Fear of God
Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the Lord,
They would have none of my counsel
And despised my every rebuke.
Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way,
And be filled to the full with their own fancies.
For the turning away of the simple will slay them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them;
But whoever listens to me will dwell safely,
And will be secure, without fear of evil.” Proverbs 1:29-33
This past week, I had a very interesting conversation with someone in regards to knowledge. She was advocating a form of Eastern meditation, and I challenged her on it since she claims to be a believer. She disagreed with me and insisted that knowledge is far wider than what the Bible tells us, and she felt that we should be open to other sources of knowledge.
This is exactly what the above scripture tells us about the dangers of knowledge apart from the fear of the Lord! Not every knowledge is valuable or fruitful. More importantly, some knowledge denies the existence of a holy God and what He declares good or evil. If we open the door to ungodly knowledge, it will cause us to veer off from God’s path and gradually we will find ourselves on a path of destruction. Furthermore, we open the door to the demonic world by coming into agreement with the lies of the enemy.
We live in a culture that the latest and greatest is the most popular. However, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The truth about spiritual matters does not change. The Lord does not change to accommodate our lust for the latest and greatest! His ways are tried and true! We have many witnesses from the Bible as well as history that confirms those who walk with God reap a harvest of righteousness. Their lives are more peaceful and stable! To the contrary, we also have the opportunity to learn from those who disregard God’s law and end up in all kinds of pain and bondage.
When we build our understanding of the world based on the fear and the love of God, we have a firm foundation that allows us to evaluate the information we consume appropriately. It doesn’t mean that we can’t look for other sources to gather information and gain knowledge; it just means that we evaluate everything through the prism of the Bible and the knowledge of the Lord!
There are millions of books out there that promise to provide us with knowledge. However, there is one book that is far greater and more powerful than any other book ever written in the history of mankind and that is the Bible! Do we value the knowledge that the Lord has provided for us through His word!? Do we allow it to form our worldview!?
The Lord has given every person the power of choice! People can choose to treasure His word or to seek after other knowledge outside of the boundary of God. The enemy will continue to whisper in people’s ear that they are going to miss out on something if they don’t pursue other kinds of knowledge. The enemy also accuses God of withholding good information from them. However, the above passage tells us that if we want to dwell safely and to be secure in life, we should listen to the Lord and seek His knowledge!
Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day; Proverbs 23:17
Some people envy others because they see them getting away with evil. I shared in the last devotional about Joseph’s brothers envying him, and they got away with their evil for many years. The above scripture tells us that we need to guard our hearts from envying sinners. This is what Joseph did when his brothers acted unfairly towards him. He did not allow their evil actions to change him or cause him to sin.
In addition, although Joseph was wronged by his brothers, he continued to trust God when Potiphar’s wife tried to tempt him. Subsequently, she falsely accused Joseph of making advances towards her, but Joseph was zealous for the fear of the Lord and did not sin against the Lord or the Potiphar. Other people’s bad behavior should not stop us from doing what is right.
The good news is that the envy of Joseph’s brothers did not stop God’s plan for Joseph, and their actions even pushed Joseph to be in the right place for God’s plan. Joseph continued to fear God and be faithful to the Lord, and God advanced him despite of all the obstacles.
Do not envy the oppressor, And choose none of his ways; For the perverse person is an abomination to the Lord, But His secret counsel is with the upright. Proverbs 3:31-32
The scriptures clearly direct us not to be envious of those who do wrong. The truth is that the world is full of those who will act unfairly or in shady manner. Other people’s actions do not change the fact that envy is dangerous and demonic, and it does not produce any good fruit. Furthermore, God is intimate with those whom He trusts and those who live their lives to please Him.
Is it truly worth missing out on our intimacy with the Lord and having His secret counsel over envying others!? God showed His secret counsel to Joseph by allowing him to interpret accurately people’s dreams including Pharaoh’s dreams. The Lord used him in a powerful way even though his brothers had tried to get rid of him to ensure that he will not be their leader someday. However, they could not thwart God’s plan, and the Lord allowed Joseph to be in a position where his brothers would have needed him. After all those years that seemingly they got away with their wicked schemes, Joseph was merciful to his brothers when they came seeking food during famine in their land.
Envy has a toxic and insidious affect, and we must do everything we can not to open the door to this dangerous spirit. Make a commitment not to give room to envy in your life. Sometimes, it will be a battle to refrain from envy. However, we have to keep in mind that pleasing the Lord, having His secret counsel, and remaining healthy physically are far more valuable than being envious. Continue to fight the battle to remain in the spirit and don’t make any provision for the flesh! Like Joseph, we can be a blessing to those who persecuted us instead of envying them.
The Bible is full of scriptures about foolish people. Sometimes we may have seen only a certain type of foolishness; perhaps we’ve had an alcoholic parent or a family member. When we look at the Word of God, the Lord gives us quite a few characteristics of a foolish person that can help us better understand the behavior of a fool and learn to avoid certain habits or mind sets.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7
Fools don’t seek wisdom and instruction. This doesn’t mean that they don’t want to talk about their problems, but you will not see them looking into scripture to apply it to their situation. They may just share their issues with a lot of people and find a counsel that they can pick and choose from.
With her enticing speech she caused him to yield,
With her flattering lips she seduced him.
Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter,
Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, Till an arrow struck his liver.
As a bird hastens to the snare, He did not know it would cost his life. Proverbs 7:21-23
A foolish person can be easily flattered. Because generally foolish people have a high view of themselves, they are hungry and thirsty for the flattery and enticing words that tickle their ears. Typically, these individuals are easily enamored and excited with new people, and can leap into quick decisions, such as a marriage, because someone sounded good!! They can also be the ones who can jump on any bandwagon of Christian success without accessing the soundness of the doctrine or the character of the leader.
