Vol.XVI No.V Pg.3
July 1979

"Fear God, And ... "

Dan S. Shipley

In his Word Pictures In The New Testament, A.T. Robertson comments, The basis of ethical conduct rests on the nature of God and our attitude toward him, otherwise the law of the jungle." (Re. Rom. 1:18)

As the first chapter of Romans clearly shows, man's view of God influences his manner of life. The terms "Godliness" and "worldliness" denote attitudes that are closely correlated. Ignore or deny the existence of God and emphasis will logically be given to the "here and now". We should not be surprised, then, to see a faithless society more and more oriented to materialism and pleasure-seeking. When God is left out of our thinking and living, whether deliberately or through neglect, the results are the same. The prosperous farmer of Lk. 12 may have had good intentions about serving God later, but his main concern thus far had been in laying up treasure for himself---just as any atheist or infidel. And that's why God calls him a fool.

Regrettably, many are re-living the mistake of this foolish farmer by allowing the cares, riches and pleasures of this life to crowd out God and His word. Such ungodliness (wrong attitude toward God) is like that mentioned in Rom. 3:18: "There is no fear of God before their eyes". As another version puts it, "They care nothing about God nor what He thinks of them". When used in reference to God, this term "fear" denotes reverence, regard, and respect. As Vine puts it, "it is a wholesome dread of displeasing Him". That it involves a disposition of heart can be seen in Deut. 5:29: "0 that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me and keep all my commandments..." The influence of such fear flavors every facet of spiritual life.

For instance, Prov. 1:7 shows how it relates to the attainment of knowledge: "The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge". That is, a recognition of the true nature of God and His purposes is the foundation of real knowledge and wisdom (Prov. 9: 10). Incidentally, here is why the man is blessed "that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly" (Ps. 1:1). The conclusions of atheistic (either practical or professed) scientists, psychologists, anthropologists, etc. must forever be suspect because they leave out God and His word.

Further, fear of God encourages repentance and discourages sin. "By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil" (Prov. 16:6). When men fear God more they sin less. That such fear serves as a deterrent to sin can be seen in Ex. 20:20: "...Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before you, that ye sin not..." It is not hard to see that sin flourishes where there is no fear of God. Recall that Abraham feared Abimelech because he thought, "the fear of God is not in this place" (Gem. 20:11). Perhaps we too should fear men who do not fear God. Man's view of God determines his view of sin: "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil" (Prov. 8:13). Surely we can appreciate the wise man's conclusion: "Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man" —