If the Fear of God or of man ever justified for Christians, is a question which comes up frequently and is most often answered by a resounding, No! But in order to give the question a complete and correct answer we must first define fear, and then apply it in the light of the Bible. The answer is really dependent on just how we are using the term. Fear is generally defined as an emotion caused by the expectation of impending peril. But it is also defined as the reverential awe and healthy respect for the Almighty God who can bring about such peril. The non-Christian should fear in totality, for he is but a breath away from knowing that impending peril that he will come under at the hands of Almighty God. This world is all that he has, and so he has "good reason" to fear leaving it. For in truth he has sold his soul for a few years of earthly and fleshly pleasures here. He has given up eternity with God by his rebellion and sin. He has to face the judgment throne and receive the penalty for all those years on earth in rebellious sin. It's a terrible price to pay for the temporal pleasures of sin. All the unsaved should rightly fear, because indeed:
On the other hand, the true Christian should have no fear of judgment, but a healthy reverential fear of the Almighty God. Some do not understand that what is called Godly fear, is normal and good. The most righteous and Godly prophets of old trembled at the presence of the Lord. They understood just who it was that they were standing before, and it is this fear that some who call themselves Christian today, lack. This lack of reverence is based in pride and arrogance, and manifests itself most often in the unconscionable wresting or twisting of God's Word. Only one who has a lack of Godly fear and reverence can without conscience ignore God's Word, or rationalize it away. It's a blatant disrespect (lack of fear) for the all Holy omnipotent God. i.e., righteous almighty God Speaks, and yet some people have no fear of simply ignoring what He has said, or of going contrary to what He has commanded. This is the lack of fear the scriptures speak about that the ungodly have.
You see, the Righteous know God and His righteous justice. They believe His Word and they know they are sinners unworthy to stand, and so they naturally fear God. Not sitting in abject terror, but in awe and fear unto repentance that they will listen with an ear to obey His Word. Love is worked out in obedience to almighty God. By contrast, the unrighteous make up excuses "not to" obey God's Word. Whether they rationalize it all away, or they simply decide that they are going to do whatever is right in their own eyes, it's a lack of fear of almighty God and a testimony to their foolishness and obstinate heart.
Fools don't fear, and fools despise God's Word of wisdom and instruction. The exact opposite is true of believers. They have the fear which is the God given beginnings of wisdom, and they humbly receive wisdom and the instruction in God's Word.
How many times have you quoted scripture for someone (word for word), and they despised it in their heart? In other words, they either called it untrue, or refused to be instructed by it? This is because they don't really fear God and so his Words are unto them "..just words". They treat it as if it was just an argument put forth by any other man, rather than the commandments of the Living God. To those who have no fear it is not something to be strictly obeyed, but something that can be gotten around with a little work. You quote word for word, saying, "Thus saith the Lord", and they will reply with something like "..that's just your opinion", or "..that's not true", or "..we can't understand that exactly the way it's written". They have no fear of Rationalizing away what God has written. They aren't really looking to learn the truth of scripture, they are looking for justification of ideas and philosophies which they already have formulated.
