The Fear of God Revisited

Speaker: Scott Jarrett | Dec 17, 2017

The Fear of God Revisited

Fearing God = believing that there are (very) undesirable consequences associated w/not doing what He says (e.g. Mat 10:28). Living in a constant state of fear in relation to God is therefore what the Bible (i.e. God) prescribes (over 50 times).

1. The faulty thinking as it relates to fear that must be rejected (and why):


1.1. Fear is extremely harmful to a person’s overall psychological formation. It can cause mental illness or a person to become very wicked in their treatment of others.[1]

Why this is faulty and must be rejected = The only thing that can cause either of those two things is their choice to behave sinfully (Gen 4:7-8 w/1Jo 3:12; Deu 28:28).


1.2. Fear keeps us from achieving great things/living our dreams.[2]

Why this is faulty and must be rejected = Fear of man is what keeps us from achieving great things/living our dreams – NOT fear of God (Pro 29:25).


1.3. Fear is not what the Bible prescribes (anymore). Since the OT, God has received counseling and no longer promotes fear but love (i.e. “fear was so Old Testament”; e.g. 2Ti 1:7; Rom 8:15; Heb 2:14-15, 13:6; 1Jo 4:18).

Why this is faulty and must be rejected = Fear of God is just as much a “New Testament” thing as it was in the Old Testament (Rom 11:20; 2Co 5:11, 7:1, 11; Phi 2:12; Col 3:22; 1Ti 5:20; Heb 10:27-31, 11:7, 12:21; 1Pe 1:17, 2:17; Rev 19:5). The fear being discouraged in the NT is the same as that found in the OT and is actually remedied thru possessing fear of God (2Ti 1:7 w/1:4 and 1Ti 1:3 = fear of man – Pro 29:25// Rom 8:15 w/8:1-4 = fear of the slavery to sin – Exo 20:20//Heb 2:14-15 = slavery to the devil – Eph 2:1-2//Heb 13:6 = the fear of man – Psa 118:6 //1Jo 4:18 = fear of being condemned in the coming judgment b/c I do not love God or my brother thru keeping His commandments – 1Jo 5:1-3).


2. Why it is vitally important that we as Christians live in a constant state of fearing God (according to the Bible):


2.1. God doesn’t miss anything and punishes everything (even in this life).

IOW: Nobody truly ever gets away w/anything – even in this life. This is most esp. true for those who are God’s children (Psa 33:13-15; Pro 5:20-23, 15:3, 21:2; Gal 6:7-10//Ecc 12:13-14 w/1Pe 1:1-9, 14-17 w/3:9- 4:17-18 – “it is time for judgment to begin”; Heb 12:5-7). BTW: God promises more severe discipline to His kids (Lev 26:14-30 w/Heb 10:28-31, 12:18-29).


2.2. God created fear (and most especially fear of Him) to be the most powerful motivator or means to accomplishing great things.[3]

Even love cannot compete w/fear when it comes to the issue of motivation (or influence) since it (too) finds its basis in fear. Hence the reason God created our brains to devote the most space and energy to fear.[4]


2.3. (Actionable/Demonstrable) love for God cannot exist w/o fear.

Love and fear (therefore) are not competing principles. Rather, fear is the pre-requisite to love. This includes our love for God. The way to love God is by keeping His commandments (1Jo 5:3), but to do that, we must fear God (Deu 13:1-4; Exo 20:1-20). The same sequence is found in both texts: 1) God tests (or assesses) the people’s love based on their submission to His Law (Deu 13:3; Exo 20:6 w/20a), 2) Such obedience (and love) is the result of fearing God (Deu 13:4; Exo 20:20b).


2.4. Our ability therefore to be holy, faithful and avoiding sin is therefore dependent on such fear.

(2Co 7:1; 1Pe 1:14-17; Deu 8:6, 10:12; Pro 16:6; contra Psa 36:1). Here (then) we have part of the puzzle regarding self-control since righteousness requires self-control and self- control comes (in part) from fear of God – i.e. knowing we will stand before Him in judgment (Act 24:25).


2.5. (Affectionate) love for God cannot exist without fear.

The highest form of affection is always for those we respect. Respect however is never given to those we don’t fear losing – or receiving righteous consequences from should we act unjustly. People therefore who feel no affection for God, are also those who possess no fear (or too little fear) of God.


