Charles Stanley - The Fear Of God
The title of this message, "The Fear of God". Now when you hear that you ask yourself the question, "Well, am I to be afraid of God? Or, does it mean something else"? And when it's used in the Scripture, naturally, we're to be afraid of God if we're living in sin. He's a holy God, a righteous God. The Fear of God. Now, whether you're afraid or not depends on how you're living. If you're living in sin, you have a right to be absolutely afraid of God. He says, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die". "The wages of sin is death". "It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment". You're living in sin, you have a right to be afraid of a Holy God. The one true God, Jehovah, Yahweh, Elohim, His Son Jesus Christ the Lord. You have a right to be afraid. But is that what that means?
And so for example in Psalm one nineteen, one twenty says, "My flesh trembles for fear of You, and I am afraid of Your judgments". So I want you to turn if you will to um, the book of Deuteronomy. And there's one verse I want you to read because it's so straight-forward and says what we need to be reminded of often. Deuteronomy chapter thirteen and verse four says, "You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him, and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him". Now that's a big mouthful so let's read it again. "You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him, and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him". And that is His command.
So, what do we mean by fearing God? We mean simply this: to reverence Him, to honor Him, to exalt Him, to lift Him up, to hold Him in high regard, to worship Him and to hold Him in high esteem, to obey Him, to acknowledge Him. His worthiness, to honor His position as Creator and judge of all mankind, when you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, that's what it means to fear the Living God. So I'd ask you this question. Do you fear God? Well I never thought about fearing God. I thought He was a God of love. He is a God of love. Well why should I be afraid of? You're not being afraid, That's not what we mean. We said to hold Him in high regard, the highest esteem. To obey Him, to exalt Him, to yield to Him, surrender to Him.
Do you have that kind of spirit toward Almighty God? He says we are to fear Him. Now, the Scripture says in Psalm one forty-seven, "The Lord favors those who fear Him". So ask yourself the question, "Do you fear God"? If you fear God, then God favors you. If He favors you, He has blessings for you. And so, we don't want to get it mixed up. We're not talking about being afraid of God. We're talking about holding Him in the highest esteem that leads us to obey Him and follow Him. The Lord favors those who fear Him. And He says in Psalm thirty-three, verse eight, listen, "Let all the earth fear the Lord, let all the inhabitants of the earth, of the world stand in awe of Him".
And I think about the two thieves on the cross with Jesus, Jesus in the midst, and one on one side is casting terrible reflections upon Jesus. "Why don't You get us down"? And the other thief asking the question, "Don't you even fear God"? So, I would ask you this. If it means to hold Him in the highest esteem, to honor Him, to obey Him, to yield to Him, to surrender Him, to follow Him, to worship Him, to adore Him, do you fear God? Or is He just someone you talk about? Someone you pray to in case of an emergency. Someone you think about once in a while. Someone you pray to when you get in trouble, when you don't know what to do next when you're afraid. Who is this God? The Scripture says we're to fear the Living God. And so, with that in mind, let's think about how the world thinks about God. Think about it for a moment. He says we're to fear Him, but how does the world think about Him? So I want you to turn to Romans chapter three, I want you to notice this is the way the world thinks. In other words, we talk about fearing God.
Well, the Scripture says in Romans chapter three verse ten, "There is none righteous, no not one, there is none who understands, there is none who seeks after God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless, there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poisons of the snakes is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursings and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes".
He has just described in this particular chapter, that's the way the world is, no fear of God in their eyes. That means in their understanding. As they view life and as they view the world, no fear of God, no honoring God. In fact, God is a problem to them because He gets in their way. Holy God does not tolerate sin. Holy God is not going to make you living in sin feel comfortable or really enjoy yourself. For the moment, you may have some brief moments of happiness or joy, but very brief, because Holy God hates sin. He doesn't hate the sinner, but He hates sin. He hates sin because of what sin does to His children. You may think sin is having a good time. God sees sin as a detriment to His will and purpose and plan for your life.
So I want you to understand what it means to fear the living God, because one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God. And people who are living in sin think, "Well, why, why do I want God in my life? To keep you from dying and being eternally separated from God, and never being able to become the person God wanted you to be. And because you're going to miss heaven. You don't fear God, you're going to miss heaven. You don't fear God and you die in that state, you're going to hell. When you turn your back on God, you're turning your back on your only hope. The One who loves you, cares for you and wants the best for you, but He will not make you follow Him, not make you love Him, not make you obey Him. The fear of God is a holy thought.
And so, when you think about that and you think about what He says in His Word, "It's appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment". So you don't want God in your life? Let me ask you a question. No matter what you believe, you cannot avoid the judgment of Holy God, who loves you, but is willing to give you enough free will if you choose not to love Him, if you choose to die without Him, will let you have what you want against His loving will. How foolish. The Bible says that God is holy and we're to walk holy before Him. You say, "No, no such thing as holiness". Yes, there is. I didn't say sinless. I didn't say perfect, but holy. We're still growing.
