Jesus Wants Us To Fear God? (Part II)
For Part I, please click HERE.
In a court of law, 99% of people make the conscious choice to not mouth-off or get sarcastic with the judge—the judge has the ability to fine you, hold you in contempt of court, and curtail your freedom. Even when we don’t like the verdict the judge gives, the vast majority of people act and speak with the utmost respect in a courtroom because of the authority and power of the judge…he/she is simply not to be messed with. At all!
God wants to teach us to treat Him the same way, even when we don’t like/agree with what He says in His Word, what He does in our lives, the verdicts He renders toward us or others.
And so in this post we are going to continue to learn from the Bible some more of the characteristics of “fearing God,” what it is and what it isn’t.
But WHY? Why another post on this topic?
- Because “the fear of the LORD is the BEGINNING of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). Learning from God to have a healthy and Biblical fear of Him is the preschool/kindergarten of being a Christian—we are wise not to rush to 8th grade, high school, or college as Christians, but to make sure we are learning the basics! Let’s learn to ride a bike before we learn to fly a space shuttle!
- If we are a house that God is building/preparing for heaven, first we need to ask Jesus to completely knock down the old house of sin and selfishness! There are too many termites, too much bacteria, too many rats, too much black mold in the old “me”—it needs to get knocked down by Christ so it can be re-built by Christ! This is what happens when we surrender to Jesus as our Savior and Lord, when we ask Him to be our Forgiver because the Holy Spirit has helped us to realize that without Jesus we are not only “bad” but that we are enemies of God and separated from Him. There is a sort of “death” that occurs when we surrender to Jesus, but it is a GREAT death—it’s the death of the “guilty me” and the re-birth of the “forgiven me.”
- Secondly, then, after Jesus knocks down the old house, He begins working on the cracks in the foundation (our soul)—foundation work is ESSENTIAL to building a physical or spiritual house. We want to rush to pick out the hardwood flooring and the granite countertops (growing as a Christian!), but the most beautiful house built just on soil or sand or false beliefs will sink and crack and fall apart. It MUST be built on a strong and solid foundation, and one of the cornerstones of that foundation is having a healthy fear of the LORD. That is why we need another week on this topic…
The Opposite of Fearing God Is Not Loving God;
It’s Trusting In Self/Doing What We Think Is Right
- Proverbs 3:1-12 (especially verse 7): God teaches us about fearing Him in verse 7 when He gives us the opposite of fearing Him—“Do not be wise in your own eyes; [instead] fear the LORD and shun evil.”
- In ANY area of our lives, when we do things “our way” and not the Bible’s way, we are acting “wise in our own eyes,” we are trusting in ourselves rather than God, we are not fearing Him—we have become our own idol! That’s one of the reasons why every sin is serious!
- This is something we will wrestle with our entire lives on earth—our predisposition to make decisions based on what WE think is best, like a computer that automatically routes to a “default printer” (even if that printer is broken, disconnected, out of paper/ink, has a virus, etc.). Our “default printer” is sin and selfishness and human “wisdom”—it’s where we “print” (act/believe) when we AREN’T thinking, not when we ARE!; Jesus wants to upload His Holy Spirit into us and re-program our computer to print to holiness, love, grace, Truth, obedience, righteousness, a healthy fear of God and often (sometimes daily/every moment!) we need the Holy Spirit’s help to manually switch the printer because we jump back to our default printer without even realizing it. Our sinfulness makes us think we are independent, we are in control, we are “the captains of our souls,” when the opposite is true—we were made to need the LORD in every way, and as we learn to need Him we find not that we are restricted but that we are truly set free, just as the best way to truly enjoy and have fun at driving a car is to do so within the traffic rules and regulations; having “freedom” by driving any way you want doesn’t allow you to enjoy driving—it gets you arrested, fined, your license revoked and your car impounded! The same is true with NOT following God’s ways—we aren’t free when we disobey, we are in a self-locked prison…
- “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12). ANOTHER haunting verse! To a thirsty person, person literally dying of thirst, sand can look like water, but when we swallow the sand down it chokes and kills us! Holy Spirit, what are the ways/beliefs that seem/appear to be right, but that not only are “not right” but that are leading us to our DEATHS!!!??? A healthy fear of God helps us to avoid drinking sand and to run toward His Living Waters to quench our thirst.
