fear" of God will inspire a constant carefulness in dealing with others in His "fear"); 1 Peter 3:2, 1 Peter 3:15; the association of "fear and trembling," as e.g., in Philippians 2:12, has in the Sept. a much sterner import, e.g., Genesis 9:2; Exodus 15:16; Deuteronomy 2:25; Deuteronomy 11:25; Psalms 55:5; Isaiah 19:16;  (2) of superiors, e.g., Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:18. See TERROR.

Adjective, phoberos, "fearful" (akin to A, No. 1), is used only in the Active sense in the NT, i.e., causing "fear, terrible," Hebrews 10:27, Hebrews 10:31; Hebrews 12:21, RV, "fearful," for AV, "terrible." 

2.  Deilia, "fearfulness" (from deos, "fright"), is rightly rendered "fearfulness" in 2 Timothy 1:7, RV (for AV, "fear"). That spirit is not given us of God. The word denotes "cowardice and timidity" and is never used in a good sense, as No. 1 is. Cp. deilos, B, No. 2, below, and deiliao, to be fearful (AV, "afraid"), John 14:27. 

Adjective, deilos, "cowardly, " "timid," is used in Matthew 8:26; Mark 4:40; Revelation 21:8 (here "the fearful" are first in the list of the transgressors). 

3.  Eulabeia signifies, firstly, "caution;" then, "reverence, godly fear," Hebrews 5:7; Hebrews 12:28, in best mss., "reverence;" in general, "apprehension, but especially holy fear," "that mingled fear and love which, combined, constitute the piety of man toward God; the OT places its emphasis on the fear, the NT ... on the love, though there was love in the fear of God's saints then, as there must be fear in their love now" (Trench, Syn, xlviii). In the Sept., Joshua 22:24; Proverbs 28:14

Note: In Luke 21:11, phobetron (akin to No. 1) denotes a terror, RV, "terrors," for AV, "fearful sights," i.e., objects or instruments of terror. 

Having now a proper understanding of the word "fear," let us value the fear of the LORD.  


II.   WHAT IS THE FEAR OF THE LORD?

It is the belief in our Creator, the God of the Bible, with an awestruck consciousness of His glory and greatness.  It is an earnest desire to obey Him and whatever He requires, to please Him, to avoid His wrath, judgment.  Fear and loving God are very compatible, (Deut. 10:12).   In Luke 12:1-5 Jesus said,
“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops. 4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.  Yes, I tell you, fear him!"

In this passage, Jesus is speaking explicitly about God's divine authority and perfect justice and not His character.  But someone might say, "God is love," still God's love does not give us license to do as we please, nor is it permissive.  And though our God is a loving God, He is not a God who authorizes or allows sin to continue in His children's lives without consequences whatsoever. Unfortunately, there are many people today who completely misunderstand, and misinterpret the meaning on this subject of fear toward God.  They interpret or define poorly the authority of God or "fear of God" as a detriment (restriction) to one's happiness and an obstruction (hindrance) to one's freedom.  When in fact, it is precisely the opposite.

Fearing God is despising or hating what He hates, sin.  It is wanting and loving what He approves.  It is guarding our conduct always (our thoughts, words, actions) for His approval, (2 Cor. 5:9).  It is our most fundamental tool for a good conscience, the basis of judging all of our decisions of daily conduct.  It is matching our life and character with God's perfect will in all.  It is our goal in life to glorify Him and be in compliance with His Word.  

The fear of God is submission, reverence, commitment, faithfulness, obedience, worship and honor toward God.  It is the most foundational and inclusive expression of love, obedience, and service to God.  And where does all this come from?  From fearing God!  So, do all men fear God? No! Can they all learn it, if they work at it? Yes, of course!  And though all humanity was born without sin, made upright in the likeness of God, they chose to corrupt themselves and turn away from their Creator God, sinning.  They chose to rebel against Him, (Romans 1:18). Therefore, they have to seek after God and learn the fear of God.  The fear of God is instilled in men, when they hear the Gospel, repent and obey its commands.  It is then that they begin the process of regeneration through God's grace, (Titus 2:11-12; 1 Peter 1:22-24; Rom. 12:1-2).  Once a man is born of the Spirit, John 3:3-8, he can increase, and improve in the fear of God through the Word.  (Deut. 17:19; Psalm 19:9; 34:11).  The fear of God is something that we must work on, until our dying breath.  It is vital that we teach the fear of God by reproof and correction, that we may work the righteousness of God.  "Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning."   (1 Timothy 5:20). 

