Wednesday, September 28, 2011

He Was Wounded

"He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).

Wounds, according to the definition of the surgeon, are divisions of the soft parts of the

body by a mechanical force applied externally, and they are classified by their different characters as (1) contused; (2) lacerated; (3) penetrating; (4) perforated; and (5) incised wounds. It is remarkable that in the simple statement, "He was wounded" there is included each kind of wound, as we may readily see from the examination of the Scripture records concerning the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(1) The Contused Wound. A wound produced by a blunt instrument. Such would result from a blow by the rod, as foretold in Micah 5:1, "They shall smite the Judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek," and fulfilled, as recorded in Matthew 26:67, "They smote Him with rods" (Margin, Newberry); Matthew 27:30, "They took the reed, and smote Him on the head"; and John 18:22, "One of the officers struck Jesus with a rod" (Revised and Newberry, margin).

(2) The Lacerated Wound. A wound produced by a tearing instrument. Laceration of the tissues was the result of scourging, and scourging had become a fine art among the Romans at the time of our Lord's submission to infliction.

The Roman scourge was a many-tailed lash, each thong tipped with metal or ivory, so that, in the hands of a cruel expert, the sufferer might truthfully say, "The plowers plowed upon My back: they made long their furrows" (Psalm 129:3). The torture, the laceration, and the consequent loss of blood, often resulted in the death of the victim, but scourging, while part of our Lord's sufferings, was not to be the means of His death.

Thus the prophetic word of Isaiah 50:6, "I gave My back to the smiters," finds its fulfillment, as recorded in Matthew 27:26, and in John 19:1, where we read, "Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him." And let us remember that upon His back, thus lacerated, the Cross was laid as He went forth to the place called Calvary.

(3) The Penetrating Wound. A deep wound caused by a sharp-pointed instrument. This we have exemplified in the wounds upon the head produced by the crown of thorns. The Jerusalem thorn, from which that "victor's crown" was platted, bore spicules four inches long, and, as the soldiers pressed down that cruel diadem upon His head (Matthew 27:29; John 19:2), a circlet of wounds ensued, wounds which were deepened by the blow of the reed when they smote Him on the head (Matthew 27:30).

(4) The Perforating Wound. From the Latin word meaning "to pierce through." "They pierced My hands and My feet" (Psalm 22:16). The iron spikes were driven between the bones, separating but not breaking these.

Crucifixion was not practiced as a means of capital punishment by the Jews, and the words must therefore have puzzled even the writer of the Psalms, but at that early date God was thereby "signifying what death He should die" (John 12:33), for to Him, who knows the end from the beginning, the Roman subjugation of the Jews at the time of Messiah's advent, and His being "cut off" (Daniel 9:26) by the exquisitely painful death of crucifixion, were all foreknown. And to our Lord "the decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem" was a matter of perfect knowledge. The prophetic question in Zechariah 13:6, "What are these wounds in Thine hands?" was ever before Him, and thus we can truly sing—

"'Twas love that nailed Thee to the tree,Or iron ne'er had bound Thee."

(5) The Incised Wound. A cut produced by a sharp-edged instrument. "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water" (John 19:34). This wound was inflicted after the death of the Lord Jesus, inflicted by the practiced hand of the Roman soldier to make certain that whatever vestige of life was present would be extinguished, but while it did not cause death in His case it is an assurance to all men that death had actually occurred, and it is also a fulfillment of the Scripture which says, "They shall look upon Me whom they have pierced" (Zechariah 12:10).

And from the wound (so large that Thomas could have thrust his hand into it), "came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record and his record is true" (John 19:34,35).

This wonderful sight awakened surprise and deep interest in John and may surely engage our attention also, namely the water that flowed from the pericardium and the blood that flowed from the heart. The pericardium is a closed sac encasing the heart and lubricated by a small amount of fluid (about a teaspoonful) to facilitate the motion of the heart. How could John, it may be asked, distinguish such a small quantity of water?