We see all throughout the world that those who do not fear God have a knowledge which is grounded in the precepts of men, where they are "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. -2nd Timothy 3:7" It is an arrogance and pride where they have no real desire to learn the truth of the Word, they simply want to perpetuate their own beliefs while not feeling guilty about it. Many mentally make God their "Super Buddy" where He winks at their unrighteousness, and doesn't really care much about doctrine or their keeping His Word faithfully. When there is no reverential fear, contradicting God's Word (Contradicting God) isn't anything for them to worry about. After all (they reason), we're all Christians and all is forgiven. But that is simply the hard heart of rebellion against God. It's not the touched heart of recognition and repentance. The fear of the Lord is the recognition of the horribleness of the sins which we commit against Him. It's coming to realize that the Almighty Holy God, the creator of Heaven and earth is no man to be taken lightly, and shall we not fear? The rebellious heart says no, and will not fear nor submit to God's Word. The heart softened of God says yes, and meekly surrenders to it. As those spoklen of in Jeremiah:
Instead of them in righteousness saying, let us fear this God of creation, and Keep His commandments, they say let us make God's Word conform to what our teacher's say, or what is right in our own eyes, or what is our Church traditions. For there is no more reverence for God than these teachers they place as authority. This verse tells why this is. Because the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7), but fools despise the wisdom in the instruction of the Word. True knowledge isn't from secular books, it's from God, the Holy Spirit! Shall we call the Spirit that teaches the Word a lie, and then wonder why we are not taught? Shall we not fear God, and then expect reward for our lack of reverence? No, as all scripture so clearly proclaims, Godly men have always feared God. Verse upon verse, the statements consistently tell the story. Godly men fear, while the ungodly do not.
Fear of the World, and of Men
In our comparing scripture with scripture we must finally confess, yes we should have Godly reverential fear. But should we be filled with the fear of what's going on in the world? In other words, should we be anxious about the state of the world and in fear of what man might do? The answer is no, we should not fear man because Christ conquers those fears of ours, in faith. We need only leave them nailed to the cross with the rest of our sins. When Jesus makes us free, we should be free from our worldly fears and any anxiety which comes with them. Because when you get right down to it, ultimately worldly fear "is sin". Praise God He knows that we are flesh and not perfect and all those sins have been paid for as well. A famous man once said that "the only thing that we should fear, is fear itself". That is a catchy phrase, but it's inaccurate as far as Christians go. The only thing that we should fear is God almighty! And that a reverential fear, not a fear that we will be judged of Him. For, "perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment." -1st John 4:18.
Many there are who live in abject fear, tormented by their aprehension. I have seen Christian people become paralyzed by fear. But we are not to make ourselves prisoners in our own homes because of the fear of man. We have a job to do, which is to bring the gospel of truth to a world in desperate need. And we should let fear get in the way of fulfilling our Evangelical commission. If you are in Christ, there is no one in this world that can take away from you what God has given. Not by reviling, or imprisonment or even death. So to fear them is sin, showing a lack of faith in God's promise. Praise God that all our sins were nailed to the cross, so even unfaithfulness we abide.
When God says, "fear not" him who can destroy the body, but fear him who can destroy both body and soul in Hell, that's a command, not a suggestion! We need not fear man, but have a fear of God! And once we are Saved, we don't need to walk around in this world in fear, because we are a new creation born from above. We become citizens of God's Kingdom, and this world is no longer our real home. Our real home is in Heaven and we are just sojouners here. We then have Peace and Safety within ourselves, because we are safe and secure in Christ.
Many Christians today are so worried about what man might do to them (fear fed by the information, portrayal, distortion and often hysteria of the media), that it bridges on paranoia. We as Christians should never be in a state of biting our nails or pulling out my hair worrying about what someone might do to us, because our eyes should be on Christ, not ourselves or this world. If I am a faithful witness of the gospel truth, even if one should kill me, it's a glorious thing ultimately. For Christ is still with me even then, and will never leave me. I'm not staying awake at night worrying about if a burglar is going to come while I sleep, nor am I running to the corner store to buy a gun to protect my worldly possessions. Sure, I lock my doors at night, but not because I am scared to death for my life, but because I'm not foolish. Likewise, I look both ways before I cross the street, not because I'm afraid to die, but because I'm not foolish, or suicidal. Fear is sin! If the Christian should have fear of anything but God, He is in sin. He is automatically in a state of mind that is not God glorifying.
1st Corinthians 10:31
When our state of mind is wrong, our thinking will be wrong. If you spend all your time watching the news, thinking about all those bad people you see, and worrying about being robbed, then your eyes are on the wrong person. That's not to say that we should not care about ourselves, that is to say we should not let fear consume us. We should put ourselves in a state of mind where we think on righteous things, not the horrors which might befall us. the mind of Christ.
