By Femi Aribisala
Imagine this scenario. Someone under your authority is caught in an infraction. When the matter is brought to your attention, he denies complicity and invokes the name of God in his defense.
Reject this as emphatically as you can. Don’t allow even the slightest impression that you, and not God, are to be feared.
God asks: “Of whom have you been afraid, or feared, that you have lied and not remembered me?” (Isaiah 57:11). “Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass?” (Isaiah 51:12).
Because man is visible and God invisible, men often commit the blunder of fearing men more than God.
Fear of man
“The fear of man is a dang-erous trap.” (Proverbs 29:25). It leads men astray. Fear is a sin that leads to other sins.
Moses said to Israel: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live.” (Deuteron-omy 30:19). Nevertheless, all Israel chose death. That is the work of fear. Confronted with what you fear; you end up making ungodly choices.
Fear makes a university student sleep with her lecturer. Fear prompts a man to make a covenant with the devil. Fear drives us away from the pre-sence of the Lord. “The Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ So he said, ‘I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid be-cause I was naked; and I hid myself.’” (Genesis 3:9-10).
Fear of the Lord
The fear of the Lord, on the other hand, leads to right-eousness. Solomon says: “By the fear of the LORD one de-parts from evil.” (Proverbs 16:6). Blessings abound to the one who fears God: “The fear of the Lord prolongs life.” (Proverbs 10:27). The fear of the Lord is “a fountain of life.” (Proverbs 14:27). The fear of the Lord “leads to life.” (Proverbs 22:4).
No wonder God himself says: “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear me and always keep all my com-mandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29).
How can the Lord God Almighty express a wish that we would fear him? Is God’s wish not his command? Of course, it is! God works all things “according to the counsel of his will.” (Ephesians 1:11). Therefore, take the hint: go down on your knees and ask God to give you the heart to fear him and keep his commandments always.
Remember this: God’s wish is also God’s promise: “I will give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I will remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I will put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my com-mands.” (Ezekiel 36: 25-28).
Fear or faith
Fear and faith do not mix. If you have faith in God, you will not fear. If you fear, it reflects lack of faith in God. Just think about it. How can we have God and still be afraid? To fear anyone but God is an insult to God. Isaiah says: “Look, God is my deliverer! I will trust in him and not fear.” (Isaiah 12:2).
Jesus was asleep in the stern of a boat and there was a terri-ble storm. The disciples were so afraid, they woke him up and complained: “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to drown?” (Mark 4:38). But Jesus said to them: “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). In effect, their fear nullified their faith.
Jesus commanded the waves to be still. Immediately, the sea became as still as glass. Mark then says: “They feared exceed-ingly, and said one to another, ‘What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’” (Mark 4:41). Thus, when Jesus mastered their fear, they stopped fearing the waves and now feared Jesus exceed-ingly. They could not fear Jesus before because something else was their fear.
Too many fears
God is: “the Fear of Isaac.” (Genesis 31:42). Jesus says: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (Mark 12:17). What belongs to Caes-ar? Money; for the image and inscription of Caesar is on it. What exactly belongs to God? Fear; for man is created in the image and likeness of God. Isaiah says: “Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” (Isaiah 8:13).
Who do you fear? Do you fear your parents, your boss, your husband or witches and wiz-ards? Are you afraid of the dark, of dying young, of not getting married, of not getting a job or of falling sick? Christians have one, two, many fears. Like the idolatrous Israel of old, we fear the Lord, yet serve our own gods. (II Kings 17:33).
However, whatever we fear automatically becomes our God. Are you afraid of losing your job? Your job is your God. Are you afraid of losing your husband? Your husband is your God. Are you afraid of losing your life? Your life is your God. Are you afraid of poverty? Then wealth is your God.
But there can only be one God. If there were two Gods, one of them would not be God. If you fear something, it becomes an object of worship. It pre-occupies the mind. You dwell on it, you magnify it and extol it. What you fear inevitably be-comes an idol in the temple of your heart. It dethrones God in your life and occupies the throne of your heart. Certainly, it must be more powerful than God for you to fear it.
No other name
Peter says about the name of Jesus: “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). However, the fearful believe a lie. He believes sal-vation can come through other names.
Therefore, he foolishly thinks: “I will be saved if I tell a lie, or pay the bribe.” “I will avoid punish-ment; I will avoid arrest.” There-by, a man attempts to save his life through a comp-romise to integrity and not the righteous name of Jesus. But Jesus warns: “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25).
A Christian must master his fears and not allow his fears to master him. John says: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18). Jesus says: “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19).
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)