The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

By Tom Baird - 3 November 2020

For some people, hearing the term “Fear of the Lord” can be very difficult. I have had many conversations where the term has been met with awkwardness, rejection or with varied well-meaning justifications for why we shouldn’t fear the Lord. I implore you to be cautious of sitting in the camp of “God is my father, so why should I fear Him” or “I don’t want to fear God, isn’t he love?” or “The fear of God is for the old testament only, isn’t it?”.

The Bible has many examples of the fear of God, from beginning until the end. It is desperately needed for us to have a right relationship with God (Ecclesiastes 12:13). It empowers us to act in a way that reflects Christ and secures our foundation for when we face difficult times. As every Christian around the world is facing the Covid pandemic, their faith has, and will be tested, and unfortunately those that do not have a grasp of who God is, and how or why we fear Him, will be at risk of falling away.

God is so Holy, righteous, just, powerful, glorious, majestic and full of wrath against sin that it cannot be ignored when we approach Him (Isaiah 6:5, Revelation 1:17). You see, sin leads to death and an eternity of separation from God in absolute despair, and to live in sin is to live against the sovereignty, holiness and goodness of God. God abhors sin and is righteously angry with it. In His just judgment He cannot leave sin unpunished (Hebrews 10:26-31). The fear of the Lord leads us to deal with sin quickly, to act in accordance of his commands and to find peace, comfort and security as we run to God for our refuge.  

The sheer privilege it is to be associated with Him, because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to redeem a people back to God is just incredible. It took Jesus dying on a tree to cleanse us of our sin and to be able to approach God. We need the fear of God to help us understand how far off we were from Him, and then to enjoy all the joy, mercy and love we experience when we are made right with Him. To be with God is far better than the greatest riches that this world has to offer.

The fear we hold of the Lord as a redeemed follower of Jesus is one of complete thankfulness that we are no longer God’s enemy. We approach Him in awe and reverence at how He deals with us as an adopted son or daughter in his eternal family through Christ (Romans 8:15). Fear of separation and rejection are replaced by worship and peace in the security of the saving grace of Jesus. We cherish our forgiveness and love Christ all the more to the glory of God.

It leads us to act differently (Philippians 2:12-13). Fearing God means that we put Him first, which is contrary to what society teaches us. It affects how we act, speak and love. It drives us to want to see people saved, and join his family. Fearing God, removes the fear of the whole world (Hebrews 13:6) and of death. This is liberating. Anxiety is replaced with peace, rejection replaced with acceptance, pride replaced with humility. It motivates us to love as Christ loves.

God is sovereign, holy, good, eternal, infinite, unchangeable, powerful, perfect, full of glory, wisdom, justice and truth, and He cares for those who fear Him in a personal way (Psalm 25:14). Whatever you’re facing, God is able to carry you through it, He is the only one who can (Psalm 27:1). Come to Him in obedience and surrender and you will not be left lacking. You see, God is about your heart and He came down off the throne of heaven to die so we could meet Him (Philippians 2:5-13).

“We cannot separate trust in God from the fear of God. We will trust Him only to the extent that we genuinely stand in awe of Him”

Jerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God