According to statistics, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness, affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older. That equates to 18.1% of the total population. When we consider the vast number of people who are plagued with fear, it’s amazing to consider that there are many different types of causes or sources to the anxiety. There is a phobia based anxiety and then a more general anxiety disorder as well. At the end of the day, millions of people in America are afraid of many different things, but we would be shocked to know how small the percentage of people is in America who actually fear God.
Why You Should Fear the Wrath of God
There are many people today who are living life in complete rejection of God’s presence and complete denial of his authority. Some claim to be agnostic while others embrace atheism. Still others live such lives as Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Catholics while rejecting the authority of God. Religion is not what shields people from God’s wrath. Countless numbers of people have gone to hell while being very much committed to religion.
Years ago, a wicked Pharaoh ruled Egypt and placed the Jews under brutal slave practices. God raised up a prophet named Moses to lead the people out of the land of Egypt. However, when Moses went before the wicked king to announce the plan and demands of God, the arrogant king responded by saying, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2). It would not be long before the God of all creation made himself known to the arrogant and confused ruler. It would be a lesson he would never forget. We must not forget that Pharaoh was very much a religious man—but he refused to bow to the one true and living God.
In this life, we have many things that can cause us to fear. Such examples may include the fear of spiders, snakes, or violent storms. Still others fear disease and death itself. While there are things in this life that instill fear into the hearts of people, we must be reminded that we must fear God. Storms and snakes may damage your physical body, but it’s God who can damn your soul in hell for eternity. Listen to the words of Jesus:
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt. 10:28).
If you have never turned to God by faith in Jesus Christ and repented of your rebellion and the violation of God’s law—you have a reason to fear God. Consider the fact that the very Creator of the entire universe—the sovereign ruler of the entire world has given us specific demands, yet as a rebel of his law you will be judged by him. Holy justice will be executed on your soul and there will be no plea bargain. In short, you should fear God. Jesus said, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
Consider the terms used in Scripture to describe the place of damnation:
- Matthew 5:22 – “hell fire”
- Matthew 8:12 – “outer darkness” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
- Matthew 22:13 – “outer darkness” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
- Luke 13:28 – “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
- Mark 9:44-48 – Three times the Bible mentions “worm dies not” and “fire is not quenched.”
- Mark 9:47 – “hell fire”
- Revelation 20:14 – “lake of fire”
Beyond specific references to hell, the Bible likewise uses other references in a more indirect manner to describe the judgment of God upon sinners. Such references include:
- Pit (2 Pet. 2:4).
- Falling into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31).
- Second death (Rev. 20:14).
- Blackness and darkness forever (Jude 13).
Why Christians Should Fear God Too
As a child of God, we have the wonderful joy of knowing that all of our sins have been atoned for in the death of Jesus on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24; John 3:16). As a result, we are no longer the enemies of God (Rom. 5:10). We are now adopted into the family of God and enjoy the privileges of sons and daughters of God (Rom. 8:15-17). However, even so, we too must fear God!
When we as God’s children fear God, it’s a different type of fear than an unbeliever who must fear the wrath of God. As the children of God, we learn that we fear God by reverencing his sovereign power, his benevolent love, his transcendent holiness, and his providential rule of the entire universe. Consider what God’s Word teaches about such fear:
- Psalm 103:17 – But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children
- Psalm 111:10 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
- Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
- Proverbs 8:13 – The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
- Proverbs 10:27 – The fear of the LORD prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short.
- Proverbs 14:26 – In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.
- Proverbs 14:27 – The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.
Although this is not an exhaustive list, it’s a good reminder of how we as God’s children should approach God with humble hearts and a proper fear that is genuine respect of who God is and what he has accomplished in the salvation of our soul. A proper fear of God leads to a proper worship of God. A proper fear and worship of God leads to a proper lifestyle that brings glory to God. Without a proper fear of God—we will be led down the path of pride and self-serving that doesn’t bring God glory.
Do you have a proper fear of God?