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Fear Rightly

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INTRODUCTION: Welcome/Prayer
Many things in life cause people fear...
And different kinds of fear as well...
The good fear
Fear of electricity
Fear of jumping out of an airplane
Causes us to be more alert, more attentive, more focused
The bad fear
A fear of anything that causes us
Worry
Anxiety
Stress (negative kind)
Despair
Irrational thinking (wasp story)
Inaction...

Should Believers Fear?

Yet, as believers, should we fear? What does Scripture say about it?
In regard to the things and powers of this world, don’t… do not fear.
There’s a little over a 100 commands of “do not fear” or similar language in Scripture
Now, for the record, there are not 365 commands of do not fear in Scripture. A few years ago, I saw one of those #TobyMac posts on social media making that claim, not sure if it’s still making its rounds or not, again, as cool as it sounds, it is not 365 times.
We do have many examples of God in the OT telling the Patriarchs, the prophets, and His people do not fear...
And in the NT Jesus speaks of worry and anxiety that we may experience b/c of fear...
Mt 6:25-34
Matthew 6:25–34 NET
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are? And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life?Why do you worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers of the field grow; they do not work or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these! And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, won’t he clothe you even more, you people of little faith? So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.
Paul likewise encourages us not to be anxious about anything in Phil 4:6
Philippians 4:6 NET
Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.

What Are Believers to Fear?

Isaiah 8:12-13
Isaiah 8:12–13 NET
“Do not say, ‘Conspiracy,’ every time these people say the word. Don’t be afraid of what scares them; don’t be terrified. You must recognize the authority of the Lord who commands armies. He is the one you must respect; he is the one you must fear.
Understand the context here… Syria and Israel (the northern kingdom) have plotted against Judah (chap. 7)
And while Assyria will come and rid Judah of the problem of Syria and Israel… Assyria itself will be another issue for Judah to deal with...
So, in the midst of this great instability, uncertainty, and constant threat of violent conquest of Judah… naturally, people panic and conspiracies, an attempt to explain or solve the situation become common...
Now, some conspiracies are nonsense… some have a little truth in them… and others are actually true.
In this case here in verse 12 we do not know what the exact conspiracy or conspiracies were...
It could pertain to a column of Judeans supporting the Syrian-Ephraimite coalition
It could be the coalition itself between Syria and Epraim (that is Israel)…
It could be Isaiah and his disciples for what they were preaching… Jeremiah was accused of conspiracy (Jeremiah 11)
Yet, the specifics are not relevant here… the principle is the same regardless, and the principle applies to us today...
We must not let our circumstances overcome us… we must not let our circumstances cause us fear and paranoia… it is not the things of this world we are to fear....
Whether it be plagues
Pending invasions
Or economic collapse
There is only one, in all of creation and all of history that we should fear… the Ninevites, the Babylonians, Nero, Hitler, Stalin, oppressive governments , the Black Plague even COVID-19 are not to be feared...
God is… God alone… He is the one whom we should dread.
And this “fear of God” isn’t a “respect of God”… it’s “fear”!
Think of Isaiah 66.2
Isaiah 66:2 ESV
All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
When was the last time you trembled at His Word? When was the last time you feared God enough to tremble at His Word?
And why?
We fear Him, not b/c He is like some drunk abusive dad… we fear Him b/c of who He is…
B/c of His Holiness, His Might, His Power, but also b/c of His mercy, goodness, and love
This is what breaks the spirit and heart of Psalm 51:17
Psalm 51:17 ESV
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
a spirit and heart that realizes they have hurt and offended a good, loving, and holy God… and a holy God who loves with perfect justice… and it is this perfect justice we especially ought to fear.
Which is inextricably linked with His Holiness
Romans 2.11, Col 3.25
Romans 2:11 NET
For there is no partiality with God.
Colossians 3:25 NET
For the one who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there are no exceptions.
1 Peter 1:17
1 Peter 1:17 ESV
And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,
Psalm 89:14
Psalm 89:14 NET
Equity and justice are the foundation of your throne. Loyal love and faithfulness characterize your rule.
His throne, the seat of the Almighty sits on perfect justice!
Ec 3.17
Ecclesiastes 3:17 NET
I thought to myself, “God will judge both the righteous and the wicked; for there is an appropriate time for every activity, and there is a time of judgment for every deed.
Rom 2.16
Romans 2:16 NET
on the day when God will judge the secrets of human hearts, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.
The motives and desires of our hearts will be judged!
Psalm 143.2
Psalm 143:2 NET
Do not sit in judgment on your servant, for no one alive is innocent before you.
No one can stand against His Justice… no one stands innocent before Him
Psalm 14.1-3
Psalm 14:1–3 NET
Fools say to themselves, “There is no God.” They sin and commit evil deeds; none of them does what is right. The Lord looks down from heaven at the human race, to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks God. Everyone rejects God; they are all morally corrupt. None of them does what is right, not even one!
Isaiah 33.14
Isaiah 33:14 NET
Sinners are afraid in Zion; panic grips the godless. They say, ‘Who among us can coexist with destructive fire? Who among us can coexist with unquenchable fire?’
The guilty are judged to an eternity of suffering in an unquenchable fire...
This is whom we should fear!
God, Creator of ALL Things.... The one sits as judge of all things...
James 4.12
James 4:12 NET
But there is only one who is lawgiver and judge—the one who is able to save and destroy. On the other hand, who are you to judge your neighbor?
And to the source, Jesus says the same in Matthew 10:28
Matthew 10:28 NET
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Where should fear lead us?

