IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: THE FEAR OF GOD VERSUS OTHER FEARS
Rev. Innocent Peace-Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM.
“Yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him.”—Ecclesiastes 8:12
Webster says that “fear” is
“an unpleasant, often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger” and is often manifest by “painful agitation in the presence of or anticipation of danger”.
Someone has written that
“Fear is the wrong use of imagination. It is anticipating the worst, not the best that can happen.”
Worry which is closely related to fear has been defined as
“a small trickle of fear that meanders through the mind until it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”
Not a bad definition!
Ray Stedman remarks that “Somehow the idea has grown among Christians that fear is an improper motive; that if it be accepted at all, it is base and inferior. But Scripture never takes that position. Everywhere, from Genesis to Revelation, and especially in Genesis and Revelation, the fear of the Lord is extolled as a very proper and highly desirable motive for living. In fact, it is regarded as foundational. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Pr 1:7). The psalmist exhorts us, “Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.” (Psalm 34:9), and declares that a man reaches a stage of great danger when there is “no fear of God before his eyes” (Psalm 36:1).”
The first mention of of fear is found in the Garden of Eden, after sin had entered the world. Moses records that
“eyes of both of (Adam and Eve) were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” (Ge 3:7, 8, 9, 10).
When sin entered the perfect environment, mankind died spiritually, Adam and Eve were alienated from God, and their nakedness and alienation resulted in fear of God. The God of love had become an object of terror. Note their first reaction as the result of fear was to hide! God never meant for mankind to live in fear. But when sin entered the world, so did guilt. And guilt produced fear, and fear made Adam want hide. So fear was related to the introduction of sin into the world.
The Bible teaches that reverential fear of Jehovah is…
“wisdom” (Job 28:28)
“clean (pure), enduring forever” (Ps 19:9)
“the beginning of wisdom” (Ps 111:10, Pr 9:10)
“the beginning of knowledge” (Pr 1:7)
something we should choose (Pr 1:29)
“to hate evil” (Pr 8:13)
that which “prolongs life” (Pr 10:27)
that which gives us “strong confidence” (Pr 14:26)
“a fountain of life that one may avoid the snares of death” (Pr 14:27)
that which makes little (referring to possessions, etc) better than great treasure and turmoil (Pr 15:16)
“the instruction (idea of chastisement, reproof, discipline or child rearing) for wisdom” (Pr 15:33)
that which “keeps (one) away from evil” (Pr 16:6)
that which “leads to life so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil” (Pr 19:23)
“riches, honor and life” (Pr 22:4)
to be lived in always (Pr 23:17)
the delight of our Lord (Isa 11:3)
our “treasure” (Isa 33:6)
that which sustained the progress of of the early Christian church (Acts 9:31)
that which prompts holy living and boldness so that we seek “persuade men” to be reconciled to God through the gospel of Christ (2Cor 5:11,20)
Now, you will notice that fear may be yoked into the service of God. True fear, not fearing, but believing, saves the soul; not doubt, but confidence, is the strength and the deliverance of the Christian. Still, fear, as being one of those powers which God hath given us, is not in itself sinful. Fear may be used for the most sinful purposes; at the same time it may be so ennobled by grace, and so used for the service of God, that it may become the very grandest part of man. In fact, Scripture has honored fear, for the whole of piety is comprehended in these words, “Fear God;” “the fear of the Lord;” “them that fear Him.” These phrases are employed to express true piety, and the men who possess it. Fear, I have said, may ruin the soul, alas! it has ruined multitudes. O Fear, thou art the rock upon which many a ship hath been wrecked. Many a soul hath suffered spiritual destruction through thee, but then it hath been not the fear of God, but the fear of man. Many have rushed against the thick bosses of the Almighty’s buckler, and defied God, in order to escape the wrath of feeble man. Many through fear of worldly loss have brought great guilt into their consciences; some through fear of ridicule and laughter have not had the boldness to follow the right, and so have gone astray and been ruined. Yea, and where fear doth not work utter destruction it is capable of doing much damage to the spirit. Fear hath paralysed the arm of the most gigantic Christian, stopped him in his race, and impeded him in his labors. Faith can do anything, but fear, sinful fear, can do just nothing at all, but even prevent faith from performing its labors. Fear hath made the Christian to sorrow, both by night and day, a cankering fear lest his wants should not be provided for, and his necessities supplied, has driven the Christian to unworthy thoughts; and distrustful, doubting fear hath made him dishonor God, and prevented his sucking the honey out of the promises. Fear hath kept many a child of God from doing his duty, from making a bold profession; hath brought bondage into his spirit. Fear misused, thou art the Christian’s greatest curse, and thou art the sinner’s ruin. Thou art a sly serpent, creeping amongst the thorns of sin, and when thou art allowed to twist thyself around manhood, thou dost crush it in thy folds, and poison it with thy venom. Nothing can be worse than this sinful fear; it hath slaughtered its myriads and sent thousands to hell. But yet it may seem a paradox; fear, when rightly employed, is the very brightest state of Christianity, and is used to express all piety, comprehended in one emotion. “The fear of God” is the constant description which the Scripture gives of true religion.
And now, might I go round again this morning—I cannot do it personally, yet by my voice—to the poor trembling soul who is overcome with sin. Poor man, where art thou? Hath the devil got hold of thee, and have thy sins covered thee up, so that thou canst not see the face of the sun, and behold the light of mercy? Listen to me; you may never hope till you have left off hoping in yourself. You have never any right to believe, till you have nothing to believe in yourself. Until you have lost all, you have no right to take anything. But now, if you have lost all your own good works and righteousness, if you feel that there is no reason why you should be saved, that is the very reason why you should be. My Master bids me tell the naked to come to his heavenly wardrobe, and take his royal garment for their clothing. He bids me tell the hungry to haste away to his heavenly granaries, and feed upon the old corn of the kingdom to their very full. He bids me tell the thirsty that the river of life is broad and deep, and flows freely to all those who thirst after it. Now, sinner, if thou art sick of sin, and grieved at heart where thou standest, follow me in spirit in these words: “O Lord, I know my guilt, and I confess my misery. If thou dampest me to all eternity, thou wilt be just; but, O Lord, have mercy upon me, according to thy promise, which thou hast made in Christ Jesus, unto those who confess their faults.” If that came from your heart, go out of that door, and sing all the way home, for you are a pardoned sinner. You shall never see death—the second death, the death of the soul. Go home to your chamber! let your heart burst itself in tears of thankfulness. Go, and there prostrate yourself, and bless God that he has enabled you to see that only Jesus can do a helpless sinner good. And then, “go your way; eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart. Let your head lack no oil, and your face no ointment; for God hath accepted you; and you have a right to be happy. Live cheerfully and joyfully all the days of your life, hereafter and for ever.”
“FEAR not” is a plant which grows very plentifully in God’s garden. If you look through the lily beds of Scripture you will continually find by the side of other flowers the sweet “Fear nots” peering out from among doctrines and precepts, even as violets look up from their hidingplaces …
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