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Articles

Living in Fear

Several New Testament verses urge Christians to live in fear.

“. . . Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

“If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during your time of stay on earth” (1 Peter 1:17).

“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it” (Hebrews 4:1).

These verses are not intended to take away our confidence: we are adopted children of a loving God, not slaves of a grueling taskmaster (Romans 8:15; see 1 John 4:15-21). Their point is that we must live with the greatest reverence for God and a healthy fear of displeasing Him.

A Christian who lives in fear will. . .

Worship God reverently. We are invited to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16), yet cautioned to “offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe” (12:28). We dare not become too casual in addressing the Almighty.

Not be presumptuous. We must not just guess at what is right or wrong, at what would or would not please God. His thoughts are not the same as ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). He has given us the Bible so we can know what He requires of us. “Do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:20-22).

Flee temptation. If one wants to “abstain from every form of evil,” common sense dictates that he should, to the extent he can, stay away from circumstances where temptation is the greatest. Be discreet about where you go, what you watch, and the company you keep. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Not try to get by doing the least he can. Jesus said the greatest commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). It is the opposite of the least-I-can-do-to-get-by-with approach that some seem to take. One who fears falling short will try to do the most he can, not the least.

“. . . Let us cleanse ourselves of all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

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