Fearing God (6)
The fear of the LORD leads to life,
And he who has it will abide in satisfaction;
He will not be visited with evil. Proverbs 19.23
God’s desire for us
God wants us to know full and abundant life in Jesus Christ (Jn. 10.10; 14.6; 17.3). This is the good life, life as God intended it, the kind of life in which human beings realize their greatest joy and flourish in righteousness and love.
This is why we become Christians; but if we want this life, truly want to know and enjoy the fullness of life in Christ, we can only achieve it on God’s terms. And His terms are clear: they who fear God know the life God intends for them, and enter into the rest He has accomplished for them in Jesus Christ.
In Jesus, in the redemption God provides through Him, we find fullness of life and joy (Ps. 16.11), as we fear and love the Lord.
Two subsidiary promises help us to understand what this entails, and why it is so.
First, the fear of the Lord leads to knowledge of truth (Prov. 1.7). Who wants to think of himself as living a lie? Deceiving and being deceived? Everyone has a sense that we should be dealt with truthfully, even if we don’t always deal truthfully with others. The knowledge of truth sets us free from the misery and constraints of all sin (Jn. 8.32). When we know the truth and delight in it, we find the guidance and power we need to hate sin and embrace the life of love for God and neighbors that God intends for us. As we nurture fear of God, together with love for Him, we grow in the knowledge of truth.
Only by hiding the Word of God in our hearts, and having it dwell within us richly, can we discover the newness, wholeness, and righteousness that allow us to enjoy full and abundant life (Ps. 119.9-11).
But unless we learn to fear God we will not even be able to begin knowing truth. This only makes sense. God is the Author of truth, Jesus is the embodiment of it, and the Spirit is the One Who guides us into all truth. Why would God entrust His precious, life-transforming truth to someone who refused to receive and use it by the means He has appointed? Fear God, and He will reveal Himself and His truth to you. Try to make sense out of His truth without fearing Him, and He will frustrate your attempt.
Your love for Scripture and ability to know the life of freedom it provides will increase in direct proportion to the extent the fear of the Lord grows alongside your love for Him.
Second, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Ps. 111.10), which, as we practice it, gives us good understanding into every aspect of human life and leads us to richer, fuller worship of our God. Wisdom is everyday skill in living that allows us to realize and express the life of Jesus Christ – Who is the fullness of God’s wisdom (Prov. 8; Col. 2.2, 3).
We can ask, “What would Jesus do?” all we want, but we will not live like Him with any degree of consistency until the fear of the Lord is firmly in place in our souls, and the knowledge and wisdom of God are thereby unleashed within us.
Wisdom is based on knowledge, which begins with salvation and builds as we study and meditate on God’s Law and all His Word. Knowledge thus gained – through the fear of the Lord – equips us in everyday situations to live like Jesus, in the wisdom of God.
The truly happy person
As Solomon argued in Ecclesiastes, only the wise person is truly happy. But to be wise, as he pointed out, we must orient the totality of our existence to God, living “under the heavens” rather than “under the sun.”
The whole of life, as Solomon summed it up in his exhortations to his son, is to fear God and keep His commandments (Eccl. 12.13). What he literally says is, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of [what it means to be] a human being.”
If you are trying to live your Christian life apart from the fear of God, you will never realize all the joy, purpose, power, vision, beauty, goodness, righteousness, hope, and peace that God intends for you. You will not make progress in knowing God’s truth; the wisdom of God will escape you at just the moment you need it; and you will lack that constant presence of joy that lets you know you’re living within the pleasure of the Lord. And your Christian life, absent the fear of God, will be as routine, dull, and unchallenging as that of many contemporary Christians.
But nurture the fear of the Lord, and watch your walk with Jesus, and your joy in following Him, begin to blossom, bloom, and bear fruit.
1. What are some differences between knowledge and wisdom? Why do we need both?
2. Scripture says we cannot get to the knowledge and wisdom we need for full and abundant life apart from the fear of God. Why does that only make sense?
3. In what sense or senses can we say with Solomon that to fear God “is the whole of [what it means to be] a human being”?
Next steps – Transformation: Would you describe yourself as one who earnestly desires to know truth and live in wisdom? What would be the identifying marks of such a person? Are these marks present in your life? Lay out a plan to begin growing in love for God’s truth and desire for His wisdom. Share that plan with a Christian friend and ask him or her to pray for you.
T. M. Moore
What does it mean to know the Lord? How does knowing the Lord relate to fearing Him, and to enjoying full and abundant life in Him? Our book, To Know Him, addresses these and other questions concerning our relationship with God. Order your copy by clicking here.
We hope you find ReVision to be a helpful resource in your walk with and work for the Lord. If so, please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. We ask the Lord to move and enable many more of our readers to provide for the needs of our ministry. Please seek Him in prayer concerning your part in supporting our work. You can contribute online via PayPal, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.