A simple search of the online Bible reveals that the word “fear” is used well over 100 times in reference to God. The Bible admonishes us not only to honor all people (including our leaders) and love our brothers and sisters in Christ,but to fear and honor the Lord as well (1 Peter 2:17 NKJV). Furthermore, the Word of God also teaches us that fearing God is required for one to gain wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 15:33; Psalm 111:10).
Initially, when we fear God, we spontaneously and submissively yield to His will in humble reverence and awe to His authority. The single best freedom humanity can enjoy for all time is Truth! Why? Because Truth sets us free (John 8:32)—no guilt, worry, fear, possessions, or fleshly desires are attached to truth. That Truth is Jesus Christ, and it is only through Him that we can have true freedom and eternal life (John 8:36; 14:6).
Naturally, when we correct our children (who have been taught in the ways of the Lord) after they have misbehaved, their response to our rebuke is often with reverence and with a sense of fear for God. As our Lord said, children are humble and more responsive to the fear of God than adults (Matthew 18:3-4). The Lord’s promise to us, as parents, is that if we bring up our children in the ways of the Lord, we would reap the benefit of them walking in the fear of God all the days of their lives (1 Samuel 1:21-28; Proverbs 22:6).
From the Bible, we learn that the fear of God is the foundation to attaining wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 15:33; Psalm 111:10). Alluding to this fact, the Word of God warns us to guard against and avoid “godless chatter” or “profane and idle babblings and contradictions” or “irreverent empty speeches” that the world considers to be “knowledge” or “staying informed”; these types of talks and arguments will surely dilute and deviate our faith (1 Timothy 6:20-21). In my experience, and from what I have observed, we indeed start losing our fear for God when we are drawn to other interests which direct us away from God. Some of these distractions are well explained in the Bible; for example worldliness, love of money, and addictions (1 John 2:15; James 4:4; 2 Corinthians 6:14). In addition to these, I have identified a few other influences that also contribute negatively to our relationship with God.
Desires: To us Christians, the Bible is God’s infallible Word which carries a life-changing and life-giving instruction to mankind. We read in the Bible how several people, who knew God and had a relationship with Him initially, defied His will and chose to walk contrary to His ways (2 Chronicles 24:17-19; 2 Timothy 4:10). Exercising God’s will is a choice, and defying sin brings us two victories: God’s acceptance of our obedience and freedom from guilt. Our weakness as humans is that our choices are often influenced by our desires, which come either through someone or something that our senses capture. For example, Adam and Eve gave into the devil’s temptation when Eve "saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom...."(Genesis 3:1-6). Likewise, David gave in to lust and committed adultery when he saw that “…the woman was very beautiful…” (2 Samuel 11:1-4).
Influence from others: Bad influence from others can also detract our choice for obedience (1 Corinthians 15:33). For example, two arrogant men, Azariah and Johanan, falsely accused the Prophet Jeremiah of lying, and they influenced the people to flee to Egypt, contrary to God’s warning (Jeremiah 43:1-7). Also, in the Garden of Eden, the serpent influenced Eve to sin, and in turn Eve influenced Adam (Genesis 3:6). Rehoboam, who succeeded his father Solomon as king over Israel, was influenced by the young men he had grown up with to impose greater burdens on the people. He rejected the wise counsel of the elders who had urged him to be a servant leader and serve his people with equity and kindness (1 Kings 12:1–15).
