THE FEAR OF GOD (Rev I.A Agoye)

16
Jun
  1. What is the fear of God?
  2. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” (Psalm 111: 10).
In this Psalm, David praised the LORD and encouraged others to praise Him. He spoke glowingly about the works of the LORD. And in conclusion, he said: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” We cannot forget how the fear of the LORD kept David from laying his hand on the LORD’s anointed – Saul. “….. And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe.   And he said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.” (1 Sam. 24: 4-6). I think it is wisdom for us to learn good things from the life of David, a man after God’s own heart.
  1. “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.” (Pr. 8: 13).
If we hate evil, the 1st thing is that we will not do evil either secretly or openly; evil will not be found in our hands. Let us check our lives. Pride It means “too high an opinion of oneself; inordinate or excessive self-esteem.” The Yoruba word for pride is ire’ra (d: r: r) which literally can be described as “too full of oneself”. Like the ostrich, always looking down on others; always seeing himself/herself as better than others; always finding faults with others or with everything. The scripture says: “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD.” (Pro. 16: 5a).  ‘Everyone’ no one is exempted! Should we not be on our guard all the time and watch our lives hence the cankerworm of pride is found in us? Let him that thinks he stands, take heed, lest he falls. Arrogance It means “aggressive conceit; having overbearing spirit”. The Yoruba word for arrogance is igberaga (d: m: r: r) which literally means “lifting up self” or “exalting self”. Evil way Abstain from all appearances of evil; watch the way you go. There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end is destruction. Perverse mouth The Yoruba words for perverse mouth are enu arekereke (r: r, d: m: m: r: d) which literally means mouth that speaks deceit; mouth that speaks lies. Someone who has perverse mouth is an unreliable person; a deceiver; a liar; an untruthful person; a person whose words cannot be relied upon.
  1. How do we fear God?
  2. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgement, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecc. 12: 13, 14).
By keeping God’s commandments, we demonstrate the fear of God. This includes obedience to God. There are things the Lord may ask us to do that may not be convenient but because of godly fear, we have to do them. “He who vows to his on hurt and does not change it”. It is the fear of God that compels us to keep our vows to God, including the vows or promises we make to people. Fear of God will make us to be men and women of our words. Also true repentance comes through the fear of God. There will be no one too small or too great to apologize to. “I am sorry” is not missing in the dictionaries of those who fear God, and they say it and mean it from their hearts. If we want to escape God’s judgement, we must fear God.
  1. “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done to my soul.” (Ps. 66: 16). Read also Ps. 103: 1-5.
By giving testimonies of the marvellous things God does for us, we show that we fear God. The persons who fear God will not cover God’s goodness in their lives: and they will not share with God His glory.
  1. “Those who fear you will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in your word.” (Ps. 119: 74).
By putting our hope in the word of God, we demonstrate the fear of God.
  1. “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? “And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deed: but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Lu. 23: 39-43).
By not using our mouths wrongly, we show that we fear God. The mouths of many get them into troubles; and if they are not careful, will destroy them. There are these two categories of people in the world today. I counsel us to reason wisely and use our mouths rightly.
  1. “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” (Acts 9: 31).
“Walking in the fear of the Lord”, becomes a way of life. You deliberately choose it and are consistent with it. It leads to church growth.
  1. “……, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2: 12b, 13).
I doubt if those who lack the fear of God can make it to heaven after this life! The fear of God helps to complete the work of our salvation that commenced at the new birth. “With fear and trembling.” “For all those things my hand has made, and all those things exist,” says the LORD. But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word.” (Isa. 66: 2). We must have the heart that trembles at the word of God. God must be able to correct us through His words. We must be careful of our life style; many servants of God may miss it at the end because of their life styles. When we are rebuked through the word of God, let us tremble, humble ourselves and repent. Repentance does not end with the new birth: it continues through our lives. As the Lord shines the light of His words to our hearts and lives, we must be willing and ready to change the wrong things we do, and the extravagant way of life we live. The fear of God makes one to kneel down to pray to God. It makes one to plead with (beg) God, rather than commanding God. Obey before complaint. God is not obliged to give us reasons why He instructs us to do certain things or not to do them; our duty is to obey first. If the Lord wishes, He may explain to us later but even if He doesn’t, we are happy that we have done His will. There is the permissive will of God and the perfect will of God. Those who fear God will only be satisfied doing the perfect will of God all the time. “Others may, I cannot, I must not and I will not”; that is the motto of those who fear God. There are those who have sold themselves to the devil to disobey God, to dishonor God, to love the world and the things that are in the world. The people who fear God on the other hand, have vowed to obey God, to honor God, to live according to God’s perfect will and to make positive difference wherever they are.  “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, all His wondrous compassion and purity. O thou Spirit divine, all my nature refines. Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me”.
  1. Why do we fear God?
  2. “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear me and always keep all my commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” (Deut. 5: 29).
The heart that fears God; I think we should pray for such heart. We may say we know our hearts, but hear what the Bible says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17: 9 KJV). “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jer. 17: 10 KJV). No wonder the Psalmist prayed “Search me O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139: 23, 24 KJV). When we have the heart that fears God, God promises that it will be well with us and with our children forever.
  1. “Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” (Ps. 33: 8, 9).
In this scripture, the Psalmist gave two reasons why we should fear the LORD. What are they?
  1. “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? And if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. …” (Mal. 1: 6 KJV).
