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?
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.
O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens! (Psalm 8:1, NKJV)
Yahweh (Jehovah) is the eternally-existing One, the great I AM (Exodus 3:14-15). He is Lord (sovereign) over heaven and earth, and so His name (His honor, authority and character) is renown in all the earth and above the heavens. Our concept of God, our attitudes toward God and our conduct toward God must reverence His supreme place of power and praise. Only then are we able to submit to Him fully, worship Him acceptability, and serve Him faithfully. Only then do we live by every word that comes from His mouth (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4). We are without excuse for being under His wrath when we choose to reject God and will not honor His majesty and respect His rule over us (Romans 1:18-20). We corrupt ourselves in unbelief if we spurn His majestic honor to serve gods after our own image (Romans 1:21-23). We must always recall that God, who reigns supreme, has crowned us with glory and honor (Psalm 8:3-8). We are not gods – He is the only God! He alone, by His great might, overwhelms silences every foe. How utterly disrespectful it is to disdain His name and refuse to live thankful, holy, and obedient lives. When we say we love God then our lives must show our love by obedient submission to His will and by faithful thanksgiving to Him for His abundant blessings.
5 And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints. 6 For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord? 7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, And to be held in reverence by all those around Him. (Psalm 89:5–7, NKJV)
The sovereign majesty of God is on full display in the heavens: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). The wondrous precision of the heavenly bodies sustains life on earth and measures time on this globe. God faithfully works in the heavens and in the assembly of His holy ones. He rises above all the heavenly host and is held in reverential awe by them. The holy ones before His throne proclaim, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11). How much more so, then, ought we to fall before His majesty with reverential praise and adoration! Worship is not play time, entertainment time, or anything else but giving homage to the Lord God “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). As the hymn says, “There is none like Him, none can compare.”
Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments. (Psalm 112:1, NKJV)
This psalm calls on us to give celebratory adulation of thanks to Jehovah. It reveals the result of such praise, while explaining who actually praises the Lord, and why. The blessing of His favor is the outcome of giving God the praise He is due. The source of acceptable praise comes from a heart that fears the Lord. This person obtains His good favor. Cries of hallelujah (“praise Jehovah” or “praise the Lord”) must combine with genuine reverence for them to be regarded by the Lord and responded to favorably by Him. Nor do we have to wonder who it is that fears the Lord, for it is spelled out here. Fearing God is tantamount to delighting completely in His commandments. We fear God by desiring, cherishing and following His commands. And so, by taking pleasure in His commands, we wholeheartedly praise His name. At this thanksgiving season (and every day), may we delight in the Lord’s commands, rejoice in His good blessings, and thankfully praise His name.
12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh. 13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. (Ecclesiastes 12:12–13, NKJV)
As you see from the above notation, this is the 1200th Sword Tip. Seeing that number reminded me of today’s passage. People will always write books. And, people will continue to read and study them. Yet, making intellectual pursuit the goal of one’s life “is grasping for the wind,” as Solomon explained in Ecclesiastes 1:17-18. God’s word, the Bible, is complete; it will not be added to by God, and it cannot be improved upon by human wisdom (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Jude 3; Revelation 22:18-19). Bible study is essential. But, Bible study is not an end in itself. Reading and knowing God’s word is vanity, unless we “fear God and keep His commandments” (verse 13). That is the purpose of life. The Bible teaches us why to fear God and how to obey Him. This is why we read, learn and study the Bible – so that we may live reverently, obey God completely, and thereby, fulfill our God-given purpose. By God’s good grace, may that ever be the purpose that drives our lives (2 Peter 3:17-18).
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28–29, NKJV)
The kingdom of God will not be destroyed by evil men under the power of the devil. It is a spiritual kingdom that endures, even as the kingdoms of men fall (Daniel 2:44). Therefore, Christians are to live unshakable lives of faith. We graciously serve God according to His will, to be accepted by Him (whether or not people accept us). Our service is to be marked by awe and pious dread of displeasing our God. Boisterous, impious, irreverent conduct is not acceptable service to our holy God. We are kingdom citizens and kingdom servants, remembering our place before our King. God is a “consuming fire” against all who do not fear Him and fail to faithfully serve Him. Make no mistake; God does not favor those who dishonor Him with disobedient, sinful and shameful living. He will punish sin, even as He reward the faithful. Choose wisely, and serve the King acceptably.