Lesson 247: "Spiritual Fear"
What scares you? I am not speaking of physical fear but rather the fear Paul had of sin and the “falling back” into sin in the churches. He even went so far as to say that he feared his teachings were in vain; a waste of his time (Gal. 4:11). Christians today should fear the same things that Paul did; sin and the fear of believers falling back into the ways of the world and turning away from God. The wages of sin is death! Spiritual death! Simply put, if your sins are not washed away by the saving Blood of Jesus Christ, then you will spend eternity in hell. The un-repented sin of those around you should bring you to your knees in intercessory prayer. Ezekiel teaches that you will be held accountable if you do not tell everybody everything there is to know about Jesus Christ, His saving grace and the consequences of denying Him. The reverent fear of God should be the driving force behind your convictions, your testimonies and every one of your conversations. Paul did not forget the ones he preached to and neither should we. His love for the people and his fear of God kept him in continuous prayer for everyone he had ever witnessed to. Do you remember everyone you have talked to about Jesus? Are they now saved? Are they members of a Christian Body? Have you prayed for them today?
Do not allow fear of the thoughts and talk of the world keep you from serving God but develop a reverent fear of Him while serving Him. Paul suffered as many conflicts in his ministry as anyone; much more than most. He held to the promises God made to each Christian that He would be our Father and we would be His sons and daughters (2 Cor. 6:18). With this promise in his heart, Paul was continuously striving for the perfection of holiness for himself and others (2 Cor. 7:1). The one thing that scared Paul and should scare each Christian today was and is false teaching. This is often referred to as doctrinal error or corruption of the gospel. Paul’s “congregation” had began to believe the scriptural errors they were hearing, buying into everything anyone preached (2 Cor. 11:3-4, 13-15). Paul took it personally when someone he had previously taught turned away from the true gospel. Believers today should take witnessing personally also and our request to one another should be the same as Paul’s; “brothers and sisters, I beg you to help me in my work by praying to God for me. Do this because of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love that the Holy Spirit gives us” (Rom. 15:30). Our conscience should be ruled by the Holy Spirit and we should have much sadness and sorrow for those who have never believed as well as those who are turning back to sin. Paul so desperately wanted the Israelites to understand the love of God that he offered “to separate” from Christ if that would help them (Rom. 9:1-3). When we Christians face near death, ship wrecks of life, dangerous travel such as mission trips and false Christians; when we are tired, hungry, cold and weak do we STILL have concern for all the churches? Are we STILL upset every time someone is led into sin? (2 Cor. 11:24-29).
We must work for God in reverent fear because He saved you from a useless life (1 Pet. 1:13-19). In our hearts, we must keep the utmost respect for Christ and be always ready to explain the hope we have to everyone (1 Pet. 3:13). Do not fear what people will say or do but witness because we fear hell (Jude 22-23). Do not be ashamed to tell people about Jesus (2 Tim. 1:8) but be afraid not to (Eze. 3:18-19). Give God top slot on each and every agenda. Do a spot check often to see if your life in Christ gives you strength. Does His love comfort you? Do you share together in the Spirit? Do you have mercy and kindness? Are you living in Christian faith to the very fullest being sensitive to the truth of the gospel? If some of these are missing you need to get back in step with Jesus and imitate THE humble Servant of God. God’s Son knowingly and actively embraced a life of giving, serving, loving and dying that we all might be saved from the fires of hell. What is really hard for Jesus’ followers is that we are called to do the same but shrink back from our Christian responsibilities. The two most important commands that Jesus gave us were to love God and love others, teaching them so that they may escape the devil’s trap (2 Tim. 2:25-26, Amos 4:11, Zech. 3:2).
Do not let the fear of man or the world keep you from serving Christ. “Do not fear people who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. The only one you should fear is the one who can destroy the body and the soul in hell” (Matt. 10:28). “So let us be thankful because we have a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. We should worship God in a way that pleases Him with respect and fear because our God is like a fire that burns things up” (Heb. 12:28-29). Serve God in a healthy, holy fear!