MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

October 17, 2012

Fearing God is not the same as being afraid

By Barrett Vanlandingham

— When I was little, an older cousin had a Halloween mask that just scared the daylights out of me.  He didn’t even have to put the thing on.  

It was scary enough on its own!  Safe to say I feared that mask with everything in me.

The Bible talks about fear.  Fear of what will happen on Judgment Day, and Fear of God.  

These are two different things, or at least they should be.  Scripture points out that people should not be afraid of God if our lives show that we love him.

After all, God IS love, and He loves us!  

But we should definitely have healthy respect (or fear) of God so we do not fear the final day.  

John says, “Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment, because in this world we are like him.  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:17-18)

It troubles me when I see people who appear to have absolutely no respect for anyone.  

Worse yet, people who try to appear to be religious, but their actions are nothing but a show.

Jesus quoted Isaiah in saying, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Matthew 15:8).

He said to be on guard against the hypocrisy that was so much a part of the way the Pharisees conducted themselves.  

In that case, Jesus indicates that a person who follows the pattern of hypocrites should be frightened by God.  

The Pharisees claimed to love God, but in the end they rejected His son.  

Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has the power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” (Luke 12:4-5)

The apostle Paul had confidence and a healthy respect or fear of God when he said, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  

Paul lived with joyful assurance of heaven because of his obedience to God’s grace-backed plan.    

I’ve told my youth group that if they were playing in the street, but they believed that a truck was coming and they got out of the way, they would survive.  

Jesus related this principle in some of His final words:   “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)

Will you believe in Him and obey His words today?  Have a great week!

Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or barrett@ftgcc.org.