The fear of men is entirely inferior to the fear of God, (Prov. 29:25; Luke 14:26; Acts 5:29).  Even though children must fear their parents, it is not the fear of God, (Lev. 19:3; Heb. 12:9).  Wives fearing their husbands, still is not the fear of God, (Eph. 5:33; 1 Peter 3:5-6).  Servants fearing their masters, still is not the fear of God, (Eph. 6:5; 1 Peter 2:18).  Citizens fearing their rulers, still is not the fear of God, (Prov. 24:21; Romans 13:3).  

  • Let us consider five factors that must compel us to fear God.
  1. To be in God's presence is dreadful, especially in His wrath, (Nahum 1:5-6).  His greatness and majesty are superior to what any man has ever contemplated, (Job 37:22).  His glorious Being is superior to men, and because He is holy, (Isa. 6:5).  His goodness and His attributes must be shielded and muted for man's safety, (Exo. 34:5-9).
  2. He is infinitely perfect, righteous and far superior to anything and anyone else.  He is ruler over all His creation and all facets of life, (Eccl. 3:14; Prov. 16:4; Ps. 76:10; Isa. 10:5-15).   He is omniscient, knowing all, both good and bad, (Prov. 15:3; Heb. 4:12-13).  He is omnipresent, present in all places, at all times, (Ps. 139:7-13; Jer. 23:23-24).  He is omnipotent, able to do anything He purposes to do, (Job 37:23; Jer. 32:17).  He is absolutely righteous, so that He judges without showing any partiality, (Deut. 10:17; Job 34:19; 2 Chron. 19:7).
  3. His creation and His works are awe-inspiring. They inspire fear in those who witness His power and glory.  His creation must compel us to constantly fear Him, (Ps. 33:6-9).  His providence and power to give and withhold, causes us to fear that He may withhold those blessings if we displease Him, (Jer. 5:24; Rom. 9:21).  His forgiveness, redemption are aspects of His nature that causes us to fear Him because He had every right to deny us His forgiveness and redemption, (Ps. 130:3-4).
  4. His great name ought to produce fear, (Ex. 3:13-14; 20:7; Deut. 28:58; Ps. 111:9).  
  5. His judgment, His wrath is fearful, (Ex. 14:31; Ps. 119:120; Heb. 10:30-31).

  • The fear God is a character issue:  

Those who fear God are more prone to live in a way that honors God.  They keep their commitments and treat others with the same grace God has shown them.  Romans 3, a chapter about sin, declares that mankind's chief reason for sin is that "There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  (Romans 3:18).  Many people fear the wrong things.  They think that the world is the "ultimate threat and that God's function is merely to offset it." How different is this from the position that God is supreme and all powerful in His creation!  The truth is, the world's threats are just temporary.  You see when mankind disrespects God and fails to fear Him and His authority as supreme over all His creation, he reduces and diminishes God, our Creator.  His infinite authority and power rescue men from their delusions of self-righteousness by revealing to them the Truth that sets them free from the bondage of sin.

So, what about unbelievers, those who have not yet obeyed the Gospel?  Unbelievers experience a different kind of fear.  For them, the fear of God will begin when they face the judgment of God and eternal death (eternal separation from God, Luke 12:5; Heb. 10:31).   Indeed, it is a terrifying judgment!  When we "go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries."  (Hebrews 10:25-27).  When man rejects the Truth, and the redemptive blood of Jesus (that is they remain outside of God's grace and His kingdom), the wrath of God awaits them.  God will indeed execute His judgment over the ungodly and will condemn their ungodly deeds and all the "the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”  (Jude 1:15).  God's righteous wrath will be reserved for those who do not obey the Truth but rather unrighteousness, (Romans 2:8).  Knowing this dreadful truth, have you obeyed the Gospel?  