These are the things we should think on, Christ is the person we should have our eyes on, not ourselves. When God says think on good things, and we think of bad things we are sinning. When God says do all to the Glory of God and we spend even one second doing something that is not to the glory of God, we are sinning. Again, Praise the Lord all those sins are paid for, else none of us would get to heaven. The point being, we are not to spend our lives looking to the Sword or the Gun for our security. There is no security in bars or weaponry, except it be the whole armour of God and the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Many Christians have rationalized it in Old Testament laws, but the only real security is in Christ. The Unsaved need to fear, because if they die, they one step away from God's wrath and are going to have to stand for judgment. We (Christians) don't need to fear because if we die it's the most Glorious thing that could ever happen. unfortunately, some Christians live out their lives as if this world is all there is. As if man can take away all that they have, and they will miss all their worldly pleasures. But we are Sons of the living God, What have we to fear from man?
The wicked need fear, we are Sons of God. We only have a reverential fear of Him as our Father. Why then would we fear what man can do. If we stay here and spread the Gospel it's a glorious thing. If we die and go to be with the Lord it's a more glorious thing. So why should we have anxiety?
As we live out our days in this body, we magnify Christ. It's our commission to send forth the Gospel, that Christ be magnified. But if we should die, it's gain! It's even better for us, because we go to live and reign with Christ forever. So then, what have we to fear in this world? That's what many do not understand. It's one thing to look both ways before you cross the street, lock your doors, or not walk on the ledge of a 20 story building, but it's quite another to pack a 45 pistol in preparation to take someone's life defending your worldly possessions.
Please, no one should misunderstand me. I'm not saying that we should live life recklessly, or put ourselves in dangerous situations, or that we should not take precautions. I'm saying that as a Christian, we should never let fear run our lives, or drive us to the point where we will do anything to remain here, or retain our possessions because of it! We're not here to store up treasures where moth and rust doth corrupt, we're here to spread the good news that the Saviour is born. We are not in bondage, or held captive by these fears. I know Christians who want to have a gun in every room so that no matter what room a burglar should catch them in, they always have one close at hand. I know Christians with bars on all the windows, and a guard dog chained in the back. That's no way for a Christian to live. On the contrary, "That's the way of the World!" That's the type of fear every real Christian should be free from. And they can be, if they just remember that their Christ will never leave them nor forsake them, and that we are strangers and pilgrims here. So then, whom do we fear on this earth? What do we fear? If Christ be for us, who can be against us? Who can harm us? No One! We have the Perfect Love of Christ, so that we should have no such fear in our lives?
1st John 4:18
He that fears is not dwelling in Love. God's Love within us strengthens us and guides us in the way we should go. Our problem comes when our "Old nature" tries to take control and drive us where we ought not go.
The Media a big part of the Equation
To be sure part of the problem of Christian fear is the result of the unsavory images that are piped into our homes daily by electronic indoctrination (Television). Yes, I know TV has no mind of it's own and thus can't be called inherently evil, but it is an extension of man. I call it the evil eye because it reaches into each of our homes and is the eye through which we, our kids, and indeed the world, looks out to see these images, by which we are seduced by them. Remember when Jesus said the light of the body is the eye?
Jesus is teaching us that it's through the eye that our ideas and lusts and covetousness, etc., comes in. If we keep our eyes on God in singleness, then all our thoughts will be on God. But if we "Look away" to see the lusts, pleasures, seductions, evils and treasures of the world, then that's when we start to slide and have temptations and look back to the world (Remember Lot's Wife). The eye is the conduit of all evil. And Television is the window of wickedness! The solution? Keep your eyes on God, of course. But it's not as easy as it sounds because this evil eye is like a friend, and it is not so easily cast off. Though it is a constant temptation, and a constant conduit for our fears, man rationalizes it's presence. Images that man wouldn't normally see in 10 lifetimes you can see in one month on TV. And don't think that it isn't adversely effecting both you, and your children, because it is! Even in little ways that you may not even realize. It is a canker, a cancer, and it is spreading and eating away at society in general and the Church in particular. It's most potent power is one of distortion. It can make what is not, seem to be, and what is, seem not to be, and It effects all who peer through it in one way or another. Though few realize it, there is no question that it is a subtle form of brainwashing. It has changed the face of the world.
