Should Believers Fear God?
Fear is a scary word for most of us that we prefer to avoid because it’s predominantly related to in a negative connotation. However the word fear is mentioned regularly throughout the Bible, therefore it’s imperative that we take the time to understand what the Lord wants us to learn from its use in Scripture.
Most accepted is the well-known and commonly-shared fact that the Bible mentions ‘fear not’ repeatedly, which demonstrates the beautiful comfort God gives to His children when they are feeling frightened or are going through a struggle in their life.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
There’s no other comforter like the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). The Lord gives us a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) when we trust in Him. It is God alone who can hide us under the shadow of His almighty wings where we are kept safe (Psalm 17:8, Psalm 91:4).
But what does God expect us to do while we’re resting under His protection?
Has He taken us away from the battle? Or is His protection there for a higher purpose?
Whenever we’re experiencing fear from a trial in our life, we must always remember that although the Lord allows us a safe haven of refuge in Him (Psalm 18:2), we are to remain on the forefront of the battlefield—fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). Not only does the Lord provide a refuge, but within that refuge He gives us the strength to endure in Him!
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
So as we take refuge in the Lord, that place of safety that God has provided is there to enable you with the courage you require to continue on in the battle—unscathed and unharmed (Psalm 55:18) when our minds are stayed on Him because we trust Him implicitly.
Isaiah 26:3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Praise God that He is our rock and our fortress (Psalm 62:2)! Not only does He deliver us from our enemies and help us in times of trouble (Psalm 18:48), but He nourishes us with His Word (Matthew 4:4), which equips us for the ongoing battle that is raging between God’s people and the spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12). We know that God does not give us a spirit of fear; which is being frightened or afraid, but He gives us His power and His love so we can have complete rest in Him and fulfil His purpose. The Lord even provides us with a sound mind to be able to think and act in clarity, identifying what is godly and stepping out in faith on the path that He has directed for us.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
At the moment Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), however he knows that his time is short (Revelation 12:12) and we look forward to the day that’s coming soon when Jesus will be returning to rule with an iron rod—bringing justice (Philippians 3:20, Revelation 22:12, Revelation 19:15, Luke 18:8).
However God doesn’t spoon feed us. He has work set out for us to do and He expects us to act—we need to be willing to actually do it. We can’t sit back and waste time doing our own leisurely things, but then expect to be well-equipped to run the race. It is our job to be reading, studying and living the Word through our lives in everything we do in order for our spirits to be fed and nourished. This is when we will be running the race with endurance as though we were the only one receiving the prize (Hebrews 12:1, 1 Corinthians 9:24).
So in clarifying this kind of fear that is mentioned throughout the Bible, this brings us back to the question of this article’s title: ‘Should believers fear God?’
When the Word instructs us not to have fear, this is not in relation to God—it’s always regarding anything outside of Him. And the reason for this is simple:
We should fear God!
You may be confused by this statement due to preachers who have taught the contrary, however let’s always remember to test everything we hear and even the beliefs we hold with the Word of God—allowing our hearts and minds to be aligned to the Bible and not to any preacher, no matter how well-liked or well-versed they may be (1 John 4:1).
Unfortunately none of us know what it’s really like to be part of the church as God intended.
We have all been raised in times of apostasy and no church in our day has ever been without leaven. We even see in Revelation, only a few years after the Early Church began, that Jesus was rebuking 5 out of the 7 churches for allowing ungodliness to creep into the churches—thereby contaminating them with unholiness. So we need to realise that we are all re-learning what God’s true church looks like…and the only way to know is by going back to the Bible for the answers.
Where does the Bible say we should fear God and why would God’s children need to fear Him?
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Firstly, it’s of utmost importance to understand that to fear God means to have wisdom—so we are wise when we fear the Lord. There are many verses throughout the Bible that reiterate the importance of fearing God (Ecclesiastes 12:13, Proverbs 1:7, Job 28:28, Matthew 10:28, Philippians 2:12-13), however this one below in particular explains the reason why God expects us to fear Him.
Psalm 33:8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
Let ALL the earth fear the Lord and stand in AWE of Him! To fear God means to realise who He is and who we are. We must put into perspective the position of where we are in comparison to where the creator of the universe is. God is mighty! He is superior and we are inferior. God is our maker and He is sovereign. It is He alone who deserves all praise, honour and glory. We even see that the Lord tells us that we should fear Him and not people on earth, because God is a living, all-powerful divine being who has the power to send people to Hell (Luke 12:4-5).
Now I would like to point out that this fear is completely different to the one we spoke of at the beginning of this article…it is not a fear like to be scared or frightened, but a fear that is to know the significance of how majestic and great God is…the One who is in control of everything, the only One who deserves to be bowed down to and worshiped with everything we have within us!
