Fear that Saves and Worships

Fear is the multifaceted emotion which exists at the deepest level of the human heart, expressing itself in different ways according to the situation. Fear is a primal internal activity that impacts our conscience, our emotions, our beliefs, our stress levels, our desire for self-preservation, our loyalties, and our worship. To influence these diverse aspects of life, fear must operate in both the positive and negative realms. Likewise, it must be able to whisper direction and wisdom while also shouting warning and advice when life demands assertive action.

In the wisdom of God, He created mankind with both the capacity for fear and the ability to understand its different types. A healthy level of fear is critical for knowing God and our spiritual well-being. Solomon says in Proverbs 1:7, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. It is this strong reverential and emotional attitude that Solomon says is the start line for knowing God. Buried in there will be a measure of being afraid of God’s power and wrath also. Understandably, Solomon warns that to ignore God’s wise council and instructions on this matter is just plain foolish.

When Yahweh revealed Himself to Moses and Israel at Mount Sinai, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die” (Exodus 20:18-19). Moses responded 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” (Exodus 20:20).  God kindly tests us by allowing us to see within ourselves, if our knowledge of His greatness and  holiness will motivate us against sin. A right understanding of God’s perfections should create fear, causing us to hate evil, like how God hates evil (Proverbs 8:13).

If we, like Israel, fail this test of the heart, we should realise that we need a Saviour to rescue us from God who will judge us for our sin. Praise God, there is a Saviour up to the task; the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son (Romans 5:10 NLT). You see, a healthy fear of God directs us to His Son who reconciled us to God  by taking our death penalty on the cross for our sin.

Without realising it, Solomon pictured the response that believers would have to Jesus’ hundreds of years earlier. In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge (Proverbs 14:26). Our fear of God dissolves our hearts in grateful confidence of what Jesus Christ has accomplished on our behalf. Therefore, we take refuge in Christ, we worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3). It is confidence in Christ that moves our fear of God from terror to awe, from being a terrified enemy to being a worshipping child of the Almighty.

The writer of Hebrews captures both aspects of fear in Hebrews 12:28-29. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. May our conversations and prayers today reveal true fear of the Lord, for His glory and our blessing.

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