Jesus died on the cross to reconcile man to God and so that we might live free from the fear of punishment. Yet the phrase “the fear of the Lord” comes up many times in the New Testament. What does it mean to have the fear God under the new covenant?
The following is a special guest post from my friend Ryan Rufus:
The Fear of God in the New Covenant
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2Ti 1:7)
We need to keep this scripture in mind when we talk about the fear of God. God doesn’t want us to have a fearfulness of Him. Our relationship with Him, and consequently our relationship toward others, is one of power (God’s empowerment), love (God’s love) and a sound mind (a supernatural sound mind).
“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because He first loved us.” (1Jn 4:15-19)
According to this scripture it is wrong to fear God’s judgments! If we fear God’s judgments it means we don’t understand His love!
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb 12:28-29)
Let us have grace to serve God acceptably. What’s acceptably? It’s faith! It takes faith to acknowledge who He is. A reverence and a godly fear is about seeing God – the magnitude of His being and ascribing that greatness to His name. It’s not taking the greatness for yourself and it’s not playing down who God is. That would be the opposite of grace – i.e., self righteousness.
The fear of God that the Self Righteous have is that God will judge them for not being righteous enough. The fear of God that the Christ-righteous have is that God has qualified them to share in the Kingdom and that He is on their side and they therefore cannot be shaken or moved and that this awesome God will judge their enemies with fire! It’s not saying let us serve God because if you don’t He will judge you with fire, but let’s not be afraid to serve God because God is on our side and will judge our enemies!
The context of Hebrews 12 is that the saints were being persecuted for their faith and feeling like giving up because the opposition was too much. But the writer is saying, see who God is, how great He is, that He is on your side, that you’re in an unshakable kingdom, that your God is a consuming fire.
You’ve got God and heaven for you, backing you! When you see that, you will have the boldness to serve God the way that He has called you to serve Him – with boldness and confidence in His grace and power and authority. To see this is to “fear God.” To not see this is to have no “fear of God.”