Godly and Ungodly Fear of God

There is both an ungodly fear of God and a godly fear of God. This lesson asks the question, “What is the fear of God?” To answer it, we look at five characteristics of God-fearing people where we contrast that with an ungodly fear of God. We end, by laying out some definitions of the fear of God and explore the impact on our lives.

This lesson is from a series call Courage: Fighting Fear with Fear where we are going through a book of the same title by authors Wayne Mack and Joshua Mack. You can also download the mp3 of this lesson at the following link: What is the Fear of God?

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Your Fears are Lying to You

Dear Christian, your fears are lying to you. Nothing they warn you about can ultimately hurt you. Fear shows its face daily and holds you back from doing things that may not be safe according to the world’s wisdom, but are life-giving in every respect. It tells you that you must save your life, or you will lose it, but the opposite is true. It is time to push fear aside and begin marching more boldly toward the Celestial City.

For those not in Christ, their fears are deceiving them because they are not fierce enough, and they are focused on earthly desires. Their sin and coming judgment are far worse than they can ever imagine. For the Christian, our anxieties are lying to us because our greatest problems, sin and judgment, have been taken care of on the cross, and every other anxiety is, therefore, unwarranted.

Samuel Davies once preached a sermon called “This Very Year You are Going to Die.” He worked from Jeremiah 28:16, a statement that was spoken to Hananiah, which says, “Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die.”  Davies went on to teach that this could be a statement that this true of every one of us, for tomorrow is promised to no one. We must redeem the time, for the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16).

It is time to start living. There is nothing that can come into your life that can separate you from the love of Christ. Don’t worry about your reputation, don’t worry about how dark it could get, and don’t even worry about the fallout of your past sins. Walk through them all with your Lord, and walk through them with boldness, because they cannot touch your life in Jesus.

Your time is coming. If not this year, soon. However far away, it is nothing compared to eternity. What are you doing with this time? As mentioned earlier, most of our time and attention are focused on saving our lives instead of losing them, but losing it for his sake is where it will be found (Matthew 16:25). This self-focus is what produces most of our anxiety. We know that God will take care of our needs, but our fears tell us that we need to be concerned about our wants. It is time to let them go and put our focus where it needs to be. You might spend your whole life trying to lay up treasures on earth, but in the end, moth and rust will destroy, or they will be handed to someone else when you are gone. Store your treasures in heaven where there is an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading kept for you (1 Peter 1:4).

We have one primary goal in this life, and all other goals are subservient to it. We desire to finish our course and ministry and testify to the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24). It does not matter what has happened in the past; it is time to forget what is behind and press forward to what is ahead (Philippians 3:13). All things are working together for the good of those who love Him. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said, “Without God, man is anxious either trying to anticipate chance or escape fatalism.” With him, however, we are always secure within his providential care, even when it does not seem safe. Lloyd-Jones continues, “We are never in any position or situation outside of God’s knowledge or care. He knows much better than we do ourselves.”

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added (Matt. 6:33). Our fears point to the kingdom of this world, but in pursuing Christ with all our heart, there can be no failure or reason to fear. It is time to pour our lives into pursuing his glory.

Someday soon you will have a tombstone with your name on it, and all the fears that tried to hold you back from living for Jesus will be exposed as the lies they really are. Samuel Davies himself died the same year he preached that sermon at the age of 38. He spent his time living for the Lord, and he is with Jesus where all of his anxieties and troubles are now long gone, as yours will be. Set your focus and live for Jesus, and in that, you will find life. Even if everything in this life falls apart, one day you will stand in the presence of Jesus where every fear must bow.

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. – Acts 20:24

D. Eaton

 

Why God’s Promise to Provide Does Not Always Give Us Peace

All throughout scripture, we are promised that God will meet our needs. Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matt. 6:26-27).

Like God feeding the Israelites with manna in the wilderness, God still provides for us today. He gives us what we need when we need it. Why then does this not always give us peace? Why, when the troubles come, do we still fret?

Edward T Welch sums it up best when he says, “Beneath our questions about God’s generosity and his care for our needs is something darker, what we really care about is our wants.?” God promises to take care of our needs, not our wants, and this is what often drives our anxieties. Much of the fight of faith must be fought on this front.

Welch goes on to say that “our version of the kingdom looks peculiarly like suburbia.” We have painted our own worldly pictures of what it means to be taken care of by God. Then, like Abraham having a child with Hagar, we try to force the promises to happen in our own way. Doing this only compounds our anxieties, because, not only are we worried about our wants, but we are now living as if God’s promise to provide depends on us. This type of anxiety is often seen in many of the prosperity churches.

