Fearing His Goodness

The Fear of The LORD is one of the most important qualities we can have. Those who do not fear God are most likely not truly Christian. For “the fear of The LORD is to hate evil…” and “the fear of The LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.” [Prov 14:27] and “…by the fear of The LORD men depart from evil.”

We see that a major characteristic of the fear of The LORD is to hate evil and to depart from evil. And we know that those who have been truly regenerated in their heart by the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit seek to depart from sin and experience, at least in part, victory over sin. We read from the New Testament,

"So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in The Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ He is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness...Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." [Rom 8:8-10; 12-13]

"And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." [Gal 5:24]

Another proof that fearing God must be found in truly regenerated hearts, that is, Christians, is holiness. Without holiness, no one will see The Lord; and we complete holiness in the fear of God. Paul shows us this in Corinthians and Hebrews,

"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." [2 Cor 7:1]

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" [Heb 12:14]

Clearly, it is important that we fear God. But have you ever considered that we should fear God for His goodness? It’s easier to fear God for His power or His ability to judge. As Jesus said in The Gospels, “…fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.” But we should also fear God for His goodness toward us, not continuing in sin, but rather departing from sin, fearing God in His mercy and longsuffering, in His goodness. David says

"Why boastest thyself in mischief, O mighty man? The goodness of God endureth continually." [Psa 52:1]

To boast yourself in evil is dangerous. This is because God’s goodness endures continually, all day every day. God’s goodness is something to be feared. That is something Israel will learn in the future when they return to The LORD once and for all. Hosea writes, they “shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.” Paul tells us “the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.” God’s longsuffering toward our sin, His goodness which leads us to repent, is both a joyful thing and a terrifying. Terrifying if one does not repent. A heart which enjoys the longsuffering of God and continues in sin can be hardened forever. We see this concept in the Old Testament, the wicked person continues in sin, thinking, because God is longsuffering and not immediately punishing, that it is okay to do such things. But God says that that wicked person is in error and will be torn to pieces if he continues.

"Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." [Ecc 8:11]

"The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them. He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity." [Psa 10:4-6]

"But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and casteth my words behind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver." [Psa 50:16-22]

Isaiah sums this up nicely. He says, “Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD.”

In contrast to the wicked, those who are truly saved fear God’s goodness. They receive mercy and longsuffering and instead of continuing in sin, they repent. The mark of a true Christian is the fear of The LORD: that when God shows grace, we don’t use that grace to sin more but instead we fear and repent. This attitude is explained to us in the New Testament,

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?' [Rom 6:1-2]

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another." [Gal 5:13]

"As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God." [1 Pe 2:16]

The conclusion is that God’s goodness should lead us to repentance. To boast in sin, to take advantage of grace, is playing with fire; as Paul tells us,

"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." [Heb 10:26-31]

We should fear God because of His forgiveness. God has forgiven us of a such a massive debt that fear is appropriate. Similar to the parable Jesus told, about the man who owed his Lord 10,000 talents. We too owe God a debt which is unable to be paid back. And because of that we should fear Him. That fear should result in us forgiving our brothers because if we do not, we will not be forgiven. Our forgiveness has a contingency: we must also forgive. “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” [Mk 11:26]

"If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared." [Psa 130:3-4]

CONCLUSION

The LORD’s goodness is a fearful thing because of who He is. He is God of Gods, Lord of Lords, King of Kings; Creator, Sustainer, Provider. The LORD is God Almighty and He holds our breath in His very hands, deciding when we live or die.

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