Sadly the modern church have been deceived into placing their own selves on a high level where they ought never be. Teachings like; we deserve all good things, let’s live our best life now, we are little gods (preached out of context), we are owed self-gratification because that’s what Christians are entitled to, are all doctrines of demons and are not of God at all (1 Timothy 4:1). When the church start to take their focus off Christ and onto self, they begin to exalt their own selves above almighty God—elevating their favourite preachers and ‘Christian’ singers to celebrity status, taking what they say as 'truth' and ignoring the Word of God, which opposes these popular preachers’ words. This in itself is evidence that the church have spiralled away from the true biblical beliefs. The Scriptures caution believers to beware of deception in the last days—and deception is growing stronger as the end draws near (Matthew 24:4, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). Now more than ever we need to be sober and alert (Matthew 24:42-44), holding on tightly to our mighty Saviour and His precious Word of truth so we’re not deceived and led astray (Colossians 1:21-23, 2 Peter 3:17). And as we read the Bible, we will quickly see that we are not to exalt humans because without Him we are nothing (John 15:5, Romans 3:10-12), but to God be the glory as it’s all thanks to Him that we, who were dead in our sins, have now been crucified with Christ and we only live because Yeshua (Jesus) gave His life for us (Ephesians 2:1-7)!
Acts 10:35 But in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
When we have a fear of the Lord, we will readily be in the correct position to serve Him as true believers – doing what is right as followers of Christ who wisely believe and study God’s Word, giving up our own worldly pursuits in order to live wholly for our Saviour (Mark 4:19), knowing that our lives are no longer our own, but are His to be used as He pleases—all for the glory of His Kingdom. In this way we are walking as true disciples, doing what is right and acceptable to our Heavenly Father.
What’s the danger of not fearing God?
When we don’t have a healthy, proper fear of the Lord, the result is catastrophic. Just look around at many of the churches today and you will see how dangerous it is when people no longer fear God. People become arrogant, boastful and proud—and this is not only towards others, but what’s worse, this is also towards God! We see preachers encouraging their congregation to view God as a ‘high-five kind of daddy’, where you can walk all over Him and get whatever you want because after all, you are His child and He wants to bless you. This kind of talk is not only irreverent to a Holy God, but it also implicates that of a spoilt child who expects their parents to give them everything they desire. Unfortunately, this image corresponds exactly to how most children are brought up today…they have no respect or fear of their parents and when they have a tantrum, the parents heed to their child’s request. So it’s no surprise that adults are also acting like naughty, disrespectful children. Everyone wants relief for themselves, and instead of taking accountability for their own actions, people play the blame game and shirk their responsibilities so they can gain their ‘me time’; whether it be through wanting time alone, being with friends, enjoying that perfect coffee, obtaining possessions or pampering the body. Everything has become so upside down in this world that it can be difficult to see the right way up.
Romans 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
Oh how low society becomes when God’s ways are abandoned and discarded.
When the fear of God has been forsaken, people become complacent. A laid back attitude of ‘anything goes’ begins to seep in and take precedence and before we know it, the church have become no different to the world—in fact, they are one and the same (Jude 1:4, 19). Obedience to God and His ways decline and as a result, actions are futile and ungodly…to the point where the professing believer doesn’t even recognise God’s Word anymore when they hear it—it’s become so foreign to them that their ears are deaf and hearts have become hardened towards the things of God. Yet the shatteringly ultimate twist in this devastating consequence is that these people still believe they are born again, they still believe they are heaven-bound even though they know not who God is because they have allowed leaven to contaminate their soul and their wicked hearts have deceived them into believing a lie (Jeremiah 17:9). They are now serving a different Jesus and a different gospel—a Jesus they have crafted in their mind that suits their lifestyle.
Galatians 1:8-10 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
This is a very serious matter—so much so that all who profess the faith need to understand it and be established in the truth so they’re walking in accordance with the Lord. We see in Malachi that the Lord delivers a strong warning of judgment to those who don’t fear Him, and to those who do fear Him the Lord calls His people.
Malachi 3:5, 16-18 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me,” says the Lord of hosts…Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.”
With reverential fear of God comes the desire to please God and Him only. No longer does the believer seek the approval of man—he finds delight in pleasing the Lord, no matter what the cost.
Luke 1:50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
Following Christ is to fear Him. When we do this, the Lord has mercy upon us because we are no longer being enemies of the Lord. We are no longer willing to go against God’s ways or defile Him in any way, but with all that we are and all that we have, we give to Him—putting off the old and putting on the new (Ephesians 4:22-24).
When we fear the Lord, we are rightfully being mindful and respectful of who God is – this in turn will render us as putty in His hands, with a heart yearning to be obedient to God’s Word and to serve our Lord in both word and deed, putting into action the faith we have in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our God is awesome!
1 Peter 1:13-17 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
God’s children shall forever be in awe of almighty God—maker of Heaven and Earth!
Psalm 146:1-6 Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever.
— By Jen Ayling