“And this is what he says to all humanity:
‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom;
to forsake evil is real understanding.’” Job 28:28 NLT
This verse depicts the truth in a beautiful way. Many people would probably disagree when I say that wise people know to fear God, but as a matter of fact it is true. The problem of those people is that their lack of fear makes them dismiss the seriousness of judgment day. All their lives, they walk “safely” on the broad way to hell without caring about the consequences!
As for me, I don’t want people to go to hell. I know how long I was stumbling towards it before the courage of an apostle who didn’t shy away from speaking the whole truth saved me. Therefore, I want to share the full truth with you by telling you how I learned to fear God and why I love that fear.
The Reason To Fear God
The book Genesis tells us that God created the universe. He created everything and wrote the rules for this world. Those include the rules of nature as well as the moral rules which we find in the Bible. Now, nature follows God’s rules just fine, but there is a problem with humans, because
When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Romans 5:12 NLT
We are all sinners — all of us! There wasn’t, isn’t and won’t ever be an exception other than Jesus Christ who himself is also God. If you don’t believe me, ask youself the following questions:
- Have I ever lied?
- Were there times when I cursed someone in my heart?
- Did I ever look at someone with lust?
There are many more questions like these and if the answer to any of them is “yes” then you are a sinner, too. Now, the Lord is just and He will give to everyone what he deserves. The is described by Jesus as,
“This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:49-50 NIV
For us as sinners without exception, that means eternal punishment in the horrors of hell. I don’t know about you, but when I finally heard this truth and realized my situation, I was frightened!
How Fear Is Turned Into Hope
The point is that we need this fear, because without it, we wouldn’t ask for help. This is why
When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor — sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Mark 2:17 NLT
Only if you know that you are in desperate need of help, will you start looking for a savior. And the good news is that there is One,
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24 NIV
If you don’t know what that means, feel free to read how We Are Forgiven Through the Blood of Christ!
God offers us salvation and forgiveness, if we just repent and put our trust in him. But without us fearing God first, we wouldn’t reach out for this gift. My life is no exception. I lived in an illusion of safety until I was rebuked about the fact that I was a terrible sinner. And even though it might seem harsh to say this to someone, it is one of the kindest things you can do for them. That’s because there is only one way to salvation: Jesus!
Why We Should Still Fear God After We Are Saved
So far it might seem like once you’re saved, all fear is gone. Well, in terms of punishment, yes, but this is not the only fear. Moreover, it is unhealthy to live without a fear of God, even after you have been saved. The reason for that is threefold.
Through Fear, You Show God the Reverence He Deserves
The first reason can be found many times in the Bible. It says,
The fear of the Lord leads to life,
So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil. Proverbs 19:23 NASB
So, God will protect those who fear him according to his will. I’m not saying that they won’t ever struggle, but the Lord will make sure that everything goes well with them eventually.
To understand why God wants to be feared, I would like to point towards the Hebrew word יִרְאַ֣ת (yir·’aṯ). This is the word that was translated into “fear“. It can also be rendered as “reverence” (source: biblehub.com), which means to have deep respect for someone. That in turn is what God requests from us which is totally righteous.
Just imagine you have created a world and filled it with life. You have also provided the creatures you made with a huge variety of nourishments so that they would lack nothing. On top of that, you yourself have also paid the price for all of their sins so that they wouldn’t have to face the punished they deserve. Wouldn’t you want them to thank you? And wouldn’t it hurt you to watch them take all of your hard work, love and care for granted? Well, this is what God sees when He looks at this world.
He is the Creator of everything and has blessed us beyond imagination. It’s only right to thank and deeply respect him for what Jesus has done for us. And just like you would happily help a grateful friend, so God also enjoys helping his people who fear him.
The Fear of God Keeps You From Sinning
Next to bringing God the reverence He deserves, the fear of him also helps us to abstain from sin. Paul explains,
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Romans 6:1-2 NIV
Thus, whoever is born of the Holy Spirit is no longer a slave to sin. However, we are still “trapped” in our earthly bodies and they continuously tempt us to sin. The only way to resist those temptations is to fear God, because without that we would simply ignore Paul’s rebuke.
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, you can read more about what Being Born Again means.
You see, we don’t fear God for being judged anymore because we know that we have been forgiven. What we do fear him for is his endless power and might. We love him and He loves us. God calls us his children and just like any earthly father, He also disciplines his children when we sin.
I don’t know the relationship between your father and you but as for me, I always feared my dad getting angry. Even though he has never disciplined me with the rod, I was still scared whenever I did something wrong. I loved him and wanted him to be pleased (and not be punished) and it is the same between us and God. We love him and therefore want to please him. We don’t want him to get angry and be forced to rebuke us.
Nevertheless, if we do sin and God does rebuke us, we should gladly accept his discipline, for it will transform us more into the likeness of our Savior Jesus Christ!
Fearing God Sets You Free
This might sound contradictory at first because most fears will chain you to some degree. What I mean is that if you fear God more than men, you will be set free from the chains of this world. You can see that in Paul commanding us,
Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV
This means that we should not go along with what earthly people say, but follow only God! For me, that was really hard. I was so used to giving in to the will of others that I feared their reaction if I didn’t follow their ways or didn’t fit in to their group. I only managed to break those chains becasue I read about The Perfection of God’s Justice in the bible and because God himself rebuked me by saying,
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28 NIV
Now that that I fear God more than men, people cannot hold me down anymore. To be fair, there are still situations when I prefer to (and sometimes do) hide. And after each of those situations, I have to face God who is rebuking me again. As mentioned above, I’d rather just please him, but I am so thankful for his patience and that He is disciplining me! Only through God’s discipline and love will I be able to defeat this pointless fear over and over again. This is also why I am writing this blog. I won’t remain silent anymore and I will keep telling the truth without distortions, whether the world likes it or not!
How Do We Learn To Fear God?
To attain all the good things I mentioned above, we first need to learn to fear God (which is the best thing you can do). From my experience I can tell you three ways of how to accomplish this.
The first one is pretty straightforward: Read God’s word in the Bible and get to know the Lord and his ways. And with that, I don’t mean just reading a few chapters. I want to encourage you to read the whole Bible. That way you will understand the bigger picture and be able to put it all into the right perspective. You see, most errors and misunderstandings are grounded in not knowing the context. Only when you read the entire Bible, will you understand the true character of God, what He has done for us and what is yet to come.
Added to that, you should also speak to other Christians about it. Ask the elders of your church when you don’t understand something and pay attention to their teachings in church meetings. That way you will broaden your mind and grasp even more of God’s perfection. Your questions might also help your fellow Christians to come closer to God, because there is always more to discover!
And last but not least, you will learn to fear God through spending time with the Lord. When you earnestly seek his advice, He will answer you and reveal to you what you need to know. That way, you will be able to live in the good of what your heavenly Father has prepared for you. And if God rebukes you, don’t be dismayed. Instead, turn your regret into plans and resolve and dare to speak the truth — without distortions. That way, you will grow and shine forth glory of God and the whole world will see his light!