No Fear of God

Posted on June 10, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” Judges 21:25

Most Christians have a sincere desire to live a godly life and follow Godʼs will, but consistently fail because their efforts are based on a legalistic approach of trying to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. We must realize that a holy life and victorious living doesn’t come from mere obedience but a faith-walk of trusting Christ–”not I, but Christ.” But we often overlook a simple, singular key for success in the Christian life. Scripture is prolific in its admonition to fear God.

Proverbs 9:10 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” I will be sharing a series of devotional thoughts on this theme as the wisdom we need for every aspect of life begins with a fear of God. Knowing Him puts decisions, behavior, attitudes and relationships into proper perspective.

And it is a deterrent to doing wrong. “By the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil” Proverbs 16:6. It is evident that this is why there is so much evil in the world and our society is characterized by declining values. People have no fear of God as they live their lives according to their own passions, justifying whatever brings pleasure. Promiscuous lifestyles, addictions to to drugs and alcohol and self-serving motives that produce fraudulent business practices and destroy marriages ignore any accountability to an almighty, sovereign God.

Even Christians are guilty of ignoring the needs of others to advance oneʼs own status and reputation. Ego-driven pride leads to conflict and dissension instead of a God- glorifying unity that comes from a servant heart and selfless devotion to others. Are we not aware of the consequences of ignoring the way God expects us to live?

The “fear of God” does not imply that we are to be motivated by the fear of judgment and be afraid of what God might do to us if we make a mis-step or transgress His precepts, though there will be accountability and judgment for what we do in this life, even as a believer. However, the fear of God is essentially a proper respect and understanding for who God is and our appropriate relationship with Him. Notes in the Holman Christian Study Bible identify it as (1) a reverential awe, (2) an obedient respect, and (3) a worshipful submission.

If that characterized our understanding and relationship with God, we would not dare do things contrary to His character and expectations. There is no analogy that is adequate for what this means, but it is somewhat like the relationship with my parents. I loved and respected them and acknowledged their authority. A deterrent to disobedience was my desire not to do anything that would bring their displeasure or disapproval. It was not because of fear of punishment; after all, the pain of a spanking was short-lived. The motivation was from a relationship of respect, love and submission to them and their authority.

Obviously, a lot of the problems in our lives and society, and the reason for so much sin in our world, is the fact there is no fear of God. Like the rebellious children of Israel without a king, there is no moral guide or impetus for doing what is right; everyone does what is right in their own eyes.

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