The Christian Walk Lesson 10: Walk in the Fear of God

The Christian Walk Lesson 10:  Walk in the Fear of God

  1. Texts: Deut 8:6, 13:4; Neh 5:9; Acts 9:31
  2. Definitions
    1. The fear of God is “an inward attitude of humble reverence toward God, in light of His self-revelation, that results in outward expression of Christlikeness.”[1]
    2. The fear of God entails [submission] to God’s purposes through both adversity and prosperity. The one who fears God comes forth with both the wisdom and the righteousness needed to exploit wisdom’s advantage and bring success as a chosen steward of God’s purposes.[2]
    3. The word “fear” can express emotions like dread, terror, or panic. This is not the usual sense in which the phrase “the fear of the Lord” is meant. However, we should recognize that a certain amount of dread or even terror may be associated with a personal encounter with God. Cf. Isa 6:5; Mt 27:54. See also 1 Sam 11:7
    4. Usually, “the fear of the Lord/God” indicates awe or reverence. Reverence is that sacred respect for God based on his majesty, power, and glory.
      1. The inward attitude: humble submission. God alone is worthy of honor and devotion. We fear God’s displeasure and seek to avoid chastisement and discipline. God is the righteous Judge, and we tremble before him.
      2. The outward attitude: obedience to God’s word and a desire to please him.

Note the Quote: Today, when there is so much emphasis on God’s love, grace, and mercy, is it possible that we have forgotten that God is to be feared? He takes our sin very seriously; therefore we need to take His holiness very seriously. We need not cringe in horror, as though God were a tyrant who delights in punishing us. But neither should we wink at sin as though He were a kindly grandfather who laughs at a little mischief.[3]

  1. Walking in the fear of God obviously implies living in a way that is appropriate for one who claims to fear God. It suggests a regular lifestyle reflecting attitudes and behaviors that could be described as God-fearing.

 

  1. Principles[4]
    1. Reverence/fear is a response to God’s holiness (Ex 3:5–6; Ps 111:9; Isa 8:13).

The term “reverend” (Ps 111:9; KJV often renders it as “terrible,” newer versions have “awesome”) translates a word meaning, “to fear.” The fear of God is also related to God’s greatness (Ex 20:18-20; Psa 99:3); people fear God because of His mighty deeds (Ex 15:11). For example, the Israelites respond to God’s saving power in bringing them out of Egypt by fearing Him (Ex 14:30–31).


  1. Reverence/fear results in obedience, righteous living, and service.

God intends that the revelation of who he is and what he does elicit within us a desire to obey him. In Gen 22:12, God recognizes Abraham’s obedience to sacrifice Isaac as fear of Him. Fearing God and keeping His commandments are closely linked (Deut 5:29; 8:6; 10:12–13). In the OT, people demonstrate fear of God by obeying the Law (Deut 6:2). Likewise, obedience to the Law teaches people to fear God (Deut 4:10; 14:23; 17:19; 31:12–13). The author of Hebrews asserts that we should serve God “with reverence and godly fear” (Heb 12:28-29). Cf. also Neh 5:9, Acts 10:34-35; 2 Cor 7:1.

Isaiah 66:2But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.

  1. Reverence/fear results in concern for others.

Leviticus states that, instead of wronging others (Lev 25:17) by doing things like cursing the deaf and blind (Lev 19:14), people should fear God. The Bible often associates the fear of God with honoring the elderly (Lev 19:32), forgoing the charging of interest (Lev 25:36), and treating servants kindly (Lev 25:43).

  1. Reverence/fear leads to loyalty and faithfulness (Gen 20:11; 1 Kings 8:43).

The Hebrew midwives were willing to defy Pharaoh’s orders because of their loyalty to God (Ex 1:21). After the people of Israel conquered the land of Canaan, Joshua charged them to faithfully fear God by serving Him alone and putting away other gods (Josh 24:14–15). In 2 Kgs 17:35–39, the fear of God describes loyalty to Him in contrast to worshipping other gods. Essentially, having the fear of God means that one recognizes and serves the true and living God (Isa 8:13) and obeys His commands (Isa 50:10). Genuinely fearing God is virtually equivalent with being saved (Ps 85:9). The designation of “those who fear God” is used to refer to the community of those faithful to Him (Ps 22:25; 66:16). Failure to fear God amounts to being a pagan idol worshipper (Jer 2:19).

  1. Reverence/fear results in trust.

Fearing God is often likened to trusting God (Ps 115:11). Those who fear God enjoy a close relationship with him (Ps 25:14; 33:18). The Psalms likewise equate worship and praise with the fear of God (Ps 5:7; 22:23; 135:20).