In answer let me quote a significant statement from a standard work (Mallory and Wright's Pathological Technique): "The normal amount [of the pericardial fluid] is about a teaspoonful, but it may be increased to 100 c.c. [24 teaspoonfuls] where the death agony is prolonged." Here then is a confirmation by scientists of the mute testimony borne by "the water" to the intense suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And what shall we say to the fact that, contrary to nature, blood flowed from One who had died? Is it not to show that in death He vanquished death and did not see corruption (Acts 2:27,31)? Thus the last wound, the last indignity offered to the body prepared for Him, proclaims both purification and redemption.

"The very spear that pierced His side,Drew forth the blood to save."

May the contemplation of these wounds, whereby His body was broken and His blood was shed, deepen our love for Him who was "wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities," and cause each of us, like Thomas, to worship and acclaim Him as "MY LORD AND MY GOD" (John 20:28).

—Dr. H.A. Cameron


Monday, September 26, 2011

Fear of the Lord #8

He who walks in his uprightness fear the LORD, but he who is perverse in his ways despises Him. Proverbs 14:2

A man’s conduct is a reflection of his attitude toward the LORD. The righteous man is guided by what he knows will please God. His deep desire is to walk closer and closer to his God no manner how long he has been walking with the LORD. The apostle Paul had been walking with the Lord for about 30 years, but he wasn’t content with his past. His desire was to walk with Him closer and to know Him in a much deeper way (Phil. 3:7-10).

We can not walk with God and walk with sin (Proverbs 3:7, 8:13, 14:16,1 Jn. 1:5-10).

We can not walk with God and walk with pride (Proverbs. 22:4, James. 4:6-10).

We can not walk with God and walk with the world (Proverbs. 23:17, James. 4:3-4, 1 Jn. 2:15-17). In Psalm 73 we have recorded for us a man was doing just what John warns us about. He looked at the world with envy. He thought he was missing out. He saw them seeming to get away with so much and it almost cost him his faith. He almost compromised himself with the world he envied. It would seem that he might have even tried to get as close to it as he could without crossing that line! But what was the antidote for Asaph? What is the antidote for us? Psalm. 73:17 tells us that Asaph went into the presence of the Lord. This helps us clean lenses of our spiritual eyes.

I would suggest that Asaph began to fear the Lord! Getting into the presence of the Lord helps us realign our thinking to be in tune with God’s thoughts. We begin to see things from His point of view! When we begin to fear the Lord, hate what he hates and love what He loves, we realize what Asaph realized in Psalm. 73:25-28, that He is enough the heart and mind to fill! But it all begins with whether or not I fear the Lord!

Fear of the Lord #7

The fear of the Lord is to the evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate. Proverbs 8:13

How do we look at sin? Often we are concern more about the consequences of sin than committing the sin itself. Sometimes it seems that many of us try to see just how close do we try to get to sin without touching it or actually getting involved with it. We’ll watch it on television or on the internet without realizing the affect it has on us. In Luke 3:7 God likens sin to venomous snakes. He liken sin to the stench of a sepulchral (a place where human flesh has rotted) in Romans 3:13. In 2 Peter 2:22 He likens sin to the vomit of dogs and 2 Timothy. 2:17 God likens sin to cancer or gangrene. These are all things that we naturally run away from. We would not want to get close to any of these things, we run from them! Is this how we treat sin? God hates sin so much and must deal with it and has dealt with it at Calvary! He sent the Lord Jesus to die to pay the penalty of sin, which is death. So why would we run back to that which we have been set free from and has cost Him so much?

Someone has once said, “What the Lord is looking for is men and women who fear God and hate sin!” These two things go together and are illustrated for us in the life of Job. We read in Job 1:1 that Job was a blameless man, meaning that the life he lived before others was one of integrity. He was also an upright man, meaning that he sought to live his life in a way to please God. But the foundation for Job’s character was the fact that he feared God and shunned evil. Job sought to live out the words latter repeats, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding (Job 28:28).