  • Characteristics of those who fear God:
  1. They hate all sin because evil things offend God (evil thoughts, evil works), (Prov. 8:13; 6:16-19; 14:16,27; 16:6; 23:17; Job 1:1; 28:28; Ps. 5:5; 97:10; 110:128; 139:21-22; 2 Cor. 7:1).
  2. They depart from all evil, (Prov. 3:7; Ps. 34:14).
  3. They delight in God's commands and keep them, (Ps. 112:1; Eccl. 12:13-14; Deut. 10:12-13). They are no burden to them. 
  4. They are willing to sacrifice all for their God.  Abraham proved his fear of God by his willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, (Genesis 22:12).
  5. They obey God's precepts or laws to please Him and avoid His wrath, (Ex. 1:17; Heb. 11:7).
  6. They deny themselves, taking up their cross to follow Him and His kingdom of righteousness, (Matt. 16:24-26).
  7. They walk uprightly, always doing what is right, just and godly, (Prov. 14:2).
  8. They submit to God and others, proper relationships, not disputing or striving at all, (Eph. 5:21).
  9. They do not walk in arrogance, pride, for fear of God is one of the greatest antidotes to arrogance.
  10. They are the best employees, for they fear God and obey Him knowing that it pleases Him when they serve faithfully, with sincerity of heart, fearing Him, (Col. 3:22).
  11. They pray all the time like Cornelius, a God-fearing man, (Acts 10:2).
  12. They revere God for His person, name, word, and worship, (Psalm 89:7; 86:11; 138:2; 89:7).
  • Four Values of Holy Fear:
  1. The "fear of the LORD" is not rooted in doubt but rather in our confidence and assurance as God's adopted children. The fear of God is the same as the fear and respect a child has for his earthly father; knowing and trusting that He is always there to watch over us when we cry out to Him, “Abba! Father!”
  2. The "fear of the LORD" is also grounded in our respectful knowledge, though limited, of His perfect, excellent character.  God is God, and we are mere men.  His majestic and awesome essence compels us to a profound respect for Him.  It generates a desire in us to live in such a way as to bring the honor and glory that is due Him.  It is a blessing indeed!
  3. The "fear of the LORD" is also rooted in our desire to be in harmony with God.  We hate sin because it puts a distance between our God and us.  When we separate ourselves from sin, we put that distance where it belongs.  The holy fear of being separated from His blessed communion compels us to draw back when tempted to sin.
  4. The "fear of the LORD" is grounded in our recognition of God's holiness.  God is holy.  Our holy fear forces us to be deeply aware of His holiness and seek to be holy as He is holy.  

For Christians, the fear of God is not the irrational fear of the unknown, but rather a reverent fear for the One who has revealed Himself to us, not only by His creation of the universe but also by His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.  It is important that we stress the difference between holy fear of God and an unholy fear of God.  There is godly fear and ungodly fear, (Ex. 20:20; 1 John 4:18; 2 Tim. 1:7; Rev. 21:8).  Fear that torments is consistent with anguish, distress, rebellion.  It is that kind of fear taught by men.  It is ungodly fear.  The spirit of slavery to sin leads us to fear, sin, anguish, distress, terror, bondage, rebellion, excuses, man-made doctrines and traditions, hypocrisy, laziness, etc. (Prov. 1:27; Prov. 26:13; Prov. 28:14-15; Gen 3:12; Isa. 29:13; 2 Kings 17:24-33; Luke 21:26; Rom. 8:15; Heb. 2:15).  Rather, the Spirit of adoption through Christ leads us to communion, adoption, forgiveness, love, trust, joy, hope, trembling, honor, dread, thanksgiving, and ultimately our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, (Rom. 8:15; 1 John 4:18; Ps. 130:4; Ps. 31:19; Ps. 2:11; Ps. 33:18; 147:11; Isa. 8:13; Ps. 119:120; Ps. 34:10, Mal. 1:6; Isa. 11:3).  Seeking God is godly or holy fear. The fear of God is compatible with loving God, (Deut. 6:4-54 cp Deut. 10:12-13).  The fear of God is entirely compatible with a humble faith, (Micah 6:6-8; Heb. 11:6).  Godly fear seeks after God with repentance, godly sorrow, hoping for His mercy and forgiveness, (2 Sam. 12:13; Ps. 33:18; 130:4; 147:11; Isa. 6:5-8; Matt. 15:21-28; Luke 5:8-9; 7:36-50; 18:13; Acts 2:37-38).  Ungodly or unholy fear runs away in rebellion and self-pity, (Gen. 3:10; 2 Sam. 6:9-10; Matt. 27:3-6).


