Fearing God Is a Matter of the Heart

Michael Reeves: The Heart’s Inclinations The fear of God is not a state of mind you can guarantee with five easy steps. It is not something that can be acquired with simple self-effort. The fear of God is a matter of the heart. How easily we can mistake the reality of the fear of God for an outward and hollow show! As Martin Luther put it: “To fear God is not merely to fall upon your knees. Even a godless man and a robber can do that.”1Scripture presents the fear of God as a matter of the heart’s inclinations. So, reads Psalm 112:1, Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,who greatly delights in his commandments! The one who fears the Lord, then, is not merely one who grudgingly attempts the outward action of keeping the Lord’s commandments. The one who truly fears the Lord greatly delights in God’s commandments! In other words, fear runs deeper than behavior: it drives behavior. Sinful fear hates God and therefore acts sinfully.

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What does it mean to fear God?

  R.C. Sproul: We need to make some important distinctions about the biblical meaning of “fearing” God. These distinctions can be helpful, but they can also be a little dangerous. When Luther struggled with that, he made this distinction, which has since become somewhat famous: He distinguished between what he called a servile fear and a filial fear. The servile fear is a kind of fear that a prisoner in a torture chamber has for his tormentor, the jailer, or the executioner. It’s that kind of dreadful anxiety in which someone is frightened by the clear and present danger that is represented by another person. Or it’s the kind of fear that a slave would have at the hands of a malicious master who would come with the whip and torment the slave. Servile refers to a posture of servitude toward a malevolent owner. Luther distinguished between that and what he called filial fear, drawing from the Latin concept from which

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What Does it Mean to Fear God?

  R.C. Sproul: We need to make some important distinctions about the biblical meaning of “fearing” God. These distinctions can be helpful, but they can also be a little dangerous. When Luther struggled with that, he made this distinction, which has since become somewhat famous: He distinguished between what he called aservile fear and a filial fear. The servile fear is a kind of fear that a prisoner in a torture chamber has for his tormentor, the jailer, or the executioner. It’s that kind of dreadful anxiety in which someone is frightened by the clear and present danger that is represented by another person. Or it’s the kind of fear that a slave would have at the hands of a malicious master who would come with the whip and torment the slave. Servile refers to a posture of servitude toward a malevolent owner. Luther distinguished between that and what he called filial fear, drawing from the Latin concept from which we

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