“Words taught by the Spirit” (1Cor.2:13)
An Email Ministry for the Glory of God
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecc.12:13).
I have dealt, in the past, with the subject of “The fear of God”, three times, given that I consider this spiritual virtue of highest importance! Each time from another point of view, based on a different Bible verse! This time, some extremely serious and most painful spiritual events brought back to my mind the same theme, but based on a different Bible verse. Parts of my previous spiritual messages have been included in this one.
It is well known and recognized that the Word of God, the Bible, is given by God’s inspiration and that it is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness (2Tim.3:16). The verse that we are going to examine is extremely meaningful! In few words, it expresses a great truth and establishes important spiritual guidelines.
God is not pleased with our beautiful words, our great activities and activism or our talents and natural endowments, which He Himself has put in us. He finds pleasure in the fear of God in us, in our sincere repentance, in our unfeigned faith in His words, and in our unreserved trust in His character. He wants us to have Him sanctified in our hearts and be our fear and our dread (Isa.8:13)! Our search in the Sriptures helps us understand Him and respect Him! He also takes pleasure in our faith when it is successfully tested in fiery trials, in our merciful and truthful character and in our humility and, in general, in the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in us. In other words, in our “… charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1Tim.1:5). Above all, God is pleased when we fear HIM and keep His commandments; when our obedience proceeds out of love and godly fear which puts God above everything and everyone we love. Yes, when the fear of God pushes us to obey in all His commands, no matter how hard and painful they are! Example: God told Abraham: “[…] Lay not your hand on the lad, neither do you any thing to him: for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me” (Gen.22:12). His act of obedience proved his Godly fear!
When people speak of “the fear of God” or of “the holy fear”, they understand the affectionate reverence or “the godly fear” which is due to God! They are right! This is what I believed for quite a long time… But, later, I understood that these words do not reflect fully the notion of the expression of the “fear of God” as it is used in the Bible. We must, also, be “afraid” of God when we sin and do not repent because “our God is a consuming fire…” (Heb.12:29 and Ps.73:18-19). This is the reason why the Lord Jesus Christ declared: “I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish” (Lu.13:3, 5). Paul, the apostle, did not write in vain: “And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall mourn many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed” (2Cor.12:21). What does the verb ‘mourn’ mean? Who do you mourn for?
It also means that we are aware of His divine Presence around us all the time and, at the same time, of our littleness. We are also aware within ourselves that the eyes of the LORD our God are always on us from the beginning of the year even to the end of the year (De.11:12). How expressive is the phrase, “I have walked before you in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in your sight […]” (2Kgs.20:3). We also are aware that each and every choice we make may have eternal consequences! We are equally aware that our disobedience will cost us more than our obedience! At the same time we are aware of the love and care of God for us which encompasses us and that He makes all things work together for our good (Rom.8:28)!
The awareness generated by the fear of God Who keeps an eye on us continually pushes us, or better, obliges us to warn and persuade people to give their heart to HIM, to repent sincerely, producing “works” worthy of repentance and of diligent obedience in whatever HE commands! If one fears the Lord and obeys faithfully, he is delivered from all other fears! And not only that, but that we are aware that all we do and say is written in His book! It is written: “Then they that feared the LORD spoke often one to another: and the LORD listened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought on his name” (Mal.3:16). “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” (De.5:29). Oh! If God, our heavenly Father, was placed in our heart above everyone and everything we love! Yes, if we loved Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30), then our love, respect and obedience would have made us the most happy people in the world! However, this is not the case for many! Do you remember what the apostle Paul said: “For I have no man like minded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (Phil.2:20-21)?
