The Fear of God
In his work, The Great Gain of Godliness, Thomas Watson defines the fear of God as “the reverencing and adoring of God’s holiness, and the setting of ourselves always under His sacred inspection.” Then he adds, “The infinite distance between God and us causes this fear.”
He answers the question, “How may we know whether we have the fear of God implanted in our hearts?”
1. 1. The fear of God will make a man fear sin (Genesis 39:9; Romans 14:23; 1 Thessalonians 5:22).
2. 2. He who fears God lives by the truth rather than example (Isaiah 8:20). Example is, for the most part, corrupt. A God-fearer directs the rudder of his life according to the compass of the Word.
3. 3. He who fears God keeps His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13) A gracious soul crosses his own will to fulfill God’s. A holy heart knows that there is nothing lost by obedience.
4. 4. He who fears God is consistent in every area of life. He who reverences God is, simper idem, alike good in all places.
5. 5. He who fears God is good in the position where God has set him (Genesis 42:18). A good man makes his family palaestra pietatis, a training ground of piety (Psalm 102:1).
6. 6. He who fears God dares not neglect family or private prayer (Psalm 109:4).
7. 7. He who fears God will not oppress his neighbor (Leviticus 25:17). How can he be holy who is not just?
8. 8. He who fears God is given to works of mercy (James 1:27). Grace may have a trembling hand, but it does not have a withered hand; it stretches itself out to relieve the needy.
9. 9. He who fears God would rather displease man than God (Exodus 1:17; Daniel 3:18).
10. 10. He who fears God will fear these six things: Satan’s snares (2 Corinthians 2:11); his own heart (Jeremiah 17:9) (this section is full of wise insights about the danger of self-flattery and pride); death; judgment (Psalm 96:13; James 5:9); Hell (Matthew 13:6); Heaven (Hebrews 4:1).
How shall we gain this fear? First, let us always set God before us; study His immensity (Genesis17:1). The reason people do not fear God is because they entertain slight thoughts of Him (Psalm 50:21). Second, let us pray for this fear of God, which is the root of all holiness, and the mother of all wisdom (Psalm 86:11). The Lord has promised to put this fear in our heart (Jeremiah 32:40). Let us pray over this promise: while some pray for riches, and others for children, let us pray for a heart to fear God.