How much would you say that your fear of the Lord is based in love, set upon a firm foundation that cannot be shaken, no matter the circumstances. Are you doing all that you are able to do in your daily walk with Him to never offend Him, and if so, is it because of your love for Him, or for fear of retribution from Him.
Whether we like to admit it or not, every one of us in one form or another, do, say or think something that is dishonoring to God, sometimes intentionally, many times inadvertently. If it is a sight our eyes see in a momentary glance, it is inadvertent and of no fault of our own, for we would not choose to look upon such a thing if given the opportunity, of this God finds no fault in a man, and no forgiveness needs to be sought. But, if we look twice, whether with our physical eyes or our minds eye, we have begun down the path of sin, and that path will lead to death. (James 1:15)
Our minds eyes, our thoughts, are perhaps the most difficult part of our human nature to control, to keep under subjection, for our flesh lusts against the spirit, (Gal. 5:17) and once any one of our five sense is subjected to an external stimulus, the mind begins to react to it. It is that reaction that we will discuss in this fifth series on the fear of the Lord, and that reaction can be summarized in at least three thought processes in the mind of the believer, love, hatred or fear.
As my lovely wife and I discussed a few days ago, there is a difference between wanting something and liking that thing, for we all should realize that sometimes it is better to want something than to have it. For this particular terminology, I would like to use the example of shopping in the grocery store, and to be more precise, the ‘baking’ aisle. Sometimes this aisle is a burden, at others a fun adventure, but always there is a want, and though we walk this aisle filled with cake and muffin mixes, row after row of frostings and bags of flavored chips nearly every weekend, only two or three times a year do we purchase any items from it, it is the want aisle. In it lies both love and hatred, likes and wants, and to succumb to either of these would be disastrous, for to deny ourselves the pleasure of a frosted chocolate cake forever, or whatever your favorite dessert is, would only bring self-imposed sorrow, and would never assuage the temptation, as it were, but to indulge continuously would mean to never learn how to be faithful to Christ in denying this particular temptation, much less the serious health effects that could occur, and so this question arises, do you not do the things that would displease our Lord because you love Him, or do you hate Him at times because you are not allowed to participate in thoughts and actions that you fear would bring chastisement from Him, or, are you becoming disgusted with the bridle of servitude that the Lord requires of us.
I do not speak in any lack of reverence with these words but would direct your attention to the Book of Ecclesiastes, specifically the chapters where King Solomon attempted to find happiness and contentment outside of the Lord our God. The more He sought those thing “under the sun,” the further his fear of the Lord fled from him, even unto the point where God became displeased with him. (1st Kings 11:9) His initial walk with the Lord was one of obedient servitude, listening intently and obeying all that the Lord had to say to him, but in his later years, as he began to adhere more to what his many wives desired, his own desires of experiences and transitory things, he acquiesced to self and not to God. The wisest man ever to live outside of the Lord Jesus Christ, became one of the most self-serving, and the loss of his fear of the Lord brought punishment upon an entire nation of people.
When we are not allowed to do what we want to do, we despise that which will not allow us the privilege and supposed right to be the masters of our own decision making, our own fate, and if we are held back by any other force besides our own, then that force, even if it is God Himself, for that short season of sin, becomes our enemy. Some of you may try to find disagreement with this statement but look inside of yourself and you will see it to be truth, for no man save Christ has ever died to self, and self is always at odds with God. We want what we want, and for many they will do almost anything to get it, and when that object of desire cannot be obtained, then any number of negative feelings will be entertained, and despising, even hating the thing, item or person that keeps us from that desire is the natural conclusion.
So then, are you not succumbing to your sinful desires because you love the Lord, or because of the fear of retribution, and thereby hate Him because He will not allow you to do what you want to do without some form of chastisement. For those that think in the latter terms, I feel pity, for I relate them to those who are in prison, always desiring those things that they know if they do them there is punishment in some form or another, and continuously feeling ‘trapped,’ by a set of rules that they themselves would not impose upon themselves. We are not speaking of course of those whose desire it is to continuously live in a pattern of sin in their lives, for that person is not truly saved, nor do we speak of the one who occasionally, yet rarely, falls into temptation, for in this trap we have all fallen at times. Instead we are referring to those who have within themselves a secret sin, (Psalm 19:12) ones that they have refused to lay at the foot of the cross, one or more that it is their desire to hold onto, for though they may never come to fruition, the mere thought of them transports their mind to a place where they believe God is not, a place where they believe “He understands,” a place of anticipatory exhilaration, and even though they will never, most likely, be exhibited in the flesh, the mind has stored them in a special place that can only be accessed by the key that they hold, and not even the closest person to them on this planet knows about it. But God knows.
This is sin my friends, sin on the most personal level, and every single born again believer has this sin inside of them, only those who have asked and been blessed by God with wisdom that can only come from God will see them, admit them to him, repent of them and continue to serve, preparing in their hearts for our gracious Lord to show them their next, even deeper secret sins. Do not mistakenly identify these thoughts with the crosses we are commanded to carry, (Matt. 10:38) for there is no sin in that cross, those are the remnants of our sinful nature, these that we are addressing are those that in disgust should be cast from us as soon as we are shown them.
If there is no love in your fear of the Lord, if you know of a secret sin within yourself and have no intention of repenting of it before the Savior at this time, then you will soon be taught one of the other meanings of the fear of the Lord, for He loves you so much that He is willing to teach you, and all of us, that lesson. He will suffer no sin in His presence.
Everything that Jesus did He did to give glory and honor to the Father, and we are to emulate Him, even unto the moment of our own passing from this world. Is there anything within you in this area that you believe He will not replace with something better, is there a secret sin you have that you no longer want, is there within you a love that says, “Please, show me my secret sin, that I may truly serve you with all of my heart, not just part.” It is in love that He gave himself for us, and it is in complete trust and love that we should come before Him, asking for grace and mercy, reverencing a Holiness within Him that we will never truly understand.