Fear of the Lord #6

Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:5

In Proverbs 2:1-4, there are eight instructions that lead up to today’s verse. These instructions help us begin to understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. It is not so much a great amount of head knowledge that helps to fear the Lord and know God, as much as it is the condition or attitude of my heart.
Receive: means to snatch or cease. Ask the Lord to reveal one truth each time you open the Word of God. One truth that you can snatch up and live by!

Treasure up: This has the idea of hiding them or guarding them. This reminds us of Psalm. 119:111, “Thy word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Treasure is valued and held dear, we ought to value the word of God daily.

Incline your ear: means to lean toward. We need to lean toward the word of God, to have an open ear and a open heart to hear it, closing the door, removing all distraction and getting alone with the Lord (Mt. 6:6).

Apply your heart: This has the thought of giving it all I have, my time and my energy.

Cry out: Shows dependency, like a little baby who will die if it doesn’t cry out for help! We too are helpless and must cry out in dependency on the Lord recognizing our helplessness!

Lift your voice: When we cry out to the Lord, lifting our voice, we acknowledge that there is an urgent need!

Seeking and Searching: What we need is the same kind of drive that men have in mining for silver or in searching for hidden treasures. The tragedy is that too often men show more zeal in acquiring material wealth than spiritual riches.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fear of the Lord #5

"Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith." Proverbs15:16

This verse teaches us that it is better to have limited resources and be in the will of God than it is to have plenty and the trouble that comes along with it. The bottom line here is this, when you are in the Lord's will, and when you are walking in His fear, your care is His responsibility. In Matthew 6:25-33 the Lord Jesus strikes at our tendency to center our lives on food and clothing and missing the real meaning and purpose of life. When we walk in the fear of the Lord we realize that “my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians. 4:19). The life filled with "things" and riches is a trouble filled life. The life lived in faith and in the fear of God is literally carefree. Paul put it this way, “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

In Proverbs 19:23 Solomon reminds us that the fear of the Lord produces satisfaction and safety when he declares, "The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil." The person who lives in the fear of God will be a satisfied person. They will have one goal in live, pleasing the Lord, and it will have been met. Therefore, they will have all their needs met and they will be happy. When we must have other stuff to make us happy, we never will be! When we learn to be satisfied with the Lord and with the privilege of walking in His fear, we will be permanently satisfied. Nothing will matter but the smile of God and it will be upon our lives. Notice, this verse says that this kind of person will not be visited with evil. The person who walks in the genuine fear of the Lord need never fear going to Hell, he need never fear many of the things that beset the world around him. By his walk in the fear of the Lord, he brings the smile and the hedge of God into his life. Job was this type of man as we read in Job 1:1, 10. He was one who was “blameless and upright and one fear the God and turned away from evil.” As a result of this Job experienced the protecting hand of the God that he fear and that same God satisfied his heart.

Fear of the Lord #4

"In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death." Proverbs 14:26-27

When we are walking in the fear of the Lord, we can have confidence that God is on our side. Notice Romans 8:31, "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" The person who is walking in the fear of the Lord and is living by the Book will have fewer feelings of insecurity, abandonment and fear. There will be far fewer times when salvation is doubted. The fear of the Lord produces a strong sense of security and close fellowship with the Father. Fearing the Lord calms the anxieties of the heart. Solomon goes on to say when a man fears the Lord it has an effect on his children. Every father wants to keep his children safe; Solomon says that our children will have a place of refuge under God’s wings when evil.

In Psalm 128 we see that fearing the Lord has a further affect on my wife and my children. The wife of a man who fears the Lord is seen as a fruitful vine in the very heart of his house. His children are like olive plants, full vim, vigor and vitality; real productivity for the Lord.
When we walk in the fear of the Lord, we are stronger spiritually than we could be otherwise. The fear of the Lord is like a fountain that continually springs up with spiritual vitality and strength. This enables the Christian to walk cleaner and closer thus avoiding the temptations and traps of the devil. Proverbs 16:6 reminds us that by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.” Evil is all around us today, in the check out isle at the supermarket, and even on the bill board as we drive down the road. Where do we find strength to turn away from evil? Where do we find the strength not to let this world squeeze us into its mold? Only as we fear the Lord, which means to seek to live in the constant reality that He is present and I desire to please Him and bring joy to His heart as I walk in close fellowship with Him. If any thing crops up in my life that might interrupt that fellowship, I want to confess it immediately, that is want is meant by walking in the fear of the LORD. Walking in the fear of the Lord is the way to be a blessing to the Lord and to others in my life, my family, friends and co-workers.

