Fear of the Lord
When we talk about the fear of the Lord we have to distinguish the different aspects of it and the meaning of it in different ages. Under the law, it was fear of God’s wrath or rejection. Under grace, it’s reverential awe for God and His word or a deep love and respect for God and His word.
Fear of God under the law
Under the law, the fear of the Lord was being afraid to be punished or it was being afraid to be rejected by the Lord. Under the law, God dealt with the Jews based on blessings and curses. So if they were obedient they were blessed and if they were disobedient they received curses instead. So under the law, God let us see what our merits are due to our sinful nature. The law was given so that we can become aware of the fact that we are totally corrupt of ourselves and that we need God’s mercy and favor to live a holy life. In Psalm 130:3-4 it is written: If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared. So under the law, the fear of God was the fear of punishment and rejection, due to our sinful nature in which God was displeased.
Fear of God under grace
Under grace, the fear of the Lord is reverential awe or a deep love and respect for God and His word. Under grace, God has put His laws of love, faith, and liberty, in our hearts and minds so that He can assist us from the inside out to walk with Him in a prosperous and successful way. He has done this based on the redemption work of Christ Jesus, who has taken all of God’s wrath for us on Himself, for once and for all. Our love for God is the love that the Holy Spirit has poured out in our hearts for God and men, and the respect for God is the awareness that the Holy Spirit has given us, to take account of God’s moral laws and of God’s laws of sowing and reaping.
Benefits of the fear of the Lord under grace
The benefits of the fear of the Lord under grace are freedom to draw nearer to God so that we can become acquainted with who He is and with what He thinks so that our reverential awe for Him, due to His glory, will grow and our taking account of His moral laws and of His law of sowing and reaping will be established in our hearts. The reverence of God helps us to take God and His beneficial laws seriously because being in reverence awe with God and His word let us be in harmony with the spiritual laws that govern the universe. And this is the beginning of wisdom. In Proverbs 14:27 it is written: The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death. And in Proverbs 1:7 it is written: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Love and fear of the Lord
We can show God reverential awe by faith working through love. When we are aware of God’s love, for us and in us, we will be urged to show reverential awe to Him and to please Him. In 1John 4:18-19 it is written: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. In Psalm 34:8-11 it is written: Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! 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. Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
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