3. “This is the whole duty of man»

Chapter 3                                                                                Continued from Chapter 2

“Words taught by the Spirit” (1Cor.2:13)

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“He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?”(Mic.6:8)

What the LORD requires of you…

If we compare Deut.10:12, which says: “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,” with the one of Ecclesiastes 12:13 which says: “Let us hear the end of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole of man”, we arrive at the interesting conclusion that what is good for man is but THE FEAR OF GOD in him.

The fear of God is described as:

  1. “Hatred of evil”: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the fraudulent mouth, do I hate” (Pr.8:13);
  2. “Wisdom”: “… Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28; Pro.1:7). In addition, he who has the fear of God, has a good understanding and a sound reasoning, given that: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments…” (Ps.111:10).

But why is the fear of God our “good”?

It is our good because it brings us to salutary wisdom and salvation: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge» (Pr.1:7). John Bunyan said: “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and they that lack the beginning have neither middle nor end”. Let us also mention some other reasons:

  1. The fear of God renders us prudent and protects us from traps of men and from the snares of the Devil. The Bible says: “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death” (Pr.14:27). Acts which are not based on God’s fear are deprived of understanding and he who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead (Pr.21:16);
  2. The fear of God pushes man to avoid iniquity and hate sin. The Bible says: “By mercy and truth, iniquity is purged, and by the fear of the LORD men turn away from evil(Pr.16:6). Have you ever seen someone who does not avert of his sins, but repeats them and does not confess them? Do not waste your time looking for the reason and the explanation: I can tell you on the authority of the Word of God… the fear of God is not yet in his heart: “The transgression of the wicked says within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes” (Ps.36:1);
  3. The fear of God is the source of numerous precious blessings. Yes, of so many blessings, which could not be compared with blessings of other promises, which are given as an answer or as a reward to other virtues. Here are some that God holds in reserve for those who fear Him:
  • The secret (or the friendship) of the LORD is with them that fear Him… (Ps.25:14);
  • The Lord teaches the way man must choose… (Ps.25:12);
  • He takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in his steadfast love (Ps.147:11);
  • He gives wisdom and knowledge to those who fear Him (Pr.1:7);
  • His mercy is on those who fear him… (Luke 1:50);
  • He protects and covers those who fear the Lord, even if they walk in darkness and have no light… (Isa.50:10);
  • He listens to their discussions and writes them in a book of remembrance (Mal.3:16). God keeps minutes of their discussions! What an honor, but also what a responsibility!!!

Consequently, the wise and intelligent man is the one who, because of the fear of the Lord in his heart, hates evil and departs from all kinds of evil. The immediately above mentioned verses and certain other scriptures (Pr.15:16 and Isa.33:6), as well as the general spirit of the Bible prove that the greatest treasure of the believer is the fear of God, which generates wisdom and knowledge, which, in their turn, lead to salvation, drive a man to purification (Ps.19:9) and make him agreeable to God who fills him with His Holy Spirit (Ac.5:32). It is better to have less material goods, but more fear of God, peace and stability. May the Lord, make stronger this principle in us! The Word of God goes further: It says that “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” (Pr.14:27). How many times, prudence, which is the fruit of godly fear, has protected us from the snares of Satan and of physical death? Yes, but we must humbly confess that it is not our prudence that has always protected us, but it is God’s protecting hand of love for us foolish people who do very often foolish actions… Let us stop and reflect on our past for a while… and of God’s interventions…

Relation between godly fear and sin

Godly fear is not only necessary for the service of God, but it is also necessary to avoid sin. It is written: “… Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that you sin not.” (Ex.20:20). Yes, “… that you sin not”! Why not sin? So that the infinite love of God may bless them and do them good! Those who do not have His fear before their eyes have the tendency to sin… and it is the fear of God that makes us avoid sin! (See also Ps.36:1 and Pr.16:6). Let His fear hinder us from sinning and grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit! (Eph.4:30 and Thes.5:19). The father, in the parable of the prodigal son, was always waiting for him impatiently and had no bitterness in his heart against his prodigal son, but it was necessary that his prodigal son to come to himself and say to his father: “I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight, and am no more worthy to be called your son” (Luc 15 :17, 21). Then, the tender relation between the father and the son was re-established!

