Read: Proverbs 9:10 |
Does the fear of getting a speeding ticket motivate you drive to under the speed-limit?
Does knowing that God is watching you even right now, motivate you at all?
Actually, if what God offers is so awesome, then why do we need to be prodded with exhortation, encouragement, and correction? Why aren’t we always “motivated” to do more for Christ?
This study focuses on common motivations that may lead believers to follow God more consistently. As a believer, we may go to Church each Sunday; we may even pray and read our Bible during the week. In fact, many of us may even know God’s plan for our lives. However, we may not be “doing” everything the Lord has told us to do.
This week, we will examine how the fear of the Lord can be a motivation to serve Him more consistently. Personally, I believe it is impossible for a Believer to consistently walk in obedience and holiness, unless we have the fear of God in our hearts!
Fear of the Lord for the Unbeliever versus the Believer
Fear – Hebrew / Greek Definition
yir’ah / pachad / yare’– fear, dread, afraid, terror
Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; Psalm 2:11; 19:9; 34:11, Psalm 33:8; 86:11; Jeremiah 5:22; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Job 23:15
kabad – Honored
Exodus 20:12 – “Honor your father and your mother…”
Phobos– panic, fright, awe and reverence
tou kyriou– can be objective (“the fear that we feel toward the Lord”) or subjective (“the fear that the Lord inspires”)
For the unbeliever, the fear of God can be the fear of going to Hell for eternity (Luke 12:5; Hebrews 10:31). Unbelievers who are hardened in their sins or do not believe in God, may not have a fear of God. This sub-group has accepted Satan’s deceptions as their truth. (Psalm 36:1, Romans 3:18)
For the believer, fear of God means something different, because we possess the security of our salvation. Thus, our fear morphs into a reverence and awe of God (Hebrews 12:28-29). At the same time, we fear God knowing His chastisement when we continue in disobedience. Subsequently, our fear is a motivator to consistently surrender to God’s will.
Two Types of Fear – Servile and Fillal
Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation in the 1500’s, surmised that there are two types of biblical fear: a servile fear and a filial fear. [Interpreting Martin Luther: An Introduction to His Life and Thought]
Servile fear is a gnawing anxiety based upon the imminent threat that another person poses. Servile refers to a posture of servitude toward the person that might harm them.
Filial is based on the Latin term from which we get the idea of family. Filial fear is a kind of fear that a child may have for his/her parents. The child may look up to the parents and hold tremendous respect and love. Subsequently, their fear is that they might disappoint their parents. The fear of punishment is secondary.
Nehemiah, the cup bearer to the King, had a servile fear of the King he served. In spite of this, he risked his life by being sad in front of the King, in order to ask the King a question that could answer the prayer of his heart. His filial fear of God exceeded his servile fear of the King. In other words, he feared the eternal King more than the earthly King; His soul mattered more than his flesh and blood.
The fear of the Lord God is the basis for our holiness.
It is the beginning of our wisdom and walk with God. (Proverbs 1:7a) A healthy fear of God includes a recognition of the consequences of our disobedience. Thus, our fear of God should also be an obstacle to willful sin. (Hebrews 10:26-31)
While fear of the Lord is not the only reason we are motivated to serve Him and walk with Him, it is a necessary motivator for every believer.
Fearing God means having such a reverence for Him that it impacts and energizes the way we live our lives. The fear of God is respecting Him, obeying Him, submitting to His discipline, and worshiping Him in awe.
Genesis 12:12 – Abraham lied about his wife on two separate occasions because he feared man and the consequences of telling the truth more then he feared God
Genesis 20:2 – Noah was motivated by godly fear to build the ark and save his household.
Genesis 22 – Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his only son Isaac out of reverent fear and obedience to God
Exodus 1:17 – Pharaoh gave the order to kill the Hebrew boys at birth; the midwives disobeyed the King and because they feared God more
Exodus 9:29-31 – Pharaoh brought disaster on his nation because he did not fear God.
Exodus 18:21; Exodus 20:20 – Moses chose leaders to help him on the basis that they feared God and wouldn’t take bribes
Matthew 10:28 – Jesus states this stronger than anyone when he says, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell”
Acts 5 – Ananias and Sapphira did not sufficiently fear God and lied to the Church; God took them!
2 Corinthians 7:1 – Paul says to work toward complete holiness out of reverence for God
Series Outline with links:
1. Reward – Serve Him for the reward of His fellowship and presence in your life
2. Fear – Serve Him with a reverent fear and respect for His power, presence and protection
3. Duty – Serve Him dutifully; we are called to serve Him
4. Love – Serve with all your heart, soul and mind
5. Joy – Serve Him joyfully; the joy of the Lord is our strength
1. Temptation and Sin – Cannot serve Him because I’m not “holy” enough
2. Burn-out Part 1 – Cannot serve Him because I’ve lost motivation and energy
3. Burn-out Part 2 – Cannot serve Him because I need to refuel and reload
4. Rationalization – Future – Cannot serve Him because I don’t have the time, talent, treasure necessary
5. Procrastination – Future – Cannot serve Him because I’m not able to find the right opportunity and follow through
1. Discover –
A. Do you fear God? If so, in what ways? Servile? Filial? Other?
B. Does your fear for God motivate you at all to do more for Christ?
2. Develop –
A. Assuming a fear of the Lord plays a role in your life, how does it impact your spiritual weaknesses? Does it make you sin less and confess sooner?
B. When at the cross-roads of fear and choosing between obeying the earthly over the eternal, have you grown to accept the eternal more often in the past year? If not, why not?
3. Demonstrate –
A. Looking back over the last year, share some victories with your prayer partner where you feared God over man and God gave you victory.