Fear — from a biblical perspective.

There are three relevant listings on page 73 in The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible’s Universal Subject Guide to the Bible (1990): Fear, Fear, godly, and Fearlessness. I inserted some Zondervan NASB notes.

Fear – anxiety caused by approaching danger
A. Causes of: disobedience (Gen 3:10), impending judgment (Heb 11:7), persecution (John 20:19), events of nature (Acts 27:17, 29), suspicion (Acts 9:26), uncertainty (2 Cor 11:3), final events (Luke 21:26), death (Heb 2:15).
B. Effects of: demoralization (1 Sam 13:5-8), paralysis (Matt 28:4), silent testimony (John 9:22).
C. Instances of: Abraham [Gen 20:11, NASB note: fear of God “Fear” in this phrase has the sense of reverential trust in God that includes commitment to His revealed will (word)], Jacob (Gen 32:11), soldiers (Matt 27:54).

Fear, godly
A. Defined as: hating evil (Prov 8:13), satisfying (Prov 14:27), sanctifying (Ps 19:9), beginning of wisdom (Prov 1:7).
B. Motives to, God’s: majesty (Jer 10:7), holiness (Rev 15:4), forgiveness (Ps 130:4, NASB note: feared Honored, worshiped, trusted and served as the one true God. If God were not forgiving, people could only flee from Him in terror), power (Josh 4:23,24), goodness (1 Sam 12:24), judgment (Rev 14:7).
C. Examples of: Noah (Heb 11:7), Abraham (Gen 22:12), Jacob (Gen 28:16,17), Joseph (Gen 42:18), David (Ps 5:7, “reverence”), Obadiah (1 Kin 18:12), Job (Job 1:8), Nehemiah [Neh 5:15, NASB note: fear of God Those in high positions are in danger of abusing their authority over their subordinates if they forget that they themselves are servants of a superior “Master in heaven” (Col 4:1; cf. Gen 39:9; 2 Cor 5:11)], early Christians (Acts 9:31).

Fearlessness – without fear
A. Source of: believing God’s promises (Num 13:30), challenge of duty (Ex 32:26-29), regard for God’s holiness (Num 25:1-9), believing God (Acts 27:22-26).
B. Exemplified by: Abram (Gen 14:14-16), Jonathan (1 Sam 14:6-14), David (1 Sam 17:34-37 David vs. Goliath), Nehemiah (Neh 4:1-23), Hebrew men (Dan 3:16-30 Daniel and his friends in the fiery furnace), Peter and John [Acts 4:13, NASB note: confidence A certain boldness characterized by the assurance, authority and forthrightness of the apostles (2:29; 4:29; 28:31), and shared by the believers (4:31)], Paul (Acts 21:10-14).

While there do seem to be appropriate causes for fear, just remember that God is much greater than anything you may face in this life.

To fear the Lord is to take Him seriously. The one person in the universe most deserving our respect with reverence (how the word “fear” is meant in the verses below, as we shall soon see) and admiration is God. See my “worship” thread for more on this.

All of the verses in the index below speak positively of fearing the Lord and negatively of lacking the fear of the Lord. Below the index I will supply study notes from Zondervan’s NASB Study Bible (1999) – these will help explain what is meant by “fear” when we “fear the Lord”. Please see the original post for the NASB note on Gen 20:11. You will notice that this new post only refers to verses in the New Testament, as the goal is to show how we still take God seriously and respect Him under the new covenant of grace. God is still as awesome as ever.

