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What Are You Afraid Of?: Fear God, Don't Fear Death

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What Are You Afraid Of?

Fear God, Don't Fear Death

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What Are You Afraid Of?: Fear God, Don't Fear Death

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Fear of death is like prison, the walls and bars are made of ignorance, misunderstanding, and deception. God's truth is what will set you free. God’s truth ALSO serves to move us on a path: from and unnecessary fear of death, to a necessary fear of God.

Transcript

What Are You Afraid Of?

The past year [2020] was a year of trial and testing for society at large and for the Church of God. It was a year dominated by fear, fear of sickness, fear of the political power of others, fear of the flesh, fear of man. There have been stumbles, but even failures can be used for good if we use them as an opportunity to reflect, meditate, and soberly consider our thoughts and actions. 

Today we will discuss  fear. I want to focus on fear of God, however, I first want to briefly touch on human fear, or fear of the flesh.

Fear of Death

Hebrews 2:14-15 Hebrews 2:14-15 [14] For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; [15] And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
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 the bible boils human fear down to fear of their own death. Sub categories of human fear might include fear of pain, fear of humiliation… but fear of death is the real bottom line. As we just read… the solution and help to go beyond that fear begins with confidence and faith in the living and active high priest: Jesus Christ. A powerful advocate who is is personally available to help you work your way from this fear of death [common to all human beings] to freedom, joy, and expectation of eternal life.

Scripture likens this fear filled state of mind to being in prison, and tells us one of the many purposes of the Messiah [the Christ] is to begin this work of freeing the prisoners; Isaiah 42:7 Isaiah 42:7To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
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, Isaiah 49:9 Isaiah 49:9That you may say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.
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, Isaiah 61:1 Isaiah 61:1The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on me; because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
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The walls and bars of that prison are ignorance, misunderstanding, and deception... knowing  God's truth is what can set a person free from such a prison. God’s truth begins with knowing Jesus Christ and what He's all about... then it is built upon through the work and illumination offered by the spirit of Christ and the spirit of God at work in you. God’s truth opens the door and offers freedom from mental anguish... God’s truth ALSO serves to move us on a path:  from and unnecessary fear of death, to a necessary fear of God.

1 John 4:16 1 John 4:16And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.
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- 5:14

Scripture recognizes fear as a legitimate motivator of human thought and action. But, God's truth instructs us so that we fear the right stuff! “don’t fear what man fears, fear God.

Fear of God

Fear of God is not a popular concept. A lot of us seem to think that God should be understood primarily as our friend, our buddy, our partner. Its is true God wants to have a joyous, peaceful relationship with you and me... but losing or even downplaying a proper fear of God will lead to disaster.

A practical purpose of fearing God is to keep you out of trouble: financial trouble, legal trouble, sexual trouble. It also helps you establish right relationships with your neighbors, on your job and a whole lot more Proverbs 19:23 Proverbs 19:23The fear of the LORD tends to life: and he that has it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.
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But we don't obey only for the physical blessings obedience might bring to our life, which only last but a short time. We fear and obey God because of His promise of righteous judgment. A judgment which determines whether or not we the next level of existence which is eternal life.  A judgment that is all knowing, all seeing, loving, fair, and just…. which is both comforting and scary at he same time.

The moral and spiritual instruction provided by God begins with His commandments guided by the attitudes which are most commonly known as the fruits of the spirit. IF you know the standards of God then you also know how much you fall short.

  1. Fear of God teaches us to be humble before Him and to trust Him. Pride is a root of disobedience because a proud person says "my ways are right" and does not soberly consider with fear and trembling when they are at variance with the living God.
  2. Fear of God understands that nothing is hidden from Him, every thought and motive is known. Sometimes, we are not even consciously aware of our motives. So we should pray for discernment that we can repent of hidden problems, overcome and live the love of God in heart and mind.
  3. Fear of God teaches us that kindness, love, loyalty and faithfulness are the antidote for evil.
  4. Fear of God is the way that leads to peace with God and our fellow human beings. And that is the plan for all who would be born of the eternal spirit

Proverbs 15:33-16 Proverbs 15:33-16
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:7

Reality is Governed By Laws [Which We Should Fear Breaking]

The material universe is governed by laws: physics, gravity, supply and demand. In addition to these there are spiritual laws at work in the universe, laws that scientists, economists, politicians, and philosophers know little of nothing about.

