Sunday, December 4, 2011

Be Afraid but Don’t Live in Fear


Hmm.  With a title like this you are probably thinking I am crazy.  In the words of Lucille Ball, “Let me explain.”

I think Christians have lost sight of the idea that God is holy and that he cannot and will not tolerate sin.   We live with the philosophy that we can do anything we want and just confess it later.  We don’t have a healthy fear of God.   In Deuteronomy 5:29 God tells us to fear Him and to keep his commandments.  The relationship that you entered with God when accepted Christ as your Savior should be one of love but also one of obedience, reverence and fear.

Psalm 19:9 “The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.”

Psalm 33:18 “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him”

Psalm 34:7-11 “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.”

I could list a lot more verses like those above.  It seems very apparent to me that Christians have lost sight of the power of God, the holiness of God, and the idea that God is to be feared.

I know that some of you are thinking that this was just for the Old Testament people and not for today.  After all doesn’t Jesus love me?  Shouldn’t that remove the fear I have?  The writers of the New Testament continue the theme of fearing God.

Acts 9:31 “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.”

Acts 10:34-35  “Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”

Paul writes this in 2 Corinthians 5:11  “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.”

In Philippians, Paul tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

I’m afraid that today’s Christians do not fear God.  They do not fear Jesus.  They do not fear the Holy Spirit.  They come to Jesus for what He can do for them.  They come for what they can get out of it.  It is a need-based relationship.  That kind of gospel will attract lots of people but it will not transform their lives.  It is not until people realize the holiness of God and their need to fear and reverence him that their lives change.

Now let me balance that with a few other ideas. I don’t think God wants us to live in fear of the future or of others.

Deuteronomy 31:6  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

We conquer fear in our lives with the Word of God.  When the devil tempted Jesus, Jesus simply quoted scripture. 

Hebrews 4:2 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword”

Psalm 27:1 “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?”

Let me wind this up by saying, study who God is.  Understand his character and his attributes.  When you begin to understand who God is, you can’t help but fear Him.  In that fear, you will also develop a great love for Him.  In his perfection and holiness, He loves us – his fallen creation.  How He can love someone like me is something I will never understand.  I live by faith in the God.  I love him and I trust him to go before me and to take care of me.  However, I must never lose sight of his holiness and his character and that demands my obedience and worship.