It is our relationship to Him which has changed, if we accept it (Hebrews 10:19-25) [why couldn’t it be that way before? – because ideas… even THE Idea (the Word)… take time and experience for minds to digest… see my meme thread for more – to sum it up: to demonstrate to someone (teach them by example) that You love them no matter what (and expect them to do the same for others), there has to be a time before and after that demonstration, when You are not dying on the cross for their sins… …before that You are getting them ready to understand what the sacrifice means (some dude does that out of the blue, you put him in a straight jacket)… after that You are letting it sink in, and giving them plenty of time to accept or reject that You love them no matter what… and that You gave a sufficient demonstration of that – that no one could have done it for You – You had to come to them Yourself, or it would have meant nothing]. If you don’t get it yet – I can’t wait for you to realize how beautiful this is. It beats everything. He exists… and He is Truth and Love beyond anything you’ve lived or will live through in the world… On with the study…

Index of relevant verses in NT by Strong’s # — gleaned from Strong’s concordance’s listings on fear, feared, feareth, and fearing : 2124 Heb 5:7 (NASB: “piety”); 12:28 (NASB: “awe”); 2125 Heb 11:7 (NASB: “reverence”) 5398 Heb 10:26-31; 5399 Matt 10:28; Luke 12:5; Luke 18:2; Acts 10:2,22,34-35; 13:16,26; Rom 11:20; Col 3:22; 1 Pet 2:17; Rev 11:18; 14:7; 15:4; 19:5; 5401 Acts 9:31; Rom 3:18; 13:7; 2 Cor 7:1; Eph 5:21; Phil 2:12; 1 Pet 1:17; 3:2 (NASB: “respectful”); 1 John 4:18. Crosswalk has a free on-line lexicon so you can look these up by Strong’s #. Bob already covered some of the words in his first reply (ty).

Luke 12:5-7 note: fear Him. Respect His authority, stand in awe of His majesty and trust in Him. Verses 6-7 give the basis for trust. [ Ichthus: In keeping with the theme of this thread, it follows that if we fear God, we’ve no reason to fear anything else. See original post on “fearlessness”. ]

Acts 10:34-35 note: God is not one to show partiality. God does not favor an individual because of his station in life, his nationality or his material possessions (see not on James 2:1). He does, however, respect his character and judge his work. This is evident because “in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (v. 35). Cornelius already worshiped the true God, but this was not enough: He lacked faith in Christ (v. 36) (Ichthus: he does go on to accept Christ).

Romans 3:10-18 note: fear of God. Awesome reverence for God; the source of all godliness (see note on Gen 20:11).

Romans 11:20 note: fear. On the fear of God see note on Gen 20:11; see also Prov 3:7; Phil 2:12-13; Heb 4:1, “be careful”; 1 Pet 1:17.

Philippians 2:12 note: fear and trembling. Not because of doubt or anxiety; rather, the reference is to an active reverence and a singleness of purpose in response to God’s grace.

1 Peter 1:17 note: fear. Not terror, but wholesome reverence and respect for God, which is the basis for all godly living (cf. Prov 1:7; 8:13; 16:6).

1 Peter 3:2 note: chaste and respectful behavior. Their lives are to be marked by a moral purity that springs from reverence toward God.

1 John 4:18 note: no fear in love. There is no fear of God’s judgment because genuine love confirms salvation.

Revelation 15:4 note: Universal recognition of God is taught in both the OT (Ps 86:9; Is 45:22-23; Mal 1:11) and the NT (Phil 2:9-11).

Ways in which fearing God dispels irrational fears:

I. Healthy guilt/fear versus unhealthy guilt/fear: 2 Samuel 6:9 “So David was afraid of the Lord that day; and he said, ‘How can the ark of the Lord come to me?’” Zondervan NASB Study Bible note: “David’s anger was accompanied by fear—not the wholesome fear of proper honor and respect for the Lord (1 Sam 12:24; Josh 24:14) but an anxiety arising from acute sense of one’s own guilt (Gen 3:10; Deut 5:5).” That sort of conviction (guilt) is healthy. But there is guilt which is not healthy (an oversensitive, fallible conscience) – and for that, see 1 John 3:18-20.

“A guilty conscience that precedes sincere repentance is the conviction of the Holy Spirit. A guilty conscience following sincere repentance is condemnation that is not coming from God.” — Beth Moore.

