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2021 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Fear Is Good

Robert Jeffress - Fear Is Good

Robert Jeffress - Fear Is Good
Robert Jeffress - Fear Is Good
TOPICS: The Solomon Secrets, Wisdom, Fear of God

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". There is some confusion among Christians today about what it means to fear God. If God is truly a loving father in heaven, then what is there to be afraid of? Perhaps fear is just a poor translation of the Greek and Hebrew word for respect. Today, we're going to see what the Bible teaches about fearing the Lord. My message is titled "Fear is Good," as we wrap up our series "The Solomon Secrets" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".

This week, I was asked by Fox News if I had any explanation for the rise in violence we're seeing among teenagers across the country, and of course, I pointed to the usual suspects. I talked about the epidemic violence that we find in video games, and now on cable television. Violence has become the new pornography of our culture, but I said the root cause of the violence we're seeing among teenagers is the fact that parents have failed in their most basic responsibility as parents, and that is to instill in their children a fear of God. When you teach children that they're nothing but a biological accident, that their existence is the result of evolutionary chance, we shouldn't be surprised when those same children choose to ignore the most basic law of the Creator of life, God himself, who said, "Thou shalt not kill". Today, it's politically incorrect to talk about fearing God, even among some Christians.

Did you know, there is some Sunday School curriculum that is offered that omits certain stories from the Old Testament for children, saying that these stories are too violent. They portray God as being an angry God and a violent God, and we'll harm our children's psyches if we expose them to these stories about an angry and a judgmental God. You see the same truth in a lot of so-called seeker sensitive churches today, seeker sensitive churches that try to attract the masses by offering appealing answers, rather than compelling truth from God's word. For example, when's the last time you heard a sermon on the fear of God? When's the last time you heard somebody preach from 1 Samuel 15:3 in which God told Saul to go and kill Amalek, and not only Amalek, but also everyone associated with him.

God said, "Now you go and strike and Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him: but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey". Frankly, we're embarrassed by passages like that in the Bible. We're embarrassed by stories that portray God as a killer of women and children. We're embarrassed by these stories, because they violate the kind of God we've created in our own minds, rather than the reality of the true God. And yet, the Bible says that we need to not only fear God ourselves, but the most basic lesson we can teach our children is to fear God. Remember Moses' words to the Israelites as they were preparing to enter into the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 31:2, he gave this charge. "Assemble the people, the men and women and children and the alien who is in your town, in order that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law".

Moses believed that the greatest legacy that he could leave the Israelites and that the Israelites could leave to their children was to teach them to fear the Lord. Fearing God is not harmful. It is healthy for our spiritual wellbeing. That's why the last Solomons secret for success we're going to look at today is the most basic. It's a piece of uncommon wisdom, as all of these Solomon's secrets have been that we've talked about. Conventional wisdom says that fearing God is harmful to your spiritual life. No, the Bible says fear is good. Pastor, how can you say such a thing? How can you say that it's good and healthy for us to fear God? I want you to think for a moment and look at with me in scripture all of the positive benefits that the Bible says comes into our life from fearing God. For example, fearing God provides needed direction in our life. How many of you need God's direction in a specific area of your life? A job choice or relationship choice, whether or not to move to this city or the next city. Did you know, the fear of God promises to provide your needed direction?

In Psalm 25:12-14, the Psalmist said, "Who is the man who fears the Lord? It's that man, God will instruct him in the way that he should choose". In verse 14, "The secret of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he will make them know his covenant". The Bible also says that the fear of the Lord is key to experiencing protection from our enemies. Protection from our enemies. Listen to Psalm 34:7, "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he rescues them". How about a longer life? How many of you would like to live a longer rather than a shorter life? Do you know what the key is to a long life? It's not exercise. It's not eating bran muffins. The Bible says that the key to a long life is fearing God. Listen to Proverbs 10:27. "The fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be shortened". What about deliverance from temptation? It's the fear of God that delivers us from temptation Proverbs 16:6, "By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil".

