Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
We hear many explanations for the various problems in the church today but I believe most can be traced back to ignoring this command by Jesus – “Fear God”. We love to “consider the kindness” of God but dismiss the “sternness of God”, a sternness that resulted in Him “cutting off” His own people. (Romans 11:22)
The Bible speaks of the fear of the Lord as a very positive thing. We are told the fear of God causes a man to shun evil and choose to do right. It will deliver a man from the snares of death. It adds length to life and without it you haven’t even taken the first step toward wisdom or knowledge. Take a moment to look up “fear of the Lord” in a concordance and you will likely be amazed at all the benefits promised to those who fear God.
We have redefined “fear” as merely reverence but Scripture is clearly talking about fear, as in terror. Ask Pharaoh, ask a Philistine, ask Ananias of Acts 5, if there is reason to be afraid of God. I understand the logic behind painting God as only a one dimensional God of love but it is not Biblical logic. Jesus clearly says, “fear God”. But is it possible to fear someone and love them intensely at the same time? Certainly! in fact, the Bible (OT and NT) commands us to love God AND to fear Him. (1 Pt 2:17)
This is beautifully illustrated in the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia where the beavers are talking about Aslan being a lion and the children, afraid of meeting a lion, ask if he is safe. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” Later Lewis writes, some people “think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time.” God IS good. God IS kind. God IS merciful. God IS love. But He is also a terrible God and not one to be trifled with.
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, the terrible God, Who is not partial and takes no bribe.
… Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.