III.  WHY SHOULD WE REVERENCE OR FEAR GOD?  
  1. Because God is our Creator, (Psalm 8:3-4).  He is Supreme, and we are His offspring, (Acts 17:28-29).  He gave His son to die for us, (John 3:16).  He became our Spiritual Father when He adopted us into His kingdom by faith toward His Son and the obedience of the Gospel, (John 3:3; Gal. 3:26-27).  
  2. Because it is the most righteous thing to do.  God requires that His children, His church walk with Him in complete reverence and obedience, (Deuteronomy 10:12-22; Heb. 12:9).  Fearing God causes us to hate evil, (Prov. 8:13).   
  3. Because He is our Lawgiver, Master, and Judge, (Matt. 4:10).  And since He is our Judge, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."  (Heb. 10:30-31).  God has not changed as Paul tried to quote from Deuteronomy 4:24 to prove it.  God has made it clear that He is to be greatly feared with reverence.  It is the most fundamental foundation and measure of man's life to be great in God's sight.  It is utterly consistent and compatible with loving, walking and serving God.  It is walking in all of God's ways. Our fear of God compels us to love and serve Him with reverent obedience, (Heb. 12:28-29).  It is good for us.  Fearing God is the condition for God's precious promises made by Him to His children:  good life, permanent satisfaction with life and safety or protection from evil, (Proverbs 19:23).  It is indeed the most reasonable condition (fearing God) requested by God Himself.  There is a great Day of Judgment coming, and we must be prepared for it.  It is God's answer to all philosophical questions concerning man's primary purpose here on earth.  
  4. Because He has warned us to fear Him and not men, (Luke 12:4-5).  The consequences of offending men are not as grave when compared to the consequences of offending God.  The doctrine of fear toward God is rarely heard today. Modern preachers abuse God's mercy, lovingkindness, and grace, misusing beautiful verses like John 3:16. They gorge themselves, feasting on the riches of God’s mercy, all the while setting aside the warnings of God against careless Christians, who indulge the flesh as if the mercy of God would ignore a return to sin and the reckless disregard of the Lord’s authority.  
  5. Because those who fear God will receive God's blessings, goodness, and reward, (Psalm 31:19; 128:1; Rev. 11:18).  They will eat of their own labor, be happy, have a good and fruitful life, (Psalm 128:1-6).   In the fear of the Lord, one has strong confidence and can find refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.  (Prov. 14:26-27).  
  6. Because it is the first step to obtaining wisdom, (Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Prov. 1:7;9:10).  All reasoning begins with foundational arguments to which reasoning appeals and on which it rests.  All reasoning has presuppositions.  Take, for instance, the atheists who appeal only to the origin of the universe and their baboon ancestors as accidental.  What they call science is pure speculation, profane and vain babblings, (1 Tim. 6:20-21).  In contrast, those who fear God begin all reasoning with their all wise Creator who wrote a Manual filled with instructions, rules of conduct, consequences, death, salvation, judgment, etc.  You see, without fearing God, man is prompt to be unreasonable and foolish, (1 Cor. 1:19-20; 2 Thess. 3:1-2). The fear of God gives men all the answers to life's questions, (Ps. 119:128).  God mercifully pities those who fear Him, (Ps. 103:11-18).  Thus, He protects them well, (Ps. 33:18-19).  He will reward them on Judgment Day, (Mal. 3:16-18).  
  7. And finally, because it is the whole duty of man.
"The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil."  (Eccl. 12:13-14)  
    1. What Is Our Duty?
One of the most famous passages in the Bible is found in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. The word "vanity" is used 33 times in this book.  The writer concludes his wise counsel by highlighting the whole duty of man. It is to fear God and keep His commandments. This is the only thing that is not "vanity." Duty is that which is obligatory or required.  Thus, our obligation to our Creator God is to fear Him and keep His commands.  Without doing that, all is vanity!  Unfaithful Bible teachers minimize our obligation to God by denying this critical point.  And though the Bible stresses the fear of God and keeping His commands consistently, false teachers minimize such things.

In 1 John 5:3, God commands us to love Him and keep His commands. To obey His commands means to love Him.  So, what is so difficult about accepting this aspect of love?  Do you not love God? Are you not aware that  God demands that we commit to Him faithfully as His obedient servants? Paul said in Romans 6:16,  "Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?"    Then in verses 17-18, we read, "But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."  You see, we express our gratitude when we obey.  "For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."  (Verse 14). Hence, let us be diligent to show our love for God by doing His commandments. In doing that which God has commanded out of love, we indeed become profitable servants and look forward to eternity with God.  Fear and love cannot exist, one without the other.

The love of God must compel us to fear Him. Paul describes God's love saying, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?"   (Romans 8:32). God's own Son was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.  His love for us caused Him to deliver His Son to be savagely abused and tortured to death.  Don't you think this act of love demands reverential fear?  To ignore such a sacrifice, can only bring God's wrath on us, as His righteousness is vindicated.  

God rescues and defends those who fear Him, (Psalm 34:7).  They will lack nothing, (Psalm 34:9). Salvation is surely near to them, (Psalm 85:9); they will receive God's steadfast love, compassion, and mercy, (Ps. 103:11,13,17; Luke 1:50). God will hear their prayers and supplications, (Psalm 145:19; Heb. 5:7; Acts 10:1, 2,31). God will take pleasure in them, (Psalm 147:11; Acts 10:35) who fear and obey Him, (Heb. 11:7; Gen. 22:12).  There are many practical blessings promised to those who fear the LORD in this life, anticipating the life to come.  Besides the promises mentioned above, there are many other promises made by God to all who fear Him, (Ps. 112:1; 128:1,3; Pr. 22:4, etc.).  