How many would like to have a life, a better quality of life, a life that is marked with riches and honor and life? Listen to what Proverbs 22:4 says, "The key to a better quality of living is the fear of God. The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life". Given all the benefits that the Bible associates with fearing God, it should be no surprise that at the beginning of the book of Proverbs, Solomon gives this foundational principle for success in life. Proverbs 1:7 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: fools despise wisdom and instruction". That Hebrew word translated beginning is a word that means topmost, summit, headwaters. The fear of God is the summit. It is the headwaters. It is the beginning of all wisdom and success in life.

Now, you may be asking yourself the natural question. Well, pastor, if that's true, if the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, why are you ending this series talking about the fear of God? Why are you making the 10th Solomon secret instead of the first one when we started this series? Well, here's the interesting thing. The Bible says the fear of God is both the beginning of wisdom, but it's also the end result of wisdom. Over in Proverbs 2:-5, Solomon says, "If you will seek wisdom as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures: then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God". That is, if you go on this treasure hunt for what the Bible calls wisdom, the skill to live life according to God's plan, as you search for God's wisdom, once you have dug through the rubble and dirt of worldly philosophy, you'll find God's wisdom, and lying right alongside God's wisdom will be the fear of God. The fear of God is both the cause of and the result of true success in life.

What does it mean to fear God? If it's the beginning place and the ending place of all success and wisdom in life, don't we need to understand what it means to truly fear God? As I look through the scripture, I find that there are three components for developing a healthy fear of God. First of all, to fear God means to have a respect for God's power. A respect for God's power. When you fear God, you will be overwhelmed intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally by the greatness of God. And nowhere do we see the greatness of God more vividly displayed than in creation. Just think about it. By a single sentence, God flung this entire universe into being. To fear God means, first of all, to have a respect for God's power. Secondly, the fear of God entails a reverence for God's holiness.

C.S. Lewis in his classic book "The lion, the witch, and the wardrobe" tells a story of four children who are magically transported through a wardrobe in the attic into the magical world of Narnia, complete with talking animals, and as the children arrive in Narnia, some talking animals begin to tell them about the centerpiece of Narnia, and that's the majestic lion Aslan, who is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. And as the animals are talking to the children, they're naturally apprehensive about coming face to face with a lion. In a portion of that book, one of the children, Susan, says, "Oh, I thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion". "That you will, Dearie, and make no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver. "If there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most, or else just silly". "Then he isn't safe"? Said Lucy. "Safe"? Said, Mr. Beaver. "Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn't safe, but he's good. He's the king, I tell you".

Ladies and gentlemen, God is not safe, but he's good. What's the image that is used of Jesus Christ over and over again in the Bible? He's called the lion of Judah. As Dorothy Sayer once said, "Jesus was not portrayed as a domesticated house kitten". Listen to me this morning. You will never be motivated to trust in Christ and Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sins until you understand the absolute holiness of God. To fear God means to have a respect for God's power, a reverence for God's holiness. And thirdly, a fear of God will always result in a reordering of our behavior. A reordering of our behavior. If you truly understand the power and the holiness of God, the natural result is you and I are going to obey God. We're going to be motivated to reorder our behavior so that we can please him.

I want you to turn over to Galatians chapter four for just a moment. The Bible uses several different images to describe how our relationship with God changes when we trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior. For example, in Romans, God says the moment we become a Christian, our status changes from being enemies of God to becoming friends of God. When we come to Galatians, chapter four, Paul uses a different metaphor. He says when we trust in Christ as our Savior, no longer are we a slave of God, fearing another beating before God, but instead our status changes from slave to a child of God. Look at this in Galatians 4:6-7. "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of his son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!', therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son: and if a son, then you are an heir through God".

That word Abba is an Aramaic term that is a term of intimacy. It can literally be translated daddy or papa. When you trust in Christ as your Savior, that gap has been so bridged with God that you come into his presence with the intimacy of a child who says to his father, "Daddy, papa". Isn't that a great thought? You say, well, then pastor, isn't that contradicting what you just said about fearing God? Doesn't feeling secure in God as a child feels with a loving parent, doesn't that negate any kind of fear of God that we have? Not at all. The fact is, fear and security can coexist with one another. You can have both emotions, a fearing and yet feeling secure at the same time.

