Lucia's Blog: THE FEAR OF JEHOVAH IS THE BEGINNING OF KNOWLEDGE
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Saturday, May 2, 2020

THE FEAR OF JEHOVAH IS THE BEGINNING OF KNOWLEDGE

"The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge; But the foolish despise wisdom and instruction."
Proverbs 1:7



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 connected to wisdom (cf. Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7). 
"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!

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 ignore that in the Old TestamentJoshua exhorted and encouraged the people to "fear the LORD and serve Him with all faithfulness"  (Joshua 24:14).  

From Genesis to Revelation, we are urged 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!  

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.   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 misunderstand and misinterpret the meaning of fear toward God completely.  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.  
  1. Fearing God is despising or hating what He hates, sin.  
  2. It is wanting and loving what He approves.  
  3. It is guarding our conduct always (our thoughts, words, actions) for His approval (2 Cor. 5:9). 
  4. It is our most fundamental tool for a good conscience, the basis of judging all of our decisions of daily conduct.  
  5. It is matching our life and character with God's perfect will in all.  
  6. 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! 

Although 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). Thus they must seek after God and learn the fear of God.  
  1. The fear of God is instilled in men when they hear the Gospel, repent, and obey its commands.  When they do this, they begin the process of regeneration through God's grace (Titus 2:11-12; 1 Peter 1:22-24; Rom. 12:1-2).  
  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).  
  3. The fear of God is something that we must work on until our dying breath.  
  4. We must 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 same as 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 continually 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).


Those who fear God are more prone to live in a way that honors Him.  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.  We must stress the difference between a 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 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).


II.   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!


III.   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.


CONCLUSION:

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.  Those who fear God reject sin.  The fountain of life does not depend on circumstances, but on fearing God, for even if we have little, but 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 reverenceHe 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 a 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 Him to shape our lives and our hearts through His Gospel message into things much more excellent 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. 

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, the church must 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.  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 God's will, waiting with patience for Him to transform us.   May we fear God always, walking in His ways, loving 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

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