How does the fear of God give us the courage to stand up to evil men?
Craig Houston shares Proverbs 28:1, which says: "The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion." He explains that this passage relates to the fear of God. When you fear God, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, you can stand. You can be as bold as a lion.
There are numerous examples of men and women who feared God more than man and were even willing to die because they would not disobey or dishonor God. For instance, Daniel was willing to be thrown into the den of lions because he would not obey a wicked king. He trusted that God was able to protect him. Instead of fearing what man could do to him, he feared God more and went and prayed in the window three times a day.
We need to be Christians who fear God, are as bold as a lion, and are unwilling to bow down to today's culture in disobedience to God.
Ephesians 6:12-13 (NKJV) – “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
How does the fear of God manifest itself in the life of both an unbeliever and believer?
Carlton McLeod explains that the fear of the Lord is manifested in the life of a believer by the love, reverence, awe, and passion that prompt the believer to obey God. It is the state of mental and emotional sanctification where the believer sees God as holy, and a reverent trembling results. It is the necessary characteristic of Christian discipleship where total obedience to the commands of Christ is seen as a loving response to a loving God.
It is a behavior-restraining element even in the hearts of those individuals who do not follow Christ. It is a cultural acknowledgment in the hearts of man regarding the laws of God. It is a necessary component to a godly society and it is an understanding that God will one day judge the earth and all who ever lived.
Romans 14:11 (NKJV) – "For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
How does doing things our way demonstrate we don't fear God?
Craig Houston explains in this video that we as sinful human beings like to handle things our own way or to accomplish tasks in the manner we desire instead of fearing God enough to say, “What would God want me to do” or "How would He want me to respond?"
God's Word teaches us that to obey is better than sacrifice. God desires obedience more than sacrifices. When we understand that, then what He wants for us matters more than what we want for ourselves. Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." In other words, if you love Christ, fear Him and obey Him. Following Him should take priority above all else. His way alone is true and good. We are not to let pride get in the way of following the commands of Christ.
1 Samuel 15:22 (NKJV) – “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.”
Do you find yourself growing in the fear of God? Here, Paul Washer explains that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. This fear of God comes as a result of knowing God and knowing Him correctly. The more we comprehend who God is, the better we understand that He is holy and righteous, which leads us to fear Him more. Thus, the mature believer continually grows in his fear of God. Do you find yourself incrementally growing in the knowledge of God and your fear of God? Proverbs 9:9 (NKJV) – “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”
It seems counterintuitive to say that those who fear God are most thankful. How can you feel thankfulness for God and fear God at the same time? Joel Beeke speaks of how thankfulness and the fear of God are friends. The people who are most thankful in this world are those who fear God. 1 John 3:1 declares, "behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us. that we should be called the sons of God."
Paul Washer answers the question, what keeps us from the fear of God? There is no secret. We simply need to saturate our lives in the scripture, to pray, and to be involved in a community of faith where the Word of God is proclaimed and a vision of God is central. Paul Washer says that in his personal life, "The ancients," the reformers, and Puritans have been a great help in gaining a more exalted vision of God.
God is infinitely angry with sin, yet He grants mercy to sinners through the shed blood of His Son. This is mercy. Infinite anger is replaced with infinite mercy by the atoning blood of Jesus. In this sense, the fear of God is a response to mercy. And, when someone grants you mercy, you want to draw near to them. You want to be with them. You do not want to run away... Gratitude turns to a fear that draws near. And those who fear God, not only run toward Him, they find that God draws near to them.
"Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy" (Psalm 33:18).
Orthodoxy can exist without the fear of God. Doctrinal purity, outward religion, Church attendance, family worship, prayers, and any other thing you can name, can exist without the fear of God. But, when a person begins to see the glory of God, the fear of God grows. And when it does, joy breaks out. The dull drab life in external religion becomes a life of happiness. This is one of the marvelous fruits of the fear of God.
David made it clear that the fear of God is the way of happiness, "Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who delights greatly in His commandments" (Psalm 112:1).
Kevin Swanson asks, "Is God the great marshmallow grandpa in the sky, or the great tyrannical ogre in the sky?" Who is God? How should we think of Him? How does fear figure into our understanding of God?
Various attributes of God are listed in Ex 34:6-7:
“And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation."
In Matt 11:28-30, Jesus explained Himself:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
God shows us mercy by being kind unto us:
Psalm 117:2 "For His merciful kindness is great toward us, And the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!"
In Psalm 141:5 David shows how discipline and rebuke are marks of kindness:
“Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; It shall be as excellent oil; Let my head not refuse it. For still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked.”
The apostle Paul tells the Ephesian church of His tenderheartedness and how they ought to imitate Him:
Ephesians 4:32 “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Everything flows from our understanding of God. Clarence Simmons, calls this our "crowning problem," and he contends that we have to start with who God really is, if we ever hope to have a proper fear of God. For there can be no appropriate fear of God without a true knowledge of God. In order to reap the blessings from the fear of God, you must know the true God, not the god of your own invention. Yes, God is a "friend," but that's not all He is. Clarence recommends that we read Chapel Library's offerings by AW Pink on the Attributes of God and the "Sovereignty of God."
Joel Beeke tells a story of when he was in Scotland when he spoke to a shepherd who affirmed to him that sheep hear different voices, but only follow their own shepherd’s voice. Sheep will only follow the voice their shepherd, even though other shepherds are speaking. They will only follow his voice. Therefore, if Jesus has called you, He will be the central leadership force in your life. This desire to come to your shepherd is a mark of authenticity, and the evidence that you fear Him.
Knowledge without the fear of God is worthless. Math, science, history only have meaning when the fear of God is embraced. Everything goes sideways when the fear of God is lost. Science becomes more and more irrational and as a result
Are you tying all of your instruction to the fear of God? Is there an direct line between the fear of God and the math, science, history… you are teaching, or does it happen in a vacuum.
African pastor, Malamuolo Chindongo explains how the fear of God brings order to our hearts, homes and in all of society. His analysis of the African context - If you don’t fear God it means you have no conscience. He describes what happens in nations when men do not fear God – men abuse one another. But, when the gospel comes, peoples lives are changed and the abuse stops. This is true in every sphere… When God if feared, men and women are endeared.
So many of our troubles come from misplaced fear. We fear man, instead of God. Craig Houston speaks of the only appropriate fear… fear of God. He recites Prov 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will keep your paths straight.” Only God is worthy of being feared.