October 30, 2016 –
This morning we are going to conclude our series, Loving God, by getting to the heart of understanding God. We have spent the past month talking about how we demonstrate our love for God. We have discussed that loving God requires us to first start a relationship with Him, then by developing that relationship to make Him Lord of our lives. We then talked about loving God requires us to really get to know Him; to know His character so that we can trust His promises. Today, we are going to look at our motivation to love Him.
So many of us have heard and read that we are to fear God. I am concerned that too few of us understand what it means to fear God or why we should. The simple answer is that the fear of God is what compels us to love Him. If you’re looking for the title of today’s message, it is FEAR THAT LEADS TO LOVE.
“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28
Fearing God has been a misunderstood or misapplied lesson within the body of Christ for a long time. Some will argue that we are to fear Him because of His ability to send us to hell. Are they wrong in applying this notion that we should fear God because He can give us the ultimate punishment? No. It is this fear that brings many to repentance. My sins will cause God to abandon me if I don’t submit to His authority as judge of the universe. It is this kind of fear that will keep me out of hell.
But it goes further than that. I don’t fear God just because He can punish me; I fear God because I respect and honor Him. The bible uses the word fear at least 300 times in reference to God, so we would be making a mistake to downplay it. We must understand that fear of God is a positive and not a negative condition in our lives.
Scripture is full of examples of how fearing God is positive. As an example, in Genesis 42:18 Joseph earns his brother’s trust when he declares that he is a God-fearing man. Exodus 1:17 tells us that because the Hebrew midwives feared God they disobeyed the Pharaoh’s orders to kill the male babies born to the Jewish slaves. And, the crops were destroyed in Egypt because Pharaoh did not fear God according to Exodus 9:29-31.
A healthy fear of God will help guide us and protect us. It changes us; molding us into the image of Christ. Our actions change not just because there is a penalty for bad actions but because we are heirs of the promises of God and we want to please Him as our father.
So, let’s move into today’s message and learn the benefits of Fearing God.