In some sense, the fear of God is knowing, not only that it is he alone who can and wil judge the secrets of your heart, and that it is he alone who can and will throw both body and soul into hell, but it is also knowing that it is he alone who provides both, salvation and satisfaction. It is he alone who is both a healing balm for our soul and a joy filled spring of life for our heart.
Therefore we fear the prospect of ever wandering off. Lord, keep me, is the cry of our heart. A Christian fears God (Yahweh) because they know it is in him, and him alone that they find their refuge.
“If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?. But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits…” (Psalm 130:3-5)
A Christian fears God, because it is only God who can forgive sins. Therefore, it is a fearful thing to not be in him. That is, under his wing, and in his protection, and under his guidance. We don’t fear the one who can hurt us temporarily, we fear the one who can save us eternally. God’s fear and God’s love go together.
Remember when the Pharisees said to Jesus after he healed the paralytic, “who is this man who thinks he can forgive sin”
The lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world is who he thinks he is.
It is a healthy thing to fear the wrath of God and flee to the son of God for refuge and strength, and experience God’s love. And it a healthy thing to fear ever leaving that place of refuge.
The fear of the Lord is not only the beginning, but it is also what keeps you. The only opposite thing is pride. Pride will keep you from coming to him, and pride will cause you to wander off from him.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7)
“The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud. Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:17-20)
It is only those who have experienced the fear of God, who have experienced drinking deeply in the rivers of delight in God. It is only a fool who will not surrender. Who says my way is better than God’s. Foolishness and pride go together. Fear and wisdom go together. God has all things. Fear him. You, and in of yourself, are foolish and prideful. It is in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone that you find forgiveness for your sin, and satisfaction for your soul. Fear not ever coming to him for that rest and for that forgiveness. Fear not ever turning from your sin and self trust. And also, friends, if you have come to him, if you found refuge for your soul in him, fear ever leaving that place of refuge and wandering off. For outside of Christ, there is no hope. And only a fool would say there is.
Read Psalm 36 once, if any Psalm speaks of this, it is this one, “Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil. Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart! Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away. There the evildoers lie fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise.”