Here, the LORD demanded that we should fear Him. Servants of God must fear God. We must not despise God’s name. How do we despise the name of the LORD? See Mal. 1: 7-14. There God complained of parsimony (stinginess, undue economy); see Pr. 21: 13; 28: 27; Matt. 26: 7, 8. How do we treat the poor widows, the fatherless, the poor and the needy among us? Do our policies and actions have human face? Do we care for the needy or oppress them? God is the judge. God also complained of unacceptable offerings. Do we care to find out the sources of the offerings that are donated to the church? There are people in the society who are known to be corrupt, ungodly, wicked, who do terrible things, whose money is “blood money”; offerings or donations from such people are unacceptable to God. Also there are armed robbers, pen robbers and those who sell their bodies to amass wealth; money from such sources are unacceptable to God. O, that the church of the living God will wake up to our responsibilities and fear God! It is sacrilege (desecration of sacred things) to bring such offerings, gifts to God’s holy altar. How holy is our altar today? When men and women who are expected to be holy desecrate God’s altar with fornication, adultery, sodomy, lesbianism, bestiality, bribery and corruption, drunkenness and wanton living; where are going? Ministers of God bribe to be promoted in the church, to be transferred to juicy and wealthy branches: where are we going? Is the church still being led by the Holy Spirit or by self? Judgement will commence from the house of the Lord. We deceive and are being deceived. There is so much unfaithfulness everywhere including the church of God! Men and women cannot be trusted to do the right thing all the time! Truly, we are in the last days.
  1. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10: 28).
  2. “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Lu. 12: 5).
Jesus demanded that we should fear God, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Our eternal destiny should be paramount to us. Because God is all seeing, there is no hiding place for anyone. Let us practice the presence of God all the time; this will help us to do the right thing all the time.
  1. Examples of those who feared God:
  2. Abraham: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgement; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.” (Ge. 18: 19 KJV).
Our godly fear must be seen not only in our lives but also in the lives of our children and also in the lives of those in our household or under our control. “For I know him”; the LORD knows us. What does He say about us?
  1. Joseph: “There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Ge. 39: 9).
The young man Joseph overcame the temptation of fornication (sexual intercourse outside marriage) because of the fear of God. (Note: Adultery is sexual unfaithfulness of a husband or wife). Joseph knew that he could not hide from God because God is omniscient and omnipresent; that consciousness, kept him from sinning against God and his master.
  1. David: “…. And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe.   And he said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.” (1 Sam. 24: 4-6).
Saul was in a desperate mission to destroy David. David had the rare opportunity to kill Saul but he restrained himself from doing what most humans would do without winking an eye, because of the fear of God. David did not take laws into his hands: he did not judge Saul or condemn him; he did not say ‘which type of the LORD’s anointed was Saul?’ David allowed God to fight for him and to vindicate him. I believe this is one of the good qualities that made God to call David a man after His own heart.
  1. Nehemiah: “But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God.” (Neh. 5: 15).
Leaders, including church leaders should learn from Nehemiah.
  1. Job: “Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” (Job 1: 8).
  2. Jonah: “So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1: 9).
  3. The men in the ship with Jonah: “Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows.” (Jonah 1: 16).
  4. The early church over Ananias and Sapphira: “So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.” (Acts 5: 11).
  5. The churches throughout all Judea, Galilee and Samaria: “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” (Acts 9: 31).
  6. Cornelius: “…. Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.” (Acts 10: 1, 2).
  1. Benefits of fearing God:
  2. “Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.” (Ps. 34: 9, 10).
Divine provision is promised. No lack for such people. We can claim this in our prayers.
  1. “They shall be my people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from me.” (Jer. 32: 38-40).
Wonderful promises. I know the LORD was talking about the children of Israel in these scriptures: yet we can use them as prayer points as God’s spiritual Israel.
  1. “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him.” (Ps. 103: 11).
What a great privilege for those who fear the LORD! Remember that one-minute mercy from the Almighty can solve long time problems.
  1. “As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him.” (Ps. 103: 13).
Divine pity is shown to those fear God.
  1. “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children.” (Ps. 103: 17).
A good heritage to the families of those who fear the LORD.
  1. “In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence. And His children will have a place of refuge.” (Pr. 14: 26).
Strong confidence that the LORD will take adequate care of us; that we are safe and secured in the hand of the Almighty. “If God be for us, who can be against us?”.
  1. “The fear of the LORD is a fountain (source) of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.” (Pr. 14: 27).
If we desire long life, we need to fear God. The fear of God delivers from untimely death.
  1. “The fear of the LORD leads to life. And he who has it will abide in satisfaction; he will not be visited with evil.” (Pr. 19: 23).
We all love life: I believe beyond this life, the fear of the LORD will give us eternal life, if we continue to the end. O that we may have the heart that fears God always! The person that has it will sit down in satisfaction; no evil will befall him. What a privilege!
  1. “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.” (Pr. 3: 7, 8).
The person who fears the LORD and departs from evil is wise; he who does otherwise is foolish. Also, the fear of the LORD is medicine to our bodies and strength to our bones. It will heal us and keep us healthy.
  1. “The fear of the LORD prolongs days, but the years of the wicked will be shortened.” (Pr. 10: 27).
The fear of the LORD guarantees long life; no untimely death. CONGREGATIONAL HYMN:  Hymn 160 – In pity, look on me my God
  1. In pity, look on me my God
Show Thy wonderful love to me Forbid that I should plan my life Thou art the One who plans for me My Father, lead me on here on earth Let me, Thy great heart salvation find.
  1. Oh do not let me choose for Thee
For Thou, my portion ever art Oh do that which Thou has ordained For me, in Thy great heart of love. My Father, lead me on here on earth Let me, Thy great heart salvation find.
  1. Lord, who can know Thy beginning
Thou Lord of glory, good and glory Thou hast with Thee a thousand ways When I have not yet thought out one My Father, lead me on here on earth Let me, Thy great heart salvation find. .
  1. As far and high as is the heaven
So are Thy thoughts higher than mine Lead me, that I may follow Thee In the way of Thy righteousness. My Father, lead me on here on earth Let me, Thy great heart salvation find.

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