Some spiritual laws humans are able to discern from their own observations... but a comprehensive, well rounded knowledge of these spiritual laws comes through revelation from the Creator of all things both material and spirit. Which brings us back to the idea of information, freedom from ignorance and deception... or the revealed truth of God

Proverbs 9:10 Proverbs 9:10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
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and Isaiah 11:2-3 Isaiah 11:2-3 [2] And the spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; [3] And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
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You Need To Act On The Information
  1. If you want riches then conform to the laws of economics
  2. If you want to avoid falling then conform to the laws of gravity
  3. If you want to achieve peace, joy, love, then conform to the spiritual laws of God

Because of human nature and the  malicious influence of Satan humans resist these spiritual laws, reject them and try to replace them with their own "laws".

  1. Humans don’t like God’s spiritual laws because the conflict with the desires of the flesh.
  2. Humans don’t fear God’s spiritual laws because the disastrous effects of flouting them take a while to play out  Ecclesiastes 8:10-13 Ecclesiastes 8:10-13 [10] And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity. [11] 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. [12] Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: [13] But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he fears not before God.
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    . Some take years, some take decades, some will only bear out after death.

But, God's spiritual laws are not imposed upon you to hold you back, or punish you, or keep you from your full potential... they are simply the laws of eternity.  Just like gravity is a fundamental law of the material world... you don't fight against gravity, or resist its relentless logic... you learn to live within its parameters or you die.

Why not have the same attitude towards the spiritual laws of eternal reality?

If you get yourself in the right frame of mind your temporary physical existence, all its experiences, even your trials and sufferings can be appreciated as an exciting adventure... preparing you for the reality of eternal life, which is governed by laws. 

Proper Fear in The Presence of God

Exodus 20:18-21 Exodus 20:18-21 [18] And all the people saw the thunder, and the lightning, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. [19] And they said to Moses, Speak you with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. [20] And Moses said to the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that you sin not. [21] And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.
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 fear is an appropriate response to the presence of God... the positive purpose of this fear is to keep you from doing evil. In verse 20 Moses says "do not be afraid, God has come to test you so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning". So, fear is presented as both a negative and a positive in the same sentence.

Example: when I was teaching my teenagers to drive I wanted them to have a healthy fear of the tremendous kinetic power of a moving vehicle and its ability to destroy and kill, but at the same time I did not want them to be so afraid that they would never drive. So, there was a positive fear I wanted them to have and a negative fear I did not want them to give in to.

In Deuteronomy 5:24-29 Deuteronomy 5:24-29 [24] And you said, Behold, the LORD our God has showed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the middle of the fire: we have seen this day that God does talk with man, and he lives. [25] Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, then we shall die. [26] For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the middle of the fire, as we have, and lived? [27] Go you near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak you to us all that the LORD our God shall speak to you; and we will hear it, and do it. [28] And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when you spoke to me; and the LORD said to me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken to you: they have well said all that they have spoken. [29] O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!
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a parallel account the Mt. Sinai encounter tells us God's reaction when the people begged that He not speak directly to them. It was "well said" and pleasing to Him. God wants you to have a healthy fear. But not a negative fear or terror such that you avoid any interaction with Him.

The people realized they were in danger coming as close as they were. The fullness of God’s glory and Holiness is threatening to sinful humans because it is also the presence of righteous judgment.  Humans must approach God carefully lest they die. Also, God's presence among human beings must be limited so as not to overwhelm them and consume them with the fire of righteous judgment. Both these principles are dramatically portrayed in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy.

The new covenant changed that…

Through Jesus it was possible for the most holy God to be present among human beings in a form humans could handle [flesh and blood]. Likewise, the holy spirit is the presence of God with human beings, which we experience as part of our mental process.

