Institute in Basic Life Principles

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What is the fear of the Lord?

The Fear of the Lord
awareness of God’s presence and coming judgment

If we knew that all of our secret thoughts, words, and actions would be displayed publicly so that everyone could watch them and evaluate them, it would make a profound difference in the way we live! We have an instinctive concern about what others think of us and how they will judge the things we do.

If we have this much concern over what other men and women think of us and our actions, how much more should we be concerned about God’s evaluation of our thoughts, words, actions, attitudes, and motives?

The Assurance That God Is Watching

Each of us will give an account of our lives to God, and He is fully aware of everything we think, desire, speak, and do. The fear of the Lord is an awareness of these truths. It can be defined as a continual awareness that you are in the presence of a holy, just, and almighty God, and that every motive, thought, word, and action is open before Him and will be judged by Him.

The following Scriptures discuss God’s knowledge of our lives and assure us of the coming judgment:

  • “The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men (Psalm 11:4).
  • “He that planteth the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?” (Psalm 94:9).
  • “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. . . . For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. . . . Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee” (Psalm 139:2, 4, and 12).
  • “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings” (Proverbs 5:21).
  • The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).
  • “For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes” (Jeremiah 16:17).
  • “For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come abroad” (Luke 8:17).
  • “Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops” (Luke 12:3).
  • “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10).

The fear of the Lord is one of the most valuable treasures that we can gain, because God is our Creator, and if we are to find true success, we have to live according to His design. He knows what is best for our lives. As we gain wisdom about His ways and choose to value what He values, we will mature as His children and our lives will be blessed.

The Bible mentions many benefits of fearing the Lord, including the promise of Proverbs 22:4: “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor, and life.”

This material is adapted from IBLP’s booklet titled The Overlooked Requirements for Riches, Honor, and Life.

For Further Study


Wendy Selvig

When Satan took Jesus into the wilderness to tempt him, Jesus quoted an Old Testament scripture. He said, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:10) Jesus was quoting from Deuteronomy 6:13 where it says, “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.” Jesus translated the word “fear” as worship.

The word for fear in the Old Testament translates as awe, respect, and love that produces worship.
God doesn't want you to be afraid of Him, He wants you to have an awe and respect of him that ends in worship. We are to worship Him.
Fear makes an honest relationship impossible. Think about it. You can't be honest with someone when you fear what they will do or how they will respond. That is not a real relationship.
The ultimate goal of the gospel is to actually have a loving and deep relationship with God, but until fear is properly understood, that relationship is out of reach. The religious leaders of Jesus' day misrepresented God for sure. They portrayed Him as hard and judgmental.
Jesus came to properly represent God to the world. He said, “If you've seen me, you've seen the Father.” Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus was the exact representation of God. He was approachable and open. He was relationship oriented and loving. He was everything opposite to what the Jewish leaders of the day presented God to be. And sometimes how the Christian leaders of the church today present God to be. Ouch, did I say that out loud?
Jesus came preaching the GOOD NEWS, that God was a good God, not an angry God. The word “salvation” in Romans 1:16 comes from the Greek word “sozo” which means healing, deliverance, protection, safety, and many other good things.
Luke 4:19 says “to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” What did he mean by that? The acceptable year of the Lord is in the Jewish calendar, the year of Jubilee. This year happens every 50 years and by custom all debts were canceled during this year. This scripture is saying that all debts are canceled. The penalty of debt is canceled. This is good news indeed! The debt of the law and the penalty of sin is canceled! This good news actually causes people to fall in love with God. It causes people to trust the God they dreaded. They come out of the stronghold of sin by entering into intimacy with God.
To fear Him, is to know, love and worship Him. A relationship with God is the beginning of all wisdom. It is the power of God unto salvation, healing, deliverance and ever other promise that God made.

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