Recently, I discussed with a father the subject of parenting teenagers. His interesting remark got me thinking – “It’s good that our children fear us.”
As a father of three daughters, I’ve always made it my aim to progress from a fear to friend-based parenting style. So I asked my daughter, “Do you fear me?” To which she replied without hesitation, “No, I don’t.” What she meant was, “I’m not scared of you.” As I sighed with relief, I thought of my own relationship with God the Father.
While a healthy dose of ‘fear’ towards us may help keep our children away from folly, how does this apply to us as God’s children?
John Bevere‘s just-released book ‘Awe of God’ explained that a holy and healthy fear of God is essential in our walk with Him in the last days, and clearly distinguished the spirit of fear from fear of the Lord.
He wrote, “The fear of God is not being afraid of Him. It’s being afraid of being away from Him.”
The Bible has much to say about fear. The Greek translation, ‘phobos’ refers to fear as a dread or terror. That’s where we get the English word ‘phobia’.
Scripture makes it clear that God doesn’t want us to experience this type of fear. 1 John 4:18 says, ‘There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.’
Then there’s ‘deilia’ found in 2 Timothy 1:7 which states ‘For God has not given us a spirit of timidity (deilia), but of power and love and discipline.’, This is timidity – a cowardly type of fear.
Our Heavenly Father doesn’t want us to be timid or insecure. Like any good parent, He wants us to be secure in our relationship with Him. He desires to be close and intimate with us.
What type of fear, then, are we to have towards the Lord? The Greek word, ‘eulabeia’, connotes a reverence or piety; an awe and an overwhelming feeling of wonder, admiration, or respect.
Jesus possessed this type of fear towards His Father. We’re told in Hebrews 5:7 – ’In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety (eulabeia).’ He was ‘baptised in the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord’ (Isaiah 11:1-3).
There are seven ways the Holy Spirit manifests Himself, and Jesus walked in the fullness of them all. But His delight was in holy fear. He modelled to us, as a perfect Son loving His Father, a healthy and holy fear.
We need to comprehend what the fear of the Lord is to understand what it’s not. One definition of the fear of the Lord is in Proverbs 8:13, ‘The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil’; that means having God’s attitude towards sin at all times. The more we study the holiness of God from His Word, the more we understand the extent of His hatred towards sin.
The Early Church certainly understood what it meant to have the fear of God. The account of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11 shows us point in view the consequences of NOT having God’s fear in our hearts.
I believe we’re on the verge of a greatest-ever move of God. He’s calling us to an unprecedented revival and a new understanding of Who He really is. May we allow the Spirit of God to arrest the pride and presumption in our hearts, and teach us what it means to have a holy fear of God in His Church today!