The Answer To The Question: What Does God Fearing Mean?

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Published by Kimberly Wall


Co-Founder, Disciple Group Leader, Author

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The word “fear” can have a bad connotation. When we hear the phrases “fear the Lord” or “be God-fearing,” it can be difficult for some people to understand how a loving, fatherly God and the idea of being terrified can coexist. In the eyes of the unbeliever, the fear of God is the fear of God’s judgment and eternal death, which is eternal separation from God (Luke 12:5; Hebrews 10:31).

“Fear God” or “fear the Lord” is a common command given to God’s people in the Old Testament. Only as we sincerely fear the Lord will we be set free from all destructive and satanic fears. But we are aware that we must likewise fear God because the Bible clearly teaches us this. In light of this, what does God fearing mean to a Christian?

Key Takeaways

  • The article discusses the complexity of fearing God, highlighting that it involves reverence and acknowledgment of His power, rather than mere terror.
  • It explores how fearing God relates to loving Him, emphasizing that while fear of His justice can motivate moral behavior, perfect love overcomes fear, and fearing God is rooted in deep respect and awe.
  • The article offers practical tips for cultivating a fear of God, such as hating sin, respecting Scripture, seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit, and aligning with God’s will.

What Does It Mean To Fear God?

The Bible is filled with examples of a person’s fear of God being a blessing rather than a curse. For instance, in Genesis 42:18, Joseph gains his brothers’ trust by claiming to be a man who fears God. The midwives spared the Hebrew children because they feared God and chose to follow him rather than the government (Exodus 1:17).

Fearing God[1] entails submitting to him in absolute awe and adoration as the One who made the universe, as well as crouching on shivering knees at the thought that he might instantly destroy us all. Fear is rooted in both awe and dread, and this is not a bad thing.

God is indeed the highest authority over the entire universe. We cannot compete with him because he created heaven and earth. The Apostle James mentioned, “You have no idea what will occur tomorrow. What kind of life do you lead? You appear briefly like a mist before dissipating” (James 4:14).

After all, numerous verses in the Bible tell people not to be afraid when they are among a powerful deity. God-fearing helps us remember why we should not give in to our sinful nature and paves the road to knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 1:7).

When we fear God, we understand that we must obey him because of his holiness, and God hates sin. It serves as a reminder of his immense power, providence, and provision of a means for us to be made holy in order to resemble him more. This is what it means to fear God.

an oil painting portraying a humble devotee bowing before an ancient altar

Why Do We Need To Fear God?

Scripture and Christian tradition occasionally refer to “fear of God” in order to highlight the distinction between the Lord God and humankind. It is not good if our fear of God causes us to treat people with less respect, kindness, and love. In that case, we pray to God to strengthen our love for Jesus Christ and others. Perfect love overcomes fear (1 John 4:18).

We strive to follow God’s commandments out of love for his kindness and generosity, but fearing God’s justice also motivates us to act morally. Humanity will become more morally motivated as we progress spiritually because of our love for God. We need to love and fear God.

The Holy Spirit plays a vital role in guiding and convicting believers, helping us develop reverence and awe for God, and leading us to live in accordance with his will. When we speak of the fear of the Lord, it is not an anxious or terror-filled fear but rather a reverence that acknowledges his sovereignty and authority. It is a deep respect and awe for God’s love, power, majesty, and holiness. This proper fear is rooted in love, trust, and a desire to honor God in all aspects of life.

In the Book of Proverbs, we are reminded that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Fools despise wisdom and instruction, but those who fear the Lord gain understanding and discernment. Godly fear refers to a deep respect and reverence for God that motivates us to live in obedience to his commandments.

It is a recognition of his holiness, righteousness, and perfect judgment. Throughout history, we find numerous examples of God-fearing men and women who displayed a profound reverence for God. These individuals sought to live in alignment with his will, demonstrated humility, and displayed genuine awe for his presence.

a solitary figure kneeling in reverence, surrounded by ethereal light

Ways To Be God-Fearing

Humans tend to be egotistical, and when it comes to showing reverence for the Lord, we frequently fail to pursue honor and respect for God. But we can focus on developing healthy fears. How will God’s fear impact our lives? The fear of the Lord is much more than a doctrine, belief, or concept found in the Bible. In many aspects, it is applicable to our everyday lives.

  • We Must Hate Sin And Not God

Fearing God means seeking solace from him and being close to him (Psalm 31:19). As you usually flee the person you fear to your place of shelter, those two things could appear to be opposing forces. However, it alters our perspective of God when we realize that this apprehension is a proper fear of not being with the Father rather than of being punished.

