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 fatherly, loving God and the idea of being terrified can coexist. The fear of God, in the eyes of the unbeliever, 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?
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 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. As mentioned by Apostle James, “Why you do have no idea what will occur tomorrow? What life do you have? You are like a mist that briefly appears before dissipating” (James 4:14, NIV).
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 for 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.
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).
Love And Fear God
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. Until then, the fear of disobeying God and cutting ourselves off from His grace keeps us focused on acting morally, regardless of the results of our deeds in this world.
Love Over Fear
The strongest feeling experienced by humans is thought to be fear, which is even more powerful than love. The issue with fear is that it is simple to attribute both positive and negative traits—often negative—to another person, a group, or even God.
We know from experience that the foundation of meaning and the solution to neurotic fear is loving someone. But life has also shown us that misunderstandings and conflict can arise in human love. We can find consolation in the knowledge that we are loved and completely understood since God’s love for us is true and unconditional.
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 God. But we can focus on developing healthy fear. 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 life.
1. 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 conflicting forces. However, it alters our perspective of God when we realize that this apprehension is a fear of not being with the Father rather than of being punished.
2. 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 making 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).
3. 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).
4. 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.
5. Worship God Acceptably
The Bible mentions, “Jehovah is kind to them 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, search and consider God’s intents and requirements within the people, events, and things He has arranged, and work to live exactly following His will and requirements.
What Does The Bible Say About God-Fearing?
We do not pursue harmful things out of fear. It instills in us healthy regard for things that are superior to us in size, power, and majesty. Fearing God entails respecting and submitting to Him. It indicates that we recognize Him as our Creator and grant Him the authority to serve as our Lord. In other words, we are acting out of respect for Him.
God-Fearing In The Old Testament
The relationship between fearing God, abiding by His laws, and serving Him is made clear in the Old Testament. “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love the Lord your God, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 10:12).
God-Fearing In The New Testament
In 2 Corinthians 7:1, it 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 being 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.”
We fear God because only God has control over the fate of our souls (Matthew 10:28). However, having the spirit of the 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 the 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 and obey God in His power as a solution and have eternal life with Him.