IV.  THE FEAR OF GOD IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:
  1. In Genesis 28:17 Jacob was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”  
  2. In Genesis 42:18, Joseph won his brothers' trust and his family's peace because he was a God-fearing man.  
  3. The midwives obeyed God instead of the Egyptian rulers and were able to spare the lives of the Hebrew baby boys because they feared God, (Exodus 1:17).  
  4. By contrast, Pharaoh brought destruction and death on his nation because he did not fear God, (Exodus 9:29-31).  
  5. Moses chose his leaders to help him based on the fear of God, (Exodus 18:21).  
  6. The people trembled and were afraid when they heard the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, (Exodus 20:18).  
  7. The people in the camp trembled when they were in the presence of God, (Ex. 19:16-19).
  8. Moses told the people not to fear, for God had come to test them, that the fear of Him might be before them, and they wouldn't forget His authority and sin, (Exo. 20:20).  
  9. The people promised to obey the Law because of their fear of God, (Deut. 5:22-27).  Sadly, that fear did not last long, for they would forget God's commands, murmuring against God and because of their idolatry.  
  10. The Mosaic Law cited the fear of God and treated the disabled and the elderly honorably and faithfully, (Lev. 19:14, 32).  
  11. Nehemiah told the people to walk in the fear of God to prevent the reproach of their enemies, (Neh. 5:9).  
  12. "Holy and fearful is His name."  (Psalm 111:9).  
  13. In Proverbs, the expression the "fear of God" appears 15 times.   
  14. All true knowledge, wisdom, and instruction come from God, (Prov. 1:7). 

V.   THE FEAR OF GOD AND THE EARLY CHURCH:

The early church walked in the fear of God, (Acts 2:42-43; 5:5, 11; 9:31; 10:35; 13:26; 24:25, etc.). The church was described with the phrase, "fear came on every soul." (Acts 2:43).  
  1. Because of their fear of God, they bore good fruits: 3,000 Jews obeyed the Gospel and persevered in the doctrine of the apostles.  In fact, they were willing to suffer lashings, imprisonment, and even death.  The church had to be taught the fear of God.  
  2. Because of that fear of God, they were motivated to love and commune with one another; sacrificing to serve the physical needs of their brethren, (Acts 2:44-46).  They likewise were motivated to obey God first rather than men, (Acts 5:29).  They were moved to provide for needy widows, (Acts 6).  They were motivated to suffer persecution, (Acts 8:1-4).  The Book of Acts is filled with wonderful stories of those who feared God and bore much fruit for God's glory.  Their fear of God had a lot to do with the success of the gospel, the church, the dedication, devotion and sanctification of the members.
  • The Fear of God In The Epistles:
People sin against God because "there is no fear of God before their eyes."  (Romans 3:10-18). Lawlessness abounded because they had no fear of God, (Romans 1:28).  Those who fear God honor all people, (Romans 13:7); they persuade, warn and admonish those who disobey God, (2 Cor. 5:11).  Those who refuse to cleanse and purify their souls from the defilement of the flesh cannot perfect holiness in the fear of God, (2 Cor. 7:1).  That simple!!  Moreover, the church that fears God exercises discipline according to the teachings of Matthew 18:15-17; Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 5, 11, 13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14.   Consider the following.
  1. Those who refuse to surrender to God's will, do not want to be subject to anyone.  
  2. Children who do not obey their parents do not fear God.  
  3. Wives who refuse to be subject to their husbands do not fear God.  
  4. Citizens who are not subject to their earthly rulers, do not fear God either, (Eph. 5:21-22). 
  5. Christians who are indifferent, neglect their salvation and do not work it out, do not fear God, (Phil. 2:12).  
  6. Those who disobey their employers do not fear God, (Col. 3:22).   
  7. Those who continue in sin refusing to repent, do not fear God, must be rebuked in public, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning, (1 Tim. 5:20).  
  8. Those who forsake the assembling on the first day of the week do not fear the LORD, (Heb. 10:24-25).  
  9. By the same token, those who "go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries."  (Heb. 10:26:27).  They will be judged with the wrath of God because they did not fear Him.  
  10. Finally, those who do not work righteousness, but are conformed to their former lusts, and do not conduct themselves in the fear of God will be judged by God according to their works, (1 Peter 1:13-17).