Fear of the Lord #3

Do not be wise in your own eyes: Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones. Proverbs 3:7-8

Self confidence and conceit puts us on hold as far as divine guidance is concerned. When we fear the Lord and depart from evil, it means “all systems go.” It spells health to our body and strength to our bones. Literally this has the thought of drink, refreshment or even medicine. We are brought face to face with the close connection between man’s moral and spiritual condition and his physical health.

In Proverbs 10:27, we read that "The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened." This verse reminds us of what we read in Ephesians 6:1-2 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right, Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” It could be said that obedience is an outward sign that we fear the Lord.

This promise of long life is not a blanket promise because any number of things can happen along the road of life that can take us out of here in an instant. However, generally speaking, those who live in the fear of the Lord are more likely to live to a good old age than those who live for the flesh and the world.

It has been estimated that approximately 60% of human illnesses can be traced directly or indirectly to fear, sorrow, envy, resentment, guilt, hatred, or to any number of emotional stresses. Add to that the awful pain caused by alcohol (cirrhosis of the liver), tobacco, (emphysema, cancer, heart disease), and immorality, (venereal diseases and AIDS), we can see that a life lived in the fear of the Lord with obedience to His Word will result in a much healthier existence. May we learn to walk in the fear of the Lord.

Fear of the Lord #2

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is under standing." Proverbs 9:10

The term “fear of the Lord” appears 14 times in Proverbs. According to this book, the fear of the Lord will produce certain benefits in your life and mine. When we fear the Lord, we will find certain things to be true.
First of all, the Fear of the Lord Is the beginning of Wisdom. It has been said that wisdom is knowledge rightly applied. But another thought is that Wisdom is seeing things through the eyes of God and responding the way God would respond. Proverbs 1:7 tells us, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction." Proverbs 15:33, "The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility." The best place to begin the search for true wisdom is in the fear of the Lord. True fear of the Lord is born out of a knowledge of how infinitely powerful, majestic and full of goodness God is. Before one can grow in the Lord, he must first learn to fear Him.
Secondly, the fear of the Lord motivates us To Holiness. Proverbs 3:7, "Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil." Proverbs 16:6, "By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil."

These verses tell us that the fear of the Lord promotes holy living. The person who truly reverences and respects the Lord as he should will not do anything that brings disgrace, dishonor or pain to the heart of the Lord. People who genuinely fear the Lord will flee from evil, even the appearance of something that maybe questionable to some. When one is living and walking in the fear of the Lord there are no “gray areas”. Every area of my life will be impacted and affected! The prospect of causing the Lord pain or grieving His holy heart will be too great to bear!

