“Therefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire” – Hebrews 12:28-29.
The above scripture tells us that godly fear is a work of grace. Nowadays, there are very few teachings about the fear of God. And most of the few teachers that teach about the fear of God, define the fear of God to mean the same thing as the love of God. Others interpret it to mean reverence. But the above opening text clearly differentiates reverence from godly fear with the word “And”.
The fear of God is distinct from the love of God and reverence for God. We can clearly see this distinction by checking through the original words which they were translated from.
The love of God is from the Greek word “Agape”, meaning affection. Reverence for God, as used in our opening text, is from the Greek word “entrepo” meaning, to respect. While the fear of God which we are now discussing, is from the Greek word “eulabeia” meaning caution or dread.
Hence, we are to walk in the fear or dread of God for our own good. The Lord doesn’t want us to fear anyone or anything, but he does want us to fear and tremble before him. Hence, in the new covenant, he says he will put his fear in our hearts, so we shouldn’t depart from him (Jeremiah 32:40).
Then the Lord Jesus tells us again, that we should not fear those that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather we should fear him (God) who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).
So Why Should We Fear God?
Sometime back, while I shared this message of the fear of God with a young man, he asked me; “can you love and fear your father at the same time?” I replied, “Yes, I loved my parents for whom they were to me, but at the same time, I feared them, because if I messed up, I would be rebuked or punished”
When John talks about perfect love casting away fear, he meant condemnational fear (1John 4:18). And this condemnational (bond) fear, that John says perfect love casts away, is different from the godly fear we are talking about here.
I have felt both of them. Condemnational fear, like John says, has torment. It leads to self and people condemnation. It also leads to struggle with sin. It kills faith. As I struggled with this kind of fear some years ago, like John says, my encounter with the divine love of God by revelation, gave me eternal victory from the clutches of condemantional fear.
While godly fear on the other hand, is a gift of the Spirit of Grace. It confers mastery over sin. Godly fear helps you depart from sin and perfect holiness (2 Corinthians 7:1). Godly fear stabilises love and faith in the heart of a believer.
As a matter of fact, many Christian who confess righteousness with no practical evidence of righteousness in their characters and words, are actually suffering from the missing link of the fear of God. They get carried away with God’s love, goodness and faith. But pay absolutely no attention to the fear of God, divine severity and eternal judgement…
Because they have been wrongly taught or wrongly believe that the fear of God is the same thing as the Love of God or mere reverence or awe.
Now let’s see the scriptural reasons why we need to fear God…
Securing Our Eternal Salvation: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”—Phil 2:12. From scriptures, we see that a saved soul can be cut off if he doesn’t work out his salvation with caution and trembling (Romans 11:20-22). Judas Iscariot lost his bishopric because he didn’t work out his salvation with fear and trembling.
Mastery in Holiness: From scriptures we see that the fear of God is the master or perfect key for Holy or godly living. Here is exactly what the word of God says concerning this:
“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” 2Corinthians 7:1.
Enjoying Divine Wisdom: The bible tells us that the fear of God gives us access to divine wisdom, which is uncanny wisdom. As a matter of fact, the bible defines wisdom to mean the fear of God. Here is the exact scripture: “And unto man he said, behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding”—Job 28:28. Hence, to be walking in the fear of God, is to be walking in divine wisdom.
To Enjoy Divine Blessings: “Praise you the Lord, blessed is the man that fears the Lord that delights greatly in his commandments. His descendants shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endures forever”—Psalm 112:1-3. So the man or woman that walks in the fear of God enjoys divine blessings amongst which is wealth and riches.
So the list above, are the major biblical reasons we must have to walk in the fear of God. God does not want us to be afraid of anyone or anything. Neither does he want us to have condemnational or tormenting fear. But he does desire and instructs us to fear him for our ultimate and eternal good.