So when you find some Christian that makes a mistake here or there, or sins against God and asks God to forgive them, they're not perfect. The only perfect person died on the cross, rose again, seated at the Father's right hand to make intercession for you and me. God is holy. Therefore, we're to fear Him. We're to fear Him in the right way. So, I want us to talk about why we should fear Him. Here's what God's Word says. We read a few moments ago the reason we should fear Him is because, as He says in Deuteronomy, because He requires it of us. And you remember what He said, He said it so clearly, "You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him, you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him". That's God's command for every single one of us.
So, the question is, "Why should we fear God"? Well because He commands it and secondly, because the Scripture says it's the beginning of knowledge. Look if you will in Proverbs chapter one, verse seven, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge". There are a lot of people who think they're smart. Now listen carefully. You can have twenty-five degrees in twenty-five different subjects. You can be an authority above all other authorities. You may be knowledgeable about many things, but if you do not fear God, you are ignorant about the most important thing in life and that is your relationship to Holy God and who He is. God says it's the beginning of knowledge, true, genuine knowledge. You may know some facts about many things, but what life's all about is learning who God is. It's the beginning of knowledge.
He says in Proverbs, chapter nine, verse ten, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom". You want to be a wise person? Going to school won't make you wise. You can have all kind of degrees, it won't make you wise. The Scripture says the beginning of wisdom starts with fearing God. Wisdom, knowing what to do, when to do it, how to do it, know what to believe, what not to believe. A wise person is someone in whose life God is dwelling, through whose life God is living out the life that He's intended for that person to be. God is a God of wisdom. And if I should ask you, do you want to be a wise person? "Well, sure I do". Well, where do you start? You start with Almighty God. He's a God of wisdom, and He gives His wisdom to those who are willing to ask for it, willing to surrender their life to Him, willing to yield to Him.
And this is why oftentimes people who appear not to have had much education. And yet when you sit down and talk with them, you think, "Dear God, where did they learn that and this and this and this and this and this? Because God gives wisdom to those who seek wisdom from God. And I think about a few people that I've met in life, most all of them have been grandmothers whose wisdom made me feel like a child, whose years of obeying God, yielding to Him and watching Him work. A godly grandmother is one of the most powerful persons on the face of this earth. A godly grandmother who's lived her life, gone through all kinds of difficulty, hardship, trouble and trusting God, still smiling and praying and thanking God for who He is. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
Then of course he says in Proverbs sixteen, verse six, by the fear of the Lord one keeps himself away from evil. Listen to that. The fear of the Lord is keeping yourself away from evil. When you and I fear God, we don't want sin in our life. Oh there may be something here and something there, but you deal with it. You repent of it, you deal with it. Because God living within you is going to give you a desire for righteousness, that is right living, godly living. And when the Scripture says that wisdom, fearing God keeps us from sin, what's His purpose from keeping us from sin? Keeping us from wrecking our life, ruining our life.
The wisdom of God is to help us in every single area of our life. And if you have a big question in mind, for example, you're trying to make a decision in your life, important decision, if you're smart at all you want not just the wisdom of man, but you want the wisdom of Holy God, who sees the beginning and the end all at the same time. Who knows all the intricacies of everything that you're going to face at the same time. The wisdom of God. Fearing God, not being afraid, but trusting Him. Then the Scripture says in Proverbs three, verse seven and eight he says this, listen, "Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and turn away from evil". Now watch this. If you fear Him, you will turn away from evil. "It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones".
That is, when you honor God and fear Him, He says it does something to your health, healing of your body and refreshment to your bones. One of the wisest things you can do for yourself physically, physically, the part you know, is to fear God, to obey Him, to honor Him. Put in this body what is pleasing to Him. Put on this body what is pleasing to Him. And don't misuse this body any way that's displeasing to Him. When you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, your body is the temple of the Living God. Temple of a God who says we're to fear Him. And so to mistreat your body is to mistreat the house of God. And I think about people who drink and carouse and misuse their body in all kind of ways and thinking, "Do you know what? It's not hurting me". It is hurting you.
And when you honor God with your body, what does He say? He says, He will bring healing to your body and refreshment to your bones. Think about this. God loves you enough to give you a physical body in which He Himself dwells. And He dwells in your body in order to speak through you, to love through you, to care through you, for you to enjoy life. And what does He say? He brings, healing to your body and refreshment to your bones. It doesn't mean that if you obey God, you're going to live to be a hundred. It doesn't guarantee any number of years. But what it guarantees is this. When you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, It guarantees a body, indwelt by the Living God who will have the best for you.
Now watch this verse. Proverbs fourteen, twenty-six, "In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence". My goodness, is that true, "In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence". When you are depending upon God, living a godly life, there's a sense of confidence. Confidence, boldness, what is it? It's because God within you is living His life in you and through. He's the one within you facing what you're facing, assuring you that you will be able to get through it. Confidence, boldness, assurance, the fear of God. The reason you feel that is because you have God within you. And because you're a believer, and having God within you, when you face a situation, you're not facing it by yourself. You're facing it with Him. Because He's dwelling within you, you face every single thing in life in the presence of Holy God. Who loves you and who wants the best for you.
