Godly Fear





It seems that there is no fear of God in the world and a lack of godly fear in the church.


The reason the world is so wicked is because “There is no fear of God before their eyes”, Romans 3 v 18, Psalm 36 v 1.


If the world feared God then the love of God could do its perfect work.


 Godly fear is a foundational truth of the church that is part of the apostles’ doctrine.


 Acts 2 v 42 says, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread and in prayers. 43, And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.”


 Do it again Lord.  Unfortunately there are church leaders who don’t believe in godly fear in the church and are opposed to the fear of God affecting anyone who is not saved.  This is going against every Greek scholar and creditable bible teacher that I have ever studied. 


 Psalm 19 v 9 says, “The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring for ever.”  The furnishings and appliances of the tabernacle are said to be made of ‘pure’ gold.  Everything belonging to God and what God uses for His glory must be pure.  The fear of the Lord is pure and endures for ever. 


When Jesus taught His disciples to pray He started with, “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name”.  The word ‘hallowed’ means to make holy but, according to W. D. Mounce, it is also used in the Lord’s Prayer in a sense of “reverence”, he also says the word “revere” denotes both a sense of terror and a sense of awe and worship and it is commonly translated “fear, revere and worship”.


Let us look at some usage of the word fear in the New Testament when it relates to God.


 Heb 12 v 28b, let us serve (worship) God with reverence and godly fear.

Col 3 v 22, Obey your masters with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.

1 Peter 2 v 17, Honour all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honour the king.


 With reference to the word “fear”, Zondervan’s notes say, not terror but wholesome reverence and respect for God, which is the basis for all godly living.


 There are many scriptures that tell us to “fear not” and “perfect love casts out all fear” therefore we must take a balanced view of all scripture and read them in context.  To refuse to recognise that Christians must have a godly fear in awe of God with reverence and respect, shows at the very least a lack of understanding scripture and the different meanings of the term “fear” when used in the different context of scriptures.


 The “Concise Bible Dictionary” by Don Fleming, states, “The believer’s fear of God is mixed with love for Him. If the believer obeys God simply because he fears God’s punishment, such obedience displays an immature love.  The believer should obey God because he loves God.  Nevertheless, the believers love for God is not a substitute for reverence, nor does it excuse him from judgment. God still requires obedience and holiness.  He is the almighty judge as well as the loving Father.  Therefore the believer must have a healthy fear of Him as well as a warm love for Him (2 Cor. 7 v1, 1 Peter 1 v16-17).”


 The love of God and godly fear go together.  Godly fear will override fear of man.  We obey God because we love Him and we fear Him because we love Him.  In Matthew 25 v 14-30, the man who was given one talent buried it; he did this out of fear, not a reverential fear or godly fear but a slavish fear.   Where was the love for God?  If he had loved God he would have been motivated to serve God.  This was a man that had fear but no love for God.  Where the opposite is true and people have love but no reverential fear then they have a distorted view of God often denouncing the wrath of God or refusing to accept any idea of hell or punishment of sin.


 1 John 4 v 18 says that perfect love casts out fear.  Kenneth Wuest says that “The fear spoken of here is not a godly fear or filial reverence, a holy fear of displeasing the Father through sin, but, as the context indicates (“fear hath torment”), a slavish fear for a master or of a criminal before a judge”


 A. T. Robertson says of 1 John 4 v 18, talking about perfect love casting out fear,  “Fear. Like a bond slave, not the reverence of a son, or the obedience to a father.”


 Jamieson Fausset and Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, says, concerning the same verse, that “Godly fear of offending God is quite distinct from slavish fear of consciously deserved punishment”


 Different Greek words are translated as fear in the Bible.


 1/  Phobos, meaning fear, dread, terror.


 Vine says,  “Reverential fear of God is a controlling motive of the life in matters spiritual and moral.  Not a fear of God’s righteous retribution but a wholesome dread of displeasing Him.  A fear which banishes the terror that shrinks from His presence and which influences the disposition and attitude of one whose circumstances are guided by trust in God, through the indwelling Spirit of God.”


 Mounce says,  “Phobos can also mean “awe” and the early church as described in Acts can aptly be referred to as a “fearful” church, for they are characterized by a continual “awe” of God’s presence and power among them (Acts 2 v 43, 5 v 5, 9 v 31, 19 v 17).  Paul encourages believers to have a proper fear of God (Romans 3 v 18, 13 v 7).  Moreover the fear of the Lord is a powerful means of producing holiness in the life of the believer (2 Cor 7 v 1, Eph 5 v 21, Phil 2 v 12, 1 Tim 5 v 20).  Proper fear of God promotes holiness (1 Peter 1 v 17).”


 2/  Deilia, meaning fearfulness, the word denotes cowardice and timidity and is never used in a good sense (2 Tim 1 v 7).




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