Godly fear is also necessary to lead a righteous government: “… He that rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2Sam.23:3). I understand, therefore, that he who rules in the fear of God rules necessarily with justice, because of his godly fear. (2Sam.23:3). May the Lord help us to rule in our family and behave in His Church with justice and in the fear of God! And not only that, but it is also indispensable for the impartial administration of justice (Né.5: 9; 2Chr.19:7). May He give us abundantly His fear in our heart so that we may take heed on our acts and act faithfully and with a perfect heart (2Chr.19:6-9). With such an “arsenal” of excellent commandments and promises, filling our hearts and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to “enjoy” the cleansing of ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2Cor.7:1). We must, however, admit that there are people who do what is right, but out of love and respect either towards God or towards their parents. Very typical is the case of the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab who wanted to respect the desire/prohibition that their deceased father had commanded them never to drink wine (Jer.35:1-16).

Relation between godly fear, service and worship

The Bible says: “Then they that feared the LORD spoke often one to another: and the LORD listened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought on his name” (Mal.3:16). It also says that where two or three gather together in the Name of the Lord Jesus in godly fear and willing to honor Him, He is there in their midst (Mt.18: 20); HE is there to listen to them and to bless them! What an honor to be visited by Him and be blessed by Him! These two scriptures as well as many others tell us that the church, the church life of Christians is not a monologue but a rotating dialogue… (1Cor.14:29-32). Should we forget what the Bible says: “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2Cor 3:17)?

The Bible commands: “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Ps.2:11-12). We understand from this verse that the joy of the saints and their service for Jesus Christ are and should be accompanied by a feeling of fear and of trembling, as it was the case of the women who visited the sepulcher of Jesus and who, being seized by fear and joy (Lu.24:5) departed quickly from the sepulcher and, with fear and great joy ran to serve Him by bringing the news to the disciples (Mt.28:8). I do believe that, when their words appeared to the disciples as idle tales, and they did not believe them, they must have been seized again by fear, trembling and sorrow for the account of the disciples. May our Heavenly Father inspire us with the spirit of joy, of fear and of trembling in the eternal presence of the Resurrected One!

These Bible verses and the fact that we are before the Lord and in His audience bring to my mind the sad feeling I have when I see Christians – I do say those believing in Christ and His work, men, women, official and unofficial, and youth, and not just sympathizers or unbelievers – who during the Church services or worship hours appear before the Lord either with indecent apparel or chewing-gum or whistling and behaving as if in a football match. I was wondering: Would that be their way if they were invited by the Prime Minister or the President or the King of their Country? How would they present themselves and how should they behave? How much more before the King of kings and the Lord of lords? The Lord our God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints and to be in reverence of all them that are about Him (Ps.89:7). It is true that the Lord, in the eyes of the saints, God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be revered by all those that are about him (Ps.89:7), but in the eyes of the great mass of the so-called Christians, He is always the “little Jesus” just as during the Christmas season.

And what can be said about seeing the youth of the church, dancing in a programmed and organized way, dances (ballets) and pretending that they are “spiritual dances”. They compare them with the spontaneous and full of joy and reverent dance of King David when he was bringing the ark of God in the middle of the street! And what should we say about ballets danced by ballerinas or future dancers and pretending that their Christian artistic activity is in line with Scripture and the approval of the Holy Spirit!!!

David’s dance was purely spontaneous and spiritual, springing out of the abundance of the joy of his heart for the ark of the Lord. He was a man totally devoted to God’s will and glory. He was a simple man and he was not a trained “dancer”. When God visited me with a great blessing I jumped and danced for hours in my room! Such arguments water down the Word of God and make the church deviate when such activities take place in the context of worship of the church! The church is THE HOUSE OF PRAYER, of worship and of fellowship (Isa.56:7). The Word of God is against strange, unauthorized or profane “fire” before the Lord, which He has not commanded us (Lev.10: 1)… Clapping of hands by the congregation does not mean God’s approval… The fact that many like dances IN the Church does not mean that they are spiritually minded or that the dancers IN the Church are Biblically supported. If people want to see ballets, etc. let them go to other places, but not IN the Church of God and especially on the Sunday morning services! 

Does the Bible say that our Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples danced? Have they ever seen the Apostles or the first Christians, who have turned the world upside down, with their preaching on repentance, faith and the resurrection of Christ from the dead (Acts, Chapters 2-3, 1Corinthians, Chapters 1-2, 2Corinthians, Chapters 1-2 etc., etc.) organizing such spectacles? Have they ever found anything about dancing IN the Old Testament Temple, IN the synagogues and IN the early Christian Churches? Such things take place in modern Churches where the worldly spirit has invaded them… Such Churches are doomed sooner or later to spiritual blindness. Have we ever heard that such artistic dances have contributed to spiritual revivals? True spiritual revivals come only through repentance and brokenness (2Chr.7:14).