So to fear God is the wisest way to live. Then He says, listen to this, Psalm one forty-five verse nineteen, "He will fulfill the desires of those who fear Him, He will hear their cry and will save them". Now listen. When you're living the kind of life that God wants you to live, and you're following Him, and you're obeying Him, He says those desires of your heart, God will answer. Watch this. People, people see God as if He's this spiritual monster somewhere just waiting for somebody to sin. He's an awesome God who loves us. And when He says, He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him. You say, "Well, I have some desires that maybe don't fit God". Then you're not fearing Him. So, it's not that you're going to have this, that, this kind of desire or that.
If you fear Him, you'll desire what He wants you to desire. He says He will give us the desires of our heart. Trust in the Lord. He'll give us the desires of our heart. And I think many people who are facing situations and circumstances in their life and wondering why it's not working out. "Why is it not working out? Why don't I have what I need? Where is God in all this"? Well, are you fearing Him? Are, are you living the kind of life that opens the door for God to answer your prayer? Then Psalm thirty-four verse seven, "The angel of the Lord encamps round about those who fear Him". Listen to that, "The angel of the Lord encamps around about those who fear Him. When you and I fear God, we have His awesome divine protection.
Now, I would just make a suggestion to you. You're going through some difficult time or maybe you're just happy as you can be this morning. I want to give you a suggestion that will encourage your heart every single time you read it. If you want to hear what that suggestion is, say amen. Read Psalm ninety-one, the whole Psalm. Now if you have a Living Bible translation, that's the clearest to understand. Psalm ninety-one. People don't understand the awesome power of God. And how willing He is to show Himself. He said, "He encamps round about us. He protects us. He gives us the desires of our heart". And then, for example in Proverbs nineteen twenty-three, "The fear of the Lord leads to life". Not just the beating of the heart, to real life, the true life.
And I think about people who are trying to live out their lives and looking for happiness, looking for peace, looking for joy, looking for this, looking for that, and the truth is the source of what they're looking for is the very person they keep shoving away. The fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the source of every blessing imaginable, because you're honoring Him, you're listening to Him, you're obeying Him, you're looking to Him, you're expecting from Him, you're surrendering to Him. To disobey God is foolish. To disobey God is expensive. And to disobey God is a big disappointment. And to disobey God is futile. And to obey Him, to fear Him is awesome.
Listen to this verse. Proverbs ten twenty-seven, "The fear of the Lord prolongs life". Well, how long? I don't know the answer to that. I can tell you this. Watch this. A person who lives forty years, fifty years trusting God, following Him, lives more life than a person who physically lives to seventy without God. You may be down here, but if you're without God, you're not living. You're sort of dwelling here, but you're dwelling here facing an awesome judgment of God, who's giving you the opportunity, who's willing to save you, willing to help you, willing to guide you, willing to protect you and all these things, we've just read the verses, there's much more. Willing to do so much for you, if you will trust Him and surrender your life to Him. And let me say this to parents. If you don't, don't expect your children to. You want your children, do you want the best for your children? Are you listening, grandmother, granddaddy, father, mother? You want the best for your children?
Surrender your life to God, fear Him and live before your children a godly life. That is the most powerful thing you can do for your family, the most powerful. And think about this. Fearing God is an element in your salvation. Nobody is ever saved who does not first yield themselves to Holy God. And so, we're saved by the grace of God through the blood of Jesus at the cross. And from that moment on, He's indwelling us. He has the best life for us. We may mess up at times, He forgives us. He doesn't change, listen. God doesn't have a change of mind about us. He knows us perfectly. And I would simply say to you, "The wisest decision you'll ever make is to fear the Living God, to honor Him, obey Him, exalt Him in your life, lift Him up, worship Him, and to trust Him for your salvation. And the moment you're willing to believe what He said, He's willing to change your life.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, Jesus, that whosoever believes in Him, confesses their sins, surrenders their life to Him, will have everlasting life. And I would simply say to you, "Fearing God is an awesome thing. Fearing God is an awesome blessing. Fearing God is an awesome promise". And all the things we've said, there's so much more. I'd simply ask you a question. Do you fear Him? Is He first in your life? Before you go to bed at night, do you talk to Him? When you wake up in the morning, do you talk to Him? When you get in your automobile to go to work, do you talk to Him? When you're working among people who do not trust Him, do not l-love Him, do not believe in Him, do you talk to Him about them? Do you fear the Living God? Have you surrendered your life to Him? Most important decision you'll ever make. And that's my prayer for you. In Jesus' name.
Father, thank You for Your love, Your forgiveness, Your kindness and a multitude of blessings that You have in store for us. Teach us all how to fear You. Let us not forget what we've heard. And enable us to trust You when everything around us looks like it's going wrong but we have You living on the inside of us. Fearing You can make us fearless of anything and everybody else. And we praise You for that. In Jesus' name, amen.