To Fear The Lord

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We greet everyone in the auditorium and on livestream in the wonderful name of our Lord.

This morning’s topic is a challenging one. It is difficult because the more I read about it the more there is to it. I am going to try and explain it to you the way I felt it when I read it. But pray that the Lord will speak to us - to me, everyone here and everyone listening.

“The fear of the Lord” – to have the fear of the Lord. There are many Christians today, even churches, that regard this topic as one that should not be discussed. It is a topic that many believe Christians should not speak or think about.

I have no desire to say something different to the Bible. If what I say is different to the Bible then leave it, but if what I say is supported by the Bible, then each Christian should do it. The Bible says that we must fear the Lord. The Bible says that we should raise our children in the fear of the Lord. It is mentioned about 300 times in the Bible. This is what the Bible says, not I.

The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. There are many verses and many people in the Bible where the Lord speaks about the fear of the Lord. In every Christian’s life there must be a certain fear, a respect for our Lord Jesus. There should be a fear that pertains to a deeper respect, to reverence. Reverence is a very deep respect. There should be a fear that makes me understand who I am and who God is. This fear prevents me from taking things flippantly. It makes me do things cautiously. It makes me take note of what I am doing. If there is no fear, there is no respect. If there is no fear, there is no understanding of who God is. If there is no fear or respect, God becomes my equal, which we know is not the case.

The Bible speaks of the fear of God, however, 365 times in the Bible it also says, ‘Do not fear.’ That is a different fear. We know that God is love, but the fear of God and the love of God cannot be separated. Perfect fear, true fear goes hand in hand with God’s love. These two topics cannot be separated. If They are separated and you say that God is love only, your Christian life will be ruined. If you live in fear, the wrong fear, you will also ruin your Christian life. God requires true, perfect fear and then we will experience His love.

The first text is from Exodus 20:

18Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” 21The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. Exodus 20:18 – 21 Do you see the two types of fear? In one sentence Moses says, ‘Do not fear…but fear God – His fear.”

A second text from Jonah:

10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. 12He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” 13Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” 15So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows. Jonah 1:10 – 16

Here are two examples of different fears. The one is a frightening fear, a fear of doubt, a fear that comes from distrusting the Lord about whether you know Him or not (like these sailors), a fear of uncertainty – the wrong fear, the sinful fear. However, there is another fear about which we read at the end of this chapter in Jonah, the men said that they ‘feared and served God’. They saw and experienced what God did, and it created in them another fear - a godly fear, a fear that each Christian should have and without which people cannot serve Him. This is a fear that many Christians do not believe in.

“There is nothing in man that God has not there, which may not be employed in God's service.” It is not what we have put there but what God has put there. “Now, you will notice that fear may be yoked into the service of God. Fear can be used for our good. True fear, not fearing, but believing, saves the soul; not doubt, but confidence, is the strength and the deliverance of the Christian.Charles Spurgeon (www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/five-fears)

Do you see how he puts it together? True fear and confidence. Not fearing, no doubt. Earthly fear will cause doubt.

“Still, fear, as being one of those powers which God hath given us, is not in itself sinful. Fear may be used for the most sinful purposes; at the same time it may be…used for the service of God, that it may become the one of the greatest works of God. In fact, Scripture has honoured fear, for the whole of faith is comprehended in these words, "Fear God;" "the fear of the Lord;" "them that fear Him." These phrases are employed to express true faith, and the men who possess it.”

To believe in God for who He is and to realise who He is, not the God I create or want Him to be but the God, the Creator for who He is. There should be an understanding and we need to remind ourselves about who He is and who we are. That is true fear.

“Fear may ruin the soul, alas! it has ruined multitudes.” Nothing can be worse than sinful fear. Christians, we may not fear the world, we may not fear standing up for God. That is sinful fear.

“Many a soul hath suffered spiritual destruction through thee, but then it hath been not the fear of God, but the fear of man, the fear of worldly loss…a fear of ridicule and laughter… Fear hath paralysed the arm of the most gigantic Christian, stopped him in his race, and impeded him in his labours. Fear hath made the Christian to sorrow, both by night and day…” – this is the wrong fear - distrustful, doubting fear hath made him dishonour God…”

Distrust towards God – not trusting Him. When things seem to go wrong, we do not trust Him. There is a fear that makes people doubt. This is dishonouring to God.

“Fear hath kept many a child of God from doing his duty, from making a bold profession; hath brought bondage into his spirit. Fear misused, thou art the Christian's greatest curse, and thou art the sinner's ruin.”

There is another way to explain the fear that should not be there. Many Christians are troubled by this.

When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden they were at peace. Read the story yourself. Eve ate the fruit and gave it to Adam. When the Lord entered the garden they hid themselves. The Lord said to Adam, “Where are you?” He replied, “Lord, I was afraid. I was afraid and I hid myself because I was naked.” Sin will cause the wrong fear in your life. If there is unconfessed sin in your life there will be fear in your heart – the wrong kind of fear and you will see your nakedness and hide. This is the wrong fear. We should have godly fear instead.

