That’s how Christians used to be described: “God-fearing people.” You don’t hear it much today, and for good reason, I would say. In our over compensating swing from legalism to near license to sin, the benevolence of God has all but obliterated His holiness, in our way of thinking. If there is a healthy fear, it is by all means the fear of God; and to live without it is to be sick indeed.
I’m not talking about a fearful spirit that we can be sure never comes from God (2 Tim. 1:7) or the fear that comes from bondage to the flesh (Rom. 8:11). As a matter of fact, anyone or anything we fear more than God will sabotage our Christian life every time (Pro. 29:25). Nor am I talking about fearing that God’s holiness will ever make Him change His mind about making me His child. That will never be in jeopardy, praise His Holy Name! Because, to quote John McArthur, “If you could lose your salvation, you would.” What I am talking about is a holy reverence and awe of God that makes me dead serious about my walk of faith “in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation,” like the one in which we live (Phi. 2:15).
Paul’s vivid description of the unrighteous in Romans 3:10-18 ends by saying, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” To my way of thinking, that’s the reason for everything that comes before. In fact, in my Bible, between verse seventeen and eighteen, I have written the word, “because…” Saved or lost, everything wrong in the lives of any man or woman is a direct result of not taking God seriously. No wonder Paul says in Philippians 2:12, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Not as the means of justification (v. thirteen disputes that); but sanctification, the ongoing process whereby we’re being conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).
My husband was the one who pointed me to our beginning verse in Psalms. “What an unusual way to describe yourself...devoted to thy fear,” he said. Then he challenged me to think about it, and I did. It never entered my mind to try to change the reading or explain it away. I took it at face value, and the result is the preceding thoughts. Actually, I can see very well why the psalmist would seek to be devoted to the fear of God, and why he would connect it with establishing God’s Word in his life. You’ll never reverence His Word if you have no fear of God. And you’ll never know why you should fear Him, if you refuse to learn who He truly is. The two go hand in hand. Here’s the thing; if the fear of the Lord is the very beginning of wisdom (Psl. 11:10), why in the world would we think we could start anywhere else?
If all that can be said of me is, “She’s a God-fearing woman,” that’s enough. In fact, it’s more than enough!
“If we are devoted to God’s fear, we shall be delivered from all other fear.” - C.H. Spurgeon