Torchbearers for Christ
Friday, January 19, 2018
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FEARS - Harmful and Healthy

The Scriptures teach us a great deal about fear. There are fears that are harmful and tormenting and fears that are highly desirable. On the positive side, it has been pointed out that the Bible contains the words “fear not” 365 times, providing comfort for the believer for every day of the year. Jesus repeatedly told His followers to “fear not” when they were facing difficulties; He wanted them to be trustful under all circumstances and not to be anxious. Faith was to be the antidote to their fear. In Psalm 62:8 we are all encouraged to “trust in Him at all times you people, pour out your hearts before Him: God is a refuge for us”.   During a difficult situation, King David encouraged himself, saying “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You” (Psalm 56:3). God’s people have often found comfort in the delightful promises of Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand”. How precious!
 
One of the basic conditions of godly living is to have a constant, healthy fear of God in our lives. The book of Ecclesiastes concludes with the words, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: “Fear God and keep His commandment for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgement, including every secret thing, whether it be good or evil”. What does it mean to fear God? It is vital for us to understand its meaning since it is a life and death issue. The fear of God has been defined as “a reverence for God’s majesty, a submission to His authority and a dread of His wrath in all we say and do. It lies at the heart of genuine Christian experience”. Some might ask whether a love for God and a holy fear of Him can exist together. They can indeed. The person who loves God deeply has a healthy fear of offending Him. He realises that to oppose his creator is to invite disaster. He “rejoices with trembling” (Psalm 2:11).   Hebrews 12:28,29 reads “.....let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire”. In Philippians 2:12,13 Paul advised the believers to “work out your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling, that is with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ. It is God who is all the while effectually at work in you, energizing and creating in you the power and desire both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight”. (Amp. NT)
 
The promises associated with our maintaining a healthy fear of God are many and precious. Let us consider some of them:
 
The fear of God.....
  1. Assists in receiving answers to prayer. “Who in the days of His flesh, when He (The Lord Jesus) had offered up prayers and supplication with strong crying and tears unto Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared.”. (Hebrews 5:7).
  2. Assures us of God’s goodness. “Oh, how great is your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which you have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men” (Psalm 31:19).
  3. Needs will be supplied. “Oh fear the Lord, you His saints, for there is no want to them that fear Him (Psalm 34:9).
  4. Attracts God’s mercy. “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him (Psalm 103:11). “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him (Psalm 103:17).
  5. Promises angelic protection. “The angel of the Lord encamps about them that fear Him and delivers them (Psalm 34:7).
  6. Attracts God’s blessing. “He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great” (Psalm 115:13). “He will fulfil the desire of them that fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them” (Psalm 145:19).
Let us then maintain this healthy fear of God at all times. By so doing we shall find that “goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”.
 
This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  Since 1983 he has travelled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.