In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil. (Proverbs 16:6, NKJV)
One would be hard-pressed to find a more concise description of God’s part and man’s part in salvation “by grace…through faith” (unless it is this quote from Ephesians 2:8-9). God provides atonement for our sins out of the abundance of His mercy, revealing it by His word of truth. As the apostle Paul noted, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:4-5). God’s kind love and generous gift of mercy saves us. Yet, without the faith that comes from “the fear of the Lord,” one will not depart from evil to be saved. As Peter said, “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35). Without God’s mercy we could not be saved. Without God’s truth we would not know we were lost in sin, and we could not have faith to fear Him and work that righteousness that He accepts. Truly, in God’s salvation “Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed” (Psa. 85:10). God’s mercy is offered to you. His truth commands you to believe and do His will. If you will fear the Lord and obey His gospel in faith, you will receive atonement for your sins (read Acts 2:36-41).
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 And the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:15–18, NKJV)
The apostle continues his use of Scriptures to expose the nature and extent of sin. It is crucial to note that Paul is not offering us his opinions about sin. He is quoting Scripture and making an application of them to support his premise (stated in verse 9, “We have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin”). Sins of violence destroy lives and disrupt peace (verses 15-17). Paul uses an abbreviated reference to Isaiah 59:7-8 to reinforce the waste and injustice sin perpetuates. The underlying reason for sin, whether it displays itself through ignorance (v. 11), futility (v. 12), the tongue (v. 13-14), or violence (v. 15-17), is the failure to fear God (v. 18). Psalm 36:1 is used to affirm this observation, “An oracle within the heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes.” Irreverence toward God denies His truth, rejects His will, and fights against His ways. All of us have done that at some point. Many continue to still. Our duty is to fear God and obey Him (Eccl. 12:13). Sin abandons respect for God. Rather than choosing the way of peace, sin chooses the way of darkness and death. What choice about sin will you make today?
6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:6–7, NKJV)
The indication is that Timothy received a miraculous spiritual gift from the apostle (see also, 1 Timothy 4:14). Whatever the specific gift was, Timothy had a duty to stir it up, to rekindle it as one would stir the embers of a dwindling fire. Being fearful would prevent Timothy from stirring up his gift – from accomplishing his work. Timothy was to be bold and courageous in the power of truth, in the love of God, and in the soundness of mind that is shaped by putting the word of Christ into one’s heart (2 Corinthians 6:3-10). Like Timothy, Christians must stir up the gifts we have and faithful fulfill the will of God. Romans 12:6-8 exhorts us to bold and courageous service as members of the body of Christ. The enemies of truth and opponents of righteousness would have you be too afraid to aggressively stand fast in the faith. But, nothing will be achieved for Christ through fear. May we develop and add virtue (moral courage) to our faith (2 Peter 1:5). Replace fear with the spirit of “power and love and of a sound mind.”
12 “Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:12–14, NKJV)
Like Israel at the Red Sea, sometimes we have trouble waiting on the Lord and trusting His salvation. After witnessing God’s great judgments upon Egypt through the miraculous plagues, just days later Israel complained when the enemy’s army approached (Exodus 14:11-12). Moses told them to replace their fear with faith in the Lord’s power and presence, for He would fight for them. That day they would see the salvation of the Lord – and they did. God told Israel to “go forward,” and He protected them and delivered them as they did (v. 15-22, 29-30). Having been saved from our past sins in Christ, Christians are told to press forward in faith, not draw back in fear (Philippians 3:12-14; Hebrews 10:35-39; 12:1-2). Our enemy, the devil, will tempt us with sin and trials, trying to discourage and defeat us. Keep doing God’s will by trusting Him and the power of His word. Be faithful and go forward, never backwards, “for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).
You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:32, NKJV)
Growing old is natural. The old were once young, and the young will become old. These things are too self-evident to warrant comment. Today’s command from the Law of Moses trained Israel to have respect for the elderly. But more than that, showing respect toward the aged is described as growing out of one’s fear of God. He is “Lord” (YHWH, Jehovah), the eternally-existing one. Ultimately, we do not have power over the aging process, He does. Being disrespectful toward an older people reflects a fundamental failure to respect God , who gives life (both young and old). So, when you come upon an older person in the grocery store who can no longer push the shopping cart as quickly as you, don’t become frustrated. When the older person is driving slower than you think he should, be patient. The “old man” should not be discounted because of his age, any more than the strength of the youth should be discounted by the aged. There is a place in this world for both. “The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray head” (Proverbs 20:29). Whether young or old, we must fear God because He is timeless.
Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. (Psalm 128:1, NKJV)
What does it mean to fear God? Some mistakenly define it as cowering fright. Others, as weak timidity. However, Scripture reveals fearing God to be reverential deference and dreading to displease the Almighty (Psalm 89:7; 111:9; Matthew 10:28). Both knowledge and wisdom begin with fearing God (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). Today’s passage gives succinct insight into what fearing God is and what it causes in one’s life. The person who fears the Lord submits to His will by walking in His ways. Fearing God is about actually living in humble, yielding obedience to the will of God. Defiance in the face of God’s word will never be rewarded with heaven’s blessing. On the other hand, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! They also do no iniquity; They walk in His ways” (Psalm 119:1-3; see Psalm 128:2-6). The purpose of life on earth is to “fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Are you fulfilling your life’s purpose? If not, now is the time to start fearing God and walking in His ways.
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:6–10, NKJV)
Sin intruded upon the idyll setting of Eden’s fellowship between God and mankind, bringing death, shame and fear. Committing sin produced knowledge of their nakedness, prompting Adam and Eve’s attempt to lessen their shame with fig leaf coverings. Their sin also caused them to experience fear for the first time. Hearing God’s voice heightened their sense of shame, and being afraid because they were naked, Adam and Eve hid themselves. Their leave coverings had not remedied their nakedness, nor did it remove the shame of their sin. Sin causes shame and fear as it separates us from God. Thank God, we do not have to live in the shame, fear and death of our sins. God provides forgiveness of our sins in His Son, Jesus (1 John 5:11-13). In Christ there is life instead of death, fellowship instead of shame, and faith instead of fear.