What we know: Proverbs 1:7 declares, “The fear of the Master is the beginning of knowledge.” Until we understand who God is and develop a reverential fear of Him, we cannot have true wisdom. True wisdom comes only from understanding who God is and that He is holy, just, and righteous.
The fear of God is the basis for my walking in His ways, serving Him, and, yes, loving Him.
The fear of the Master is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:7 (NASB)
- There is a great conundrum around the issue of fear. God says that we should fear Him and that we should “fear not”. So what is up with all of this? Jesus lays it all out with this: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) Almost immediately after that, Jesus says “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” The Greek word in Matthew 10 is phobéō – meaning fear, dread, reverence, afraid, terrified.
- Deuteronomy 10:12, 20-21 records, “And now, O Israel, what does the Master your God ask of you but to fear the Master your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Master your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Fear the Master your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you hose great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.”
Let’s dig a little deeper.
- For the unbeliever, the fear of God is the fear of the judgment of God and eternal death, which is eternal separation from God (Luke 12:5; Hebrews 10:31). For the believer, the fear of God is something much different. The believer’s fear is reverence of God. Hebrews 12:28-29 is a good description of this: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ’God is a consuming fire.’” This reverence and awe is exactly what the fear of God means for disciples. This is the motivating factor for me to surrender to the Creator of the Universe.
- Some redefine the fear of God for believers to “respecting” Him. While respect is definitely included in the concept of fearing God, there is more to it than that. A biblical fear of God, for the believer, includes understanding how much God hates sin and fearing His judgment on sin — even in the life of a believer.
- Hebrews 12:5-11 describes God’s discipline of the believer. While discipline is done in love, it is still a fearful thing. As children, the fear of discipline from our parents no doubt prevented some evil actions. The same should be true in our relationship with God. We should fear His discipline, and therefore seek to live our lives in such a way that pleases Him.
- Believers are not to be scared of God. We have no reason to be scared of Him. We have His promise that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). We have His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Fearing God means having such a reverence for Him that it has a great impact on the way we live our lives. The fear of God is respecting Him, obeying Him as Master, submitting to His discipline, and worshipping Him in awe.
The main thing: As a slave of Jesus, I know that as long as I obey Him, I have nothing to fear because of His love for me. If I don’t obey Him, there is much to fear. He is able to destroy me — both soul and body in hell. Yikes!