As we discussed in part 1 of this study, there are many various uses for the word fear, not only in its individual application, for the word can stand alone and mean many different things, but look what happens when I remove just two of the words from the title of this series, we end up with Fear the Lord. Now we have taken on an entirely different context, the subject matter becomes completely distinct, almost ominous, at least in the perception of some. And I am going to presume that, for the most part, those of you that read the words ‘fear the Lord,’ just thought of a reason why in fact we should fear Him, and of course all of those thoughts were of a negative context when applied to the possible consequences.
There is good reason to fear God, my friends, for not only is He in control of all things everywhere, though at this present time Satan still holds a ‘lease’ on this planet, as it were, but our Lord punishes sin. No unrepented sin of any kind, ever, goes without punishment or chastisement. There is a way out, if you will, for the servant of God has been given 1st John 1:9, but chastisement is not punishment in the precise sense of the word, for those that will not repent of a sin against a Holy God, those children of His who are in a form of rebellion, our Lord reprimands, and always in Love. The wrath of God has not been laid on those that are His, and never will be, for it is our Savior Jesus Christ that took that punishment for us, and the price was more than any of us could bear or ever repay.
Repentance that does not hurt, does not heal. It is difficult for us to comprehend fully, but when one of His children sins against Him, He still loves us. Try to imagine, but not for too long please, the most heinous, dastardly deed that one human could do against another, and then think on the smallest, most minute sin you have willing done contrary to the will of God. For this smallest of sin, He also went to the cross, He carried that sin there on that day, laid it at the feet of the Father, and said “I will pay for this one, also.” And He still loves us.
He does not love us less or more when we sin, He does not threaten us the moment we sin with immediate chastisement, our Lord is so very longsuffering towards us, calling us back gently in loving ways to repent of our sin against Him. Those that believe they can hide their sins from Him, no matter how small, are of course deceiving themselves, for from Him who knows the thoughts and intents of the heart, (Psalm 94:11) nothing is hidden. But please, hear me well on this, if you are living with unrepented sin in your life, no matter what it is, and have no desire or intent to confess it to our Lord, then you should be living in fear of Him.
I firmly believe that God leaves not one of His children on a path that leads away from Him, that leads to a continuing path of rebellion, these He chastises, and that chastisement for the man or woman that is truly His child, yet rebelling in a way that is bringing continual blaspheming of His name because of their lifestyle, He will bring Home, to put it bluntly, He will kill them. Have they lost their salvation, of course not, no one can, for we are safe in the hands of Jesus forever, but they have lost whatever gifts that they may have gained. (1st Cor.3:15)
I was, as perhaps you or someone you know, an example of this, for there was a period of time in my life that I willingly left the path and sought the pleasures of sin for a season. (Heb. 11:25) I returned to my vomit, as it were, of a world of sinful desires I thought to be behind me. In open rebellion I lived, better yet I should say, I led a life apart from the leading of the Holy Spirit. Without burdening you with the entire testimony, I will let you know that before I met my caring wife, my best friends always had four legs and fur. One day, long ago, this furry, long- time companion of mine was out in the yard playing as he normally did every day, but within an hour he just laid down and died. It was a complete mystery to the vet, but it was as clear as the blue sky in springtime to me, I had been in sin long enough, the prodigal son would not come home, and the way that the Lord told me so was to kill my dog. His love for us is real, so is His chastisement. If you believe you can go out and do whatever you want, flippantly ask for forgiveness, and then go right back to what you were doing, you are sadly mistaken. If repentance does not hurt down deep inside, it is not repentance.
Think on the account of David and Bathsheba, (2nd Sa. 11+12) specifically after Nathan the prophet enters the scene. The action was adultery, the result was that the heathen had an opportunity to blaspheme the Name of God, the consequence was the death of the child. The child died not because of the adulterous situation, or that David had one of his men killed, the child was allowed to die by God because David had given an opportunity for the heathen to blaspheme the Name of God. Did I mention that I resigned my position as director of a Bible study group that I had been leading for over two years, because of the sin I was intentionally seeking, and that some individuals knew of these sins. Are you beginning to understand what fearing the Lord means?