VII.   THE FEAR OF GOD AND THE WORSHIP OF THE CHURCH:

A huge problem in the church today is the lack of fear of God.  We may say all we want about Christ being in us, but are we actually thinking of His power, dignity, greatness, and majesty?  (Revelation 1:10-15).  Often, we fall short because we lack respect and reverence (fear of God) during worship (first day of the week), the failure to do all things properly and in an orderly manner, (1 Cor. 14:40).  All it means is a lack of fear of God and nothing else.  Members and visitors arrive late to worship, Bible class, disturbing the church worship.  They reflect just a lack of fear of God.  There is little fear of God (respect and reverence) when both young and old get up, come and go as they please.  They treat God's worship as if it were any worldly social or family gathering.  To neglect any of the teachings of Christ or of the apostles demonstrates a lack of fear of God.  The fear of God demands total reverence in the worship.  All the members must cooperate to make the worship entirely acceptable and pleasing to God.  We don't want to be the cause of irreverent worship to God. There must not be conversations during worship.  Likewise, it is irreverent to have silent conversations through written messages, texting, etc.  Worship is not the place to be chewing gum.  There must be complete reverence to God during worship.  "But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner."  (1 Cor. 14:40).   Let us take heed!!

Complete attention and meditation in each act of worship are necessary if we want to offer acceptable worship in the fear of God.  We must conduct ourselves with reverence in all five acts or worship (singing, praying, Bible class, the Lord's Supper and collection).  If we neglect to focus and meditate, when we partake of the Lord's Supper, it will be impossible to discern the body of the Lord, and the consequence of drinking the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be judged.  (1 Cor. 11:27-29).   We must never partake of the Lord's Supper as if it were an ordinary meal.  The same applies when we sing hymns.  It is important that we meditate on each word we're singing.  Otherwise, we are just reciting words.  During the sermon or Bible class, it is crucial that we focus and meditate on the Word of God.  The same also applies to prayer.  Are we praying enough during worship?  Or is it just quick, without meditation and concentration?  It is vital that we worship God in Spirit and Truth, (John 4:24).  Just because someone is physically present during worship is no proof that he is worshiping God reverently.  The fear of God must compel us to offer Him worship both in spirit and truth.  If we indeed fear God, we will frequently offer worship to Him.  We will show up at each worship service, Bible class, Gospel meetings, both locally and in different other places to hear God's Word.  Our indifference to various services and classes indicates a lack of fear of God.  Take heed!

Loving God is not enough, for we must also fear Him.  Just as diamonds have many facets, so must be our relationship to God.  It must be multidimensional.  Why?  Because while we claim to love God, we must also walk with Him in all righteousness, sanctification, and holiness.  Knowing this, it is vital that we trust Him, believe Him and fear Him!  Sadly, fewer pulpits are teaching this truth and are leading many into disobedience that will eventually cost their souls.  Do you know that a fundamental aspect of our faith and communion with God is fearing Him?  Anything less than trust, love, obedience, honor, fear, reverence is not true and saving faith.  The fear of the LORD is the only basis for perfecting holiness, godliness and thus receiving God's promises, (2 Cor. 7:1).  God hears the prayers of those who fear Him and revere Him, (Heb. 5:7-8).  Fearing God means to obey and respect Him as the Creator.  Hence, He has every right to be the Master and Lord!  Fearing God is connected with Judgment Day, (Rev. 14:7).  So, what will happen if we refuse to fear God?  A dreadful judgment!


VIII.   DEVELOPING THE FEAR OF GOD:
  • Through the Word of God:
Each of us must increase in our knowledge of the Word of God (grace).  The same is said about the fear of God, (Deut. 31:10-13; 17:19; Psalm 19:9; 119:120).  The fear of God must be taught, that it may fill our minds and hearts, (Ps. 34:11; 2 Kings 17:24-33).  We must pray to God, that He may teach us to fear Him that we may walk in His Truth and have communion with Him, (Ps. 86:11). When one studies and meditates on the Word of God, he can learn the fear of God.  Are you letting the Word of God teach you a proper reverence for Him?  Through God's Word, we learn to make choices based on the fear of the LORD.
  1. If I fear God, I will not think contrary to His Word and will, (Prov. 24:9; 15:26; Job 31:1).  
  2. If I fear God, I will not say things contrary to His Word, (Ps. 19:14; Prov. 10:32; 8:8).  
  3. If I fear God, I will not do things contrary to His will and Word, (Gen. 39:9; Job 31:9-12).  
  4. If I fear God I will think thoughts pleasing and in harmony with God's will and Word, (Phil. 4:8; 1 Cor. 6:19-20).  
  5. If I fear God, I will speak things agreeable to His will and Word, (Mal. 3:16; Ps. 73:15;; Eph. 5:4).  
  6. If I fear God, I will do things that are pleasing to God, (Ps. 15:1-4; 101:2-3; Ec. 12:13).  
Isn't it wonderful to be around those who fear God!!  (Psalm 119:63, 74, 79).  All righteous and godly men fear God, (Titus 1:8; Ps. 15:4).

