Key Verse: Ps 34:9 "Fear the
LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing."
How do we respond to a loving God who reached down to take us out of the slime of sin and clothed us in victory from the bondage of sin through the blood of the Lamb?
Ps 18:16 "He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters."
How can we respond to divine love? The Israelites also had experienced triumph over a life in slavery. God rescued them in miraculous ways from the bondage imposed on them by the Egyptians and led them through the waters of the Red sea to a victorious life free of slavery. Let us examine the Israelites' response towards that kind of divine love.
Let us remember that 1 Cor 10:11 "These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come."
At first the Israelites were ecstatic. Who wouldn't be? A lifetime of bondage had evaporated in front of their eyes, and freedom was obtained for them from God Himself! Wow!
Ex 15:20-21 "Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing."
Their rejoicing seems to be quite similar to those experienced in charismatic circles. But what happened after that? A few weeks later they started to complain and desire to go back to the slime they had come from.
Num 11:4-6 "The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost - also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!"
How fast we forget the blessings God bestows on us! Here was a nation blessed by God, rescued from slavery, led by God Himself, fed by the Almighty Himself (manna) and all they can think of is the land they used to live in bondage! Don't we fall often times in the same trap? God could not bless them. Although the Promised Land was right before them, they could not enter it. Their attitude prevented that.
Heb 3:18 "And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed?
It was not because they had no knowledge from God. Oh no! God Himself had instructed them.
Heb 3:16 "For who, having heard, rebelled." NKJV
The problem of the Israelites is that they did not fear the Lord!
Deut 5:29 "Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!"
Now what is the fear of the Lord? The Israelites did not fear the Lord, but what about us? Do we fear the Lord? We better ask this ourselves.
Heb 4:1 "Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it."
Even the New Testament encourages us to fear the Lord.
2 Cor 7:1 "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." NKJV
What is the fear of the Lord?
This is a notion that is quite strange to a lot of believers. It is easy to talk about loving the Lord. But it isn't that popular to talk about fearing the Lord. However, the Bible is our guide and we will follow what it instructs us to do. Let us examine this together more closely.
Prov 16:6 "Through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil."
Wow! The fear of the Lord is a motivation for us to avoid doing evil. The fear of the Lord is thus our ally and is a quite powerful motivator!
Ex 20:20 "Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."
Moses confirms this. The fear of God is a motivator for us to not sin. Notice that "the fear of God" is not the same as being afraid of God. The two terms are not the same! However, notice the reaction from the Israelites when God appeared at mount Sinai: Ex 20:21 "The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was."
The Israelites where staying a distance from mount Sinai. Why? Because they were afraid of God. However, Moses went where God was. He was hungry for God. He was a God chaser. He was not scared of God. He had the fear of God with him.
This is the difference between a God fearer and one who is not. The God fearer will want to be where God is. He is attracted to God, while the other keeps his/her distance from God.
The result is quite revealing. Those who were afraid of God, sinned a few days later, building a golden calf to be their God, while the one who had the fear of God was enjoying God's company and staying away from sin. In other words, being afraid of God will not keep us from sinning. However having the fear of the Lord will be a motivator for us not to sin.
Prov 16:6 "Through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil."
2 Cor 7:1 "Therefore, since these [great] promises are ours, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates and defiles body and spirit, and bring [our] consecration to completeness in the [reverential] fear of God." AMP
We have found out that the fear of the Lord does not mean to be afraid of our Father in heaven. It keeps us from sinning. Let us dig some more in God's Word.
Phil 2:12-13 "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." NKJV
Heb 12:28-29 "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire" KJV
Here we discover what the fear of the Lord really means. Too often we take our own salvation for granted and slip back in attitudes and sins of our past. We don't do it intentionally. It just happens gradually, without us noticing it. Before we know it, we are just like our neighbour Joe, or our colleague Joanne (these names are made up), and both of them are not saved! What happened?
Just like the Israelites, we took our deliverance from bondage for granted and started to long for that bondage again. We did not have the fear of the Lord with us. Not being afraid of the Lord, but the fear of the Lord involves avoiding hurting God at any cost. It involves being aware of the terrible consequences our actions can have and avoid doing anything that is not according to God's will.
To really understand God's will, I would like to draw a parallel to married life. In fact the Bible encourages us to do so. Oftentimes the Bible compares our relationship with Jesus with the relationship between a bride and a bridegroom. Jesus is the bridegroom. We are the bride.
John 3:29-30 "The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less."
Just like a bride loves the bridegroom and vice versa, we love the Lord as well.
Mark 12:29-30 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."
However pure love includes fear. A fear to not hurt your beloved one. A fear of consequences from inconsiderate actions and its possible consequences. Imagine a world where both husband and wife will try anything possible to avoid hurting their beloved partner. Imagine a world where both husband and wife think of possible consequences their actions will have and will avoid actions that will have a negative impact on their partner. Wouldn't divorce in a world like this being an unknown entity?
The same is true with our love towards our loving Saviour. To be pure, it must include fear. Fear from possibly hurting our Saviour. Fear of the possible consequences of our actions may lead and make us estranged from our beloved Jesus. No falling away is possible if we keep the fear of the Lord with us. This is why the fear of the Lord is so important to all of us!
As you can see, the fear of the Lord is a fact not only in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament as well. It is a motivator to be in the center of God's will because we could not imagine hurting God and facing a possible eternal separation from Him by being willfully disobedient.
Will you join me in prayerfully considering the impact that the fear of the Lord will have in your life? Pray with me to be filled with the fear of the Lord. It will keep us from sinning, in other words it will keep us from breaking our relationship with Jesus, the reason why He had to die on the cross. Will you join me? Praise be to God for saving a wreck like me! Thank you Jesus. I love you and I fear from hurting you and possibly becoming estranged from you.
Mediate on the following promises made to those who fear the Lord:
Acts 9:31 "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit it was multiplied." RSV
Heb 5:7 "In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear." RSV
Ps 34:7 "The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them."
Ps 33:18 "But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love."
Ps 145:19 "He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them."
Prov 9:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."
Ps 128:1-4 "Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD."
Question 1: Are you afraid of God? Why or why not?
Question 2: Explain what it means to fear the Lord.
Question 3: Do you fear the Lord? Give examples where you feared the Lord (if you have none, don't give up hope. Rely on Jesus. He will help you with this.) What were the consequences of fearing the Lord?
When I visited Jim Bakker in prison, he shared with me how the heat of prison had caused him to experience a complete change of heart. He experienced Jesus as the Master for the first time. He shared how he had lost his family, ministry, everything he owned, and then found Jesus.
I remember his words distinctly: "John, this prison is not God's judgment on my life but His mercy. I believe if I had continued on the path I was on, I would have ended up in hell!"
Then Jim Bakker shared this warning for all of us: "John, I always loved Jesus, yet He was not my Lord, and there are millions of Americans just like me!" Jim loved the image of Jesus that had been revealed to him. His love had been immature for it lacked the fear of the Lord. Today Jim Bakker is a man who fears God. When I asked him what he would do when he got out of prison, he quickly replied, "If I go back to the way I was, I will be judged!"
Excerpted from The Fear of the Lord by John Bevere, Charisma House 1997, p. 78. www.charismahouse.com. Used with permission.
Assignment: Take time with God and with His help reflect over Romans 6. Meditate over one verse at a time. How can you apply each verse into your own life? Ask for His help in this and enjoy His fellowship.
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin- 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
19 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus promised: John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Take the time to thank God for His deliverance and savor the difference He made in your life.
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