A few weeks ago while talking with a Christian friend on email he relayed some things he had done that he was sorry for and wanted to talk with someone.  Now at this time he had not repented he was only sorry.  Most often when we are sorry we are sorry we got caught and not sorry of our action or words and this was the case with my friend.  During the course of our conversation I asked, “do you not have the fear of God?” and he quickly replied “yes.”  I shook my head in bewilderment to his words he did not have the fear of God, because if he did he would not have done the things he did and when caught he would have gone back to repent of his actions and make things right before God and man.  Our conversation and how fast he replied stuck with me and his words haunted me.  Later the Lord opened up some thoughts I would like to share with you and end by sharing a true experience in my life.    

I have known some churches that routinely practice public confession of sins now confessing our sins is always a good thing to do, but to confess in an open forum to people who have nothing to do with the transgression is only setting themselves up for greater condemnation and shunning by the brethren.  My Christian friend quoted the beginning of James 5:16 and said he had to openly confess his sin at church. I encouraged him to confess, not to confess openly, but to the one he sinned against and to God.  James was not talking about public confession when he said, Confess your faults (sins) one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  (James 5:16) James was talking about confession, but not publicly.  He was talking about confessing to the one that you have sinned against and to God.  And to pray with the one you have sinned against so that they will be able to come to a place of forgiveness and healing can take place in both lives.  Never forget forgiveness is a two way-street, God’s idea is for both parties to walk in His glory and overcome in this relationship.  But that is dependent not on God, but on both individuals involved.  One can ask the other for forgiveness and be sincere while the other individual rejects his words, we see it happen all the time.  Did you know if we do not confess our faults or sins to the one we have transgressed against God may not forgive us? I cannot say God will not do something He is God and I am not, but forgiveness is a thing of the heart and until we ask forgiveness from the one we have sinned against it is our heart that is held captive by our actions and ours words.  Forgiveness is such a freeing feeling, I know times I have missed the mark and people have forgiven me, what a free  soaring feeling I experienced.  It was life and life abundantly.  In Romans, Paul tells us, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23) and this is true, but please notice there is a sinning and a coming short.  We must take heed to our selves because Jesus died for our sins not for our coming short of God’s glory.  Coming short of God’s glory is not sin. Sin is sin.  Sin is to miss the mark and coming short of God’s glory is coming short of God’s glory there is a huge difference between the two. We have already identified what sin is, but now coming short of God’s glory maybe a little harder to nail down.  Coming short of God’s glory is our ungodly thoughts, attitudes, desires, and motives that will follow us to heaven and unless we allow God to deal them on earth He will have to in heaven.  Timothy says, “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.” (1Timothy 5:24)  The Bibles says God will wipe always all tears in heaven, “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”  (Revelations 7:17) and again in Revelation “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”  (Revelation 21:4)  All of this will happen in heaven and now in heaven God will use a different standard; no longer grace, but now God’s purifying fire.  Take time and take a prayerful look at 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 to complete this thought.

What will keep us on track and prevent us from sinning and coming short of God’s glory?  Is it God’s grace, mercy, or His faithfulness?  No these are things God gives us out from His love for us and expects us to freely give back to our brothers and sisters as freely as we have received.  If they keep us from doing things against God’s word it will be because we have allowed this understanding to grip our heart to such a degree it becomes a part our daily life and becomes automatic in our lives, which is God’s intention in our lives.  The only other thing I can compare this thought is likened to, what keeps me from sinning against my wife?  The love and devotion she has given me over these last 31 years.  The four outstanding kids she has given me and the forgiveness she has extended to me when I have failed her. No, strangely it is fear that prevents us from sinning against God’s word and man’s laws and regulation.  I asked Karen what prevents me from robbing a bank or store and she said it was God in me, well that is partly true, God in me is the hope of glory, but I know many Christians like  my friend who has God in them, but they still sin and come short of the glory of God.  It is the outcome or the consequence of our actions that keep us on the narrow path that leadeth to life. If I rob a bank and get caught (no matter how much I love God) I could go to prison for the rest of my life, this I do not want to do.  I would be afraid to rob a bank for fear of going to prison, this is what keeps me from robbing a bank.  So too in God, fear of God’s reaction to me sinning or coming short of His glory keep me on the straight and narrow path and in the way everlasting. God’s judgments are final and eternal. Now we do not like that word fear, but did you know the Bible lists 400 occurrences with 385 verses in the bible, one for each day of the year and then some. It is the fear of God in us that keeps us from sinning and coming short of the glory of God.  When we loose the fear of God we have thrown off respect for God and His word.  When we lose the fear of God we have thrown off all restraint and common sense and then we are capable of doing anything, and I mean anything.  We all are just one thought and action from total depravity, but for the fear of God keeping us on track. 