Sadly, 
  1. Some only care about God's love and neglect to fear God.  
  2. Others read their Bibles only about God's lovingkindness but neglect to read about God's judgment.  
  3. Some belittle God's holiness and righteousness when they allow permissiveness in their lives without the fear of God.  
God's grace and forgiveness are only for those who fear Him and repent of their sins and live lives of holiness and godliness, (2 Peter 3:7-14; Romans 2:4-11).  Let us study the Word of God to develop a reverent fear of God.

CONCLUSION:

This study has been very fruitful for me, as it deepened my understanding of the Scriptures. It's like seeking for a hidden treasure in a field, and when one finds it, he hides it again.  And in one's joy, he sells all that he has to buy it. That is exactly how my soul feels every time I dig deeper into the Scriptures and find God's hidden riches found in His Word.  Such treasures are too precious to me! The Bible is God's treasure chest that helps us hunt for His precious gems found in His Word.  David said, "In Thy precepts I meditate, And I behold attentively Thy paths.  In Thy statutes I delight myself, I do not forget Thy word."  (Psalm 119:15-16).   Like David, I want to saturate my heart with God's Truth and treasure it in my heart.  I want to contemplate God's riches and treasures, and delight in the Lord's teachings.  

The fear of God moves us to abandon sin, separate and cleanse ourselves from it. Those who fear God will receive a great reward. Even in this life, they will receive honor and riches; they will be defended by God.  Those who are wise, fear God because they understand, appreciate and develop reverence toward Him in their lives.  Since we walk on holy ground, our lives must reflect reverence toward God.  Otherwise, we run the risk of being consumed by God's wrath against our sins, (Heb. 12:29).  Fearing God means one does not fear man.  The fear of God saves us from the bondage of sin.  Wisdom originates in the fear of God.  
  1. God opens our eyes, ears, and hearts to His Truth and wisdom, (1 Kings 3:5-15; James 1:5).
  2. God opens the eyes of men through His Word; He shows them His secrets.  
  3. If we are wise enough to accept His treasures, we will fear no man, for God's wisdom, cannot be found, but in the fear of God, (Job 28:12-28).   
  4. The man who fears the LORD will be greatly blessed, (Ps. 128:1-6).  
  5. The one who does not fear the LORD is destroyed by the ungodly snares of this world, (Prov. 10:27; 22:5; Eccl. 7:17).

The fear of the LORD is sober reverence and a holy desire to please God.  He who fears God rejects sin.  The fountain of life does not depend on circumstances, but on fearing God, for even if we have little, but we fear the LORD, our life is better than the life of someone who has great treasure surrounded with trouble, (Prov. 15:16).   Jesus, our Lord, feared God the Father, even when facing death on the cross.  Because of His fear and reverence, He provided a fountain of eternal life to save mankind from the wrath of God.  Those who love and fear Him will find the Truth, (John 8:32). Fearing God is connected to judgment, (Rev. 14:7).  God is the Righteous Judge of all His creation who sits on His throne judging all the nations with justice and equity.

All those who fear God will do what is necessary to become acceptable and pleasing to Him, (Acts 10:35).  Holiness is perfected when we walk in the fear of the Lord, (2 Cor. 7:1).  But the fear of God must be taught, (Psalm 34:11).  The fear of God helps us to depart from evil and gives us righteous understanding, (Job 28:28).  The natural man refuses to fear and obey God.  The Bible calls them fools, (Ps. 14:1; 36:1; 58:1).  Their reasoning is perverse and full of conceited ideas and assumptions, (Rom. 1:20-23; 1 Tim. 6:3-5, 20-21).  The spiritual man fears God and thus is wise and reasonable.  He is rescued because his thoughts begin with faith and fear in God, (2 Thess. 3:2; Heb. 11:3,6).  Now, the fool is deceived with the thoughts, thinking of other fools rather than the Words of God.  The knowledge of a fool revolves around his assumptions.  He assumes his ideas are smarter and more rational.  While the righteous and God-fearing man affirms his faith based on God's infinite wisdom and Truth revealed in the Scriptures.  He humbles himself and acknowledges with godly fear that he knows nothing and needs God's help.  He knows the Word of God is entirely true and perfect.