Slander comes easy
Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, And whoever spreads slander is a fool. Proverbs 10:18
A foolish person has no problem gossiping and back-biting when they are upset . The other person’s reputation is of no importance. This moment and how the person feels becomes more significant than anything else. If you are on the other side of this and you are hearing someone being slandered, you should be wary of this person. Just as they slandered someone to you, someday you may be the target of their slander. If it doesn’t line up with how God tells us to interact with people, then it’s wrong in every situation.
Loves to be intrigued
It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise Than for a man to hear the song of fools. Eccl 7:5
While fools have no problem slandering someone, they can also easily be intrigued by a person. Since it’s all about them and how they feel, a fool is not there to build a healthy community, so they will say or do whatever pleases them at the moment and meets their needs. One can’t get too excited about this until the test of time and circumstances has come and the person is examined under pressure to see how they will respond. Will they decide to vent on someone or will they show self restraint!!?
Self expression is very important
A wise man fears and departs from evil, But a fool rages and is self-confident. Proverbs 14:16
A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart. Proverbs 18:2
Fools may look strong and confident, but their confidence is based on their own knowledge and ability. While they may quote the Bible from time to time, their knowledge is earthly not Biblical! Since fools are not seeking knowledge and understanding, they can zealously fight for their own view and use the Bible to make their point. They are not going to the Bible to form their point, but to support their view. They can also speak on things as if they are expressing a doctrine while all along it’s their own personal view clothed in a couple of scriptures.
Just because we agree with a viewpoint, we can’t take it as the truth or doctrine until we have examined the Bible and can validate its scriptural basis. Sometimes we should even challenge ourselves and find scriptures that are saying it differently to ensure we understand the Bible in its full context not just one scripture in isolation with the rest of the word of God.
As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly. Proverbs 26:11
Someone can also be foolish because they are not learning from their mistakes. They continue to do the things that jeopardize their relationships, finances, or jobs. They may complain momentarily, but they soon go back to what they used to do as if they have forgotten about the pain and the agony of what they just went through.
Fools are people of extremes; they have a hard time staying stable and moderate in their speech and response to situations. Generally, these people can be interesting and exciting to be around, but if you pay close attention to their lives and their choices, you will see that it is a matter of time before something else goes wrong in their lives due to lack of wisdom and impulsiveness.
Lord we don’t want to be fools in any area of our lives. Show us those areas that need change!
We are called to revere a holy God and fear Him only. In our culture, we either see God as a distant absentee landlord or think of him as a Santa clause who can’t wait to shower his prince and princesses with everything they desire!! Both of those perceptions don’t line up with the truth of the Bible describing him as a holy, loving, and mighty God! He is an all-present God who loves people and has great expectations of those who call Him Lord.
God is the preserver
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy, To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine. Psalm 33:18-19
The Lord keeps His eyes on those who fear him. Isn’t that awesome!? In a world that people go to great lengths to get the attention of others and keep people’s eyes on them, we can have the eyes of our creator on us all the time. God loves those who fear Him, and he pays special attention to them. He knows that we choose to live life vulnerable and without self-preservation. We resolve not to hurt our enemies or gossip about them because we fear and love God. We choose not to lie or steal to make provision for ourselves. Unless the Lord preserves us and provides for us, we will have no protection or provision in times of difficulty or famine in our lives!!
Joseph is a great example of a man who feared God, and when he had the opportunity, he didn’t sin against His God!! While he went through years of difficulty, God’s eyes were on this man. God’s favor was on him everywhere he was sent and finally in the time of famine, he became the resource/answer through the Lord for saving many lives including his own family!!!
Fear of God is foundational to wisdom
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever. Psalm 111:10
Wisdom is having good sense and discernment to navigate through life, making Godly decisions, and getting along well with other people. The fear of God gives us the open door to walk through wisdom and learn to become a skilled, wise person. If we don’t fear God, our decisions are based on trial and error rather than keeping in mind God’s boundaries in our lives. The fear of God gives us the caution not to get ourselves involved needlessly in things that could cause problems in our lives. It keeps our path clear and narrow.
Just as we desire for our children to be successful in life and make good, Godly decisions, so our heavenly father desires for us to have a successful life in Him. We can pursue this by following His commandments and taking them seriously.
He is the final judge of our eternal state
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28
The Lord is ultimately the only one we need to fear. He is the one who has the power to choose where we will spend our eternity. In light of that, we shouldn’t fear anything or anyone else because He is the one who holds our lives and our eternity in His hands!! We still honor and respect people, but there is no need to fear them.
Christian history is filled with stories of persecuted and martyred believers for the sake of Christ. They understood and lived the above truth very well. Most of us will never be faced with that type of opposition, but we are called just as Jeremiah was: “Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:8
Holiness is the fruit of fearing God
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2Corinthians 7:1
The Lord, through His love covenant gives us many promises. In order for us to enjoy the benefits of our relationship with the Lord, we need continually be motivated to keep ourselves from corruption, and seek His holiness in our lives. That means we don’t justify our actions, make excuses for them, or think because God loves me so much, he’ll look the other way. As the scripture tells us; “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” 2Peter 1:3a We have no excuse before a holy God not to pursue a pure and holy life!!
We live in a culture that trains people in self-esteem and confidence. However, the only true esteem and confidence is established on our relationship with a holy God. Everything else is paper-thin and has no substance to hold up under pressure or conflict. Fear of God develops a true confidence in the one who is worthy, and He esteems us because we are rightly and closely connected to Him!! Thank you Lord!!
It is a blessing to fear God!! Please examine yourself in the light of above scriptures and see if you truly have reverence and a healthy fear of God in your life.