  • Respect God’s Word

Growing in fear of the Lord requires having a high regard for the Bible. We discover more about the characteristics of God, his methods, and our function as his creatures when we devote time to studying Scripture and make a commitment to putting its universal, non-optional truths into practice. Christians are to recognize the value of Scripture, study it, and apply it to our lives today because we are “kings and priests unto God” (Revelation 1:6).

  • Study The Scriptures For Guidance

God’s holiness and glory demand our adoration and submission. In the Bible, when individuals came into contact with God, they immediately displayed a profound reverence for him. We can gain insight from these examples in our endeavor to fear God as we ought to.

The apostle Paul mentioned God’s judgment as a justification for preaching the gospel. “In light of this, each of us will stand before Christ’s judgment seat so that we can all be held accountable for our actions, whether they were good or evil. We persuade people because we are aware of the Lord’s terror” (II Corinthians 5:10–11).

  • Remember The Basic Human Duty

Even though King Solomon of Israel is regarded as the greatest person ever to live, he made terrible errors. Solomon abandoned his fear of God. Despite the fact that God gave him many blessings, he repeatedly broke his law and eventually began to worship false gods.

God punished the people of Israel and Solomon’s family due to these transgressions, for which Solomon was held accountable. Solomon relates his observations regarding the purpose of life in the Book of Ecclesiastes. He concludes by saying that the fear of the Lord is the conclusion of the whole thing. Pay attention to these warnings from a man who was aware of God’s justice and judgment.

  • Worship God Acceptably

The Bible mentions, “Jehovah is kind to those that wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him” (Lamentations 3:25). The people, situations, and things we experience in life are frequently unexpected. God’s work often differs from our expectations.

Now is the time for us to wait patiently with a sacred heart, to search for and consider God’s intentions and requirements within the people, events, and things He has arranged, and to work to live exactly in accordance with his will and requirements.

a figure standing on a cliff, gazing upward with reverence

What The Bible Says About God-Fearing

The relationship between fearing God, abiding by his laws, and serving him is made clear in the Old Testament. “And now, Israel, the Lord your God requires of you nothing but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love the Lord your God, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 10:12).

Furthermore, in the New Testament, 2 Corinthians 7:1 says: “Since we have been given these assurances, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all physical and spiritual impurities, bringing cleanliness to completion in the fear of God.” Here, holiness and the fear of God are related. Fearing God entails adhering to his will and abstaining from serious sins. It gives your life purpose.

The one thief in Luke 23:40 reprimanded the other, saying, “Given that you share the same condemnation, do you not fear God?” These two men were on their deathbeds, would shortly stand before God in judgment, and were both condemned. This only means that God is entitled to judgment.

Fearing God is linked to judgment once more in Revelation 14:7: “And he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give Him honor, for the hour of His judgment has arrived, and worship Him who formed heaven and all the earth, the sea, and the springs of water.'”

a digital illustration depicting a lone wanderer pausing in a cathedral's shadow


We fear God because only he has control over the fate of our souls (Matthew 10:28). However, having the spirit of fear of the Lord does not entail worrying or fearing him constantly. We know God does not condemn us as Christians since Jesus paid the price for our sins. We humble ourselves before God because of his holiness and great power.

Fearing God opens the way to a closer relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. According to Proverbs 8:13, “To fear the Lord is to hate evil.” We align with God when we decide to reject evil, obey God in his power, and have eternal life with him.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is An Example Of God-fearing?

God-fearing individuals exhibit profound reverence, obedience, and humility towards a divine entity. They abide by religious teachings, display moral integrity, and live guided by spiritual principles, acknowledging their accountability to a higher authority.

This commitment influences their attitudes, behaviors, and interactions with others, reflecting a deep sense of awe, respect for the sacred, and understanding of divine judgment and grace.

What Is The Difference Between Fearing God And Being Afraid Of God?

The difference between fearing God and being afraid of God lies in the emotional and attitudinal nuances. Fearing God involves reverence, awe, and adherence to religious teachings out of love and devotion, while being afraid of God denotes dread or anxiety regarding punishment, lacking a genuine connection or understanding of the divine.

Fearing God emphasizes a positive and reverential approach, whereas being afraid of God evokes negative emotions rooted in fear and apprehension, delineating distinct attitudes toward divine authority.

What Is A God-fearing Leader?

A God-fearing leader exemplifies deep reverence, humility, and commitment to spiritual values in their leadership. They prioritize moral integrity, ethical decision-making, and compassion, guided by principles rooted in their faith.

Recognizing accountability to a higher power, they inspire trust, unity, and purpose, leading by example to encourage virtuous living and honor.

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