Our fear of God is different than the fear talked about in the Bible. I am guilty of supporting this wrong kind of thinking.
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 11 For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.
Teach me Your way, O LORD, that I may walk in Your truth;
Give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your name. Psalm 86:11
I have always maintained that “the fear of the LORD” had to do with awe and wonder with a healthy respect, and these feelings do come with the fear of the LORD. But, we tend to minimize His holiness and superiority if we don’t consider what it means to “fear the LORD.” I have come to understand that “fear” is “real fear.” It’s the terror of standing before a holy God and being found unholy. Jesus said,
4 “Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. 5 But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear. Luke 12:4-5
We have lost the fear of the LORD in our American view of Christianity. The A,B,C’s of becoming a Christian impart the how-to’s of becoming a Christian:
A. Admit that you’re a sinner.
B. Believe that Jesus is God’s Son.
C. Confess Jesus as your LORD.
But, do we take the time to explain that the fact that we are sinners means that we cannot stand before the holy God of Israel, the world, and the universe? That we deserve more than physical death; we deserve hell? Do we describe what we look like to God: Wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked (Revelation 3:17)? Did I mention that our sin is like filthy rags to Him? Listen to this description:
3 For your hands are stained with blood,
your fingers with guilt and filthy with sin.
Your lips have spoken falsely,
and your tongue mutters wicked things. Isaiah 59:2
6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; Isaiah 64:6
When we tell them to believe that Jesus is God’s Son, do we take the time to emphasize that God left heaven for us–to die for us a horrible death? Do we teach them to cry out to God in Jesus’ name to save them from death and hell and from themselves? Or, do we make it a sales pitch?
Do we teach them that confession is more than just saying we’re sorry? That it involves deep remorse and repentance, turning around 180 degrees from our sin, and pledging to strive to live a godly life? Do we teach them that our sin causes great harm to us, to our relationship with others, and to our relationship with God? It interrupts our fellowship and causes us to lose His guiding light and voice at what is usually a very precarious time in our lives. It’s a DANGEROUS time in our lives! Do we teach them that their first confession of sin to the Father is not their last, and that much of our prayer time throughout our lives is spent in confession?
God is good, but He is also just, and His justice cannot allow Him to excuse our sin. Our sins are paid for by the blood of Jesus, but they also carry consequences in this life. A breaking of fellowship with our God is one of them, and is, in fact, the biggest one. What do we do when we find that we are out of fellowship with the LORD?
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners [repent], and purify your hearts, you double-minded [wanting things both ways]. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-11
God “jealously longs for the Spirit He has caused to dwell in us,” (v.5), meaning that He wants fellowship with us who are in Christ and have the Holy Spirit in us. Let’s not put off humbling ourselves before the LORD. Let’s run to Him in repentance and humility. Let’s cry out for His mercy and His grace. We have this promise:
16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16
When do we need it most? When we are caught in the snares of sin. Don’t wait to clean up before coming to Christ. He’s in the business of taking sinful people and making them beautiful, blameless saints! My favorite verse is Jude 24:
24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling [and falling] and to present you before his glorious presence without fault [blameless] and with great joy—
Abba, thank You for loving us so much that You provided a way back to You through Jesus Christ, Your Son. May we keep in mind that You are holy and that You have called us to be holy, too, which we can only do by trusting in the Holy Spirit to guide us. Please don’t let us take for granted Your sacrifice on the cross, or to think so highly of ourselves as to try to live godly lives on our own. It just doesn’t work that way. WE NEED YOU. Fill us with Your Spirit, LORD. Amen.
NOTE: Did you notice how many Scriptures I used? Wonder how I knew them? Because I read them in the Bible and committed many of them to memory. Why? Because they’re important to know! Ask God to give YOU verses as you read. He will!