Fearing The Lord = Obedience = Security In The Fortress
September 26, 2015
The Lord is a fortress. In fact, He is the Supreme Fortress, the Almighty Fortress. But is He this for everyone? He is not. For He guarantees this only for those who call out to Him and wait in patient trust for Him to act –to act in His timing and His way. And His ways are certainly not the same as man’s methods.
There is another thing which people need to have in order for God to be their fortress. It is “the fear of the Lord.”
Pr. 14:26 says, “He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress.” Yes, the Lord Himself is the Secure Fortress, but let’s look at the rest of the verse: “…and for his children it will be a refuge.” Children, being they are legitimately under the care of the parent who fears the Lord, will be included under God’s protection. But here I am emphasizing that it is “the fear of the Lord” itself that gives a person The Secure Fortress into which they may take refuge.
What, then, does this mean for those who say they love God but who lack “the fear of the Lord”? It means that they do not have any guarantee of being secure, not only from the evil realm, but also from God’s wrath against all that remains a part of the evil realm. This should be cause for all to desire to know what the “fear of the Lord” entails.
So what does it mean to possess “the fear of the Lord”? It means to respect Him, to be in awe of Him, and to honor Him passionately. It also means to be afraid of Him. True, if we are walking in continual obedience to the Lord, then His love surrounds us with protection and we should not fear but instead have confidence concerning the Day of Judgement. (1 John 2:5,6 & 4:17,18) This does not mean, though, that there is no realm of fear that exists right there outside of the realm of God’s love. Obedient servants walk in God’s love where fear has been excluded, but disobedient ones are spurning this sphere of blessing, and so they do have reason to fear!
Let’s view it like this: If we have an illness, but one that is completely curable through an antibiotic, then do we have reason to fear if we are taking the prescription faithfully? No. But what if we reject taking it, or take it haphazardly? Should we fear that we will likely not recover? We should fear! Only the foolish would not.
Let’s use this example: If we are the employer and we have a great employee who works hard, fulfills his obligations, and strives to maintain a considerate, helpful, respectful relationship with us and his coworkers, would that employee have reason for any fear? He shouldn’t and wouldn’t. But would he have reason to fear if he was slack and rude to us and others? He definitely would have reason to fear, and he would, if he did not quit his nonsense, be fired from the company.
We could use other examples, but the obvious is clear: Obedience to a leader and a good attitude toward him and others will be cause for confidence, not fear. But disobedience to a leader and a bad attitude toward him and others should and will be cause for fear, as well as cause for punishment.
Let’s go back to Pr. 14:26: “He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.” We are being taught that when we fear the Lord, the fear of Him becomes for us (and for those children under our care) the “ticket” into the Secure Fortress and Refuge. If we are in a secure fortress, we have no reason to fear. Therefore, if we are abiding in Christ, we have no reason to fear. But should we walk out of that safe place –that place we remain in through the obedience that comes from fearing the Lord– then we are no longer safe, and we do have reason to fear. The reason to fear is that we ourselves have jeopardize our well-being, doing so by a lack of fearing the Lord.
What, exactly, does it mean to lack the fear of the Lord? It means we are committing sin. It means we are rejecting wisdom. It means we are rejecting righteousness. It means we are rejecting the commands and guidance of the Lord. It means we are engaging in treason against God, the Supreme Ruler. Can such a person abide in Christ’s love? He cannot, for it is only through obedience that a person remains in that safe position. (John 15:10 // 2 Peter 3:17)
The safe position, the secure refuge, is the Lord. But He is walking. Therefore, we must follow. If we do not follow (closely, obediently, and consistently), then we are not safe in His hand (His love) or safe eternally. (John 10:27,28 & 15:6,10) Turning back, lagging back, or standing still will keep us from remaining in the Secure Fortress, and we will instead be living, whether we realize it or not, in the abode of fear, which is under the wrath, not love, of God. (Rom. 14:23 // Heb. 10:38,39 // 1 John 4:18 // Rev. 21:8) As Jesus warns, “Remember Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:32)
Lot’s wife, because she took God’s escape with reluctance, God’s judgement, which rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah, engulfed her as well. (Gen. 19:12-29) She started the escape, but she looked back to her sinful, pleasurable home with longing. She believed the escape was necessary, but she did not fear God enough to run. She lagged, she hesitated, and her heart was not fully devoted to escaping the wicked city. Her half-hearted obedience, revealing her lack of “the fear the Lord”, landed her under the judgement of raining sulfur. As Jesus continues after reminding everyone of her, “Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33)
If a person fears the Lord, he will stay away from sin, which will thereby allow him to walk in full confidence with the Lord. As Ex. 20:20 says, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” The man who fears God runs from sin and its temptations. He will never be ruled by sin but will be submitting faithfully to Christ’s rule, and will thus be walking in freedom from fear. By being willingly obedient, such a man continues to be one in spirit with Him who is Perfect Love and Eternal Security Himself. (John 15:9,10 // 1 Cor. 6:17 // 1 John 3:24 & 4:16-18 & 5:20)
Truly, the person who fears the Lord possesses, with assurance, the Secure Fortress and Refuge, and he does so because he is consistently obeying the Lord.