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The Fear of the Lord

The fear of the Lord is rarely taught in churches today, but scripture says it’s necessary for salvation (Ps 85:9). What really is the fear of the Lord and how do we obtain it?

The Fear of the Lord is a lifesaving virtue that keeps us from the snares of sin and preserves our lives unto eternal salvation. This great virtue, however, is no longer imparted or even preached in today’s modern church in order to keep people in the pews and their money in the offering buckets. The problem is that the shepherds (pastors) are like modern parents; trying to be a friend to their child instead of a father, out of fear that they will lose their affection and love. The Apostle Peter said it best “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29). Because the fear of the Lord is not living and active within the church, namely leadership, it has become a den of man pleasers fearing man not God. Anyone can “fake it to make it” but God is the “discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).

It is human nature to have an irrational fear of the unknown. However, there is a rational fear that produces an awareness. If you were to show a child a very sharp knife and demonstrated the sharpness by cutting or chopping something very violently, then turn around and asked that child to hold the knife, they would be terrified. They will most likely retract their arms to a defensive position in fear of getting hurt. However, if you were to teach that child how to use the knife properly, how to position their hands so they won’t cut themselves, and use it as a tool for food; now that child has a rational fear of the knife. They understand that if they play with this knife it can seriously hurt themselves or others if they are negligent or carless with it. That is a healthy fear that the child has attained through knowledge. With this understanding let us now observe what the divine Scriptures say concerning the Fear of the Lord.

Job_28:28  And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’ “

Psa_25:14  The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant.

Psa_34:11  Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Psa_36:1  To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David the Servant of the LORD. An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes.

Psa_111:10  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.

Pro_1:29  Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD,

Pro_8:13  The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.

Pro_14:26  In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge.

The Fear of the Lord produces wisdom, understanding, and knowledge that comes from the commandments. It teaches us to depart from evil while giving us a strong confidence because we know our refuge is in God. The Fear of the Lord as we see in the Word, is not like the child who lacked the knowledge of the knife producing and irrational fear, but a child who has a rational fear through knowledge. The Torah (law) produces in us a rational fear which then produces wisdom within us to abstain from all evil. As Clement writes,

For both the law and the Gospel are the energy of one Lord, who is “the power and wisdom of God;” and the terror which the law begets is merciful and in order to salvation. “Let not alms, and faith, and truth fail thee, but hang them around thy neck.” (Pro_3:3) In the same way as Paul, prophecy upbraids [rebukes] the people with not understanding the law. “Destruction and misery are in their ways, and the way of peace have they not known.” (Isa_59:7, Isa_59:8; Rom_3:16, Rom_3:17) “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Psa_36:1; Rom_3:18) “Professing themselves wise, they became fools.” (Rom_1:22) “And we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully.” (1Ti_1:8) “Desiring to be teachers of the law, they understand,” says the apostle, “neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” (1Ti_1:7) “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned.” (1Ti_1:5) [1]

The Torah produces in us a healthy fear of the wages of sin thus leading us to the path of salvation. Clement displays for the reader an agreement of both the old and new Testament the consequences and reward for not following the Torah and using it lawfully. As it is written “those who hated knowledge did not choose the fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:29). This is pertaining to those who hate to learn from the Torah and say that is no longer applicable for them, and it is only for the Jews. Paul is their own accuser as he says, “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.” (Romans 7:22) and “but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter;” (Romans 2:29). Clement stated further concerning this:     

Those, who denounce fear, assail the law; and if the law, plainly also God, who gave the law. For these three elements are of necessity presented in the subject on hand: the ruler, his administration, and the ruled. If, then, according to hypothesis, they abolish the law; then, by necessary consequence, each one who is led by lust, courting pleasure, must neglect what is right and despise the Deity, and fearlessly indulge in impiety and injustice together, having dashed away from the truth.

Yea, say they, fear is an irrational aberration, and perturbation of mind. What sayest thou? And how can this definition be any longer maintained, seeing the commandment is given me by the Word? But the commandment forbids, hanging fear over the head of those who have incurred admonition for their discipline.

Fear is not then irrational. It is therefore rational. How could it be otherwise, exhorting as it does, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Than shalt not bear false witness? [2]

Clement expounds greatly the importance of what Torah produces in us while saying at the same time “woe” unto those who attack the Torah. Clement was a 2nd century Greek Christian with no physical bloodlines to Judaism, upholding the Torah, because he understood the writings of the Apostle Paul. Notice that those who abolish the Torah are led by their lustful desires, for the Torah teaches us to hate the lust of the flesh. Let us pray earnestly for the Torah to produce in us a rational fear of the Lord, so that we may not sin against Him. To God be the glory, amen.

References:

  1. Clement- Stromata Book 1 Ch. XXVII Vol. 2
  2. Clement- Stromata Book 2 Ch. VII, Vol. 2