Fear Not

  • Jeff Crotts
Broken glass

It is not an understatement to see our current state of the union as very divided and very volatile.  Christians must ask themselves, “Should I be fearful?”  For every believer in every circumstance, the Bible offers one single version of healthy fear and King Solomon offers the one single way to live it. 

“Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.” (Ecclesiastes 8:12-13)

Pay attention to the curious descriptions surrounding Solomon’s two uses of “fear” in these consecutive verses.

“because they fear before him” and “because he does not fear before God” (vv. 12-13).

“Fearing” is used as a verb as something you do, and something you are doing regularly. According to Scripture, people fear in one of two ways.  One comes from our flesh and the other from faith.  Here Solomon pushes believers to see fearing God as a way of life. 

“Aren’t Christians called to put fear away?” – “Isn’t the Gospel meant to alleviate our fears?”  In addition, the Bible commands people to “fear not” some form or fashion 365 times.  There is wrong fear and right fear (sinful and righteous fear). 

David testifies to this:

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

Of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath. Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me. My enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:1-4)

The apostle John provides a New Testament angle:

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”(1 John 4:18)

Now look at the opposite version of “fear” – righteous fear born in faith:

In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.” (Proverbs 14:26)

The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.” (Proverbs 19:23)

Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!” (Psalm 112:1)

Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:1-2)

Passages like these make us conclude that “Fearing God” is essential for life.  We are not made for hopeless anxiety but fearing God by faith. 

John Piper describes this kind of healthy fear like no one else in his book The Pleasures of God. He says this is like being caught in a terrible storm while exploring an Arctic glacier (something we can relate to).  This storm is so strong that you could be blown off the cliff but suddenly you discover a cleft in the ice where you can tuck into for shelter.  Though you are safe, you watch the storm pass with a kind of “trembling pleasure”:

At first there was the fear that this terrible storm and awesome terrain might claim your life. But then you found a refuge and gained the hope that you would be safe. But not everything in the feeling called fear vanished from your heart. Only the life-threatening part. There remained the trembling, the awe, the wonder, the feeling that you would never want to tangle with such a storm or be the adversary of such power…The fear of God is what is left of the storm when you have a safe place to watch right in the middle of it…Oh, the thrill of being here in the center of the awful power of God, yet protected by God himself! (The Pleasures of God, 186–187)

Alaskans readily understand this feeling by simply standing over the creaking/shifting ice at the edge of Beluga point or by flying across the state in a super cub. 

“Can this kind of ‘fearing God’ really turn into a way of life?”  “Is it practical to expect to acknowledge God and to literally ‘Fear God before His face’ in a moment by moment basis.”  This is the life given to what theologians call Corem Deo is the tagline for living your life in the presence of God.  David Powlison said this is when you realize that: “You are never really doing anything in private!”

This is a life committed to interlace your God “who is above the sun” with your life down here “under the sun.”  And this done in a world that’s neither logical nor fair.  Fearing God when life feels like God is not really there in our suffering.  This is when we choose to fight to fear God!

This is fearing God instead of dividing life into religious and nonreligious moments!  Making life secular events or sacred events.  This drops that dividing wall taking all of life is sacred – all of life being the arena to fear God!  As one person put it:

“Jesus was every bit as religious when He worked in His father’s carpenter shop as He was in the Garden of Gethsemane.”