This has been a “fearfully remade” journey of excitement and anticipation. You should check out the last two posts if you missed them. We have been on an exploration of the “fear of the Lord.” If you have been keeping up you should be feeling much better about the “fear of the Lord” and ready to put to bed any old way of thinking. But for those last few nagging “but what about???” questions let’s tackle a few more of the “fear of the Lord” passages. Ready? Here we go.
1 Cor 7:1 Therefore, since these [great] promises are ours, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates and defiles body and spirit, and bring [our] consecration to completeness in the [reverential] fear of God. (AMP)
You must see from relationship. You must see from the perspective that “God is for us.” The Bible is very clear that God is on our side and His love casts out any fear of punishment. The Bible is also clear that the Holy Spirit casts out the spirit of fear (irrational dread) and replaces it with His spirit of adoption as sons of God that cry Abba Father! But just in case you missed those truths look at the previous verse in this passage:
1 Cor 6:18 And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. (ESV)
OK, now that we are reminded that God is for us, what is 1 Cor 7:1 saying to us?
We must let Jesus “save us.” His supernatural love in us (as the Holy Spirit and fire) will clean out and burn up the chaff from the wheat if we let Him. We all need some serious love fire in our lives. I know I don’t want to be angry anymore. I don’t want to worry anymore. I don’t want to fear anymore. I don’t want to be offended. I don’t want to be embarrassed. I don’t want to be ashamed. I don’t want to feel powerless. The “fear of the Lord” in this verse is the anticipation and awe of the power of God to make a change. I may be frightened of the unknown and the outcome and the change to come but I know that God is for me. It may be like going under the knife (two-edged sword) but the surgery will make me better. I submit to the creator of the universe. That is intimidating but awesome at the same time. That is being “fearfully remade.”
But what if you insist on and angry God? That may seem like a strange question in this series of posts. Think about this…when we have tasted the goodness of God, had a revelation of His love, experienced the “fear of the Lord” (as anticipation of His miraculous provision) and refuse to surrender to His love… what happens?
I read a testimony once about a preacher who had an encounter with Jesus. He was in worship and saw Him on a throne looking at this preacher. The preacher said he was overcome with terror and fear and dread and remorse and all that kind of stuff. This was the first time I had heard such a testimony. Every other testimony I’ve heard about meeting Jesus is awesome. Of course it is “scary” since God is so powerful and so amazing. A human feels pretty small in such a place. Still everyone walks away with such a powerful love experience they aren’t the same again. For this preacher guy he was touched by the love of Jesus for sure and talked about how powerful that was but he wanted to stress this dread thing. Then I noticed something about his background. He was from a very religious, sin conscious, wrong-fear-of-the-Lord kind of church.
Then I thought about how the Nation of Israel was so terrified at the mountain. I imagine that the “rules” of staying away from the mountain were for their protection. I think they would have been literally “scared to death.” So what is going on?
The answer is found in the garden (yep again, there it is). When Adam and Eve hid they had no reason to hide other than their own irrational fear of a loving God. God came to find them when they were hiding and wasn’t looking to punish them. Instead He came to bring them clothes to cover their shame. This fallen condition is passed down to all humanity. Our irrational fear of God is something we inherit. This is the “wages of sin.” This is the death we experience. We irrationally fear a loving God.
Jesus fixes that by revealing the true nature of God. The Holy Spirit fixes that by “raising us from the dead” in a born-again experience. When we are living from the goodness of God and in the truth of the love of God then God is good and loving. An encounter from that place is joy and peace. If however we refuse to see a loving and good God then our “encounter” will be very different. We will be trapped by our fallen understanding and instead of finding peace we will find irrational fear just like Adam.
That is what the writer of Hebrews is talking about in this passage:
Heb 10:26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, (ESV)
Jesus takes our sins but if we don’t give them to Him we live in the condemnation of them (self-inflicted) just like Adam.
Heb 10:27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. (ESV)
As a fallen Adam we are still enemies (in our own minds) of God and naturally see ourselves as on the adversary list. That is just like the Israelites at the mountain.
Heb 10:30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (ESV)
God makes things right. This word “vengeance” can also be translated as defense. In the Hebrew, the word for “judge” is translated as console or comfort. These quotes come from Deut 32:35-36. These are two verses from a long list of bad stuff that happens when Israel turns to other gods. What is amazing is the writer of Hebrews includes these two. These are the verses where God defends His chosen people and comes to the rescue. Out of all the “bad stuff” verses, God choses these two for us to be reminded of His salvation for us. Again this “fearful thing” is a good thing.
Even when we are fighting against the truth and refusing to surrender to the love of God, He comes to our rescue. So yet again this passage is an expression of how awesome God is to us even when we have decided to remain stubborn, fallen humans, insistent on our way instead of God’s way.
God is so desperate for a relationship with us He goes all the way to the cross at our hands. It wasn’t a payment for a penal debt. It was an expression of love to surrender to fallen mankind so we would know He means it when He says He loves us. We have to surrender to His love. Only there can we be “fearfully remade.” If we fight and resist Him it is like putting a cat in a tub of water. Our surrender, our “death to ourselves” is to just give up holding onto all that junk in our heads about an angry God. I understand, that for some of us, religion has pounded that angry God image in our brains. Well meaning pastors have built a fortress of fear that keeps our hearts captive. I say let it go. Let Jesus save you. Then you will be “fearfully remade.”
Psalm 139:13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. (ESV)