Fear is popular when we speak of, "Fear Not". But what about when someone encourages us to fear more, not less?
Remember the old Nike slogan "No Fear"? It sometimes seems to me that many modern day "Christians" have taken on this slogan as their own. We're constantly focused on God's love, grace and friendship. We offer feel good messages that encourage and uplift to remind the hearer that God has a plan for our lives, that we have a purpose, God answers prayers and wants to help us. We talk of the strength He gives and the joy He shares. All of those things are true, but we leave out another truth. We are also called to Fear!
Oh yes, we teach, "Do not fear". It's in the Bible 365 times, you know. This fear is a negative fear, fear of other things besides God.
But you know what the Bible also says often? "Fear the LORD". This is a good, healthy fear! It's the fear that drives out all other fear and the fear that drives us to submission to the One and Only God.
In fact Isaiah 8:13 says, "Do not fear anything except the LORD Almighty. If you fear Him, you need not fear anything else." So we must fear Him. Then we won't have to fear anything else because He will be with us.
I'm not talking about a scared-to-death, fearful, on-the-edge waiting for God to strike-you-down kinda fear. I'm talking about a reverence, a holy fear of an Almighty God who said, "If you love me, you will obey me." I'm talking about the kind of fear that makes us repentant, that brings us to our knees in prayer, that draws us into a closer relationship with God and a holier lifestyle. The kind of fear that prompts us to live as we know we should, rather than follow our own lustful, fleshly desires. A fear that reminds us that one day each and every one of us will stand before God and answer for the life we lived. Yes, our Good God is merciful and gracious, but He is also a good Judge, just and fair. He will judge according to His Word, not man's standards.
Yes, it's true, if we know the LORD as our personal Savior we have found freedom from death and sin. But this freedom doesn't give us a license to live as we please. Quite the opposite...
"For you are free, yet you are God's slaves, so don't use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love your Christian brother and sisters. Fear God..." I Peter 2:16-17
"Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the LORD watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil." I Peter 3:11-12
Too much dwelling on God's grace and not enough time talking about a Righteous Fear of God has lead us to a lackadaisical, relaxed approach to a Holy, Awe-inspiring God. This ought not be!
It seems that our culture thinks that anyone who says a prayer and believes in God is on their way to heaven. But James 2:19 says, "You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this and tremble in terror." The demons believe and they even tremble with fear, but they're still not okay with God and they're definitely not going to heaven, friends!!
The fear of God, a holy reverence for Him, drives us to repentance (a turning away from sin) and righteous living. Not everything is okay. We will answer to a just God. Not some old man, weary and worn, who overlooks our blatant sin. We must live in a healthy fear of the One Who made us.
"When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties and other sins like these...anyone living like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
BUT the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against these things!"
No fear. No good.
Fear God. No other fear will be necessary. But we must...
Honor. Tremble. Revere a Holy God.
Look at His Word, what does it say? We can't pick and choose from it. All of it is Truth.
A Healthy Fear of God is good and profitable!