Fear the Lord #1

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. Ecclesiastes 12:13

Everything in life boils down to this one simple truth, fearing God! So the all important question is what does it mean to fear God? When we think of fear, we associate the word with terror. Webster's Dictionary defines fear as "a feeling of anxiety and agitation produced by the presence or nearness of danger, evil, pain, etc." For many, this would describe the feeling you get when you see a snake, go to the doctor or dentist, or when you find yourself in a time of extreme danger. It is dread of the unknown. Surely, this is not the sensation Solomon is referring to.
In our modern vernacular, the word fear, in the context in which it is used by Solomon, has been replaced with reverence, awe, great respect. What the writer of this book is saying is that we are to have a deep reverence and respect for the Lord. Literally, we are to be awed and humbled by His presence. Fearing God includes, but it is not limited to, respecting and reverencing Him. Holy fear gives God the place of glory, honor, reverence, thanksgiving, praise and preeminence He deserves. But simply put, fearing God is to respect His holiness by hating what He hates and loving what He loves, with a wholesome dread of displeasing Him.
When we truly fear the Lord, we will recognize that He is the Creator and we are the creatures. He is the Master and we are the servants. He is the Father and we are the children. This attitude will manifest itself in our having a respect for God, His word and in our having a desire to do what He tells us to in His Bible. We can relate this kind of fear to that which a child has for his parents. If the right kind of fear is present, the child knows that his parents can punish him if there is disobedience, but overriding that fear is the knowledge that disobedience hurts the parents and the child loves and respects his parents and does not want to hurt them. To put it simply, the fear of the Lord is a deep seated reverence for God that causes men to want to please Him at all costs.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fear and Trembling Transforms Evangelism and the Glory of Christ Pt. Four

How does fear and trembling transform the way we help others see and savor the glory of Christ? The answer is, we need to help people know that they are under the wrath of God because of their sin.

There is so much good intention to show people the love of God, without realizing that the love of God in Christ is a love that rescues us from the wrath of God. Listen carefully to Romans 5:8-9, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” The love of God rescues us from the wrath of God.

This means that when we share the Gospel we do not simply present God as a caring loving God. The gospel will not be the gospel against that backdrop. It only makes sense against the backdrop of truth. God is holy and glorious. We have all sinned against him and fallen short of that glory. We are under his just wrath and without hope. But God so loved the world that he sent his only Son that whoever believes in him might be saved—saved from wrath (John 3:16, 36). When Paul, the prisoner, had one chance to speak to Felix the governor, Luke tells us, “He reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment” (Acts 24:25). Felix needed to understand the wrath of God.

Evangelism, parenting, corporate worship—all of them, and all of life—exist to magnify the glory of Jesus Christ. That glory was displayed in its deepest love and highest beauty when Jesus willingly went to the cross to bear the wrath of God against our sins. Our evangelism, our parenting, our corporate worship will never display the glory of Christ as they ought until God is known and feared.

“Let us offer to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” Hebrews 12:28-29.

Fear and Trembling Transforms Parenting Part Three

If we know the LORD for who He really is in the greatness of His holiness and justice and wrath and grace, we will tremble in his presence. And this is our family as well! As a father I should be the kind of parent who helps myr children tremble with joy in the presence of God.

I will mention only one thing to us fathers,we should be the kind of father that our children delight to fear. And thus help them know God. We take our place as the special representative of God in our family and display the fullness of who God is so that our children will delight to fear us.

If they only fear me, and there is no delight in it, it’s wrong and dysfunctional. If they only delight in me and do not fear me, it’s wrong and dysfunctional. In both cases I have made it very difficult for the children to embrace the true God—the God of wrath and mercy.

On the one had, as fathers, we hear Proverbs 13:24, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Why? Because that’s the way God is. Hebrews 12:6, “The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” So when I discipline my child, I display God’s judgment and His love.

But on the other hand, as fathers, we hear this word from Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” We are in the place of the Lord. We are doing the discipline of the Lord. Our children are learning what the Lord is like. And what is he like? Psalm 103:13-14, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”

Fear and Trembling Transforms Corporate Worship Part Two

The first thing we should say is that this Christian fear and trembling should be felt especially in our worship services. Corporate worship is the experience of coming corporately and consciously before the face of God. Here, if anywhere in the Christian life, there will be a proper fear and trembling. Consider how the Bible connects worship and the fear of the Lord.

Psalm 96:9, “Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!” Revelation 14:7, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” Revelation 15:4, “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

But now here is a great fear-transforming reality, and it explains why Christians sing with joy in worship, and Muslims don’t. Fear and trembling are not because God is our enemy but because he saved us from his wrath through Christ, and now we stand on the brink of the Grand Canyon of his holiness and justice and grace and wrath with unspeakable wonder, knees wobbling and hands trembling, but overcome with worship at the depth of his majesty, not with worry that we might fall in.