Did you know there are many (we will look at five) types of fear in the Bible?  The first type of fear is where we get the word awesome from.  For example in Joshua we read, “That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.”  (Joshua 4:24)  The word fear here from Strong’s #3372 is to fear, revere, and to be afraid.  We are standing on our feet with our hands at our side, our knees are shaking, and our head tilted back as we look heavenward.  This is the picture of the awe and respect we have for God.  It is also a fear, we are afraid of His reaction to our waywardness, but at the same time we have a reverence for His holiness that keeps us on the right path, the path he desires we walk. The second type of fear we find in the Bible has do to with our personality and inward strength.  In 1Timothy we read, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;” (2 Timothy 1:7-8) Many Christians (who do not really know the Bible) make a grave mistake by not knowing what type of  “fear” God is talking about.  We do not like fear.  Fear is not of God.  Why would God give us a spirit of fear?  Well the fear Timothy is talking about is not the understanding of the word fear we think of and use today.  The word “fear” here from Strong’s #1167 is timidity, fearfulness, and cowardice it has nothing to do with being afraid of something or even being afraid of God. God has not give us a spirit that is full of timidity, fearfulness, or cowardice, but a spirit that is bold and daring a spirit that is able to come boldly before the throne of grace and ask what we may. God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, no coward will inherit the kingdom of God.  Many Christians quote 2 Timothy 1:7, but sadly their words only reflect their lack of knowledge of God and His word.  I am here to tell you God will give you a spirit of fear.  Back in 1993-1996 there were some areas in my life God wanted me to allow Him to work in, He knew what my future held, pastoring, teaching, and traveling for Him.  He needed for me turn over those areas to Him so that they could be cleaned up, but I resisted.  Never resist the Holy Spirit!  So God stepped up the pressure on me, time was wasting.  I cannot explain it like I cannot explain why the God of the universe wants to make our heart His eternal abode, but out from these areas God allowed a spirit of fear upon me that tormented me.  Do you know fear has torment?  Until I faced the fear head on and allowed God to work in those areas I had no peace of heart.  Man what an unbelievable relief I felt in my spirit and soul after I submitted and surrendered to God’s work.  We see God using fear all throughout the Bible.  In 2 Chronicles and the fourth type of fear we read, “And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the LORD, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil.  14And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of the LORD came upon them: and they spoiled all the cities; for there was exceeding much spoil in them.”  (2 Chronicles 14:13-14)  Fear here is Strong’s #6343 for terror and dread.  Would God put fear on man?  You decide?  As for me I say yes because the Bible bears this truth out.  Or in Acts, “Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. 11And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.”  (Acts 5:10-11)  Here “fear” is Strong’s #5401 for fear, dread, or terror. Not just fear, but the bible says “great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.”  I would guess the most famous verse in the Scriptures that comes to mind when we talk of fear is from the Psalms, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.”  (Psalms 111:10)  Here the word “fear” is Strong’s #3374 for fear, terror, and fearing.  Without the fear of God how can we learn wisdom?  How can we get understanding?  We cannot and if we say different we lie to ourselves, others, and the truth is not in us.  It is the fear of God that keeps us from sinning.  It is the fear of God in our lives that keeps us in our walk with God.  It is no wonder many Christians have turned away from the truth of the word of God and are not walking with God.  It is not about God’s grace or mercy oh no they are rich and free for the asking, why Christians in the Church today are falling away is because they have rejected the fear of God and replaced it with the fear of man.  Jesus said, “What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. 28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”  (Matthew 10:27-28) Words we all must live by and take heed to if we will ever be brought to the end of the purpose of our lives. You know if we really had the fear of God in us we would do what He wants has asked us to do and love Him the more.