While the Bible makes it plain that we should not fear, there is one fear that is very good for us. That is the fear of God (see link at GotQuestions?org). For one thing, it keeps us humble, and hopefully honest, too. Unfortunately, there’s not much of either of those two attributes in our world today, and that speaks loudly to the issue of what we really think of God, and of ourselves, too.
Proverbs 1:7 states the following:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
In answer to those who say there is no God, GotQuestions?org makes the following statement:
It is not intelligence, or a lack thereof, that leads a person to reject belief in God. It is a lack of righteousness that leads a person to reject belief in God. Many people do not object to the idea of a Creator, as long as that Creator minds His own business and leaves them alone. What people reject is the idea of a Creator who demands morality from His creation. Rather than struggle against a guilty conscience, some people reject the idea of God altogether. Psalm 14:1 calls this type of person a “fool.” (Quote source here.)
This goes along with a statement made by the apostle Paul in Romans 1:18-25:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
There is a field of study known as Christian Apologetics that goes into this subject (e.g., the existence of God) in great detail, and there are many excellent books written by many well known authors and scholars, both living and dead, on this topic (see list at this link). I recently wrote a blog post titled, “Faith: The Evidence of Things Not Seen” (May 28, 2015), that included some information from one such author/scholar and I mentioned two of her books. She is Nancy Pearcey, Professor of Apologetics, Scholar in Residence, and Director of the Francis Schaeffer Center for Worldview and Culture at Houston Baptist University. The two books are titled, “Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes” (2015), and “Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity” (2004, 2005); the latter was mentioned in two previous blog posts: “So Goes The Culture” (February 19, 2015) and “Idols of the Heart” (February 24, 2015).
This blog post is not written to try to prove the existence of God. I’ll leave that to the scholars. It is written regarding the evil that we do to each other with the thought that there are no consequences to us personally, and I’m speaking to those of us who claim to believe in God. We often justify the evil we do to others (mostly for personal gain of some sort or to make ourselves look good) in all kinds of ways, but God is not fooled, and it is God who will be our ultimate judge. Nobody else’s opinion even matters. And that includes our own opinion. People who live for the accolades of the public live on a slippery slope. They care more about what others think of them then what God thinks of them. Or what they think of God. The proof is in how we live our lives on a daily and hourly basis and how we treat others (as in all others). That speaks far more about us and what or who we say we really believe in. We can show up for church on Sunday, but that doesn’t prove a thing. Even the Pharisees were good at putting on a show for others.
Let’s take a look at what it means to fear God. GotQuestions?org states the following:
In the Bible, the word translated “fear” can mean several things. It can refer to the terror one feels in a frightening situation (Deuteronomy 2:25). It can mean “respect” in the way a servant fears his master and serves him faithfully (Joshua 24:14). Fear can also denote the reverence or awe a person feels in the presence of greatness (Isaiah 6:5). The fear of the Lord is a combination of all of these.
Fear of the Lord can be defined as “the continual awareness that our loving heavenly Father is watching and evaluating everything we think, say, and do” (Matthew 12:36; Psalm 139:2; Jeremiah 12:3). As Jesus told each of the seven churches in Revelation 1—2, “I know your works.” Nothing escapes His attention.
In order to develop the fear of the Lord, we must recognize God for who He is. We must glimpse with our spirits the power, might, beauty, and brilliance of the Lord God Almighty (Revelation 11:17; Hosea 12:5; Isaiah 6:1–5). Those who fear the Lord have a continual awareness of Him, a deep reverence for Him, and sincere commitment to obey Him.
Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” This verse gives us some added insight with its antithetical parallelism—there is a sharp contrast between the wise life and the foolish life. A wise person fears/reverences/obeys the Lord; a fool despises God’s instruction and cannot be told what to do. The wise person is wise because he has started at the starting place; the fool has no foundation on which to build wisdom.
Romans 1:21–22 speaks of those who “neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” This is a description of people who try to obtain wisdom while ignoring God—it cannot be done for the simple reason that God is the source of wisdom.
The link between the fear of God and wisdom means we cannot possess wisdom if we recreate God in our own image. Too many people want to “tame” God into a non-threatening nobody. But, if we redefine the Lord as a god that makes us feel comfortable, a permissive “buddy” who exists simply to bless us and give us what we want, we will not fear Him in the way He deserves to be feared. The Lord God Almighty is far greater than that, and the fear of the Lord begins when we see Him in His majesty and power (Revelation 4:11; Job 42:1–2). The Lord shows Job (and us) a glimpse of His power in Job 38—41 when He describes His absolute sovereignty over everything.