- After God freed His people from slavery in Egypt and right before they got their first king (Saul), the Bible describes God’s people as living in anarchy and hostility with no peace (sound familiar to us!?). WHY were they living such lives? “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit” (Judges 21:25). They were NOT treating God as their King (but maybe only as their magic lamp for times of trouble)—they did what THEY thought was right, they lived by what THEY thought was best, they lived by “street smarts” (experience) instead of Book smarts (wisdom/Revelation from the Bible). They did what was right in their own eyes, and it led to death and sin and suffering. It “appeared” wise, but it was anything but. And so God is teaching us here what the OPPOSITE of fearing the LORD is, what it is not.
- He also teaches us here what it does in fact look like to fear the LORD in verses 5 & 6—trust in God and HIS ways, HIS Truth, HIS commands—learn to do life HIS way, even when this makes others laugh…or angry! THIS is what it looks like to fear the LORD!
- Now I must be clear here: we don’t obey Jesus to GET to heaven, but we do obey Him on the WAY to heaven to show that we are His, to show that we love Him, to show others that our allegiance is to Christ and not ANYONE/ANYTHING else, to show others what Jesus is inviting them to. Thus obedience—HOW we live—is EXTREMELY important for Christians. Obedience isn’t how we GET to heaven but it is one of the main works of transformation that Jesus does inside us ON THE WAY to heaven. And so a healthy and Biblical fear of God helps us to live according to God’s wisdom and not society’s foolishness.
So what does this look like practically?
What does a healthy of fear of God helping us to live life God’s way look like
on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday in the normal course of our lives?
(below are just a few examples from the Bible)
- Genesis 39:6-12—sprinting away from sin & temptation because sin is a direct offense against God Personally. Joseph wouldn’t commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife for a practical reason: Potiphar trusted Joseph and Joseph would not betray that trust. But Joseph also had a theological/Biblical reason: to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife would be a sin (crime) against God Himself, and Joseph’s healthy fear of God helped Joseph to choose NOT to mess with God. What temptations to sin will you face today, tomorrow, this week? RUN from them, build up healthy guardrails to protect you from them out of a healthy fear of the LORD (Joseph made sure he wasn’t around or alone with Potiphar’s wife).
- Matthew 6:14-15—we will do EVERYTHING in God’s power to forgive others when they sin against us because if we don’t forgive them their sins God won’t forgive us our sins. HAUNTING! But a healthy fear of the LORD takes this command SERIOUSLY and STOPS as many activities as possible so we can partner with the Holy Spirit to truly forgive others no matter what they have done to us.
- Ephesians 4:22-27 (especially 26-27)—when we are angry with someone, we will do EVERYTHING in God’s power to work it out with them TODAY, to NOT let the sun go down while we are still angry, because if we do go to bed angry it will give the devil a foothold in our lives, a way to “hack into” our minds and hearts and upload viruses to wreak havoc in our souls. A healthy fear of God helps us to take these verses VERY seriously.
- Philippians 4:4-7—a healthy fear of God helps us to not distract ourselves with t.v. when we are anxious but to immediately go to Him in persistent and specific prayer, with thanksgiving!, whenever we are anxious. Now of course we cannot expect God to be our “cosmic vending machine,” that whenever we pray voila! our prayer is answered according to our “order” immediately after we say amen (“what great service!”)! But a healthy fear of God trusts that God knows what He is talking about, that with His help our faithful prayers will, over time, help us to overcome our fears/anxieties with the cushion of the peace of God! And so we will pray, and keep on praying, whether we get the immediate results we want or not…
My friends, whether forgiveness, temptation, anger, anxiety, or any other situation we face, a healthy fear of the LORD will help us to address these situations according to GOD’S ways/Truth, not our own ways/opinions! We won’t use God’s Truth only when it is convenient or when we have time or feel like it; our healthy fear of Him will say, “No matter WHAT, I will try with God’s help to do this HIS way because I don’t want to mess with HIM, I don’t want to be wise in my own eyes!”
For more on the “foolishness” of Jesus’ commands (from a worldly perspective), please click HERE.
1 Corinthians 1:18–25 NIV:
18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written:
‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age?
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him,
God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
23 but we preach Christ crucified:
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks,
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”
Amen and amen, forever and ever amen…