In order to the attaining of all useful knowledge this is most necessary, that we fear God; we are not qualified to profit by the instructions that are given us unless our minds be possessed with a holy reverence of God, and every thought within us be brought into obedience to Him…. As all our knowledge must take rise from the fear of God, so it must tend to it as its perfection and centre. Those know enough who know how to fear God, who are careful in every thing to please Him and fearful of offending Him in any thing; this is the Alpha and Omega of knowledge.
Is there a man alive who has not experienced fear? Some fear is reasonable, but Richard Baxter, in the excerpt below, discusses how sinful fear in the Christian life contradicts God’s Word:
Mark how you contradict the endeavors of God, in his word, and by his ministers. Do you find God driving any from him, and frightening away souls that would fain be his? Or doth he not prepare the way himself, and reconcile the world to himself in Christ, and then send his ambassadors in his name and stead to beseech them to be reconciled unto God, and to tell them that all things are ready, and compel them to come in.(2 Cor. 5:19, 20; Luke 14:17; Matt. 22:8.)
Consider how thou wrongest others, and keepest them from coming home to God. When they see thee terrified in a way of piety, they will fly from it as if some enemies or robbers were in the way. If you tread fearfully, others will fear there is some quicksand. If you tremble when you enter the ship with Christ, others will think he is an unfaithful pilot, or that it is a leaking vessel. Your fear discourages them.
Remember how remediless, as to comfort, you leave yourselves, while you inordinately fear him, who alone must comfort you against all your other fears. If you fear your remedy, what shall cure the fear of your disease? If you fear your meat, what shall cure your fear of hunger? If you fear him that is most good and faithful, and the friend of every upright soul, what shall ease you of your fear of the wicked and the enemies of holy souls? If you fear your Father, who shall comfort you against your foes? You cast away all peace, when you make God your terror.
Yet take heed lest under this pretense you cast away the necessary fear of God; even such as belongeth to men in your condition, to drive them out of their sin and security unto Christ, and such as the truth of his threatenings require. For a senseless presumption and contempt of God, are sins of a far greater danger. (“Directions Against Sinful Fear”)
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