The fear of God is clean, (Psalm 19:9). There is nothing evil about fearing God.  The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and good understanding.  Those who practice it keep His commands and turn away from evil, (Psalm 34:11; 111:10; Job 28:28).  True fulfillment is found in fearing God and keeping His commands.  Those who do not fear God, will not keep His commands, or at least not those he wishes to ignore, (cf. John 14:15; I John 5:3).  To live a holy life, the fear of God is necessary.  Our fear of God determines our commitment to holiness.  In 2 Cor. 7:1 Paul stated, "...let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." It's not enough to be set apart partially for God's use. We must be set apart for His purposes completely!  When we fear God, we will allow God to shape our lives and our hearts through His Gospel message, into things much greater than bars of steel. We will not resist God's way (as steel) to mold, polish and refine us.  The more we fear God, the more we will allow Him to shape us and use us for His purposes. 

Indeed, the fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom and instruction; without it, it will be difficult to fear God and keep His commands and be prepared for God's judgment, (Ecclesiastes 12:32-34).  Everything will be exposed by God, both good and evil on that Final Day, (cf. John 5:28,29; II Cor. 5:10). It represents God's all-inclusiveness about judgment and life after death. "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Proverbs 1:7).  Where does knowledge begin? When one has the right attitude of deep reverence and humility toward God.  Thus, a superior intellect is not enough to learn God's Truth and wisdom.  To fear God is to acknowledge His power, authority and respect Him for who He is.  Godliness in the Bible is literally the fear of God and the devotion that grows out of that fear. Fearing God is loving His commands and hating all forms of evil, (Prov. 8:13; 16:6; Psalm 111:10; 112:1).  Fearing God recognizes Him as the First Cause and Last Cause of all things, (Prov. 16:4; Rev. 4:11).  He who fears God seeks His forgiveness to please Him, (Ps. 130:3-4).  He trembles humbly at His Word, (Isa. 66:2).  To fear God is the whole duty of man, (Eccl. 12:13-14).

Sadly, many churches are moving farther from the fear of the LORD.  It is an indication that they fear men rather than God.  Many pulpits avoid teaching the fear of God as they soften the Message.  In their effort, they are running from the very thing the church needs:  the fear of God and giving Him glory.  You see, the early church walked "in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit."  (Acts 9:31).  Did you catch that?!  The church was powerful and multiplied because they walked in the fear of God and not to please men.  Did you know that sanctification, holiness and the fear of God go hand in hand?  Paul reminds us to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."  (Phil. 2:12).  There can be no regeneration, no renewing of our minds, without the fear of the LORD.  
  1. Fear motivates one to godly sorrow and forgiveness.  
  2. The fear of the LORD saves man from himself.  
  3. The fear of God involves respect and reverence toward God Almighty.  
  4. Godly or holy fear protects us.  
  5. So often, reverent fear moves men to Christ and His plan of redemption.  
Therefore, it is vital for the church to preach and teach the fear of God and faithfulness to Him.  We live in a godless society that has been affected by this.  They have lost reverence toward God and His Word, His Truth.  They refuse to serve Him with reverence in doctrine, worship, and conduct. They have neither respect nor honor toward God or His authority, submitting to Him in all things, (Heb. 12:9; Col. 3:17, 23; Ps. 111:10; 119;161; Eccl. 12:13).  We must fight against the current and start exalting God, for He must be rightly feared.  The world, even Christians sometimes use the tune, NO FEAR!  Come on!!!  Even the devil's angels have more common sense than we have.  Many think that God and the word "fear" are incompatible, for all they know is the sentimental, silly caricature they have created.  They show absolutely no fear of God.  Therefore, let us never forget that our lives reflect our reverence or fear toward God.  If we let sin consume our lives, because of our lack of fear and reverence toward God, His wrath will consume us, (Heb. 12:29). Take heed!
"Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe (fear); 29 for our God is a consuming fire."  (Hebrews 12:28-29).

May we always fear, trust and submit to His will, waiting with patience for Him to transform us.   May we fear God always, walking in His ways, loving Him and serving Him with all our heart and soul.  May we cleanse ourselves from the filthiness of sin perfecting holiness in the fear of God. May we put into practice the fear of God in every aspect of our life here on earth, that we may sanctify and exalt our Creator God.  May we teach all men the fear of the LORD, that they may come to know and obey Him and receive salvation.


Luci