Fear of the Lord
Fear of the Lord is discussed over thirty times throughout the Bible, and it can sometimes be a confusing and somewhat controversial topic for people. I've met people who have rejected the idea of fearing God and reacted very defensively to the notion. In their defensive reaction they explained that God loves them, they love God, and in an attempt to make themselves look good, they claimed they had no reason to fear the Lord, as if fear of the Lord meant guilt. They may have forgotten Paul’s words in Romans 3:23: “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”
The fact of the matter is that we should all fear the Lord. I have found this a challenging concept to explain so I'll take the easy way out and use Jesus' words when he explained this to the disciples in Matthew 10:28: “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell." In context, Jesus is sending the twelve out, and in verse 26 he tells the disciples not to be afraid of those who threaten them. For the Christian, and for everyone, the only thing we should fear is the Lord Almighty. He is the only one with real power and the ultimate power over our eternal souls.
Other verses concerning fear of the Lord:
“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:7)
“All who fear the Lord will hate evil.” (Proverbs 8:13)
“Those who fear the Lord are secure; he will be a refuge for their children. Fear of the Lord is a life-giving fountain; it offers escape from the snares of death.” (Proverbs 14:26- 27)
“The Lord is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant.” (Psalm 25:14)
“Who can comprehend the power of your anger? Your wrath is as awesome as the fear you deserve.” (Psalm 90:11)
Fear of someone or something can often come from the fear of what that thing or person can do to you. This was Jesus' point to his disciples before he sent them into the world. Once we understand Jesus' explanation, we can agree with the Psalmist in Psalm 118:6 when he says, "The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?" What can mere people do? God is in control of your soul, thus He is the only one we should fear with a proper respect, reverence, and awe.
In Ecclesiastes 12:13, Paul says it is everyone's duty to fear the Lord: “That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.”
The next time you are tempted to sin, remember this fear of the Lord. If we truly feared Him the way we should, the way He deserves, that would be enough of a deterrent from sin. If God says not to do something, how dare we do it? How dare we disobey the Almighty! We are told to not take the Lord's name in vain and yet we exclaim his name in frustration or surprise or (oddly enough) happiness. There's no fear of the Lord in that. We are told to flee sexual immorality and to have nothing to do with sexual sin and yet we seek it out! There's no fear of the Lord in that. We are told not to gossip, spread rumors, or lie and yet sometimes we can't wait for the next juicy rumor or story, we can't wait to spread it ourselves! There's no fear of the Lord in that. We are told to have no other gods before the Lord Almighty and we can find ourselves worshipping at the throne of social media and celebrity and self. There’s no fear of the Lord in that.
Let our fear of the Lord be stronger than the desire for our sin. This battle is always raging. This sinful nature does not go away; it is always beckoning to us. When the sinful nature begins to pull at you, remember the One "who can destroy both soul and body in hell."
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.