Why do you fear God? Perhaps a better first question to ask is, do you fear God? Scripture commands us many times to live in the fear of God (Deuteronomy 6:13; 1 Samuel 12:24; Proverbs 9:10; 2 Corinthians 5:11; Philippians 2:12-13; 1 Peter 2:17; Revelation 14:7). So, it’s not a question of whether we should, but imperative that we must. With all the sermons teaching God is love these days, it may seem a bit out of step to be talking about fearing God. Humans do not typically fear those we love.
But God is not just someone else we love. He is the holy, righteous, and glorious Creator of the Universe, the Lord of lords, and the King of kings. God is indeed the highest expression of love. John told us this plainly in his epistle to the Church (1 John 4:8). However, we do not serve a one-dimensional God. Every emotion is magnified and perfected in Him. Thus, jealous, zealous, and righteous anger are also part of who He is. To quote Jonathan Edwards, “… it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.
Fearing God is a form of worship. It shows our reverence for Him. I don’t want to soft-pedal the fear we should have for Him, but want to stress it differs from the fear we have in this world. In the same way that God is the epitome of love and wrath, He is also the quintessential embodiment of justice. Being a just God, He will never lash out without cause or strike in unprovoked jealousy. But make no mistake, God is not a pushover. He will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7-8). When we rebel against His standards and commandments, it should not surprise us when He releases His judgment on us.
One way the fear of God manifests in our lives is in our attitude towards sin. Fearing God should equate to fearing sin. Instead of being attractive to us, the very hint of sin should make us run away in fear and repulsion. I’m not suggesting we can live sinless lives. Only Christ is perfect. But I am saying we should never enjoy sin. We should never seek to engage in it. That was our old way of thinking. When we surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus, we became new creatures (Ephesians 4:22-24), dead to our sin and alive in Christ (Galatians 2:19-20).
Unfortunately, fearing God is another one of those topics that have disappeared from the teachings of most churches. It’s not a crowd-pleaser, but conviction never is. I think it comes down to a simple fact: We can live in a healthy fear of God now, comforted His love and justice will guard us, or we can scoff at God and be terrified by Him when we die, when His love is no longer available to us. Then He will serve His justice without mercy. To live in fear of God is the safest place you can live. Respect and be in awe of His laws, mercy, grace, and love. But never forget, He will execute vengeance against those who reject Him (Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:26-31). It will be just, it will be swift, and it will be sure.