II. “Fear not – for I am with you.” Those who have just given their hearts to God in a courageous leap of faith are very vulnerable to spiritual warfare and deception. Your mind may be flooded with doubts and fears… do not be overwhelmed, but see it as being tested by fire – a character-building opportunity to trust in God’s strength and truth. Calvary Chapel (your nearest one can be found by searching the web-site) has a handy free pamphlet that leads you through the Bible in a year – with a good study Bible (there are also free Bible study tools on-line; use Google.com to find them), that is an excellent way to get started on grounding your faith in solid doctrine. Remember these verses and stick close to God: Matthew 12:43-45/Luke 11:24-26 (after the initial change, you must rely on God’s living in your heart, a constant awareness of Him, to maintain the change). Rom 8:15,31; 2 Tim 1:7, Ps 118:6,18.

III. God is fair. Perhaps you are (or may become, if you don’t read and understand this) afraid you have committed “the unforgivable sin”? Here’s a short study on that: Job 2:9, Lev 24:10-16; Matt 12:30-32. Zondervan NASB note on Matt 12:31 “blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. The context (vv. 24,28,32) suggests that the ‘unpardonable sin’ was attributing to Satan Christ’s authenticating miracles done in the power of the Holy Spirit (see note on Mark 3:29).” Note on Mark 3:29 “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness. Jesus identifies this sin in v.30 (cf.v.22)—the teachers of the law attributed Jesus’ healing to Satan’s power rather than to the Holy Spirit.” Please note that the leaders’ motivation was not devotion to God, but maintaining status quo (John 11:48). Note that throughout the Gospels, Jesus’ challengers did not deny the reality of the (object lessons) of the miraculous signs He performed on the Sabbath, nor the fact that He did cast out demons – but took offense to Jesus’ not following the letter of the law in His challenge for them to follow instead the spirit of it – they took offense to His correcting them. They were basically saying, “It is not the Holy Spirit who empowers the miracles performed by our enemy, but since someone supernatural must be empowering them — it is the ruler of the demons who empowers them,” – how else would they be able to reject His message, which is equivalent to the message of the Holy Spirit? They, the ones most qualified to “recognize”, could not have seen more evidence of the Holy Spirit than that – God did everything He could to get the message through to them… there is nothing more He could have done without violating their free will. That is what they were rejecting – that is why it cannot be forgiven. It’s not that He stopped loving them. It’s that they rejected that love.

The unpardonable sin is not to be confused with “sin leading to death” (1 John 5:16-17 note: “In the context of this letter directed against Gnostic teaching, which denied the incarnation and threw off all moral restraints, it is probable that the ‘sin leading to death’ refers to the Gnostics’ adamant and persistent denial of the truth and to their shameless immorality. This kind of unrepentant sin leads to spiritual death. Another view is that this is sin that results in physical death. It is held that, because a believer continues to sin, God in judgment takes his life [cf. 1 Cor 11:30-32 note: ‘disciplined. As God’s redeemed children we are disciplined—just as a human father disciplines his child—so that we might repent of our sins (cf. 2 Cor 7:10) and grow in grace (2 Pet 3:18; Heb 12:7-11)’]. In either case, ‘sin not leading to death’ (v.17) is of a less serious nature.” But, after all is said and done – God knows the heart of a man… whether or not he was given a fair enough chance… and what to do about it. God is just (fair), and because of that, you have reason both to revere and to take comfort in Him (1 John 1:9-10, Ps 23:4).

Unlike the Ramones song – God does not take His love away from you. If you are not experiencing it, it is because you have rejected it, or believe the lie that it is conditional (or that He doesn’t exist). Believe the Truth. He loves you like nobody else can… and (speaking from experience) He knows how to get your attention… but, ultimately… it’s up to you to accept Him. You are only (Melville’s) Ishmael by choice. You can also be a son by choice. Granted – He already knows what you will choose. When you enter into His kingdom, it will feel like He has taken you out of the slums (consider the current condition of your mind) and is showing you around unimaginable beauty, as if you are a distinguished guest… and you will be. But you will be home. Come as you are, a prodigal son… He is the only one who can get rid of all your garbage and heal all your gangrenous open sores.

