Monday, February 27, 2012

The Lost Art Of Fear

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom

If you were to ask churchgoers today what the “fear of the Lord” is, I honestly am not sure what the answer would be. You would probably get a lot of vacant stares. Maybe you would get an answer like, “that's something from the Old Testament that God used to keep His people in line.” But the truth is, the fear of God is often mentioned in the New Testament – not just the old!

If you were asking a pastor, he would probably say, “it's a reverential respect of how big God is.” This is a little closer to the point, but it's still only partially right. The simple fact is, we haven't been very clear about what it means to fear God.

That's a shame, because there is so much in our Christian life that depends on the fear of the Lord!

Divine protections is a result of a person fearing God. Psalm 34:7 says, The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them. Being delivered from trouble is a direct result of a believer's fear of God!

Long life is another benefit. Look at Proverbs 10:27: The fear of the LORD prolongs days. Now look at what Proverbs 22:4 says: By humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches and honor and life. In that verse we see that not only is your life attached to your fear of God, but so is your wealth and reputation! Psalm 128:1 echoes that by saying, Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways. (By the way, Psalm 128:1 also has a clue to what Godly fear is all about – you'll see it again later.)

And we can't list the benefits of fearing the Lord without going back to our starting verse! Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. How often do we need wisdom in our life? How often have you wished you had more? The way you start getting wisdom is by learning how to fear God!

So what is the fear of God? Proverbs 8:13 says it in the simplest way: The fear of the LORD is to hate evil. That's the bottom line, fearing God is hating what God hates.

Paul goes a little bit deeper in 2 Corinthians 5:10-11 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the rewards for things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. Did you see that? The fear of God is knowing something. It's knowing that one day you're going to stand before Jesus and give an account of what you've done on earth. Keeping that knowledge in the front of your mind is going to make you hate evil. Why? Because you shudder at the though of having to give an account for those things when you stand before Jesus!

That's the fear of God! The fear of God is when you know that you're going to give an account of what you do here, so you keep yourself away from sin. 2 Corinthians 7:1 agrees with this: Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

This brings us back to the second part of Psalm 128:1, Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways. Psalm 112:1 says essentially the same thing: Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who delights greatly in His commandments.

Fearing God will even deliver those weak believers out there who are struggling with sin. You see, when you know someone is watching you, you tend to straighten up, right? That's why most of a Christian's sin is done in private – because we don't want anyone to see us! But when you understand the Fear of God – that He's always watching you, and you will have to stand before Him one day – you find the strength to resist! That's what Proverbs 16:6 says: In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil. The way you depart from evil is by fearing God! No wonder David says in Psalm 19:9, The fear of the LORD is clean...

I feel like I need to repeat yesterday's post a little bit. Don't think this is about getting saved. There is only one way to be saved, by grace through faith. Obedience isn't going to get you into Heaven. And, for a believer, the judgment of Jesus isn't about Heaven or Hell. When you believe in Jesus Christ - His death, burial, resurrection, and Lordship – you're going to Heaven. Jesus paid the price for you, it's not about your obedience. But, the judgment seat of Christ is where your rewards are going to be given.

We are going to be rewarded for our obedience here on earth. Wouldn't it be a shame to have Jesus say to you, “Son, you believed in Me and I saved you. You're going to Heaven. But I'm sorry - you didn't do what I asked you to do while you were on Earth. You didn't listen to the men and women I gave you (Ephesians 4:11) who were trying to instruct you. You never picked up My Word for yourself, you never asked Me what I wanted done. So, you can go in, son...but you won't get any of the rewards that I wanted to give You.”

I don't know about you, but that put's godly fear in me! I want to make Him proud of what I do here! I want to see what the rewards He has for me are. His rewards are going to stay with us for eternity – but so is the lack of them. Just making it into Heaven isn't enough for me, is it enough for you?

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