I quote from one of Rev Stegen’s services: If you fear God you will have respect for Him and His word, and have a desire to do His will. It is fear that will create the utmost respect. A good child does not want to hurt his parents. He wants to respect them. A child loves his parents and there is a fear of hurting them. It should be like this. People who do not walk in line with God’s word, do not fear the Lord. If there is no fear, there is no respect.

Christian, have you lost your fear of God? Have you lost that true, God-fearing fear? No wonder you can do what you want, say what you want, press that button on your cell phone, watch that porn. You have lost the fear of God and you have no respect for Him. No wonder your thoughts can be all over the place – you think whatever you want to. Allow me to tell you today, there is no fear of God in your life. The godly fear that God speaks about is not in your life and you think you are free to do whatever you want. How terrible judgement day will be!

The remarkable thing about godly fear is that if you fear God, you do not fear anything else, but if you do not fear God, you fear everything else. (www.ksb.org.za/sermons/the-fear-of-the-lord) God has created fear in us but it must be directed to Him. If we do not direct it to Him, it will be directed somewhere else. That ‘something else’ will be our downfall.

From a commentary: When a man fears the Lord, it implies that he has started to know the Lord. And because you know Him and have seen Him, it creates that deep respect. It is possible that because you do not know Him, you have no respect or fear. You may think that you know Him, but you have never known Him.

In Jonah we read that they saw God, they experienced Him, and then they feared Him. You may have feared God at one stage, but you might have forgotten. When a man realises who God is, He begins to fear the Lord. Think of who God is and you will learn to fear Him.

This fear must be sought. In the book of Proverbs, I choose to fear God. It is a choice. It must be learnt.

In the Psalms, David says Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Psalm 34:11 There must be a desire for this fear.

“O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Nehemiah 1:11 (NKJV) I desire – this is what I want for my life - I desire to fear God so that it will keep me on the right road. When a man fears the Lord, he will turn from sin and live a holy life. When anyone learns the fear of the Lord, his entire manner of life is affected. In 1 Peter, it includes the way a man dresses, speaks, spends his money, his life, time, what he listens to, the places he goes to, the pleasures he seeks and the books he reads. …when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 1 Peter 3:2 If that fear of God is present in our lives, it should be visible in everything we do. If I speak to someone, God must be happy with what I have said. There should always be a deep respect for God who sees me and everything that I do.

Listen to this one: In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge. Proverbs 14:26 This goes against our minds, against our thinking. God’s ways are not ours. How is it possible to fear someone but that fear gives me assurance? Confidence is gained by fearing the Lord because it creates an intimate, personal relationship, in close fellowship with the Lord. This makes us sure of God’s protection.

In Psalm 34:7, The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. This makes a man sure of God’s protection, His provision. In Psalm 34:9 Fear the LORD, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. (NLT)

Is our fear of God complete? Is it true? Do we give Him the respect that He deserves? Why then do you lack things? Why do you say I am not happy, I do not have enough? Your fear might not be complete, your deep respect for God is not what it should be. You might have brought Him down to your level and forgotten who He is.

When a man fears the Lord, he experiences true joy and satisfaction. Even though a man is poor in a worldly sense, if he fears the Lord, he will be wonderfully rich and truly satisfied. The man who fears God has immense satisfaction and joy in knowing that all is well, not only for time but for eternity.

When a man fears the Lord, he will serve Him wholeheartedly which means with everything he has got. What an amazing thing it is to be in the service of God and to be humbly waiting on Him for guidance. This is what it means to serve the Lord with fear, and to rejoice with trembling.

When a man fears the Lord, he will be like the Lord Jesus Himself. It is very interesting, in Hebrews 5:7 – 9. While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. As a man, our Saviour as man lived in the fear of the Lord. Jesus on earth had this fear, this deep respect that we are talking about. In this way He offered Himself on the cross to secure our eternal salvation. If we would really be like Him, we shall always seek to live and work, to do everything in the fear of the Lord, all day long.

Christian, do we fear the Lord the way we should? Do we give Him the honour and respect He deserves and how this in our lives? Do not just say it, let your life say it. If we give God the rightful place, we will lack nothing. If we give Him the respect and fear He deserves, we will experience perfect love. If we give Him the deep respect that He deserves in everything that we do, we will experience His perfect love. If we do not experience His perfect love, it could possibly be that I do not give Him the respect He deserves when I am alone and doing things, I do not fear Him in those times.

Do yourself the favour, read up on this fear. Let us remind ourselves who God is and who we are and where our place is. He is the almighty God and we are nothing. May the Lord continue to reveal His riches.

Conclusion Albu van Eeden

In the New Testament, God’s Word says …work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Philippians 2:12 What is the sign of a lack of fear for God amongst the children of God? We read two verses later: Do all things without grumbling or disputing… Philippians 2:14 There should not be disputes and murmurings amongst God’s children. This is a sign of the lack of the fear of the Lord amongst God’s children.

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