Many believers, even ministers, have had difficulty understanding the fear of the Lord. Over the years, I have heard some say that the fear of the Lord is more a reverence for God, not an actual fear. In fact, they have also stated that they strongly prefer the word “reverence” over the word “fear.” It is true that the fear of the Lord is not the paralyzing fear that the enemy uses to hold people in bondage. However, the fear of the Lord is not just a respectful reverence for God either, but a strong desire to please God in every respect.
Now you may have noticed in the Bible that God had no trouble using the word “fear,” when He referred to the “fear of the Lord.” Look at the words of the Lord Jesus in the following passage of Scripture:
“And do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.” Matthew 10:28 NKJV.
Notice that the same word is used by Jesus to describe both kinds of fear: the fear of man and the fear of God. I am sure you will agree you couldn’t substitute the word “reverence” for the word “fear” in this passage, when referring to the fear of God. As a result, I firmly believe that the word “fear” is the correct word to use when describing the fear of the Lord. Does that make sense to you?
Let me share with you another passage of Scripture about the fear of the Lord. When you read it, you will readily agree it would be impossible to substitute the word “reverence” for the word “fear” in the following verse:
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29 NKJV.
Here the word “reverence” and “fear” are used side by side. Clearly one is not a substitute for the other. However, the point I would like to make from this Scripture is that we need to have both – godly fear and reverence for God!
As you may know, the word “reverence” means having a feeling of profound awe and respect for God, and it is often accompanied by a great feeling of love and veneration for Him. This is exactly how you should feel toward the One who loved you and sent His only begotten Son to die for you, so that you might have eternal life through faith in Him. Let me ask you a question: Do you have a profound feeling of reverence for God in your life?
In direct contrast, we often see, in the world around us today, a blatant lack of reverence for the things of God. In fact, in movies, books and comedy sketches there is often a great delight in being as IRREVERENT as possible. Those who know God should not find this kind of irreverence for God entertaining in any way. This is not who we are. We are sons and daughters of the living God, whom God has called His saints. This is why it is so important that, while walking in the fear of the Lord, you also maintain a great reverence for Him at all times.
Now the fear of the Lord is the foundation of your reverence for God As I said before, you need to develop both. In fact, those who are well-developed in the fear of the Lord will also have a great reverence for Him, Why is this so important? It is because reverence leads to adoration and worship! Please understand that the fear of the Lord will never weigh you down spiritually. Instead, the opposite is true – it will lift your spirit up in thanksgiving, praise, adoration and worship. It is. therefore. not surprising that the Holy Spirit dropped these words in my spirit years ago: “Great JOY have those who fear the Lord.” Yes, the fear of the Lord will produce joy in your life! This might surprise you, but It will also produce a great sense of peace and security in your heart. You will never feel safer in God’s arms, when you walk in reverence and godly fear.
In closing, let me say that the love of God will cause you to cling to God with all of your might, and the fear of God will keep you from ever letting go. Your reverence for God springs up out of your fear of Him, and will cause you to stand in awe of Him to adore Him and worship Him. Therefore, learn to develop a deep reverence for Him at all times, whether you are at home, at work, driving along the highway or sitting in Church.
You are holy, dear saint!
This is Day Nineteen of a 31 day devotional on The Life of the Saint.