Fear of man: Many people often fall into the trap of rejecting Godly counsel in exchange for human counsel and sympathy; this is giving victory to the devil. In the Scriptures, such an attitude is best described by these words from King Saul: “I have sinned. I violated the LORD's command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gavein to them” (1 Samuel 15:24). During the time of Exodus, of the twelve men sent by Moses to spy the land of Canaan, only two (Caleb and Joshua) expressed confidence that God would help Israel conquer the land, and they urged the people not to have confidence in God and not rebel against Him, because the Lord was with them (Numbers 13:30; 14:6-9).The remaining ten spies were afraid and scared of “the giants”, so they discouraged the people and influenced them to rebel against Moses and Aaron (Numbers 13:31-33; 14:1-4, 10). The Hebrew midwives (Shiphrah and Puah) stood faithfully; they “… feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live” (Exodus 1:17). The prophet Daniel also, when he learned of the plot against him, was not afraid. Instead of giving in to fear, “he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days”(Daniel 6:10 NKJV). The Bible warns us that “fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe”(Proverbs 29:25). We should not fear man or seek to please others, but God alone (Isaiah 2:22; Isaiah 51:12; Galatians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; Colossians 3:23; 2 Corinthians 5:9; 2 Timothy 1:7).Moreover, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself reiterated that we should“not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
Possessions and power: Today’s economic environment is quite enticing to many. The explosion of goods, services, and flashy new technologies in the market makes it very easy for the devil to tempt us. Consequently, material things and thirst for power can separate us from God’s will (Matthew 19:16-23; Luke 8:14). There are some wealthy and influential people in this world whose power is their possessions and they have no fear of God. In their lust and greed for more material things, they reject eternal life—the most precious of all gifts—for worldly gain and the short-lived pleasure of sin (Luke 12:13-21; Hebrews 11:25). Sadly, many people are following them.
As a fact, today’s booming worldly entertainment media, such as television, movies, the Internet, videos and social media, promote the breakdown of family relationships and have become great stumbling blocks to godly living. In personal messages to many of us, the Lord admonished and encouraged us not to fear men. Although we are commanded to respect all men (1 Peter 2:17), we must not be afraid of their opinions of us, nor should we be ashamed of our convictions and our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 5:26-32).
Not too long ago, the Lord spoke to us in a vision, saying that we are hated by many Christians because of sharing His strong messages of rebuke against sin and wicked practices in the Church (John 17:14). We love doing the Lord’s work and our fear is for the Lord God alone. The Lord’s message is a strong warning against worldliness among Christians (Matthew 13:18-22; Romans 8:7).
As a ministry, the value we attach to truthful living and holiness far exceeds the luxuries of this life. While some may boast about their [temporary] power and earthly possessions, we know they are also driven by guilt and a strong fear of death. We should not value useless things above God and allow others to sway us from the path of truth; even in caring for others we must seek to please God (Matthew 7:13-14; 13:18-23). In the Book of Acts, we read about how Ananias and his wife Sapphira lost their lives as a result of greed for money and love of worldly possessions (Acts 5:1-11); what they treasured controlled them (Matthew 6:21). Using their example as a warning, we should not exchange the fear of God for anything; be it riches, power, or fame (Matthew 16:26). Instead, we should strive to faithfully and obediently serve God and allow nothing to separate us from Him (Romans 8:38-39). Like Job, we are encouraged to be wise by fearing the Lord and shunning evil (Job 1:1; 2:3; Proverbs 14:16; Ecclesiastes 12:13).
There are many Christian leaders who encourage us to “follow your heart” and “pursue your dreams.” The question we should ask ourselves is this: how do those dreams and plans in our hearts measure up to God’s will? Are those dreams only in pursuit of worldly happiness, comfort, and “success”, without the Cross of Jesus? If so, as the Lord Jesus explained in the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21), your dreams are self-serving and for your own glory, and they will only inspire those who seek praise from man! In contrast, pursuing godly dreams through the cross of Jesus, despite persecution and hatred from the world, will lead to the salvation of others, resulting in glory to Christ. The Bible teaches us that Truth through the cross comes at the cost of insults, hatred and blood (Luke 6:22; John 15:18; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 3:16; 4:12-14; 2 Corinthians 4:8-12). Do you think any of Christ’ followers conquered the world being applauded by the masses, without insults and hatred from the world which hates the truth? (Matthew 5:11; John 15:18).
Are you struggling with sins or temptations, be they thoughts, habits, addictions, or behaviors that drive you from the fear of God? Repent and conquer them in Jesus’ name, for the power is in your possession—choice (Genesis 4:6-7) and the Lord is willing to set you free (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 8:22; 1 John 1:9; Romans 6:6-7). Is the fear of man and of persecution holding you back from fearing God, serving Him, and doing His will? The Lord Jesus can set you free if you receive Him into your heart and follow Him as your Master, Lord, and Savior (John 8:32; 36). I, therefore, urge you to “...fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods… Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15 NKJV).
If you are not yet born again, please pray this Prayer of Sincere Repentance to get started. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.
Have a blessed New Year in God’s fear.
Brother Glenn and Preparing for the Kingdom Ministry.