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July 2, 2009 / beidson

Curbing Capriciousness, Cavalierness, and Cool-Headedness: Holy Fear As A Spiritual Discipline

One of my greatest fears is that I don’t fear enough.  And I fear that when I do fear, I fear for the wrong reasons.  Fear is not evil, though evil is a reason to fear.  And depending on the object of your fear, it is a very good thing.  In fact, it’s very necessary.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding” (Psalm 111:10).  In order to get wisdom, we must fear.  And not for a moment only.  We must continually practice fear if we hope to get wisdom.  Of course, we must only fear the Lord, but we must fear.  Holy fear is a spiritual discipline that we overlook much of the time.

Fearing God is not an option.  We are commanded to fear him, because we are commanded to get wisdom, which only comes through holy fear.  But too often we are so cool-headed about our Christianity.  We get so relaxed in our pursuit of holiness.  We get this almost “Jimmy Buffet” kind of attitude about worship, to the point that nothing really provokes us to much thought or transformation.  Or else we get an inflated view of our own views, or even of our own freedoms in Christ.  We get smirky.  We become Christian chumps.  Or maybe because we do not fear the Lord properly we get really flaky and uncommitted, bouncing around from one church to another, or one ministry to another.  Practicing fear would keep all of this in check, and keep us from getting out of balance.

When you are tempted to be mellow about heavy biblical doctrine, understand that you lack understanding because you don’t practice fear.  When you are the church chump, realize that you are not as brave as you think you are–practice fear and get wisdom.  And when you can’t make up your mind about anything and won’t settle down into a place of service, pray that the Lord would cause you to fear him, so that you might get wisdom to know what to do.

How do you practice holy fear?  By meditating on and telling of the “works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them” (v. 2).  By dwelling on him who dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim. 6:16).  By contemplating the glories of God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ, the one who became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God.  Holy fear is a consequence of saving grace.  To not fear is to not understand grace.

If you ever hope to put away your sin, you must run from folly.  And if you ever hope to leave folly, you must get wisdom.  And if you ever hope to get wisdom, you must practice fear.  So throw off your spiritual flip-flops and bow down before God.  You will fear, but then again, that’s the whole point.


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