Definitions and characteristics of the fear of God
- “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the fraudulent mouth, do I hate” (Prov.8:13);
- “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility (Prov.15:33);
- “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov.1:7);
- “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding!” (Prov.9:10)
Consequently, the wise and intelligent man is the one who, because of the fear of the Lord in his heart (from all points of view), hates evil, departs from all kinds of evil and does wholeheartedly the will of God. The immediately above mentioned verses and certain other scriptures (Pr.15:16 and Isa.33:6), as well as the general spirit of the Bible prove that the greatest treasure of the believer is the fear of God, which generates knowledge and wisdom, which, in their turn, lead to salvation, incite man to purification (Ps.19:9) and make him agreeable to God! Then, God fills the pure and obedient heart with His Holy Spirit! (Act.5:32). It is better to have less material goods, but more fear of God, peace and stability (Prov.15:16). May the Lord, make stronger this spiritual principle in us!
The Word of God goes further: It says that “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” (Pr.14:27). How many times, prudence, which is the fruit of godly fear, protects us from the snares of Satan and of physical death! Yes, but we must humbly confess that it is not our prudence that has always protected us, but it is God’s protecting hand of love for us foolish people, who commit very often foolish actions… Let us stop and reflect on our past for a while… and of God’s interventions…
The fear of God is a mixture of fear and trembling, but at the same time of attraction and love. It is the affectionate reverence towards God, the Great and Almighty God, Governor of the universe, Who is, nevertheless, a devouring fire, exempt of all favoritism… but, Who is, at the same time, a God of love and mercy! The Bible says: “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Ps.2:11). He invites us to fear Him and Him only and call upon Him for our salvation, for it is He who can destroy both soul and body in Hell, but who also has loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him should escape eternal damnation and receive eternal salvation. Unfortunately, there are many “believers” who are afraid of men and seek men’s glory, but they do not fear God, neither for their life on earth, from all points of view, nor at the Judgment Day! HIM, it is that we must fear and hallow in our hearts because it is HE who can condemn us or justify us, who can save us and kill us and who can provide us the power to live the life He requires of us. Sincere repentance, worthy of its name, can save, before it is too late! Without repentance there is no salvation!
A misunderstanding concerning the origin of godly fear
It is written that the fear of God in our heart comes from God! Here is the proof: “And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me” (Jer.32:39-40). Alleluia! Isaiah said: “LORD, you will ordain peace for us: for you also have worked all our works in us” (26:12) and Paul, the apostle, proclaimed: “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph.1:11). Then, someone might object, saying: “Then, man is not responsible if he is deprived of the fear of God!” NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT! He is responsible not only for the lack of the fear of God in his heart, but he is also responsible for the lack of all the other divine virtues in his life! The responsibility belongs to us! It is written, and what is written remains:
- “… How often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not!” (Mat.23:37);
- “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Rom.1:28)
- “And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jer.29:13).
Each and every exhortation of the Word of God constitutes for us a certain responsibility!
Conclusion: God will put His fear in us as well everything else that contributes to our salvation and edification PROVIDED we desire them with all our heart and consent that He puts them in us!!! PROVIDED we love truth above everything else and every other person! So, it is for our good and that of our children, as well as for granting us an intimate and eternal relationship with Him that He puts His fear in us! HE the author and HE the guarantor!
I open a parenthesis: God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son and the Holy Spirit should be the only object of our godly fear and trembling and not the «saints» and/or their dry bones or their icons!!! This is why it is written: “Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread” (Isa.8:13). May the Lord help us to live in this way so that His name be sanctified in us. Do we sanctify our Lord Jesus Christ when we turn our heart to other human beings such as the dead saints and even in the holy Mother of Jesus, to save us and to bless us or to give us grace or to help us in our needs as if they were omnipresent and all powerful? Were they crucified for our sins? The spiritual leaders as well as the believers, have they never read that there is one God, and ONE MEDIATOR between God and men, the man CHRIST JESUS? (2Tim.2:5). The spiritual leaders, as well as the believers, have they never read what Jesus declared: “… Truly, truly, I say to you, Whatever you shall ask the Father IN MY NAME, he will give it to you”? (John 16:23). Such leaders are men, who “hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom.1:18). Such spiritual leaders shut up the kingdom of heaven against men. They neither go in themselves, neither suffer those that are entering to go in (Mt.23:13-14). Unfortunately, they belong to that category of spiritual leaders that Paul named as “deceiving, and being deceived”. Those who would dare resist and reprove them – because they want to live godly in Christ Jesus – will suffer persecution directly or indirectly (2Tim.3:12-13).