IV. He calms the storm. If you feel like you are losing control of your mind, for whatever reason:

1. God, who is omniscient, omnipotent, and ever-present (including in your mind), can make it stop or at least slow down to something less freakish – but you must ask Him first. This may seem like blackmail if you don’t want to ask God for help (but you do want help), but it really is up to you. No one else you talk to about it can do anything to help you (and may just think you’re crazy… and, in a sense, your experience definitely counts as ‘abnormal’… and they may stick you in the hospital–you don’t have to become dependent on meds), besides praying for you. This (your salvation) is between you and God. Just remember, when He gives you back a sense of control, do not change your mind about God, like Pharoah kept doing (Ex 7-14), and bring it on yourself all over again (or way worse, Matt 12:43-45) – and do not keep what you have learned to yourself (like the Gnostics do – see “Against Gnosticism” and “Illumination vs. Gnosis”). Ezekiel 3:8-9.
2. If you would like to know more about miracles and other spiritual gifts, see my most recent reply in “Illumination versus Gnosis” – and my “Signs” thread. Gnosis (whether or not it manifests as at least one of you understands it — accompanied by dissociation and delusion) is not God’s will for your mind – and He can make that stop, too (dissociation and delusion)… if you ask. Spiritual gifts and miracles do not have to be disturbing – but they often are at first, especially if you are a stranger to God.
3. If you think Satan is causing your experience (seeing as it is unpleasantly uncontrollable), and that scares you out of your wits, not only because Satan is scary (to those who are not God and are not trusting God, and believe Satan exists), but because you don’t even believe Satan exists, and that you even considered it makes you feel like you’re losing your mind – trust God, and He will give you the weapons of warfare (Eph 6:10-20). Know that if Satan has anything to do with it – it is not without God’s permission (research the testing of Job and tempting of Jesus).
4. If you doubt God exists in order to trust Him – take a leap of faith, and see what happens. You’ve lost control of your mind – what else do you have to lose? He will catch you.
5. If you’re worried you have the wrong concept of God, and so are trusting in what is not God when you trust in God (and you are understandably afraid of entrusting your mind to what is not God) – He hears you, and will help you come to know Him. It’s all in the Word – crack open your dusty Bible. All of my posts are a result of doing just that. See “Biblical criticism and interpretation” for starters.
6. If this has never happened to you, and you’d like to keep it that way… take a preemptive leap of faith and you’ll avoid the whole mess (He’ll prepare you for any spiritual gift or miracle you experience, rather than springing it on you unexpectedly). I know, it seems like blackmail… but it’s no different than saying “avoid risky behavior and only put good stuff into your body if you value your life.” The storm only happens to those who have willfully ingested copious amounts of bad memes. It’s a natural (spiritual) consequence – they practically signed up for it.
7. If you wish God would prove Himself to you (just shy of Armageddon), even if it really freaks you out – ask. And so that you know how to recognize Him when He does show Himself to you – fully research it in His Word. Perhaps He is waiting until you’ve read the entire Bible before He shows you? It is to your advantage. You don’t want to be freaked out.
8.  Studying apologetics never made anyone lose their mind, and genuine faith is never a blind leap.

Remember the key word: ask. Matthew 7:7. Revelation 3:20.

Here’s something kinda interesting on Matthew 7:7, btw…

Ask starts with “A”. Seek starts with “S”. Knock starts with “K”.

Put it all together: A. S. K.

ASK. He’s already right there, anyway.

Advertisements

About Maryann

Maryann Spikes is the past President of the Christian Apologetics Alliance and now coordinates the CAA Catechism. She blogs at Ichthus77, and loves apologetics and philosophy. In particular she loves to study all things Euthyphro Dilemma and Golden Rule. A para-educator (autism) for five years, she holds a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, an AA in Humanities via Modesto Junior College, and moonlights as a freelancer. You can follow her on Twitter @Ichthus77, connect with the Ichthus77 community on Facebook, or look her up on Google+.
This entry was posted in Problem of Evil & Hell. Bookmark the permalink.

Tell it:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s