2.6. Our ability to make wise decisions is dependent on such fear.

(Pro 9:10: Aspects of wisdom: self motivated hard work = Pro 6:6-11//acting thoughtfully or carefully = Pro 14:8, 15-16 and 22:3//growing in knowledge = Pro 10:14 w/13:16 w/14:18//seeking godly counselors = Pro 11:14 w/20:18 w/24:6). How the world exists (e.g. self-motivated hard work, seeking to grow in knowledge, applying your knowledge to your living, thinking before you act, acting carefully, seeking the wisdom of God’s counselors) is according to God’s sovereign decree and design. A person therefore, who constantly makes decisions/acts recklessly, carelessly and contrary to the world’s design – though the wisdom to do otherwise is known to them, demonstrates a lack of fear in relation to God. Why? B/C to not conform and conquer according to the world’s design, is to not fear the One who designed it that way (e.g. kids: deciding to not put in the effort to get good grades/God’s present design in re: to hard work, growth in knowledge, etc. = good grades are the pathway to opportunity and blessings//parents = lowering the expectations or forgoing severe punishment for those kids getting poor grades due to laziness – though again this is God’s present deign for their future success//other  = getting visible tattoos, piercings, coloring your hair purple, green, etc./God’s present design in re: to gaining knowledge = such things will inhibit you from getting good jobs//other = you constantly make big decisions [having more kids, changing jobs/careers, big purchases] w/o seeking counsel from the church/God’s design = seek wisdom from such counselors).


2.7. Our ability to avoid calamity and injustice against us.

(Psa 33:18-19). The basis of all calamity and injustice is no fear of God (e.g. Gen 20:11). You may fear God but if where you choose to hang out or those you choose to hang out with do not (fear God), then you will share in their fruit.


2.8. Our ability to experience all of God’s abundant life blessings is dependent upon such fear.

For example, when we fear God: He becomes our friend and takes pleasure in us (Psa 25:14, 147:11)// He stores up good things for us as those He greatly loves (Psa 31:19, 34:9, 61:5, 103:11-13, 17, 118:4)// He promises to protect and provide for us (Psa 33:18, 34:7, 11, 60:4, 111:5, 115:11, 13)// God fulfills our desires (Psa 145:19)// He prolongs our lives (i.e. gives good health) (Pro 10:27, 14:27, 19:23, 22:4; Ecc 8:12-13; Deu 6:20-24)//He grants forgiveness/salvation (Psa 85:1-9). IOW: God gives incredible blessings and abundant life to those who fear Him (Deu 5:29, 6:1-3, 7:12-14; 1Sa 12:14, 24; Psa 112:1, 128:1, 4; Pro 28:14)


2.9. The relevance of the gospel is dependent upon such fear.

(Rev 14:6-7 = Fear of God’s coming judgment is the number one reason people should turn to God and “give Him glory” by submitting their lives to Him). Without the fear of God, there is no gospel success. And others won’t fear Him if they don’t see it demonstrated in us (i.e. our actions).



(Ecc 12:13; Consider our example: Jesus = His delight was in the fear of the Lord- Isa 11:2-3).


[1] “Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein were all raised by brutal parents who frequently beat them. Growing up, they lived in daily fear. All of them went on to become dictators who maintained complete control over people through their use of fear inducing terror.” – Psychology Today

[2] “Despite all its uncertainty, fear does make a few guarantees: Fear kills dreams, Fear holds us back, Fear distorts our world and fear determines our success or failure.” – PicktheBrain.Com

[3] In 2015, the question of motivation was asked of some of the United States and South America’s most successful businessmen and politicians. The answer most commonly given was fear (i.e. the fear of regret). Even Psychology admits to the unmatched power of fear to motivate, “The most powerful motivator is fear…Our most vivid memories are born in fear… Adrenaline etches them into our brains…Fear invokes the fight or flight syndrome… Fear is the prime motivator because it is rooted in our childhood experiences and it moves us subconsciously. Fear is such a strong driver of our behavior that it also forms the basis of every other motivator in our lives.” (Psychology Today).

[4] See “Fear Conditioning: How the Brains Learns About Danger”;