“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.””
Romans 8:15 NLT
There can be a tendency to view God with fear and trembling, because we visualise Him as a policeman-type figure wielding a big stick to tell us off. To beat us when we do wrong, and to banish us for bad behaviour. We read verses such as Deuteronomy 6:24, “And the Lord our God commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear him so he can continue to bless us and preserve our lives, as he has done to this day”. We misinterpret the word “fear”, associating it with being afraid of Someone who is a severe threat to our continued existence and well being. We can become slaves of a conscience, wrongly programmed to think that if we dare to commit just one sin, or break just one of God’s Laws, then we need to head to cover before a lightning bolt from Heaven turns us into toast. We end up trying to unravel mental knots, struggling to reconcile a God of love with the stern God who we picture rules with an iron rod.
But such a picture of God is totally wrong. The Amplified version of Deuteronomy 6:24 provides a little more insight to what “fear” really means. “So the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear [and worship] the Lord our God [with awe-filled reverence and profound respect] for our good always and so that He might preserve us alive, as it is today.” Fear of the Lord only means that we should approach Him with ”awe-filled reverence and profound respect”. In the Biblical context, fear of God is associated with worship and an appropriate perspective of the Creator of the Universe.
Perhaps we remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:28, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” We must remember that a lifestyle of rebellion against God (a.k.a. Sin) will one day have to be judged and sentence pronounced. God does not threaten us because His love for us knows no boundaries. Rather, He leaves us with a choice. We either respond to His love and embrace His offer of salvation through His Son Jesus, or we reject it and be aware that one day we will be held to account for the decision we have made.
Paul, in Romans 8:15, made an astonishing claim about our relationship with God. Rather than have a spirit within us that infuses us with a constant state of fear and trembling, a state that makes us worry about what God will do to us if we step out of line, we have a Spirit who brings us into God’s presence without any restrictions whatsoever. He is the ultimate good Father and the One who we can call “Daddy”, because that is what the word “Abba” means. We can climb up onto His lap and cuddle into our Father God. How does that make us feel? Too good to be true? Perhaps too good not to be true. But in reality, that is who God is. He is not the stern unloving father who beats his children at every opportunity. Instead, He is the loving Father, who cares for us. Who heals our sicknesses. Who helps us in every day we spend on this hostile planet we call Earth. And one day He will welcome us home. Jesus is building each of us a mansion there – He is the perfect Carpenter who is putting His skills to good effect.
We pilgrims need to give our minds a mental scrubbing to remove all the wrong concepts we have about God. And replace them with a picture of us so close to God that we can reach and touch Him. Where we can feel His breath, His warmth, His presence. Reader – do you know this Heavenly Father God? If not, He is there waiting for You to call upon His name. He will answer you quicker than you expect.
Dear God. We approach You with reverence and awe, secure in the knowledge that You want to embrace us at every opportunity. Thank You for this amazing truth. Amen.