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Peter wrote by inspiration this heartfelt admonishment:
As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy." And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.
(1 Pet. 1:15-17)
Notice he does not say "conduct yourselves in love." Yes, we are to walk in love, for without it we have nothing! Apart from His love, we cannot even know the Father's heart. Earlier in this very epistle Peter comments on the love that is to burn in our hearts for the Lord, "whom having not seen you love." (v. 8)

We are called to have a personal love relationship with our Father, but Peter is quick to add the balance of the fear of God. Our love for God is limited by a lack of holy fear. Our hearts are to bear the light and warmth of both flames.

You may wonder how this love could be limited. You can only love someone to the extent that you know them. If your image of God falls short of who He is, then you have but a surface knowledge of the One you love. True love is founded in the truth of who God really is.

Do you think He reveals His heart to those who take Him lightly? Would you? In fact, God has chosen to hide Himself. (Isa. 45:1) The psalmist refers to His place of hiding as "the secret place." (Ps. 91:1)

It is here in secret that we discover His holiness and His greatness.  But only those who fear Him will find this secret refuge. For we are told:
The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.
(Ps. 25:14)
Now you can more fully understand Peter's words. Paul, who did not walk with Jesus on earth but met Him on the road to Damascus, fortified this exhortation by adding the word trembling. He says to the believers, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12) In fact, this phrase is used three times in the New Testament to describe the proper relationship between a believer and Christ.

Paul came to know Jesus by revelation of the Spirit. This is the same way we are to come to know Him. "Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer." (2 Cor. 5:16) If we seek to access the knowledge of God and walk with Him as we walk with natural, corruptible men, we will eventually take His presence for granted, as some did in the early church.

Ananias and Sapphira
I'm sure Ananias and Sapphira were a part of those who were astonished and excited in the early church of Acts. All had been amazed by the abundant signs and wonders. Yet even signs and wonders will become commonplace when there is a lack of the fear of God in your hearts. The fear of God would have restrained the foolishness of this unfortunate couple. (See Psalm 34:11-13) The fear would have revealed the holiness of God.

We must remember both of these unchangeable attributes: "God is love," and "God is a consuming fire" (1 John 4:8; Heb. 12:29). Paul refers to the fire experienced by believers when they stand before a holy God at the judgment seat. There we will give account of our works done in the body of Christ, both good and bad (2 Cor. 5:10). Paul then warns, "Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men." (2 Cor. 5:11)

Because of God's love, we can have confidence when we approach Him. The Bible adds that we must serve and approach Him acceptably. How? With reverence and godly fear. (Heb. 12:28)

Those who have been born again know God as Abba Father. But that does not negate His position as Judge of all flesh (Gal. 4:6-7; Heb. 12:23). God makes it clear: "The LORD will judge His people." (Heb. 10:30)

Consider an earthly king with sons and daughters. In the palace, he is husband and Dad. But in the throne room, he is king and must be reverenced as such even by his wife and children. Yes, there are those times when I have sensed the Father call to me from His private chamber, arms outstretched, inviting me to "come, jump on My lap, and let's embrace and talk."

I love those times. They are so special. But there are times when I am praying or participating in a service when I have feared and trembled at His holy presence.

Source: The Fear of the Lord by John Bevere
Excerpt permission granted by Charisma House

Author Biography

John Bevere
Web site: John Bevere
John is an international minister and best selling author known for his bold and uncompromising approach to God's Word. His resources have been translated into over 110 languages, and over 40 million copies have been given away worldwide. When he's home in Nashville, you can find John playing competitive card games with his four sons or trying to convince Lisa to take up golf.

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