By Donnie V. Rader
In the first article we defined fear as involving two concepts that are inseparable (as the two sides of a coin): (1) Being afraid of displeasing God, and (2) Respect and awe for God. Let’s consider now what that fear will cause us to do.
What Fear Causes Us To Do
1. Do what God says. While we do not live under the OT law (Gal. 3:24-25; 2 Cor. 3), books like Deuteronomy, which emphasize obedience to the law, serve to demonstrate the relationship of the fear of God to obedience. Notice that connection in the following passages:
That you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you . . . (Deut. 6:2).
Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him (Deut. 8:6).
You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and shall keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him (Deut. 13:4).
And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statues . . . (Deut. 17:19).
If you fear the Lord and serve Him and obey His voice and do not rebel against the commandment of the Lord. . . (1 Sam. 12:14).
The one who fears God will obey to the utmost as Abraham did in his attempt to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 22:12). When God saw he was willing to go that far in obedience, he said, “Now I know that you fear God.” This is obedience with no excuses, question, or doubt.
2. Be dedicated. The one who fears God is devoted and dedicated with all his heart. There is no place for half-hearted service among those who fear God. Again, consider some passages from Deuteronomy.
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul (Deut. 10:12).
You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him, and to him you shall hold fast . . . (Deut. 10:20).
This dedication means that one will be careful in his obedience (in contrast to a haphazard or careless approach to the Christian life) (Deut. 17:19). Consider some other passages from Deuteronomy:
. . . that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and care- fully observe all the words of this law (Deut. 31:12).
If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD (Deut. 28:58).
3. Hate sin. Because of the love and respect one has for God, he will develop a hatred for sin. He not only will hate sin, but will cease the practice of it. The Proverb writer said, “Fear the Lord and depart from evil” (Prov. 3:7). Again he wrote, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil” (Prov. 8:13; cf. 16:6).
Moses told God’s people at Sinai that God’s presence on the mount (the display of thundering, lightening, sounding of the trumpet, and the smoke on the mountain) was to test them “that his fear may be before you, so that you may not sin” (Exod. 20:20). Thus, if one fears God, he will hate sin and cease the practice of it.
The Psalmist said, “Because they do not change, there- fore they do not fear God” (Ps. 55:19). When people persist in sin and never change (whether an alien in the world or a supposed “Christian”) the problem is they do not fear God.
4. Honor God. Nehemiah described himself as one of the people who “desire to fear Your Name” (Neh. 1:11). That desire caused him to view God with the highest respect. He described God as the “great and awesome God” (Neh. 1:5; 4:14).
Our view of God ought not be a casual one that thinks should praise him as the Almighty (Rev. 4:11), the creator of the world (Gen. 1:1), the one who holds the world in and the moon to stand still (Josh. 10:12-14), the one who delivered his people from the hand of the Egyptians with wonders and signs (Exod. 7-14), and the one who raised his Son from the dead (John 20).
5. Respect for the word of God. If one honors God, he will have the utmost respect for his word. Remember that Nehemiah described those among whom he worked (as he did himself) as those “who desire to fear” Because of that fear they were attentive to Ezra as he read and explained the law (Neh. 8:2). They stood when Ezra opened the book in their presence (v. 5).
If we fear God, we too will hold the word in high esteem. We should view the Bible as the inspired word that came from the mouth of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 9:13). We should never forget that this is the book by which we will be judged in the last day (John 12:48). The way we refer to the word and the way we respond to it will reflect whether or not we respect it.
6. Respect and treat others right. Respect for God means that we will respect our fellowman. Moses thought that Abimelech would not treat him or Sarah right because he did not fear God. He said, “Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife” (Gen. 20:11).
Nehemiah rebuked some who were mistreating their brethren by exacting usury from them saying, “What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?” (Neh. 5:9). Notice the contrast in the fear of God and the mistreatment of others. David said that those who rule over others should do so in the fear of God (2 Sam. 23:3).
Many of the laws given on Sinai that dealt with how Israel was to treat others put walking in the fear of God in contrast to mistreatment of others. For example, “You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:14; cf. Lev. 19:32; 25:17, 36, 43).
Walking in the fear of God involves more than being baptized. It involves more than going to church. May this study challenge us to be more dedicated, more devoted and sacrifice more for the cause of the Lord.