The Fear of 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’s desire for His people is that they should know full and abundant life in Jesus Christ (Jn. 10.10; 14.6). This is the good life, life as God intended it, the kind of life in which human beings know their greatest satisfaction and flourish in love. This is the Kingdom life of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit which, once we have made the turn into the Kingdom, must grow and increase (Rom. 14.17, 18; Is. 9.6, 7).
This is why we become Christians, that we might know the abundant life God has prepared for us in Jesus Christ. 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 why this is so.
First, the fear of the Lord leads to knowledge of truth (Prov. 1.7). The knowledge of truth sets us free from the misery, constraints, power, and consequences of sin (Jn. 8.32). When we know the truth and delight in it, we find the guidance and power we need in order to hate sin and embrace the life of love for God and neighbors that God intends for us. And the way into truth is through the gate of fearing God.
When we fear God, we will love His Word. By hiding the Word of God in our hearts and letting 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 gaining the knowledge of 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, world-understanding truth to someone who refused to attain it by the means He has appointed?
Your love for Scripture and ability to know the life of freedom it provides will increase in direct proportion to the extent that 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 that everyday skill in living that allows us to realize 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 be able to live like Him with any degree of consistency until fear of the Lord is firmly in place in our souls.
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. Fearing God thus leads to knowledge and wisdom, so that we know the pleasure of God in every aspect of our lives.
The only 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 never know the truth that sets you free, and you will be barred from the treasury of wisdom and knowledge which is in Jesus Christ.
But work hard to 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, in knowledge, wisdom, and love for God and neighbors.
1. Why does it make sense that God would require us to fear Him to grow in truth and wisdom?
2. What’s the difference between truth and wisdom? How are they related?
3. As we grow in truth and wisdom, would you expect this to reinforce fear and love for God? Explain.
Next steps: 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.
T. M. Moore
This is part 2 of a multi-part series on Keeping the Heart. To download this week’s study as a free PDF, click here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.