Do you fear God? What exactly does it mean to fear God? Why are we supposed to fear God? What does fearing God look like in our lives as Christians? These are just a few of the questions that came flooding into my heart and mind this morning as I began reading Exodus 20. In this chapter God gives Moses the Ten Commandments. Now, as I read through the Ten Commandments again, I saw all my sins, coming off the page. Not a single one have I been able to keep. So, I laid my Bible down and began to thank Jesus Christ for His sacrifice for me, for the Ten Commandments showed me the sinner that I am, and how greatly I need a Savior.
The world looks upon us Christians like we are perfect and that we never mess up. Some might actually call us “goody-two shoes” always doing what is right, but we know that to not be true. And unfortunately, some who call themselves Christians do not live out a witness as one who would be considered Christian. But, it is not up to us to judge one another’s walks- besides, I have broken enough commandments for myself, I have no desire to point out the ones others may have broken! But the verse that stuck out at me, that jumped right off the page and into my heart was verse 20.
“And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” Exodus 20:20
Moses has just received the Ten Commandments from God, the children of Israel have seen the great cloud descend upon Mount Sinai, they have heard the thundering, seen the lightning and it has caused great fear among them. They say to Moses in verse 19, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” They were in today’s terms, freaking out! I would have probably had to go change my pants too, had I seen what they had seen!
But Moses tells them to not Fear. The word fear is used twice in verse 20. The first definition of fear mean to tremble, like when you are afraid of something (like my fear of birds, I am scared to death of birds- trembling, panicking, hyperventilating fear…don’t ask!) But the second time the word Fear is used is in reference to God. Moses tells the children of Israel that God’s Fear has come to be before them, to test them and to keep them from sinning against Him and from transgressing the Ten Commandments He has just given them. This is the fear we are going to dig into today. The Fear of God and how it is given to us to keep us from sinning.
Now, we are all sinners, the Bible tells us in Romans 3:23, there is none righteous, and none who seek God. But, we have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us to help us, to lead us, to guide us and to bring us to a place of humble submission before God, to teach us to fear God so that we learn to “sin-less”. I will always be a sinner, but as a Christian, my life should begin to become one of fear. Not in the sense that I am always afraid, trembling and not wanting to go near to God, but there should be a reverential fear in my life that leads me to God.
Moses tells the people to Fear God, the word fear is defined as “a controlling motive of the life, in matters spiritual and moral. Not just a mere fear of His power and righteous retribution, but a wholesome dread of displeasing Him, a “fear” which banishes the terror that shrinks from His presence, and which influences the disposition and attitude of one whose circumstances are guided by trust in God, through the indwelling Spirit of God.” (Vines Expository Dictionary) The Fear of God that we are to have is one that desires to please Him and not displease Him. Moses tells the people that the fear of God will bring them to a place where they will not sin against Him because they do not want to displease Him.
Those of us who seek to be holy women of God, we also need to understand the fear of God and how it works in our lives. I am not saying that having the Fear of God in your life will cause you to never sin again, but it should and it will cause us to “sin-less”. We will never be free from sin until we are free from this body of death, but we can learn to “sin-less” as we learn to Fear God.
Isaiah 8:13 tells us to “Sanctify the Lord of Hosts Himself, and let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread.” Instead of fearing what may happen, we need to begin to Fear God, allowing His presence to keep us from sinning. When we say we love God, and when we say we fear God, the temptations to sin become less and less. We can resist the pride in our hearts, we can turn from evil because God is with us, and we fear Him, we love Him and we do not want to displease Him.
How can we as Christians fear God yet allow sin to take root in our hearts? How can we as Christians say we fear God yet curse, and say things that go against His Word? These are questions we have to ask ourselves, and we also have to ask ourselves, “Do we fear God?” If we are caught up in sin, then we need to ask the Lord to give us a deeper understanding of Him. It is the fear of God that will keep us from sinning, and keep us on the path He desires for us.
We are to Fear God and keep His commandments, which we all know is impossible without the blood of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit living on the inside of us. And we still have sin in our lives. We still have moments of temptation, we gossip, speak ill of others, say things that we shouldn’t, think things that we shouldn’t, and are all sinners. But, the fear of God, as we embrace it and understand it will lead us not to be perfect and sinless, but to “sin-less”.
So, how do we begin to have the Fear of God in our lives, so that we can “sin-less”? We take James advice, “Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:7-8) When we draw near to God, the desire to please Him will overtake our hearts and we will begin to let go of the sins in our lives that we are holding onto. Perhaps it is the sin of gossip, or of cursing, perhaps it is some other sin, whatever that sin is, the Fear of God will begin to clean our hands and purify our hearts so that we will begin to “sin-less”. And as we allow the Fear of God to govern our days, our thoughts and our actions, we will draw near to the One who desires to draw near to us.
The best way to begin to fear God is to read His Word. But not just a mere glance at it, read a few pages and move on. But allow His Word to kindle in your heart the Fear of God. You cannot read the Ten Commandments without seeing how far you have fallen short. His Word will always lead you to Fear Him, in reverential fear, in a fear that governs your heart and brings you to a place of submission and a holy desire to please Him, the One who gave His all for you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.