Isaiah 8:14-15
Isaiah 8:14–15 NET
He will become a sanctuary, but a stone that makes a person trip, and a rock that makes one stumble— to the two houses of Israel. He will become a trap and a snare to the residents of Jerusalem. Many will stumble over the stone and the rock, and will fall and be seriously injured, and will be ensnared and captured.”
Leads us to God… but more specific than Jesus! Jesus is the very rock mentioned here in Isaiah 8:14-15....
Look at Mt 21.44, Lk 2.34, and Rom 9.33
Matthew 21:44 NET
The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, and the one on whom it falls will be crushed.”
Luke 2:34 NET
Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “Listen carefully: This child is destined to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be rejected.
Romans 9:33 NET
just as it is written, “Look, I am laying in Zion a stone that will cause people to stumble and a rock that will make them fall, yet the one who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
The very one of whom we should fear, we should dread, is the very one we should trust and place our faith in… He is our deliverance. He is our judge, but He is also our advocate… the one who pleads for us!
Paul speaks of the mercy of God found in Jesus in Acts 17:30-31
Acts 17:30–31 NET
Therefore, although God has overlooked such times of ignorance, he now commands all people everywhere to repent,because he has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom he designated, having provided proof to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
God in His great mercy, is patient… and desires all people to repent…
B/c the man the Father has designated by the resurrection, will return one day to judge all.
And to do so with the holy and perfect justice of which no person can stand before God… that justice is coming to be executed and delivered by Jesus, the God-Man who was raised from the dead by the Father our God.
Jesus is the judge of which the Psalms speak about in Psalm 9.8, 96.13, 98.9 (Don’t read)
Psalm 9:8 NET
He judges the world fairly; he makes just legal decisions for the nations.
Psalm 96:13 NET
before the Lord, for he comes! For he comes to judge the earth! He judges the world fairly, and the nations in accordance with his justice.
Psalm 98:9 NET
before the Lord! For he comes to judge the earth! He judges the world fairly, and the nations in a just manner.
Jesus, the Son of God, sharing in the same attributes of holiness and perfect justice as His Father... He will judge all of us. He will judge the righteous and the wicked.
He and His angels will sort the good fish from the bad fish, the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats… the good to eternal life… the bad to eternal, everlasting, never-ending, very real, very physical damnation of eternal suffering under the just wrath and perfect love of God.
Why should we let anything on this world shape our behavior when Hell, the wrath of God, is on the other side?
Why should we be let anything on this side of eternity shape our behavior as if this is the best it gets when eternal paradise awaits us?
If Jesus is the judge… having died on the cross and been resurrected… where do we go to meet Jesus and have Him plead for us?
Cavalry… the Cross...
Yes, fear of God leads to many things...
Wisdom
Discernment
Right living
Proper worship, etc
But all of those things point to Christ… to the Cross
As fear and reverence for God lead us to wisdom and understanding we see our sin and depravity for it is in the knowledge of His holiness
So, we seek mercy and forgiveness and by studying His Word out of fear and reverence we are lead to the Cross…
The only way that has been ordained in all of Creation and History to be the way of reconciliation…
John 14.6 the very words of Jesus Himself
John 14:6 NET
Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
A truth expounded by Paul beautifully in Eph 1.3-14
Ephesians 1:3–14 NET
Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ. For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love.He did this by predestining us to adoption as his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will—to the praise of the glory of his grace that he has freely bestowed on us in his dearly loved Son.In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us in all wisdom and insight. He did this when he revealed to us the secret of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ,toward the administration of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ—the things in heaven and the things on earth.In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession, since we were predestined according to the one purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, would be to the praise of his glory. And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)—when you believed in Christ—you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit,who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.
Only through this faith in Christ can we live the abundant life that Jesus speaks of in John 10:10
John 10:10 NET
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
But notice the first part… Jesus comes to give it… but there is a thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy…
We must not let the thief steal away, to kill, or destroy, the peace, the joy, that Jesus has come to give us so that we may live life abundantly in the Spirit.
Charles Spurgeon has a timely quote for us in this regard...
“Christians should have such abundant life that their circumstances should not be able to overcome them, such abundant life that in poverty they are rich, in sickness they are in spiritual health, in contempt they are full of triumph, and in death full of glory.”
Why, again? Here the words of Jesus in John 5:24
John 5:24 NET
“I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life.
Those who believe the Gospel… have eternal life… they have crossed over from death to life...
Not will have… these words are in the Greek are present tense… not future tense… at this very moment for those who call upon Christ, those who believe the Gospel, the whole of it.... they have eternal life.
There is nothing in this world that can add to that… so there is nothing more to gain, nothing more to strive for....
For what is perishable is of no value to us… only that is eternal.
So, why would we allow anything to cause us fear?
Why should COVID-19 cause us to stop living as God calls us to live?
It’s not that we live recklessly or carelessly...
Stewards of our bodies that bear God’s image… live responsibly
Part of that stewardship is to care for our neighbors to help them steward their health as well...
And since we have eternal life, forgoing our liberties for the sake of our neighbor should be an easy thing for us to do.
Though at the same time… ensuring that we are obedient to God in all things… especially in how we are commanded to worship Him… that should be an easy decision as well… even at the risk of death.
B/c we have eternal life within us…
Even in the darkest hour you and I can dance… b/c of the light that shines within...
We will let this light of ours shine… in the midst of pandemic, in the midst of persecution, in the midst of poverty, or in the midst of wealth…
Our circumstances will not prohibit us from living as we ought to as commanded by God.
This is Phil 4:13...
Philippians 4:13 NET
I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.
That whether we, like Paul, experience times of need or abundance, curses or blessing, we will be content… we have enough… why? B/c we have eternal life.
To live is Christ, to die is gain.
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