Fear and Obedience

Deuteronomy 6:1-2 – 1 “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.

In Deuteronomy 5, when God spoke to the people from the mountain, they feared God. The people were simply terrified that the mighty and holy God would destroy them. His holiness is something they could not match. His power is something they could not resist. And they were afraid that they would rightly be destroyed.

Here in Deuteronomy 6, we see another reference to fearing God. This time, the concept is not terror. This time the concept is broader. This time we see how the people are to properly fear God. They were right to tremble at God’s holiness and might. But here we see more.

Look up at Deuteronomy 6:2 and ask, “How do I fear the Lord?” The answer given in that verse is that we fear God by doing his commands. Obedience to God is an expression of proper fear of the Lord.

Fear of God is not popular in many a Christian circle. We do not know what to do with a command to fear God when we also know that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). We have Jesus. Jesus died to save us from the judgment we deserve. And if we know God, we no longer fear that the Lord will destroy us with his holy wrath. But we are still commanded to rightly fear the Lord.

Once we trust that God’s wrath against us is satisfied in Christ, we still fear the Lord in a sense of awe and respect. We should tremble at the notion that we would dishonor such a glorious God, the one who saved our very souls. We should respect the Lord, fearing him in the way that children were taught to honor their parents (sometimes fear language was used for that respect years ago). We should treat God with proper reverence the way one ought to respond to a king or a venerated leader.

But how do we fear God? Is it all emotion? No, not at all. We fear God, according to this passage, by actively obeying his commands. One who will not obey the Lord does not fear the Lord. One who obeys the Lord out of a sense of awe and respect, out of a desire to please him, out of a desire not to dishonor him, that person fears God.

Do you fear God? The Bible says you should. Ask it another way: Do you respect God? Do you obey his commands? Do you reverence him? Do you tremble at being in a relationship with one so mighty and so holy?

If your fear of the Lord is not strong, start here in Deuteronomy 6. Obey the commands of God. Understand that the only command you can obey, if you are not yet a Christian, is the command to turn from sin and cry out to Jesus in faith for salvation. Then, do his word out of true and genuine respect for his leadership. Open your Bible. Learn who God is. Learn what God tells us to do. Learn what God forbids. Fear God in obedience to his holy word.