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How can we reconcile fearing God and the scriptural statement that perfect love casts out fear?

We have movement within the body of Christ that is trying to take us back to fearing God. Can we fear God (the Greek, phobos, is the root word for our phobia) and still love Him as Father? What’s up with this, anyhow?

If I fear my father, I don’t tend to spend a lot of time with him, climb up into his lap, kiss him… 

….and if I did, it would be seen as neurotic, unhealthy, and dysfunctional. I would be responding to mix signals from my father. God does not send mixed signals, or create confusion.

Let’s go on, and see what is really being said.

Proverbs says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom. The scripture also tells us that the fool says in his heart there is no God.

What is a fool, but one who has no knowledge or wisdom?

Proverbs 9:10 goes on to say that knowledge of the holy ones is understanding. I think we should not be slicing and dicing so much, but look at the whole.

Paul tells us that for one to come to God, he must believe that He exists and is rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

And again, we have James saying this: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Wisdom is from God, true wisdom. We only need ask. Him. Not another. And He does not chide us for asking. Same thing, really.

But the one who believes God exists has the beginning of wisdom. Not the end of it, but the right start..

I know there are many who say fear means we have to quake and be frightened of God. They are welcome to that opinion. By looking at the words only, they are justified in their belief. But one cannot look at Jesus, who was the exact image of the Father, and conclude that we are to relate to God in fear.

Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Jesus never quenched a smoking wick or broke a bruised reed. He never condemned. He loved with a consuming passion.

His harshest words were reserved for the hypocrites, the religious leaders (who claimed to fear God).

Today, the voices telling us, passionately and sincerely, to fear God, are the very ones who will put us back under the yoke of bondage to rules and the law.

 So, you get to choose.

Leave grace, follow the “musts” and “have-tos” or be free from that yoke. Fear God, then try to love Him and be close to Him, and relate to Him.

Or, love Him in spirit and in truth. Perfect love casts out fear.

You can’t have it both ways! You can try, but it will kill your knowing Him.


“The knowledge of good and evil seems to be the aim of all ethical reflection. The first task of Christian ethics is to invalidate this knowledge”. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“…but of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you shall not eat, for in the day that eat of it you shall die.” Genesis 2:16b

In the light of grace, we know the law is the ministration of death. Grace is from the very heart of God to our hearts. It is life. Grace teaches us His ways. We know after the spirit, not the flesh. Our flesh is crucified with Christ.

We are to judge no one after the flesh. When we do, we put ourselves under the same law (standard of right and wrong) we use to judge by. Paul says we fall from grace when we do that (grace becomes ineffective in our hearts).

The world does not operate in grace. The world needs laws and rules. Sometimes the laws need to be changed to line up with what is good and right, and to curb new wrong doing. Laws are civil, not spiritual. It’s best not to be confused on this. We can violate a law, but it is not sin in God’s eyes. Sin is finished.

We can of course offend a fellow human being. That is also called sin in the Bible, but the word does not mean an offense against God, or a transgression of the law. It merely means to err, to stray from the path, to miss the mark. It’s an archery term. There is no guilt in missing. You just don’t get a prize.

Sin itself is a bad word in translation, because it does imply guilt. But we are stuck with it. It’s the word the translators used.

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