Through the studies I’ve been doing recently, I keep noticing the same thing. Fear placed in anything other than God leads to more sin. I say more sin, because when we fear something other than God, we’re placing that object above God and making for ourselves an idol. Fear properly placed in our Holy and Righteous Judge who is our Good and Loving Father leads us into righteousness.
The following examples show fear improperly placed. For now I haven’t looked up the references. I’ll try to get back to that.
- Abram feared the Pharoah killing him for Sarai, so he convinced his household to speak half-truth (still a lie). Pharoah took Sarai for his own and God sent plagues in judgment.
- Lot feared the people of Zoar after the judgment of Sodom, so he hid in a cave. His daughters’ responses were to have incestuous relations with him.
- The Egyptians feared the Israelites, so they oppressed and murdered them.
- The Israelites feared the giants in the land, so they disobeyed God and refused to enter.
- Several times Israel walked in fear of surrounding nations and instead of trusting God, their Defender and Deliverer, they made treaties with other nations, which God had forbidden.
I’m sure there’s much, much more and I’ll have to look at New Testament examples soon. In contrast, the Bible says that fearing the Lord is what we should do. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Fear of God draws us to walk in His ways. This page did a nice job of laying out some of these passages. I also read a really great book about this, The Joy of Fearing God by Jerry Bridges. The one thing that really stood out to me from that book was that we learn to fear God by looking at His greatness. So I love to stop and look at the stars, the sand, the sea, and mountains. And while I look I remember passages such as Isaiah 40:12.
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
My heart is so often divided between wanting Him and wanting the pleasures of this world — time for me, praises of men, security, and more. I long for my heart to be united, or undivided, hungering only for Him, fearing His name alone. I’m so thankful that He is showing me how fear placed anywhere else leads only to more sin. He is answering my prayer to unite my heart. He is teaching me to fear His name! And for that I give Him praise!