May 2018 Newsletter - "The Fear of the Lord" by Nathan Padilla
The Fear of the Lord is truly beautiful when properly understood. It is an integral factor to our salvation and for our transition into the Kingdom. Paul says that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling [Php_2:12], and this is in agreement with David saying, “Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,” [Psa_85:9]. Without the fear of the Lord there is no salvation. Paul said that we cannot receive the Kingdom without serving God “acceptably with reverence and godly fear,” [Heb_12:28]. This is very interesting since we do not hear this preached today when a message of salvation is being preached; however, this was not the case in the early church. In fact, they would pray for the fear of the Lord at every assembly. Before they would start worship, they would pray, “Let all mortal flesh be silent, and stand with fear and trembling, and meditate nothing earthly within itself.” This was their attitude and seriousness for the presence of God and how they took their process of salvation with such carefulness.
The Fear of the Lord is meant to protect us, and it is known as a shield and a garment to protect us from evil desires. The church is filthy without the fear of the Lord. Paul explains this process of holiness to us, “let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” [2Co_7:1]. Hermas testifies in agreement with this statement. The Shepherd Hermas was visited by the angel of repentance and asked the angel how he can overcome the evil desires that are so destructive to the saints of God. He reveals the evil desires stating,
“Foremost of all is the desire after another’s wife or husband, and after extravagance, and many useless dainties and drinks, and many other foolish luxuries; for all luxury is foolish and empty in the servants of God. These, then, are the evil desires which slay the servants of God. For this evil desire is the daughter of the devil. You must refrain from evil desires, that by refraining ye may live to God. But as many as are mastered by them, and do not resist them, will perish at last, for these desires are fatal.”1
By indulging into these fleshly desires and not even keeping them in check because the lack of the fear of God, they will eventually be possessed by them and will die in their sins. Keep in mind, this is referring to people in the church and not people in the world. Those in the world are already dead (in their spirit). These are the vices that the fear of God protects us from. The angel explains to Hermas why the Fear of God is so important and how that Spirit helps us against these evil inclinations.
“Put you on, then, the desire of righteousness; and arming yourself with the fear of the Lord, resist them. For the fear of the Lord dwells in good desire. But if evil desire sees you armed with the fear of God, and resisting it, it will flee far from you, and it will no longer appear to you, for it fears your armor. Go, then, garlanded with the crown which you have gained for victory over it, to the desire of righteousness, and, delivering up to it the prize which you have received, serve it even as it wishes. If you serve good desire, and be subject to it, you will gain the mastery over evil desire, and make it subject to you even as you wish.”1
We must understand that the evil desires that are in us are not caused by hormones or even a psychological issue; it’s a spiritual matter that is only solved with a spiritual response. We can see that the evil desire is the daughter of the devil, so this is a spiritual controversy that must be addressed with a spiritual solution, which in this case is the fear of God and discipline. This is within our ability to walk this out. By understanding how the Fear of the Lord is such a threat, the devil and his vices and how it guards us, shouldn’t we pursue this Spirit diligently?
The fear of the Lord is the fruit that is produced from a seed. The questions would now be: what is the seed that produces the fear of the Lord, and how do we attain it? Clement tells us that it is the Torah.
“Those, who denounce fear, assail the law; and if the law, plainly also God, who gave the law.”2 By rejecting the fear of God, you are rejecting the Torah and ultimately God. Isaiah says that the fear of the Lord is one of the seven spirits of God. So why would you reject His Spirit? Clement goes on to give the same explanation of why we need to fear of the Lord as the angel spoke to Hermas.
“If, then, according to hypothesis, they abolish the law; then, by necessary consequence, each one who is led by lust, courting pleasure, must neglect what is right and despise the Deity, and fearlessly indulge in impiety and injustice together, having dashed away from the truth.”2
The Torah teaches us the fear of God so that we would not fall into sin. It is the hedge that protects us from indulging into the lusts of the flesh. For the most part, the church has done away with the fear of the Lord, and in doing so has rejected God and the very medium that will lead us in wisdom. In the Psalms, David says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; good understanding is to all that do it,” [Psa_111:10]. Clement expounds the meaning of this scripture.
“He calls wisdom a doing, which is the fear of the Lord paving the way for wisdom. But if the law produces fear, the knowledge of the law is the beginning of wisdom; and a man is not wise without law. Therefore, those who reject the law are unwise; and in consequence they are reckoned godless. Now instruction is the beginning of wisdom. ‘But the ungodly despise wisdom and instruction,’ (Pro_1:7) saith the Scripture.”2
The Torah produces fear and will pave, or make the way straight, for wisdom. Paul said that in the last days (in which we are in), “men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,” [2Ti_3:2]. This is in accordance with the prophecy of the great falling away and the revealing of the lawless one in 2 Thessalonians. However, there is hope. There is the prophecy of Malachi that Elijah will return before the great and terrible day of the Lord, and he is also known as the messenger of the covenant. The covenant is the Torah. In Malachi, the priesthood is rejected because they offer blemished sacrifices, which are a people. So, a new priesthood.
(4) Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, That My covenant with Levi may continue," Says the LORD of hosts. (5) "My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, And I gave them to him that he might fear Me; So, he feared Me And was reverent before My name. (6) The law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity and turned many away from iniquity. (7) "For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; For he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. (8) But you have departed from the way; You have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi," Says the LORD of hosts.
You may think that Malachi is speaking of the time of Jesus, but it’s not. We must understand that we are Israel [Rom_9:6; Rom_2:29], and the priesthood is now the church [1Pe_2:5], we are following a spiritual law instead of a physical law [Heb_7:12; Rom_7:14], and we are performing spiritual sacrifices instead of the blood of goats and sheep. This prophecy is for the present time, the end times. Elijah is the messenger of the covenant that will reestablish the Torah (spiritual) to prepare a new priesthood before the great and terrible Day of the Lord. We understand that the Torah produces the fear of the LORD, which means Elijah must be carry that Spirit with him as well, seeing as they go hand in hand. Justin Martyr tells us that Elijah carries the Spirit of the fear of the Lord.3 We can see a strong correlation between the fear of the Lord, the Torah, and Elijah. Thus, Elijah will return to release the fear of the Lord through the Torah to kill every evil and beastly desire in ourselves, so that we would be prepared for the coming glory of Christ our King and the ushering in of the Kingdom.
- Hermas - ANF Vol. 2, The Shepherd - Book 2 Part 2
- Clement - ANF Vol. 2, Stromata - Book 2 Ch. VII
- Justin Martyr - ANF Vol. 1, Dialogue with Trypho - Ch. LXXXVII