  1. Reverence/fear results in wisdom.

The fear of God refers to the beginning of wisdom or knowledge (Job 28:28; Psa 111:10; Prov 1:7; 9:10), and receiving wisdom helps people understand the fear of God (Prov 2:1–5).Those who lack a fear of God hate knowledge (Prov 1:29). Fearing God also leads to blessing and long life (Prov 10:27; 14:26–27; 19:23; 28:14). The book of Ecclesiastes concludes with an exhortation to “fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecc 12:13). It also notes that God acts in order that people may fear Him (Ecc 3:14).

  1. Other results of the fear of God[5]
    1. God will instruct the one who fears him (Ps 25:12).
    2. The secret of the Lord is with those who fear him (Ps 25:14).
    3. The eye of the Lord is on those who fear him (Ps 33:18).
    4. The angel of the Lord camps round those who fear him (Ps 34:7).
    5. The Lord has compassion on those who fear him (Ps 103:13).
    6. God’s lovingkindness is from everlasting to everlasting to those who fear him (Ps 103:17).
    7. The Lord gives food to those who fear him (Ps 111:5).
    8. God will bless those who fear him (Ps 115:13).
    9. God fulfils the desire of all who fear him (Ps 145:19).
    10. The Lord takes pleasure in all who fear him (Ps 147:11).
    11. A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Prov 31:30).
    12. The fear fell on all and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified (Acts 19:17).
    13. “We persuade men” out of the fear of God (2 Cor 5:11).
    14. Characteristics of those who do not fear God
      1. Pagan, false religion (Gen. 20:11, 25:18)
      2. Wickedness (Ps 36:1; Jer 2:19; Mal 3:5)
      3. Shortened length of life (Ecc. 8:13; Prov 10:27)
      4. Evil language, violence, unhappiness, lack of peace (Ps 13:3-5; Rom 3:10f-18).
  2. Growing in the fear of the Lord

Four suggestions:[6]

  1. Immerse yourself in God’s Word (cf. Ps 119:38, 120). The fear of the Lord grows with revelation of how magnificent He is. As we see His character and authority through the events and teaching of Scripture, our hearts will be drawn to have a proper reverence toward God.
  2. Ask the Lord regularly to unite our hearts to fear His name (Psalm 86:11). God desires to reveal Himself to us and to align us with His character.
  3. Live moment by moment in the reality of God’s presence (Psalm 139:7-12). When we forget about God in our daily schedule, we are not living in reality. We must cultivate a mindset that is ever aware of God’s presence.
  4. Model your life on Christ, the ultimate revelation of God to us. Jesus is the best example of how the fear of God should influence our lives.
  5. Other comments regarding the fear of God
    1. Parents must be careful to instill the fear of God in their children (read Deut 4:10, 31:13; Ps 34:11; Prov 1:7).

Note the Quote:  Children need to know, even from the earliest age, that God is angry with the wicked, and He will punish evildoers (Psalm 7:11–13). Material designed for young children too often presents only the gentle, meek, and mild attributes of God. He is portrayed as an always-benign grandfatherly being—an insipid, man-made god, more like Santa than the God of Scripture. This is a very serious mistake, and I believe it accounts for the careless attitude so many in our society have toward God. They mistakenly assume that whatever God’s nature, He will ultimately be harmless and kindly, even toward those who have disobeyed Him. That is the impression many children take away from the typical Sunday school lesson. But it is not the God of Scripture. Take care not to teach your children such a wrong perspective of God.[7]

  1. Christian worship should reflect an attitude of reverential respect for God’s awesome power, holiness, and glory. This attitude protects the congregation from an overly-familiar, disorderly, man-centered approach to God so common in churches today. The author of Hebrews urges us to “serve God acceptably with reverence (modesty, respect) and godly fear” (caution, discretion) (Heb 12:28). Carefulness, conscientiousness, and circumspection ought to describe Christian worship. A healthy fear of God’s displeasure tends to keep a church on the right path.
  2. The fear of God should temper our language. Too often, Christians indulge in slang and humor that comes uncomfortably close to using God’s name in vain. Respect for God, an appreciation for God’ majesty and holiness, and careful discretion should cause us to speak of God only in reverential, cautious ways.

 



[1] Session 7: The Fear of the Lord. Center for Christian Leardership. http://bible.org/seriespage/session-7-fear-lord.

[2] James S. Reitman, “Ecclesiastes, Book of” In , in The Lexham Bible Dictionary, ed. John D. Barry and Lazarus Wentz (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012).

[3] What Does the Bible Say About… The Ultimate A to Z Resource Fully Illustrated, Nelson’s A to Z series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2001), 155.

[4]Much of this material from John D. Barry, Michael R. Grigoni, Michael S. Heiser et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012).

[5] Colin A. Day, Collins Thesaurus of the Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009).

[6] Source unknown by author.

[7] John F. MacArthur, Jr., What the Bible Says About Parenting: Biblical Principles for Raising Godly Children (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), 78-79.

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