Listen to the way the Bible says it so paradoxically, and yet, all true saints know what these words mean. Psalm 2:11, “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” Isaiah 11:3, “And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.” This fear is full of delight. Nehemiah 1:11, “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer . . . of your servants who delight to fear your name.” This fear is what the saints delight to experience.
Those who have seen and savored the holiness of God and justice and wrath and grace of God can never again trivialize worship. There ought to be a sense of His holy presence when we come together. Ananias and Sapphira lost this sense of His presence. Those at Corinth also lost it and for that reason many were fallen asleep (1 Corinthian 11:30). We need to cultivate this sense of His presence among us; it really needs to be more than a principle base on Matthew 18:20. It needs to be a power that transforms us!

Fear and Trembling Part One

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

What does it mean to work out our salvation with fear and trembling? I would suggest that it has the thought of reverence and a deep concern for His holiness to be seen in my life. Fearing the Lord in this way ought to affect every area of my life. And I would like to suggest at least three:1) the way we do corporate worship, and 2) the way we raise our children, and 3) the way we do evangelism and to display the glory of Christ.

Sometimes we get the wrong view of who the Lord Jesus Christ is and who God is. We often are occupied with His love and grace that we do it at the expense of His holiness and righteousness. In Revelation 19:15b John describes the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns at His second coming: “From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.” Notice the four parts of this terrible picture of God’s judgment on those who do not repent.

• First, God is “almighty.” We are dealing here not with a mere world ruler, but with the almighty! “Almighty” means that God has all the power in the universe.
• Second, this almighty God will pour out his wrath. He is not only a God of love, but of holiness and justice and wrath.
• Third, his wrath is full of fury. John speaks of “the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.” The wrath is not cool opposition. It is furiously angry opposition.
• And fourth, and perhaps most terrible, Jesus Himself is pictured as treading the winepress of this fury. That means that those who rebelled and did not repent are like grapes under the feet of the fury of Christ, and are crushed until their blood runs like wine from the press.

Godly Trembling
If we truly believe in this reality, it ought to produce a proper fear and trembling in the life of a Christian that transforms everything. Listen to several passages of Scripture that show this godly trembling. From the Old Testament we hear Psalm 114:7, “Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob.” Psalm 119:120, “My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments.” Isaiah 66:2b, “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”

From the New Testament, we hear most clearly Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” If we know the LORD—really know Him—for who he is in the greatness of his holiness and justice and wrath and grace, you will tremble in his presence. And this is not something you will grow out of. In fact, the immature must grow into it.

The Two Meanings of “Fear Not”
Many of us would say, “But doesn’t the Bible teach us not to fear? Aren’t there many commands like, ‘Fear not, for I am with you.’ They mean two things. They mean, Don’t fear man, fear God. And, second, they mean, Don’t fear God as your enemy, fear him as one who once was your enemy and still is infinite in power and holiness. Here’s the support for these two ways of not fearing.

First, Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” In other words, Don’t fear man, fear God. Tremble at the prospect of distrusting God, not displeasing man. Listen to the way Isaiah put it, “Do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts . . . Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary” (Isaiah 8:12-14). Don’t fear displeasing man, fear distrusting God, and he will become your sanctuary from the wrath of man. (See Exodus 20:20.) So the first meaning of “Fear not” is don’t fear man, fear God.

The second meaning is: If you are his child, fear God not as your enemy, but fear him as one who was once was your enemy and still is infinite in power and holiness. Consider Psalm 130:3-4, “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” There is forgiveness that you may be feared. Once our iniquities fell before us like a terrible chasm. Who can stand! we cried. Then we were snatched by grace—sovereign grace alone—and now we are free. We are forgiven. And we tremble, not because God is our enemy, but because He was, and oh, how terrible it would have been if he had not saved us.

The Christian life—the forgiven, heaven-bound, eternally secure, Spirit-indwelt Christian life—there is a proper fear and trembling that transforms everything. So let us take a look at a few areas of our life that fear the Lord transforms.