Posts Tagged ‘fear of the Lord’

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God…The fear of the Lord is to hate evil…The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…The fear of the Lord prolongeth days…The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death…by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil…be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long. (Assorted Proverbs)

Charles Spurgeon chimes in on the topic (150 or so years ago):

“Perhaps some of the Puritan fathers may have gone too far, and have given too great a prominence to the terrors of the Lord in their ministry: but the age in which we live has sought to forget those terrors altogether, and if we dare to tell men that God will punish them for their sins, it is charged upon us that we want to bully them into religion, and if we faithfully and honestly tell our hearers that sin must bring after it certain destruction, it is said that we are attempting to frighten them into goodness. Now we care not what men mockingly impute to us; we feel it our duty, when men sin, to tell them they shall be punished, and so long as the world will not give up its sin we feel we must not cease our warnings. But the cry of the age is, that God is merciful, that God is love. Who said he was not? But remember, it is equally true, God is just, severely and inflexibly just. He were not God, if he were not just; he could not be merciful if he were not just.”

I agree with Chuck – we have gotten away from preaching fire and brimstone, and for all the wrong reasons. Yes, we should share the Gospel message in love, but ignoring God’s immeasurable power, His justifiable and righteous wrath, eternal damnation, specifically as it pertains to the consequences of sin, is not loving. If the Bible declares that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, then it should be one of the first points we hammer down when sharing the Good News.

Read those Proverbs in the first paragraph again. If you’re still not convinced, look up the other 100+ places in the Bible where the fear of the Lord is taught. I got news for you, the fear of the Lord is not just a call to be respectful to our Almighty God. I submit to you that the literal interpretation of the passage is the proper way to proceed. I further submit that is can be conveyed compassionately, however sometimes a more fearful tone is required.

Jude 21-23 puts it this way:

“Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”

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“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil… Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (Proverbs 16:6 & Corinthians 7:9-10)

When you share the Gospel, at some point in your conversation you will want to lovingly convey the gist of those two Bible passages, i.e., the ‘Fear of the Lord’ and ‘Godly sorrow.’ I would venture to say that those who walk away from their faith in Jesus had little or no grasp of these critical doctrines. Think about it. The Bible repeatedly says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, therefore it stands to reason that it should be one of the first things we communicate. It’s so vital that the non-believer understands the awesome power of God, that Jesus said this: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him (God) which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

Of course ‘Godly sorrow’ goes hand-in-hand with this fear of the Lord. This unique sorrow comes about when we fully grasp that our sinful lifestyle is the path to hell. That notion should terrify a person. If it doesn’t, then they need to hear more about eternal damnation.

Frankly, we need to be more concerned with lovingly communicating these Gospel-basics and less concerned with leading someone in a half-hearted prayer. Christians-to-be have a right to full disclosure. It’s not our function to keep a smile on their face until we can convert them. It would be better if they walked away with a better understanding of the fear of the Lord then to side-step Biblical accuracy. It’s by mercy and truth iniquity is purged (Proverbs 16:6), therefore we are not at liberty to ignore these tenets.

Some will say that when the Bible speaks of fearing the Lord, it is speaking solely to respect and reverence. That my friends is not full disclosure. Of course we venerate God, but know also that the word in the Greek language also means ‘to put to flight by terrifying. Read Matthew 10:28 again!

Does this mean we’re to be terrified of the Lord or terrified of the consequences He put in place for those who idolize their sin? Does this mean we’re to flee from His awesomeness or flee from our sin and towards Him?

Did you have a dad who physically disciplined you? I did. Did I fear my dad if I was caught being bad? Yes I did. In my fear did I love him any less? No, I did not. I may have been mad at him, but I never loved him less. So it is with God the Father. We have been given the capacity to fear Him and love Him. It is the beginning of wisdom.

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“ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

This quote was posted today on one of the social networks:

To know what is right and not to do it is called cowardice – Confucius

That’s Wisdom, Right?

Wrong. That isn’t wisdom.

It’s dumb.

How do we know it’s not wisdom?

God told us so.

“But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its value, Nor is it found in the land of the living.” Job 28:12-13

But it’s Confucius! It must be wisdom.

It’s not. It’s a deception and it’s one of the devices satan uses to get our focus away from Jesus Christ and off of the truth. Christian, it’s the subtlety that makes it so dangerous. In fact it’s so subtle; you might even find yourself wanting to defend Confucius.


By the way, God would say to Confucius (and his quote),

“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Romans 4:17

The truth of the matter is that Christians have no business whatsoever quoting and/or drawing upon secular philosophies. We can argue the contrary position all we like, but at the end of the day there is no getting around God’s wisdom found in Colossians 2:8.

“ Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”

Despite the Holy Scripture references, there will still be some who defend the practice. That’s a shame, but I’m not going to argue about it – God’s word defends itself.

And just to be clear, I’m not condemning to hell anyone who quotes a non-Christian source. However, as we have previously seen, ‘if we know what’s right and do something else, it is a sin.’

“ And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’ ” Job 28:28

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So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord. Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” 1 Samuel 9:2-3

The Lord truly spoke to my heart yesterday, essentially saying to me, “I can see into the future and beyond. That thing you are concerned with is done.”

The peace that came over me was magnificent. The particular thing that concerned me was not huge at all (quite trivial in actuality), but His words gave me the assurance that He has already viewed everything that’s going to happen (or not happen) to me in this life. My Father is positioned over me like the Good Year Blimp is above the Rose Bowl Parade. From my venue I only see what is in front of me with limited peripheral vision, but He sees the splendor of what’s to come and knows exactly where the entire procession is going to end up.

Yesterday’s encounter reminded me how easy it is to focus on a task or a problem rather then Jesus. The fact of the matter is that when we lose focus on Christ, the thing we’re focusing on becomes darkness—even if that thing is a God-given ministry or a mission. My assignment is to merely present myself to Him each day as an empty and willing vessel trusting that the real work to be done is His work. I am a hammer that needs to be in the Master’s tool box each morning not because He needs me, but because I need Him. If I’m not there God will use another instrument and as a result I will become dirty and rusty. Daily usage keeps a Christian clean.

This was in a sense Samuel’s message to Israel in the passage above. Their focus was everywhere but on God and as a result they were fearful of things not worthy of fear. The admonition Samuel gave to Israel then is appropriate for us today. Let us not focus on the problem, but on the problem solver; let us not curse the darkness, but turn on the Light.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all. He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous shall be condemned. The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned. Psalm 34:8-22

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My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-5

To discern and learn the wisdom of God requires effort. This is of course is not a work unto salvation (that was completed on the cross by Jesus), but a work towards the practical application of knowledge gained in and of the Lord. King Solomon allegorically compared the hunt for wisdom as an enterprise a prospector might pursue in order to discover precious metal or gemstones, implying that much effort is reasonable if you desire such a prize. Most would agree, but I’m kind of fond of Socrates’ straight-forward approach on the topic.

The story is told of a young man who came to the Greek philosopher in his quest for wisdom. Socrates supposedly said, “Follow me,” and he walked down to the ocean. He waded out into waist-deep water and the young man remained at his side. Socrates suddenly grabbed the lad and thrust him beneath the water. The terrified boy struggled vehemently against his strong grip. The great thinker finally released him and said, “You will find wisdom when you crave it as much as you did a breath of air.”

Do we hunger so greatly after godly wisdom? We should. This type of pursuit leads us to better understand what it means to fear the Lord, which will in turn lead us to a prosperous walk in the Lord and a walk that is pleasing to God.

For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding…in (Him) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Proverbs 2:6 and Colossians 2:3

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