When the reality of God’s true nature has caused us to fall down in worship, we are then in the right position to gain wisdom. Wisdom is merely seeing life from God’s perspective and responding accordingly. Wisdom is a priority, and we are told to seek it above all else (Proverbs 3:13; 16:16). Proverbs is known as the wisdom book, and the entire second chapter gives a detailed explanation of the value of gaining wisdom.
Until our hearts are in a right relationship with God, we are unable to have the “wisdom that comes from heaven” (James 3:17). Without the fear of the Lord, we may gain knowledge of earthly things and make some practical choices for this life, but we are missing the one ingredient that defines a wise person (Psalm 14:1; Exodus 20:3; 34:14; Jeremiah 25:6; Matthew 22:37). In the parable of the rich farmer, the rich man had a “wise” and practical plan for his profits, but God said to him, “You fool!” because the farmer’s plans were made with no thought of God and eternity (Luke 12:16–21).
Without the fear of the Lord, we make final decisions based on our faulty human understanding (Proverbs 3:5–6). When we incorporate the fear of the Lord into every moment of our lives, we make decisions based upon His approval. We live with the knowledge that the Creator of the universe is intimately involved in our every move. He sees, knows, and evaluates all our choices, and we will answer to Him (Psalm 139:1–4). (Quote source here.)
Far too often in our daily lives we pretty much live and do what we want with little regard to the consequences. A common theme in our not-so-enlightened form of Christianity is that “Jesus covers it all” so it doesn’t really matter what we think or how we live and especially in regard to how we treat each other and those we don’t like or even know. Gossip is one of the major areas of abuse in the church and it is evil at it’s very ugly core:
“A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:12-13). “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28).
GotQuestions?org defines gossip as follows:
The Hebrew word translated “gossip” in the Old Testament is defined as “one who reveals secrets, one who goes about as a talebearer or scandal-monger.” A gossiper is a person who has privileged information about people and proceeds to reveal that information to those who have no business knowing it. Gossip is distinguished from sharing information in two ways:
1. Intent. Gossipers often have the goal of building themselves up by making others look bad and exalting themselves as some kind of repositories of knowledge.
2. The type of information shared. Gossipers speak of the faults and failings of others, or reveal potentially embarrassing or shameful details regarding the lives of others without their knowledge or approval. Even if they mean no harm, it is still gossip.
In the book of Romans, Paul reveals the sinful nature and lawlessness of mankind, stating how God poured out His wrath on those who rejected His laws. Because they had turned away from God’s instruction and guidance, He gave them over to their sinful natures. The list of sins includes gossips and slanderers (Romans 1:29b-32). We see from this passage how serious the sin of gossip is and that it characterizes those who are under God’s wrath. (Quote source here.)
As stated above, people who gossip often have the goal of building themselves up by making others look bad and exalting themselves, but I’d also like to add that it is often used as a disguise for personal gain of some type, too (e.g., promotion in the work place; getting rid of a perceived enemy; or even for monetary gain). 2 Timothy 3:2-3 states the following:
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. . . .
Catch that last phrase . . . “having a form of godliness but denying its power.”
The Pharisees had a form of godliness but rejected the Truth standing right before them . . . Jesus. When we want to do our own thing in our own way we are no better then the Pharisees were in Jesus’ day. We exalt ourselves and what we want over Jesus and what He wants us to be and to do. There is much ado in Christendom today that basically tells us that if we’ve said a “Jesus prayer” to accept Christ but we just can’t seem to get over doing all the bad stuff we continue to do (mostly because we like doing it) Jesus will understand and pretty much turn a blind eye. And how we treat others (for example, our gossip and slander) doesn’t really matter.
As a statement a friend of mine likes to say, “That smells like smoke and comes from the pit of hell.”
For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
That’s pretty clear, isn’t it? Salvation is free to those who believe, but it’s not easy. And we don’t get to live life on our own terms, either. That’s the way we lived before we came to Jesus Christ. And if we are still living that way, then we really don’t know Jesus at all. Romans 12:2-3 states:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
I’ll end this post with the words of King Solomon (considered to be the wisest man who ever lived) stated at the end of the book of Ecclesiastes (12:11-14):
The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by One Shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.
And you can take that to the bank . . . .
YouTube Video: “Gotta Serve Somebody” sung by Shirley Caesar: