I will never forget the morning of March 7, 2019, when the voice of the Lord shook me awake and revealed sin in my heart. If you read Spiritual Adultery and Disobedience you got a glimpse of my journey when I experienced the fear of God in a way I had not done in times past. Or, at least I don’t remember it quite like that given I gave my heart to Jesus in my youth.
The fear of God’s righteous judgment pushed me into submission. It wasn’t a fear of condemnation or one to frighten me, it was a fear where I gained a new level of understanding of God’s grace and unconditional love through discipline. God’s “perfect love cast out all fear.” I John 4:18
God cannot be contained, yet what he gives, he takes great pleasure in. He took my disobedience and in the most loving way, exhibited how he delights in revealing more of himself. “But will God really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built!” I Kings 8:27
In the Old Testament when God scolded the Israelites it was because they had fallen away and back into sin. In fact, repeatedly, if not the majority of the time, they went back to worshipping their idols. “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me…” Deuteronomy 5:29
God would warn them of the consequences of worshipping their idols and living in disobedience. The Bible repeatedly states, “They had no fear of God.” Deuteronomy 25:28
Thankfully, when God said, “Now that I know you fear me,” he gave them another chance. Genesis 22:12
God exposed something in me that was similar to the Israelites that I had not seen in myself. God asked me several times to give up dessert and a television show, and for several months I said no. When I chose to be a slave to my sin, I was going back to my idols the way the Israelites when back to theirs.
I didn’t call them out as idols until I returned from India. I simply referred to my behavior as disobedience without naming it for what it was. Why would I call something so minor an idol if I wasn’t literally bowing to it?
Idolatry isn’t just the adoration to worship something, it’s also “excessive or blind adoration.” Mine was the latter. It’s what I wanted to do. I was selfish.
In Christian circles we acknowledge that money, career, even food can be an idol, but when do we actually stop and admit it is an idol? When do we hear God calling us back like he did the Israelites, saying “return to me?”
“I, the Lord, was very angry with your ancestors. herefore, say to the people, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.’ Don’t be like your ancestors who would not listen or pay attention when the earlier prophets said to them, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Turn from your evil ways, and stop all your evil practices.’” Zechariah 1:2-4
Disobedience to God has eternal implications. God was rebuking me to keep me on the path of righteousness. He was ensuring I didn’t get too far off the path.
When the fear of losing the Holy Spirit and never hearing his voice again pierced my soul, those two desires became meaningless. I was no longer a slave to my idols, my sin.
Before that day, I couldn’t recall the last time I had the kind of fear described in Jeremiah 5:22: “Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord. “Should you not tremble in my presence?”
Believers find great confidence knowing the devil and his army of demons tremble at the name of Jesus. The demons know there is one God. James 2:19
When do we, the Christian who has Christ living in us, tremble at the name of Jesus? When do we stand in awe at the name of Jesus and tremble because he is God when we are misbehaving?
Voice of God
The voice of God thunders. His voice splits the seas. The voice of the Lord is powerful and majestic. His voice strikes like lightning bolts and makes the deserts quake, and he leaves the forests bare. Psalm 29
Does the voice of Almighty God make you tremble?
I believe this is what is missing in the church today. We don’t shake at the sound of God’s voice. We should fear nothing in this world, but God.
What has God been asking you to do and you keep putting it off for the simple, yet most dangerous reason, because you’ve lost the Holy fear of God?
Do you remain offended because you don’t tremble before God? Does gossip need to stop? Are you sitting on a job God told you to leave because you don’t trust that his future is better for you than where you are today? Do you tremble at the thought of disobeying his voice?
Don’t put disobedience in categories. When we lesson some issues in our lives, like stop eating dessert, we become complacent to fearing God. As James said, this should not be.
The Bible list numerous verses on the benefits of fearing God. There are too many to list, but I encourage you to take several days, if not weeks, and spend time with God and determine do you have a fear for God because he is God? Do you tremble before him?
Are there areas in your life you’re holding onto like Saul, like me, and “keeping some of the plunder?” “Let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1
Ten things the fear of God produces:
Wisdom: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10
Knowledge and good judgment: “Then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:5
Blessings: “Praise the Lord! How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who greatly delights in His commandments.” Psalm 112:1 Psalm 128:1, 4
Confidence: “In the fear of the Lord, there is strong confidence. Proverbs 14:26
Friendship with God: “The Lord is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant.” Psalm 25:14
Holiness: “Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin." Exodus 20:20
Peace: “They don’t know where to find peace.” “They have no fear of God at all.” Romans 3:17-18
Removes envy and materialism: Psalm 23:17
Shift your desires: "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate.” Proverbs 8:13
Reverence and awe for God: “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.” Hebrews 12:28
“God corrects us all our days for our own benefit, to teach us his holiness. Now obviously no “chastening” seems pleasant at the time: it is in fact most unpleasant. Yet when it is all over we can see that is has quietly produced the fruit of real goodness in the characters of those who have accepted it in the right spirit. So take a fresh grip on life and brace your trembling limbs. Don’t wander away from the path but forge steadily onward. On the right path the limping foot recovers strength and does not collapse.” Hebrews 12:10-13 PHILLIPS
“So be sure you do not refuse to hear the voice of God! For if they who refused to hear those who spoke to them on earth did not escape, how little chance of escape is there for us if we refuse to hear the one who speaks from Heaven. Then his voice shook the earth, but now he promises: ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven’. This means that in this final “shaking” all that is impermanent will be removed, that is, everything that is merely “made”, and only the unshakeable things will remain. Since then we have been given a kingdom that is “unshakeable”, let us serve God with thankfulness in the ways which please him, but always with reverence and holy fear. For it is perfectly true that our ‘God is a burning fire’.” Hebrews 12:25-26 PHILLIPS
“The Hill of Crosses is a Christian pilgrimage site with a collection of over 200,000 wooden crosses erected on a small hill in Lithuania. The crosses are thought to have first started appearing after the 1831 uprising against Russian ruling. Relatives, with no bodies to bury, erected crosses and crucifixes on the hill.” By rebelling in their own quiet way, this community were showing the Soviets that they didn’t have to fear them.