The Fear of God
The exact expression "the fear of God" is found six times in the King James Version of our Bible. In this study we will examine those passages and some truths that we can gain from each. Jesus was concerned about the fear of God because He was deeply concerned about life after physical death. The "fear of God" should open our thinking both to the thought of heaven and to the thought of hell. The fear of God should cause us to want to go to heaven. The fear of God should cause us not to want to go to hell. Statements like, "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal" should cause us to focus on the fear of God. (Matthew 25:46)
The thought of eternal destruction should arouse men to the fear of God. The politically correct world in which we live would banish the fear of God from our preaching and from our thinking. However, it was the fear of God that caused people to become great heroes of faith. (Hebrews 11) When your heart is controlled by the fear of God you cannot help but stand for Him. Those who know the fear of God live lives that are founded on the foundation of the grace and mercy of God. How could we ever appreciate the gift of God's Son without the fear of God? How could we ever want to obey God without the fear of God? How could we ever appreciate God's offer of salvation without awe, reverence, and respect for our perfectly holy Creator? "Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever." (Psalms 118:4)
Is the fear of God is this place? The great servant of God, Abraham lied about Sarah being his wife. The reason that he gave for this action was that he did not believe that the fear of God was in that place. "And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake." (Genesis 20:11) The fear of God is to stand in awe before Him. The fear of God says He is the all-powerful one. An example of the fear of God is in Exodus 14:31, "And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses." When the fear of God is absent people rape and rob, murder and molests, steal and kill. When the fear of the God is absent people are immoral, unethical and indecent. When the fear of the God is absent people are violent and evil. Is the fear of God in this place?
Rulers should rule in the fear of God. The character of a ruler over men is that he should be just, ruling in the fear of God. The Bible says, "The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God." (2 Samuel 23:3) A person that rules over men should be just and he should rule in the fear of God. A just ruler will protect both the person and the property of those that he rules over. He will administer justice and judgment to the people as in the sight of God. He will do those things that please God. A ruler is accountable to God for what he does. A ruler leads and rules under the eye of the all-seeing God of heaven. He should rule according to the law of God. He should encourage everything that is good and discourage everything that is evil. A ruler who rules in the fear of God will be a terror to evil doers and a blessing to them that do well. The ruler that fears God will protect the interest of God and promote Christianity in every decision. At a glance we should be able to tell what is wrong with our nation. Our rulers do not fear God!
The fear of God is upon those that understand that God fights for His people. In the Old Testament period God fought for His people, Israel. In 2 Chronicles 20:29 we read, "And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of Israel." What could be better than having God to fight for us? In 2 Chronicles 20 we observe that "Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord." I have learned by experience that you must obey God for Him to fight for you. We have heard of the Islamic jihad. These vicious people say they are in a holy war fighting for their God. However, a try holy war would be when God fights for His people. The fear of God should be upon people when they realize that He does not fight against His own people. The fear of God should also be upon people when they realize that God utterly destroys His enemies. If you are a faithful Christian you have God and He will fight for you. He will fight for you family. He will fight for your daily life! Your enemies will learn the fear of God when they see Him fighting for His people.
The fear of God motivates you to do right. Nehemiah was careful to do what he believed to be the will of God. He lived right and he treated people right because he feared God. In Nehemiah 5:15 we read, "But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable unto the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver; yea, even their servants bare rule over the people: but so did not I, because of the fear of God." The Bible tells us, "He that walketh in his uprightness feareth the LORD: but he that is perverse in his ways despiseth him." (Proverbs 14:2) Proof that Nehemiah lived in the fear of God was that he walked in uprightness. God is trying to tell you to fear Him, for if we do not have the fear of God we will not live an upright life. Most do not fear God and the proof of this statement is seen in their evil way of living.
Holiness is perfected in the fear of God. Paul wrote, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1) Will you not fear the Lord and take heed to His teachings? If our lives are to be righteous or holy we must learn the fear of God. "Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always." (Deuteronomy 14:22-23) If you are controlled by the fear of God you will simply obey the Scriptures without question. Those that chose the fear of God love Him and follow Him. Has the fear of God made you holy? Do you want to hear and know the truth of God? Will you worship and serve as God has commanded? Will you live a righteous life? You will if you will "cleanse yourself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
Families are made strong as husbands and wives "submit one to another in the fear of God." The word of God says, "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." (Ephesians 5:21) When you obey God concerning your family or any other matter the Bible says, "Happy is the man that feareth always: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief." (Proverbs 28:14) There are many that say that they want happy families yet they will still not fear God. The person who persists in not fearing God cannot be the best husband or wife they could be. You cannot build strong families without the fear of God. You can be a good husband or a good wife if you learn to fear God all the days that you live upon the earth. The Lord told Moses, "Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children." (Deuteronomy 4:10) The fear of God will produce strong, God approved families!
"The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy." (Psalms 147:11) Is your life controlled by the fear of God? If you believe in Jesus and want to receive the remission of your sins repent and be baptized to "wash away your sins." (Acts 22:16) There is urgency in your gospel obedience. "For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2) After you become a Christian you must "be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 15:58) The fear of God is necessary if you are to go to heaven.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA