Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fear of the Lord

The Fear of the Lord is an unpopular idea. We typically understand that God is all about love, and there shouldn't be any reason to fear, right?

Well, the Bible tells us to have a more balanced view: having both fear and love. How is that possible? Is it Stockholm Syndrome? Read on...

#1) The term is in both Testaments
One common idea is that 'Fear' is what the Old Testament is all about, and that 'Love' is what the New Testament is all about. Not quite.
"[...]but with a sincere heart, fearing the Lord." (Colossians 3:22b, NET)

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria experienced peace and thus was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, the church increased in numbers. (Acts 9:31, NET)
Fearing the Lord is the beginning of moral knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
So we see that fearing the Lord has always been a good thing.

#2) Why should you fear God?
Because of His righteous judgment. And because God delights in those who fear Him. And we can learn to delight in fearing God too.
I  tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more they can do. But I will warn you whom you should fear: Fear the one who, after the killing, has authority to throw you into hell.  Yes, I tell you, fear him! (Luke 12:4-5, NET)
The Lord takes delight in his faithful followers, and in those who wait for his loyal love.  (Psalms 147:11, NET - Hebrew is in those who fear Him)
He will take delight in obeying the Lord. (Isaiah 11:3a, Hebrew says fearing the Lord)
#3) What it means to fear the Lord?
There are two Greek words used here: Phobeomai and Phobos. They mean terrify, but also respect, reverence, accompanied with the idea of amazement and astonishment (Key Word Study Bible, p. 1684). So when we read about the fear of the Lord, we need to keep in mind those dimensions as well.
Gather the people – men, women, and children, as well as the resident foreigners in your villages – so they may hear and thus learn about and fear the Lord your God and carefully obey all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 31:12, NET)
Fearing God means obeying His Word.
If you fear the Lord, serving him and obeying him and not rebelling against what he says,  and if both you and the king who rules over you follow the Lord your God, all will be well. (1 Samuel 12:14)
Fearing God means serving Him.
The fear of the Lord is to hate  evil; (Proverbs 8:13a, NET)
Continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence (Philippians 2:12b, NET)
Fearing God means to hate sin and evil things. It means doing everything we can to stay pure and stay close to God, and letting His Spirit work in us.
He declared  in a loud voice: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has arrived, and worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water!” (Revelations 14:7, NET)
Fearing God is a must for disciples of Christ. Jesus makes it very clear that we must fear God.
Fearing God is a good thing. It means to show a healthy respect for the Almighty.
The fear of God means that we will fight sin in our lives, to worship God, to give Him glory and to obey. We can (and should) pray for that (Ps 86:11)

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