Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Love and Fear" Part 7

    To fear love, especially God's love, seems counterintuitive.   Especially in our generation, the definition of love has been so distorted and diluted that thinking rightly about the matter requires much prayerful consideration of Biblical teaching.  As a good friend often suggests, many believers view the Lord as little more than "a kindly grandfather, who just wants the children to be happy."  
     This is not the God of the Bible.  He is kindly, of course, and He does desire our happiness in the best and most Biblical sense of the term.  However, our Heavenly Father is not guided by sentiment, but rather by character, nature, wisdom and His eternal purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Thus, from God we will always receive that which in our best interests, even if this involves great pain and loss.  Love meets need before it fulfills desire, and when our need involves chastening and scourging, we must expect our Lord to suspend our present happiness for the greater good of permanent holiness.
    This is a love to be feared, as the Bible so often commands, and a love to be included in our understanding of God and His working in our lives.  We wouldn't want Him to act in any other way because in our present existence, the wise believer recognizes his great need for the tempering influence of the truth that "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (a warning written not to and about unbelievers, but rather to and about born again Christians - Hebrews 10:30-31).  No less than the Apostle Paul confessed that "in my flesh dwelleth no good thing" (Romans 7:18).  Left to ourselves, believers are capable of grievous sin because the potential for unbelief and disobedience remains with us throughout our earthly lifetime.  Therefore, our Heavenly Father does not leave us to ourselves, but rather uses every tool at His disposal to lovingly direct our feet along the path of righteousness.  This includes the rod of correction, wielded by that aspect of Divine love which must be feared.
     As we have mentioned, Scripture declares that a genuine experience of God's grace in the Lord Jesus leads not only to proper rest and rejoicing, but also to proper "reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28).  We need both sensibilities in our understanding of God's perfect way in our lives, and in the recognition of His devotion to our greatest and highest good.  Any understanding of love that does not include fear is not a Biblical understanding at all, but rather a human invention at best, or a devilish deception at worst.  
"But as for me, I will come into Thy house in the multitude of Thy mercy, and in Thy fear will I worship toward Thy holy temple."
(Psalm 5:7)

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