The only thing that is sure and certain is that such activities become a source of offense and provide “food” for damaging, if not destructive criticism… The Bible says: “Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died (Rom.14:15). The Bible also says: “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak (Rom.14:20-21). Also, “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (1Cor.8:13). Furthermore, it is written: “… woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Mt.18: 6-7; Lu.17:1-2). We have not the “liberty” to offend people who come from different backgrounds or are not mature in the faith and upset their weak conscience, which might be either defiled or emboldened to do inappropriate things! (1Cor.8.13; Mt.18: 6-7; Lu.17: 1-2; Rom.14: 13; 14:20-21 etc.).

The best way of pleasing God and of worshipping our Lord is to obey His voice in fear and trembling; the best way to please the Lord is to worship Him in spirit and in truth; the best way is to offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name and never to forget to do good and to communicate.

We conclude, therefore, that “godly fear” is necessary for worshiping God. One of God’s children said: “But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple” (Ps.5:7). There is but one way to serve Him acceptably: Show Him our gratitude for the kingdom that we have inherited, for the infinite grace that we have received as well as through a holy life (Ps.116:12-14). It is not sufficient to organize in the church a beautiful service, very presentable and agreeable to assist; it is reverence and holy fear that count… Our real service to our Heavenly Father is to give thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by submitting ourselves one to another in the fear of God (Eph.5:20-21).

Yes, Lord, we are aware that it is thanks to the multitude of your mercy that we enter into the edifice of your grace (your salvation), into your house (your church) and we will enter into your kingdom. Help us, Lord, therefore, to live each and every moment of our life, seized by a profound feeling of godly fear.

Promises to those who fear God

As I have already mentioned, the genuine fear of God constitutes the source of the most numerous and important promises of God in favor of those who accept Him and obey the spiritual laws with which God endowed man when he created him and which were “exposed and He amplified” by Jesus Christ! It is impossible in the context of this short series on the fear of God to mention all God’s promises! Here is a small sample of them:

  • “But in every nation he that fears him, and works righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:35);
  • We see in this promise that are accepted by Him all those, who, irrespective of national origin, color, etc. fear God, love the truth and work righteousness! God is not a racist! God is not a respecter of persons. HE loves all the world unconditionally, but especially those who are upright, love the truth and justice and put into action His will! With such people the lost communion and “friendship” are reestablished!
  • “What man is he that fears the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose” (Ps.25:12).
  • We see in this short verse the wonderful promise that the LORD teaches, guides and leads the man or woman who fears Him to do the right and the best choice in order to be guided to do the right things for themselves and for their fellow men: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom.8:14)! Those who fear God are guided by Him! They are given light and direction! That means that they are “governed” by the Spirit and are the children of God (Rom.8:14). In addition: He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them (Ps.145:19) and “The fear of the LORD prolongs days […] (Prov.10:27). Amen!
  • “Like as a father pities his children, so the LORD pities them that fear him” (Ps.103:13).
  • We see in this wonderful promise the love and protection of the heavenly Father! In all their affliction He is afflicted! The angel of his presence saves them! In His love and in his pity He redeems them! He bears them, and carries them all the days (Isa.63:9)!
  • “The LORD takes pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy” (Ps.147:11). Incredible but true! If the Lord takes pleasure in all those who fear HIM and keep hoping in His mercy, irrespective of all the adversities of life, what is He going to do for them, how is He going to treat them? Those who fear Him and hope in His mercy can be compared with those who seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness! How will He treat them? Is He not going to add to their life all the best arsenal of His blessings? (Mat.6:33). Alleluia!
  • “Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay on his God” (Isa.50:10).
  • When I first read and understood this promise, I became indescribably joyful and encouraged! Peace flooded my soul! My inner man was radically changed! It is, therefore, possible to walk is darkness and have no light, although he fears the Lord and obeys His voice! Let not him be troubled. God loves him and makes all things work together for his good! Let trust Him unreservedly, because He will take care of his problem and will guide him to a safe port. It suffices to fear Him and obey His voice! “Commit your way to the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Ps.37:5)

“And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1John 5:11) 

Alleluia!

“Why we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb.12:28)

 John BALTATZIS

baltatzis@skynet.be

jean.baltatzis@gmail.be

http://wordstaughtbythespirit.com

 

THE END

 

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