God will give us what we need when we need it, but that does not mean you will never get sick, lose a job, a child, or even die yourself. What it means is that he will give us what we need to face these times should they come, and only when they come. Just like the Israelites never had tomorrow’s manna today, we may not have what we need to face these future difficult times now. In fact, we may not even be able to imagine how we could handle it, but we will, if the time comes. The Lord never fails.

We all have desires that war against our soul, and these are often the cause of our greatest anxieties. We need to align our wants with his word and our desires with his decrees. If we think that a trouble-free life now is what it is all about, our gospel and our God are too small. As Welch says, “Life in the kingdom is not easy, at least not when we want to share the throne.”

D. Eaton

The quotes by Edward Welch come from the book, Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest.

Every Fear Must Bow

You, O Lord, are my refuge and strength. No matter what fears assail me, they cannot stand before you. Whether my anxieties are based on reality or the result of my doubting heart, you are the calmer of my soul. There is no darkness your light cannot penetrate.

You are my peace. Every fear finds its defeat in you because none of them can overshadow your glory. There is no anxiety which can maintain its strength in the presence of your might. There is no cunning that can stand in the light of your wisdom and knowledge.

One day your Majesty will be acknowledged by all. Not only will every knee bow and every tongue confess that you are Lord, but, for all who come to you in faith, every sickness must heal, every broken heart must mend, every need must be met, and every loneliness must find its true companion. All of this is possible because no stain of sin can resist the cleansing power of your cross.

Nothing can touch you, O Lord, and my life is hidden in you. You are my helper, the upholder of my life. I give you thanks and praise in the midst of a dark and troubled land. May my worship be like a lighthouse calling to ships on a dangerous sea to find their rest in your harbor.

Calm my soul, O Lord. Let me look in triumph upon every fear. Let your peace, which passes understanding, rule in my heart. Hide me in the shadow of your wing. My soul clings to you, and your right hand upholds me.

O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress. Psalm 59:9

D. Eaton (with help from the Psalms)

Trusting God With Your Greatest Fears

And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved. – Genesis 43:14

Jacob had lost Joseph, or so he thought he had, and he was terrified of losing Benjamin as well.  So much so that we are told his whole life was bound up in Benjamin. If Benjamin were to die Jacob believed he would not survive either.

Even after years of being a man of great faith, fear still found a way to grip Jacob, and now a famine had hit the land. The only way the family was going to survive was if Benjamin would to go to Egypt to appease the man who had spoken harshly to Jacob’s other sons. Jacob’s hand was forced: send him or the entire family starves. The prospect of doing this terrified him.

It is at this point we see Jacob’s faith conquer the fear of losing Benjamin.  When Jacob says, “If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved,” it is as if he looked his greatest fear in the face and declared, “even if Benjamin, and possibly the other sons are taken away by this man in Egypt, God can still be trusted.” He seemed to realize that God’s ways are higher than his, and what He does is always good.

One of the great things about being a Christian, whose primary goal is to see God glorified, is that we know God can be glorified in times of both ease or pain. In fact, His glory is often more clearly seen in our times of struggle and frailty than when we think we are strong. What looks like failure can be the Lord’s hand guiding us to fulfill the desire of our heart: to see His name hallowed. Knowing this Jacob could resign to the fact that God could be trusted no matter what was to come.

It is interesting how anxiety can often be worse when the danger is not even present, yet when trouble actually comes, the Lord gives us the strength we need. Some have said that anxiety is fear looking for a cause. It swims around within us doing its work of pointing out all the possibilities of danger, then when it finds something that causes us to tremble, rational or not, it sinks its teeth in and won’t let go.

What is it that gives you the greatest fear? Is it illness, financial problems, loss of a loved one, or even something like loneliness? Maybe it is time to look at it directly in the face and say, “even it it all comes true it cannot touch my life, because my life is hidden in Christ.” Nothing in life or death can separate me from His love.

In the end, Jacob feared the man in Egypt, but the man in Egypt turned out to be Joseph, his son, who was seeking to bless him. Likewise, as believers, the troubles we fear can only touch us if the Lord allows them, and if He does so, it is only for a greater purpose. It is not until we understand that God is sovereign, and that He is working all things for the good of those who love Him, that we can look at our greatest fear and say, “come what may, God can be trusted.”  It is at that moment, when your faith in God wins the battle over fear, that you will find a peace that passes all understanding.

D. Eaton