Fearing God puts our Worldly Fears to Rest

Fearing God puts our Worldly Fears to Rest

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I was recently reading Luke 12:4-7 and was struck by an aspect of our relationship with God that we maybe don’t talk about enough… fearing God. This doesn’t seem to be spoken of much in Christian circles, as more often than not, people tend to focus on the “God” of love always being there for us and providing for us. However, this passage takes a different approach. Luke bluntly says, “don’t fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” This sort of teaching about God can sound unfamiliar and foreign to many church congregations today.

However, we must remember that although God is merciful, gracious and loving… clearly highlighted by Jesus’ sacrifice for us, not to mention continual patience to the Israelites in the Old Testament… God is also to be feared and revered. He is righteous and holy. He hates sin and will punish it… His nature demands it. He will cast into hell those who choose to turn from Him and not to accept Jesus as their savior (John 14:6, Rom 3:24-26, 2 Peter 2:4-22). That last statement sits very uneasy with many people. ‘A loving God will not send people to hell??!!’ However, in thinking that we miss two points:

  1. In rejecting God on earth, God is simply judging us accordingly… He will send us to a place where we will not be able to enjoy Him at all. So in a way He is granting what we are already wanting. Rom 1:18-25 talks of God’s present-day judgment of ‘giving people up to the lusts of their heart to impurity’. In other words, God is saying if you want to live a life without me, then, no problem… but you must bear the consequences.
  2. The nature and character of God. He is the creator of all things. He is ruler over all creation. Who are we to say to God He ‘can’t’ do something (Rom 9:14-24)? We must remember our place and take responsibility for our choices/actions.

The fact is God didn’t have to save us, but He did by sending Jesus to die for our sins so that we could be redeemed or made right with God (Rom 3:23-24, Rom 5:9). By trusting in Jesus sacrifice our relationship with God is restored (Rom 5:16-17). This highlights God’s mercy, His desire to see us in union with Him, His desire to save us from His coming wrath and judgment again the world for their rebellion against Him. To fear God is to respect who is He is and trust in Him. To know that He has the power and right to judge us, but also to save us.

But how then do we look at verses like 1 John 4:18? This verse actually says that if we trust in Jesus we can then draw close to God in confidence, without fear, because we know that Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins and taken God’s wrath on His shoulders for us. We mustn’t fear God’s judgment because there is no condemnation for those in Jesus (Roman 8:1). So true! However, we are to fear God with respect to our awe of Him… for who He is, for what He stands and for what He can do. We mustn’t treat God as our personal genie, but as our King, our Lord, our Master. It’s this fear of God coupled with the mercy that He shows us in Christ, that leads us to repentance, that keeps our pride under control
(Romans 11:20-21). This was proven over and over again with the Israelites in the Old Testament… read the first 10 chapters of 1 Samuel just as an example.

This passage in Luke is a reminder to those who haven’t trusted in Jesus that God alone has the power to either save us or cast us into hell. It’s also an encouraging reminder that if we choose to fear God and to turn to Him above all other things, then we can be assured that He will watch over us (Romans 8:28). He will save and adopt us into His family forever (Romans 8:12-15).

By fearing God, repenting and trusting in Jesus, we have nothing to fear when death comes our way, but rather look forward with joyful expectancy to that which lies ahead!


  1. Martin Pakula (Author)

    Thanks Stu. Fearing God is a very important topic. Recently The Briefing has put out articles on it that are the best I’ve ever read – really eye opening. See: Fear of God

    • Stu (Author)

      Thanks Martin for that reference. I particularly like the following comment in it:
      “It is astounding how easily we human beings can lose perspective. We can so easily be presumptuous with God, acting or speaking as if God has to prove himself to us; as if God has to justify his actions, and owes us an explanation for the decisions he makes and for the way he tells us we should live.”

      How arrogant we can be to presume how God should be and what He should do! I am continually blown away that the creator and sustainer of the universe would want a relationship with me… His mercy is breathtaking!

  2. Andrew Courtis

    You have raised a crucial issue that is being ignored and redefined today. It is interesting that the very text from Luke 12 came up in our Bible study last night. We raised the importance of Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10 on this matter and that the lack of fear largely results from a wrong understanding of who God is.

  3. Stu (Author)

    The more false descriptions of God I hear out there strengthens my resolve to know God as He is described in the Bible. We may not understand how or why He does some things, but it’s only through learning about God in the whole Bible that will we have a balanced view of who He is… And as a result worship and adore Him accordingly.

  4. Hayley

    Thanks for this post Stu. I’ve been thinking about the fear of God recently, while reading a book called When People Are Big and God Is Small by Ed Welch. I would recommend it for it’s biblical exploration of the fear of God, and the way it highlights our propensity to fear man.

  5. Nikki

    Hi Stuart,
    I really enjoyed this post. Thank you.
    There is this thought amongst some that if you don’t do X…Y will happen. It often comes up when I speak with people who have known God, then ” walked off for a while.” This sense of feeling guilty seems to dominate . I think the real fear comes from not surrendering and choosing to live the life that GOD hopes for us; one that we would actually enjoy if we were not so chicken to face up to ourselves and our weaknesses. To let go and allow ourselves to be cared for by him. Just a thought.? I am a beginner in all of this as you know!

    • Stu (Author)

      Hi Nikki,
      Firstly sorry for the delay in responding to you.

      Thanks for your feedback… you make some really good points!!!! It’s not easy to surrender our lives to God. In fact our very nature goes against that every day! God knows what is best for us, even if that is at times painful. In the end though we are to trust in what Jesus has done for us on the cross and that God will work in all things for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28).

      Part of the big problem is as you put it, people are too chicken to face up to the fact that we have weaknesses, we are not perfect. That’s what I love about the gospel – it highlights our sinfulness before our holy God and the salvation He offers us in Jesus. Before we can accept Jesus as our saviour, we need to acknowledge we need to be saved! How often our pride gets in the way!!

      I have great respect for strong leaders, especially Christian leaders, who are not afraid to say “I was wrong” or confess to the struggles that they have. When we do this we see that it’s God’s work in us that enables us to overcome these struggles and live for him and not our own ability. Otherwise our egos will puff up!

      Thanks again for your thoughts 🙂

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