Either we fear God or we fear the world.
At first, it may be difficult to merge the idea of a loving God with one whom we should fear, but in this post, I will explain what it means to fear God according to the Bible. God’s word speaks for itself.
Mankind’s fear of criticism and need to please has weakened the body of Christ. Rather than offend people, we are taught that we don’t have to fear God, only to respect and revere Him. This is not what the Word says and there are numerous scriptures to support that. God says we must fear Him, we must tremble in His presence.
Why We Should Fear God, the Creator
Our fault begins when we confuse fear of God with our experience of worldly fear. We look at the topic of worldly fear in the blog post How to Overcome Fear in Life For this post we focus only on the fear of God.
When earthquakes and volcanoes rock the earth and storms destroy everything in their path, God is showing us His power. When we look around us at nature, the design of the human body, the seasons, and the stars, we know that the Creator is not somebody to be merely respected as you would a headmistress or boss. No, what we see is the power of a mighty God who gets to decide if we live out eternity in heaven or hell. This is the God we serve and I believe He expects more than mere respect from us.
“I feared the anger and wrath of the Lord, for he was angry enough with you to destroy you.” (Deut 9:19)
God is capable of destroying the world in His anger. Remember the days of Noah? God cannot tolerate evil and His anger is aimed at removing evil. He wants us to fear Him because then we will turn from evil. (Prov 16:6) It is His love for us that drives His anger, not selfish ambition which is often the case here on earth.
God performs miracles to demonstrate His power so that we will fear Him, because if we don’t fear Him, how can we trust Him?
Why Does the Bible Tell Us to Fear God?
What starts as fear of God, causes us to obey His commands. If we do not obey, God disciplines us out of love because His purpose for us is to reflect His image. As we grow to realize this, our wisdom increases and we learn to understand and know the heart of the Father more acutely. Our love for Him grows and out of that, willing obedience ends in perfect love. This is God’s will for us. In that place of perfect love, we are closest to Him. Faith and fear cannot co-exist in the world. As faith increases, fear subsides. God uses our fear to build our faith, but we have to trust enough to let go.
“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:1-5)
God’s Incredible Power
When God spoke to Moses from within the burning bush in Exodus 3:1, Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. God told him to remove his shoes as he was on Holy ground. Later in Exodus 33, God tells Moses He will cover him with his hand because Moses was not allowed to see God’s face. There are many similar encounters in the Bible, where men have fallen to the ground in His presence. This is a God so powerful, we cannot even look upon His face and still live.
How Can We Love and Fear God?
We can love and fear God in the same way we love Superman, Rambo, and other big strong heroes who fight evil with good. I know this is a simplistic illustration, but the concept is the same.
It is difficult to love a person who you fear because they have used cruelty to harm you. Yet we CAN and do love somebody who is powerful but uses that power to protect and provide for us. I wouldn’t want to be God’s enemy, but as long as He is for us, we know we can trust in Him to fight and win our battles. If God was weak we wouldn’t be able to rely on Him and we would have to do it alone.
If we fear God we obey Him and His commands. When we obey Him, He reveals more of Himself to us. Then it is easy to love our Father God when we see His compassion, tenderness, forgiveness, and unfailing love for us. We can fear and love because our God is both strict and kind.
“Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in His kindness.” (Rom 11:22)
God is for us, not against us
Fear in the world would cause many of us to shrink away but to fear God is to draw closer to Him. The Bible says it is our prime duty to fear Him and obey His commands. (Ecclesiastes 12:13) As we fear Him He reveals His great love to us. What an incredible experience that is.
The essence of having love and fear is to achieve balance. Too much fear is unhealthy but fear with love brings harmony and willing obedience.
Charles Spurgeon said we fear the world because it is closer to us, where God seems so far away. Yet He is not. The Holy Spirit is within us, you can’t get any closer than that. We can see the world and what is going yet we often don’t know what God is doing within the Spiritual realm. Through obedience, we will begin to see more of him around us and less of the world.
This sounds back to front I know, but God doesn’t work in the same way that the world does. We need to adjust our minds to understand that and see things through His eyes. If you trust and have faith in God, He will help you to overcome your worldly fears.
The breaking off, or pruning, is what we fear, but as we see here, it is to perfect us because He loves us and wants what is best for us.
“He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and prunes every branch that does bear fruit so that it will be clean and bear more fruit.” (John 15:2)
Why It is Good to Fear God
One reason we fear God is that we fear punishment. When Jesus ascended to heaven He sent the Holy Spirit as our helper. The Holy Spirit prompts us by reminding us of the scriptures or prodding our conscience when we do wrong. This enables us to stop what we are doing wrong and repent of our actions. The more we are perfected in his love, the less often we need to be prompted.
“How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.” (Psalms 31:19)
The command to fear God comes with a promise. To say you don’t fear Him is denying this inheritance.
Here are 10 scriptures that bear testimony to the goodness He promises us:
We Shall Enjoy a Long Life
“That you, your children, and their children after them, may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.” (Deuteronomy 6:1,2)
A Promise of Provision for Those Who Fear God
“Who then is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him. He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear him; He makes His covenant known to them.” (Ps 25:12-14)
“Fear the Lord, you, His saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” (Psalm 34:9-11 )
“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus, is the man blessed who fears the Lord.” (Psalm 128:1-4)
“Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)
Fear of God Benefits Future Generations
“He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children, it will be a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.” (Prov 14:26-27)
“Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29)
“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and his righteousness with their children’s children – with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.” (Psalm 103:17-18)
“Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” (Psalm 112:1-2)
Health to Them Who Fear God
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:7-8)
Commit to fear God and obey His commands, but love Him too with all your heart. This is the beginning of wisdom and a life lived in surrender to His commands. Keep your eyes always on Him and He will make your paths straight.
I have mentioned quite a few scriptures in this post, which is not all. Take time to read through them, then pray and meditate on them.
If you would like more information on fear, preceptaustin.org has the most extensive amount of information I have ever seen on the subject. Visit their webpage and type “fear” into the search box.