Author Steve Ferrari illustrates how fear and security can coexist with one another. He says, "There is a difference between acceptable, healthy awe and destructive fear. A child should have general apprehension about the consequences of defying his parents, but he should not lie awake at night worrying about parental harshness or hostility. In the same way, I want my child to view me. As long as he not choose to challenge me openly and willfully, my child lives in total safety. He need not duck and flinch when I suddenly scratch my eyebrow. He should have no fear that I will ridicule him or treat him unkindly. He can enjoy complete security and safety until he chooses to defy me. Then he'll have to face the consequences".

It's the same in our relationship with God. We can feel secure in God. We can love God and fear him at the same time. And listen to me this morning. It is both emotions, a fear of God and a love of God that motivate us to obey God. Let's talk about that emotion of fear. Fearing God should make us apprehensive about the consequences of disobeying God. Before you disobey God, think about this. He could snuff out your life at any moment. You realize he has that power? He could bring any judgment into your life that he chose to bring because of your disobedience. Not only that. One day, you and I are going to die, and we're going to awake in the presence of God to give an account of our lives. That knowledge, that fear of God, both now and in the future, is a powerful incentive to obey God.

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, when he came to the end of his life, looked back and said all of life can be summarized in these words. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep his commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil". The fear of God motivates us to obedience, but so does the love of God. When we consider all that God has done for us, ultimately, in sending Christ to die for us and bridging that gap, that ought to overwhelm us with gratitude, a love for God that would make us want to seek his approval as well.

Last night, I was over in Truett Chapel. I had a couple standing before me that I was getting ready to marry, and as I was performing that wedding ceremony, I thought about a story that the late preacher Donald Grey Barnhouse talked about when he was trying to describe the relationship between love, fear, and obedience.

Barnhouse says, "Several years ago, I married a young couple. It's really a quaint story. They were and still are very much in love with one another. They had met when they were 13 or 14, and never looked at anyone else, and never would all of their lives. They went away on their honeymoon, and after a few weeks came home again, I saw them in church the next Sunday and greeted them with a little pleasantry. I asked the groom if his bride had burned the roast for the first dinner she prepared. They laughed, and she said, 'oh, I was afraid I was going to. I read so much about the bride being unable to cook that I decided John was going to have the very best meal a bride could prepare for her husband, so I began about three o'clock. I got everything out and started to work. When I finally put things on to cook, I wanted everything to turn out so well, and I was afraid that they wouldn't. And of course, John had to be a little late from work, and I was so afraid that things would be spoiled'. Dr. Barnhouse interrupted and said, 'you've said three times that you were afraid. Did you think John was going to beat you'? She pouted and said, 'well, of course not', and she looked at John with all the love of her heart in her eyes, but I persisted. 'you said you were afraid'. She broke in, 'pastor, you know what I mean', and of course I knew what she meant. Her fear was not fright. Her fear was a great desire to serve the one to whom she had given herself completely. And in this case, the fear of John was the beginning of good cooking".

Do you have a healthy fear of God? You understand words of Acts 17:28 that says, "For it's only in God that we move and exist, and we have our being". When you drift off to sleep at night, do you realize that unless God keeps that heart of yours pumping, you will not awaken in the morning? Have you ever contemplated what it will be like when you close your eyes for the very last time here on earth, and awaken in the presence of God to give an account of your life? Do you fear God? Do you love God with all of your heart and mind and soul and strength? Are you so overwhelmed with everything God has done for you that your one desire in life is to please him and to hear those words, "Well done, good and faithful servant". The fear of God and the love of God are entwined with one another. You can't separate one from the other. Someone wrote this. "Fear is love and love is fear, and in and out they move. They love thee little, if at all, who do not fear thee much". The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and it is the foundational secret for extraordinary success in this life and the life to come.
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