Fear of God

article by site founder, Connie Rice

We are living in a time where increasingly, people and whole nations do not seem to have a fear of God. American culture is being driven farther and farther away from God and His Word. Many people are building opinions and making decisions for their lives based on their own wisdom, “doing what is right in their own eyes”. That phrase is in quotes because it is given numerous times in Scripture as a warning, generally followed by God’s judgment.

“You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes”

Moses warning the Israelites just before they entered the promised land – Deuteronomy 12:8

 “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Judges 17:6

“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Judges 21:25

“Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.”

Jeremiah 11:8

In view of that, how wise is it to continue down the path of doing what is right in our own eyes? If we say we don’t believe in God or what the Bible has to say, then what basis is there for morality at all? If everything was created randomly, there is no rational basis for morality. God has defined right and wrong in His revealed word and as our Creator, has every right to determine the rules of the game. Without an objective standard for everyone everywhere, morality just becomes opinions, which vary from person to person. God didn’t have to reveal Himself to us or give us moral standards or provide sinful people with a way of salvation, but He did – out of His love for us. He knows that sin ultimately harms us and puts us in bondage. However, He also values liberty, so has given us the freedom to choose whether we will accept His gracious gift or reject it. It brings to my mind the scene in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” when the first person attempted to choose the holy grail and disintegrated. The keeper of the grail in the movie, says, “He chose poorly”. The question for each of us is, will we choose wisely or poorly regarding the most important decision we can ever make? Pondering where we will spend eternity deserves our time and thoughtful attention.

Let’s take a brief look at what God’s Word has to say about those who do what is right in their own eyes:

“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.”

Isaiah 5:21

“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”

Proverbs 26:12

“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”

Romans 8:5-8

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

Proverbs 14:12

God doesn’t send people to hell, but unfortunately many will choose it by rejecting Him and by extension, heaven with Him. Our inherent sinful nature causes us to want things our own way and question God’s wisdom. Our stubbornness (referenced in the Old Testament as being a “stiff-necked” people) can result in our demise. It’s so sad for those of us who have personally experienced God’s amazing love, mercy, grace, goodness, kindness, and blessings to see others turn away from all that He freely gives those who choose to trust and follow Him. For those like myself who lived outside of relationship with Him for many years and finally surrendered to Him, we desperately want others to experience the same incredible and close relationship with Jesus that we enjoy. Is life easy as a Christ-follower – no; it’s quite hard and takes intentionality, but the joy of His presence and the help of the Holy Spirit make peace and even joy possible in the midst of life’s many challenges. The world begins to make more sense as we study His Word and we begin to long for the restoration that God will bring in His timing.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

Hebrews 4:12-13

 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:8

Now let’s take a brief look at what God’s Word has to say about the fear of God. It is not meant for people to tremble in fear before Him (although that will be a reality for those who reject Him and then stand before Him in judgment). Instead it means to recognize that God is your Creator, loves you, and wants the best for you. He provided a way to be free from the power of sin by trusting in His Son, Jesus Christ, alone. As you confess your sins, ask for forgiveness, and surrender your life to Him, you will have assurance of being with Him in heaven, you will receive a spiritual gift that helps you serve the Lord and others, and you will receive the Holy Spirit who will help you throughout your life.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Proverbs 1:7

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

Proverbs 9:10

“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.”

Proverbs 14:27

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Matthew 10:26-28

“For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will He instruct in the way that He should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He makes known to them His covenant.”

Psalm 25:11-14

“Oh, how abundant is Your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear You and worked for those who take refuge in You, in the sight of the children of mankind!”

Psalm 31:19

“My son, if you receive My words and treasure up My commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity.”

Proverbs 2:1-7

It’s hard to explain to those who haven’t yet surrendered their life to the Lord, but true freedom results as we partner with Him to help us live a life of purpose and have victory over sin. He even allows us to be part of His Kingdom work while we await the glorious new heaven and new earth that He will create. Life on earth has its challenges for all of us because the world has been broken by sin, but being in the center of God’s will brings soul-satisfying peace that the world cannot offer, supernatural strength to persevere, provision for our needs, and even unexpected joy and blessings.

“Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man! For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.”

Psalm 107:8-9

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”

James 1:2-6

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

Psalm 19:7-11

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’.” 

John 8:31-32

To learn more, you can check out resources on the “Good News” page. If you have questions about whether or not the Bible is true, there are many other pages (Apologetics, Creation, Outreach, etc.) on this site that may be helpful in directing you to answers.

© Constance Rice 2022

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