Should a Christian fear the Lord?

Author: BibleAsk Team


The concept of fearing the Lord occupies a central place in the Judeo-Christian tradition, echoing throughout the pages of scripture and shaping the understanding of divine reverence, wisdom, and obedience. Yet, the idea of fear can be puzzling, especially in light of the biblical assertion that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). This exploration delves into the multifaceted nature of the fear of the Lord in Christian theology, examining its implications for faith, piety, and spiritual maturity.

The Biblical Mandate:

    Throughout the Old and New Testaments, the fear of the Lord is presented as a foundational aspect of faithful living. In the book of Proverbs, it is declared that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7), emphasizing its pivotal role in acquiring wisdom and understanding. Similarly, in the New Testament, Jesus admonishes his disciples to “fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28), highlighting the reverential awe due to God’s sovereignty and holiness.

    Scriptural Reference: Proverbs 1:7 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

    Understanding the Fear of the Lord:

      At its core, the fear of the Lord encompasses a profound reverence, awe, and respect for God’s majesty, power, and authority. It involves acknowledging God’s sovereignty over all creation and humbly submitting to His divine will. Rather than a paralyzing dread or terror, the fear of the Lord is characterized by a healthy reverence that inspires obedience, worship, and devotion.

      Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” Until Christians understand who God is and develop reverential respect of Him, they cannot have true wisdom. True wisdom comes only from understanding the character of God and that He is holy, just, and righteous. If knowledge does not lead to the surrender of life to Jesus Christ, it has missed its aim. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

      Scriptural Reference: Psalm 111:10 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”

      Wisdom and Discernment:

        The fear of the Lord is intimately connected with wisdom, discernment, and moral integrity. In the book of Proverbs, it is proclaimed that “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4), highlighting the transformative power of reverential awe in shaping character and behavior. Those who fear the Lord are granted insight into the ways of righteousness and are empowered to walk in obedience to God’s precepts.

        Scriptural Reference: Proverbs 9:10 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

        Love and Reverence:

          While the fear of the Lord entails reverence and awe, it is not incompatible with love. In fact, genuine love for God is intricately intertwined with the fear of the Lord, as expressed in the psalmist’s declaration: “Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him” (Psalm 34:9). Love and fear coexist in a dynamic tension within the believer’s heart, as they are motivated by a deep-seated devotion and adoration for the Almighty.

          Fearing God means having such a respect for God that it will greatly impact the way the believers may live their lives. To fear God is to love Him, obey Him, and to worship Him in awe. The Psalmist says, “O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth” (Psalm 96:9).

          Believers have no reason to be scared of God. While, for the unbeliever, the fear of God is the dread separation from God (Luke 12:5; Hebrews 10:31), believers have His promise that nothing can separate them from His love.

          Paul writes, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). The apostle says, that whether the believers live or die, they are the Lord’s (Romans 14:8). Jesus promised that nothing can pluck them out of His arms against their will (John 10:28). Christians have His promise that He will never leave them or forsake them (Hebrews 13:5).

          Scriptural Reference: Psalm 34:11 – “Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.”

          The Duty of Man:

            In Ecclesiastes, it is succinctly stated that “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13), underscoring the fundamental obligation of humanity to honor and obey God. The fear of the Lord is not merely a suggestion or recommendation but a solemn duty incumbent upon every individual. It serves as the guiding principle for righteous living and moral conduct in accordance with God’s divine will.

            Scriptural Reference: Ecclesiastes 12:13 – “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.”

            Conclusion:

            In conclusion, the fear of the Lord is a multifaceted concept that lies at the heart of Christian faith and piety. It involves reverence, awe, and respect for God’s majesty, sovereignty, and holiness. While it is often associated with wisdom, discernment, and moral integrity, it is not devoid of love. Genuine love for God is intricately intertwined with the fear of the Lord, as believers are called to walk in obedience and devotion to Him. Ultimately, the fear of the Lord is not a source of dread or terror but a catalyst for spiritual growth, maturity, and intimacy with the Almighty.

            Scriptural Reference: Psalm 111:10 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”

            In His service,
            BibleAsk Team

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