Of course, most People tend to soft-peddle TV because we "naturally" don't want to give it up. Don't kid yourself, for all our complaining, we like TV. Else we wouldn't watch it so much. Repentance starts with being honest with ourselves. We can sit here and tell one another how, "there is nothing but trash on the television", and then when we're finished, the first thing we do is to go and turn on the TV, News, Oprah, Entertainment tonight, Current affair, a trashy movie, etc. Sin comes in many different ways. Through the front door, and through the back door, but whatever way it comes in, "we let it in!" It's so very easy and convenient for us to say, "oh, it's not so bad.." What Christians calls not so bad today, 10 years ago they would have called Abominable! And if the world should last another 10 years, you will call Abominable what man will then call, "not so bad".
The media plays a major role in the fear of society and the Christian. It never leaves a stone unturned in showing everything and everyone that is fearful. Both real and imagined. But it doesn't stop at fear. It tempts people by everything they are not, everything they don't have, and everything they shouldn't have, and teaches them that what they see is normal. It teaches our kids that the ideals and morals of a time gone by were old fashioned, unrealistic, and out of date. It teaches kids that sexual promiscuity is expected behaviour for teens, and killing babies is not "really" immoral or selfish, but the act of a caring mother. It teaches us that divorce and remarriage is not bad, but something that is always an option that we should have in our lives. It teaches that Homosexuality is not a sin, but just another lifestyle. This wicked eye turns the Church upside down, labels it the crutch of the lonely and desperate, and mocks those who endure in the faith. Yet many of the Church don't see any signs because their eyes are covered by their fallen crowns. They are so busy in fear of the things going on in the world, and worrying about politics, and Guns, and criminals breaking into their comfortable homes, or stealing one of their cars, that they have forgotten their first love. They've forgotten what the job of a Christian really is. Our Lord left us with a commission. And that commission was to bring the gospel, not sit around worrying about trading in the old car for a new one, or moving into a nicer new home. Have we forgotten that we are strangers and pilgrims here, and that this is not our home, and these are not our permanent tabernacles? We are temporary visitors here. We are in the world, but we are not of this world. We should not be fearing the same things that the world fears, and lusting after the same things that the world lusteth after. For as a Christian, we are set apart!
1st Peter 2:11
We're just passing through on our way to eternity, this body (tabernacle) simply our temporary home until we go to our real home which is in the Kingdom of God. While we're here, our work is to spread the gospel that many might be Saved, Not to try and make ourselves as comfortable as we possibly can. We are not friends of the world, and we are conquerors of fear, not those ruled by it. If we have overcome the world in Christ, we take up our cross and follow Him.
The Church today is fallen away from it's responsibility, and is turned away from the Word of God to do pretty much whatever it wants. And it's members, driven by the eye, fear and lust of the flesh, quickly rationalize any and all deviations from the Word. In fact, Christians spend so much time in Fear of their personal safety, and the fear and worry of losing the almighty Dollar, a comfortable living, the trial of O.J. Simpson, etc., etc., that they hardly have time for Christ. Our minds are so full of garbage, and the image of the beast, that there is very little room for Christ. There are many who seem to think their sole Christian responsibility is to go to college, make big bucks, argue politics, go to church once in a while, and say their prayers before bed. That's it! And doing that, they think that they have fulfilled their obligations as a Christian. They are Deceived! They just don't have any idea what a Christian is, because they don't have time for Christ. They can make time for a good movie, a game show, a night out, the news, politics, a novel, but spend a few hours reading God's Word? ..No, No Time! It's not hard to see what they put first in their lives, and to understand what they fear, and what they do not fear.