“I told you not to look in my ark” and over fifty thousand died, (1st Sam. 6:19) “If you do not accept Jesus Christ as Lord, you will spend eternity in a lake of Fire” (Rev. 20:15) My friends! This is no game. Our Lord does not wink at sin anymore, (Acts 17:30) we are all going to be held accountable for our actions and deeds, even our very thoughts, all will give an account on that day.
When we sin willingly against our Lord, we break His heart, as it were, for how can we do such injury to one who loves us so much, how can we continue in a life of sin when we know for a fact that this sin, no matter what it is, requires justice from Him. Yes, justice, for what we call judgement, that which comes upon us from a Holy God for continuing, unrepented sin in the life of the believer, is justice, and the righteous judge always merits out perfect justice. Righteous justice is the prosecutor’s case, loving mercy is the defense, and it is the Lord Jesus Christ who sits on both sides of the bench. Sin against a Holy God requires justice be enacted, and it is only because of His incredible longsuffering towards us that we are not consumed.
And therein lies one of the greatest gifts that He has blessed us with, the opportunity to confess and repent of what He already knows, of what we can’t hide from Him, our sin. Read and understand 1st Cor. 11:31, “If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.” This verse does not mean that if we did not have to judge our self we wouldn’t, it means that self judgement avoids chastisement. If we do not judge ourselves and the deeds we have done against the Lord, then He will, and although it is never to condemnation, for we are His children, it will be a chastisement that we will likely not forget. From the book by Francis De Sales ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’ “How can a generous heart take delight in anything it knows to be displeasing to God or wish to do what offends Him.”
Think on our brother Job for a moment, He prayed for mercy from God for his children, just in case they had inadvertently done something against Him. ( Job 1:5) When we are afraid of the Lord, for the most part, it is because we are worried that He is going to take something from us, or allow some evil, or trouble, to come into our lives, and so many times our repentance can be nothing more than forced attrition. The false idea runs through our minds that as long as we are ‘doing good,’ God will be good, but as soon as we mess up, Bam! The mighty hand of God will slam us down and punish us severely. It is sad to say, but certain religious organizations actually teach this dogma, that there are certain individuals that have gone on to glory before us, and it is only because they are there begging our Savior not to punish or destroy us that we are safe. Nothing could be further from the truth, for there is and always has been only one sinless one born, and He is our mediator, (1st Tim. 2:5) and that one mediator loves us more than we can or ever will be able to comprehend.
Yes, my friends, in a sense, it is a good thing to fear our Lord, for His majesty and power is beyond all comprehension, but better yet is to fear this, the breaking of fellowship with Him. To walk any path without the leading of Christ is a fearful thing, for we do not know the way, and the sin that lays unrepented in us of our own free will is the greatest hindrance to that fellowship with Him. There are those that will enter the Kingdom of Heaven as if by fire, (1st Cor. 3:15) and as Dr. McGee has joked, “I think you will recognize them by the smell of smoke on them.”
It is fact in the Word of God that you cannot lose your salvation, but, my brothers and sisters, you can lose your rewards, and the only way to do that is to continue in a life of unrepented sins. I mean this in no offense, but if the thought, “Well, at least I’ll be in heaven” just crossed your mind, you may want to double-check just who it is you are truly serving, for the Lord our God is not mocked, what you sow you will reap.( Gal. 6:7) As I stated in a separate letter to you, if you only ‘feel’ like a Christian, or are ‘acting’ like one, and are not doing the deeds , the works of the Spirit, you have no need for concern of the gifts, for your reward is here on earth, and the Kingdom of God will not be your home.
How could any of us intentionally desire to hurt the one who loves us the most, the one who paid the ultimate price to keep us from the wrath to come. What sins are still in your life that you need to lay at the foot of the Cross of Christ, where the final drop of His precious blood was shed for you. Leave them there, go to the tomb and see that it is empty, for He is no longer on that tree, He is no longer in the tomb, He is risen, and He is waiting patiently for you to follow.
Each day presents new opportunities to sin, and every day the blessing of asking for forgiveness for them is there. His mercy endures forever, my friends, His love for you is unfailing, there is no reason whatsoever to be afraid of Him, for His love for us is infinite. He is always waiting and willing to forgive, and always in love.