The danger of these two forms  of God's presence are easier for flesh and blood humans to reject or to quench:

  1. People often reject Jesus Christ precisely because he is so human
  2. People often reject the reality of the spirit because it is not overwhelming and all consuming and therefore easy to dismiss as a figment of imagination.
Fear & God's Presence in the Church

Acts 2:38-43 Acts 2:38-43 [38] Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. [39] For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. [40] And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. [41] Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls. [42] And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. [43] And fear came on every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
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 after experiencing the power of the holy spirit "everyone was filled with fear [phobos]. The kickoff experience of the new covenant church of God was characterized as having that positive fear of the presence of the living God.

Acts 5:1-6 Acts 5:1-6 [1] But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, [2] And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. [3] But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? [4] Whiles it remained, was it not your own? and after it was sold, was it not in your own power? why have you conceived this thing in your heart? you have not lied to men, but to God. [5] And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. [6] And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
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 Annanias and his wife Saphira were people who lost that sense of God's presence within the church. Their death led to great fear coming over the entire church. It was a demonstration that God is present within the assembly of the congregation... and He cares about how we present ourselves... He does not like deception, he does not like pride or arrogance, He does not like carelessness, He does not like confusion and disorder, He does not like disrespect towards himself or His appointed representatives.

Deuteronomy 4:10 Deuteronomy 4:10Specially the day that you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.
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 we are called to assemble before Him each Sabbath so we may learn to fear Him. Through instruction and actively showing respect in sober conduct and decorum...[verse 24]... compare Hebrews 12:18-29 Hebrews 12:18-29 [18] For you are not come to the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor to blackness, and darkness, and tempest, [19] And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: [20] (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: [21] And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) [22] But you are come to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, [23] To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, [24] And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things that that of Abel. [25] See that you refuse not him that speaks. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaks from heaven: [26] Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he has promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. [27] And this word, Yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. [28] Why we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: [29] For our God is a consuming fire.
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Fear of God does not come naturally to the flesh and blood human. Fear of God has to be learned Ephesians 5:17-21 Ephesians 5:17-21 [17] Why be you not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. [18] And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; [19] Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; [20] Giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; [21] Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
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Malachi 3:16-18 Malachi 3:16-18 [16] Then they that feared the LORD spoke often one to another: and the LORD listened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought on his name. [17] And they shall be mine, said the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spares his own son that serves him. [18] Then shall you return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves God and him that serves him not.
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Fear & Your Personal Relationship With God

Without a proper fear of God we will not have a good relationship with Him. Spiritually informed fear is coming to an understanding how much God hates sin and evil.. and is fearful of being classified as a person who does evil.

1 Peter 3:10-1 1 Peter 3:10-1
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2 God's eyes are upon you...His ears are open to your prayers... but saying amen does not stop God from listening. Everything is known and nothing is hidden from God. Multiple times in the prophets God shakes His head and says “I cannot believe these people think I don’t see what they are doing”.

If the holy spirit at work in you it will produce and reinforce a healthy fear of God. The larger purpose of that fear is to bring you into harmony with the laws of eternity so that you can successfully participate in eternal life. Godly fear is for your own good  Jeremiah 32:38-40 Jeremiah 32:38-40 [38] And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: [39] And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: [40] And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.
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Personal holiness, cleanness of mind and conscience is achieved through Godly fear 2 Corinthians 7:1 2 Corinthians 7:1Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
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Godly fear is a source of blessing today and for eternity Psalms 128:1-4 Psalms 128:1-4 [1] Blessed is every one that fears the LORD; that walks in his ways. [2] For you shall eat the labor of your hands: happy shall you be, and it shall be well with you. [3] Your wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of your house: your children like olive plants round about your table. [4] Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that fears the LORD.
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Conclusion: Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 [13] Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. [14] For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
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Comments

  • LarryKo
    Mr. Scott, I thank God that He inspires the ministry in delivering sermons that correct, teach and inspire in understanding His word, laws, statutes and plan for mankind. Proper fear of God is truly the beginning of wisdom.
  • Craig Scott
    Thanks for the positive encouragement Larry
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