Standing in Awe of the Lord

What It Means to Fear God

By Charles F. Stanley
  • May 19, 2017

What does it mean to fear the Lord? Should we be terrified of Him, or does it mean something else? If we are lost and living in sin, we have a good reason to be afraid of God because we are not right with Him and are destined for judgment and condemnation. But if we are His redeemed people, there is no reason to be terrified of Him. However, we have every reason to show Him reverence and honor Him.

For those of us who know Jesus Christ as our Savior, fearing God means to revere, exalt, hold in high regard and esteem, worship, obey, acknowledge as worthy, and honor Him as our Creator and Judge.

What does Scripture say about fearing the Lord?

  • In Deuteronomy 13:4, God commands His people to follow Him, fear Him, keep His commandments, listen to Him, serve Him, and cling to Him. All these actions are the result of honoring and exalting Him in our lives.

  • Psalm 147:11 says, “The Lord favors those who fear Him.” We receive His grace and blessings when our attitude toward God is one of reverence and high esteem.

  • According to Psalm 33:8, God desires everyone to fear Him: “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.”

  • However, Romans 3:18 reveals the world’s current attitude toward God: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Instead of honoring Him, they see the Lord as a problem. His commands are contrary to their desires, and His conviction of their sin makes them uncomfortable.

  • Although the world presently ignores or rejects God, one day every knee will bow to Christ, and every mouth will confess Him as Lord (Phil. 2:9-11). Those who don’t fear God now will miss heaven and find themselves being forced to bow to Christ as their judge.

Scripture is clear about our need to honor God. So, let us examine our lives and purposefully follow the Lord’s commands, for there is no one more worthy of our reverence and praise.

This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message The Fear of God which airs this weekend on TV.

Related Topics:  Sovereignty  |  Judgment  |  Obedience

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4 You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.

11 The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.

8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.


9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,

10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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