In word, they say they don't fear, but in deed their fear is plainly seen. In word, they claim they're not of the world, but in deed, it's clearly shown that they are.
1st John 2:15
Why does man look for security in himself? Simple, because he fears loosing his possessions or fears leaving this world! It is the gun in whom he trusts to keep what is his. Why does man fear having his possessions stolen? Because without them, he doesn't know what he'll do or how he'll live. It's his image, his trophy! He loves them. He loves his new car, he loves his new house, he loves his new clothes, he loves this world, and all that therein is. And he doesn't understand that this is "NOT" the way it should be. Again I emphsize, I'm not saying man should wear old clothes, I'm saying, "where your treasure is, there will be your heart also." You cannot serve God and money.
Likewise in the fear of others or different peoples or cultures. It's hard for people to keep their mind on Righteousness when they're busy in fear worrying about "those other people," or "How to beat the tax man" or "what model car to get their daughter" or some other things that go bump in the Night. All of these things are a product of assimilation into the world, and the fear and worry that accompanies being part of it. Christians seem to worry about everything except the condition of the Church, and their spiritual well being! And the reason is Clear. No Time, no inclination, and no Room in the thought process for frivolous things like faithfulness to the commission of God. No real fear of God. In this case, man's motto seems to be, "I'm not going to worry about keeping it, God will sort it all out when we get to heaven." But the question is not one of, "when we get to heaven," it's one of, "am I going to get to heaven."
1st John 2:4
No one is going to get to heaven just by saying I'm a Christian. That is a delusion under which a lot of folks who sit in their pews hold. The Gospel (bringing the word of God) is our work while we are here on this earth. If we are given a coin, (Value) are we to bury it and wait for Christ (Matthew 25:25)? No! We are to multiply that talent by using it that others will receive the value just like you did. That's the way the gospel works. We are to spread it around. It is the real treasure, not a big mansion on the hill. All the treasures of this world is just fuel for the fire on that great Day of the Lord. We should heap up treasures that cannot burn, but are abundantly more valuable than worldly things. When we do that, we have no need to fear anything. Not death, not life, not judgment, not desperately wicked men, not losing our valuables to thieves, and not the growing corruption of the world. Then finally we will know the true Victory in Christ. Then we'll cast out fear in the knowledge that we are Sealed (secured) in the love of Christ.
Let us put fear behind us by filling our minds with Godly things. Let us lay all our fears upon Christ, and nail them to the cross along with our other sins. Fear is for the unsaved. It should have no place in the lives of believers, except as it relates to the fear of God. Fear, and the lust of this world and the judgment thereof, are all related. There should be no room for fear in our mind, because we fill our mind with righteous thoughts.
How many of us can honestly say that this prayer is our daily walk with the Lord? How many of us can look ourselves in the mirror and confidently say, "Yes, this is my daily walk?" How many of us can honestly say that we did as much today as we could to bring others to the Saving gospel truth? That's the question that each of us should ask ourselves.
The next time that fear takes hold of us, or the next time we're propped in front of the TV wasting time, we should ask ourselves, "what thing could I be doing in this time to better serve the lord, instead of myself, or my fears?" "What could I be doing to alleviate my fears, instead of nurturing them?" "What good things, what virtue, what praise could I be thinking of right now, instead of my favorite whipping boy?" Then Remember your "First" love and get back to the Bible. And go forth with the gospel, whereby you have been called. Put down the remote, and pick up that Bible and go forth with your commission to Spread the gospel. Remember, Our Lord's eyes do always look after the righteous to show unto them the knowledge of Truth. Those with Godly fear...
Those who have no fear of the Lord, have no knowledge of the Lord, and those who will not "keep" the Word of God, do not know God. These are God's Words, not mine. Let us take them to heart!
Copyright ©1994 Tony Warren
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