The Bible says: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1Pet.3:15). Such an attitude will lead us, first, to defend ourselves with gentleness and respect toward every man (De.14: 23; Jos.4: 24; Pr.23:17) and second be able to help our children and other people to fear no-one else but God alone and acquire a listening ear! (Ps.34:11). From the first day that I understood the importance of the fear of God in my life, I have not stopped praying God to put His fear in my children’s heart…
Fear God and not men
Yes, we should fear God and not men, not only in order to be given His blessings, but also to avoid the consequences of His warnings! This is the reason why the fear of God is our “treasure”. This is why, when we pray, we must ask God to put His fear into the hearts of those we pray for, whether it has to do with our children, our parents, our relatives or with friends or even our enemies. Yes, the fear of God leads to life but the fear of men lays or brings snares! The only way to get rid of the fear of men and of “calamities” is to fear God and to pay attention to all the “Thus says the Lord”. Someone said: “We fear men so much because we fear God so little”. The fear of men renders us weak in front of difficulties. Can there ever be happiness and power when the servile fear of flesh exists? We should not therefore fear those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul, but rather Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Mt.10:28). Jesus spoke often about Hell! Do we? Or do we avoid it systematically? Are we more gentle and compassionate than Jesus? Let, therefore, pray God to teach us to number our days, so that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom and understand the fear of God (Ps.90:12).
The opposite of the fear of God
On the contrary, unbelievers who do not fear God are afraid of other gods (2Ki.17:38) and are fearful and tremble where there is no reason to be in fear (Re.21: 8; Ps.53:5). In addition, they fear other men, even the annoying and threatening voice of members of their family. May the Lord protect us and not permit that we be “driven” by their voices and do things that are disagreeable to God! May He help us, on the contrary, to do all that is useful for our fellow men and the members of our family for the salvation of their soul and for their “real” prosperity! Let never the fear of men have the upper hand on us! (1Sam.15:24 and Joh.9:22). Fortunately, the wrath of God is not intended for those who have humbly accepted the forgiveness and the grace of God (Isa.2: 19; Lu.21: 26; Re.6: 16-17; Heb.10:27). “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…” (Rom.8:1)
Another thing that makes people to be in a state of unholy fear is a guilty conscience! How true! Guilty conscience, the “nakedness” of our conscience, pushes us to hide in the circumstances of life or in the “darkness” or in isolation. They fear the light which makes their works manifest! In the book of Genesis 3:10, we read: “And he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (See also Gen.4:14). How true the Word of God is when it declares: “There is no peace for the wicked” (Isa.48: 22; 57:21) and that “The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted” (Pr.10:24)! What a promise, what a blessing! Then, our desires, our holy desires, will be given us! Thank you, Lord!!! (Pr.10:24). And how comforting is His Word, which says:
- “But whoever listens to me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil” (Pr.1:33).
- “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps.27: 1; Rom.8: 31-35; Isa.8:12)
So, we conclude that when we trust God, we are preserved from unholy fear… The Bible confirms that the transgression of the wicked proves that there is no fear of God before his eyes (Ps.36:1).
Heavenly Father, teach us to number our days aright, that we may apply our heart unto wisdom, and understand the fear of the Lord (Ps.90:12). Help us, Lord, to use well our time, the time that you have loaned us before eternity, and to apply our heart to acquire the fear of the Lord. Lord, keep us from feelings and intentions of avenging ourselves or of rewarding evil for evil! Are we in Your place? The right of vengeance and of recompense belongs only to You! Do not permit that we be overcome by evil, but that we overcome evil with good (Gen.50: 19; Rom.12:17-21). Let your fear be in us and in our children so that our homes may prosper! (Exod.1:21) Amen!
To be continued…