Albert Barnes, condemnation, curses, discerning the spirits, exhortation, experience, freedom, God's love, joy, judging others, love, obedience, peace, spiritual blessings, spiritual power, T.A. Sparks, true faith
Although this article springs from my own experiences with the fear of God, I did not describe here how it really feels to be struck all of a sudden by this special spirit of Him who rules the universe. If you like to read more about that, though, click here. In this entry you will rather find a definition by T. Austin Sparks’ of the fear of the Lord and some implications of what it means to truly belong to God’s people. Contrasting the evil of fear imposed on us by Satan in order to torment and paralyze us, TAS wrote regarding the fear of God,
But this fear is a holy fear. Let no one think for a moment that this fear of the Lord is death, bondage, stultification and repression. Not at all. Wherever you find this fear of the Lord you find joy, love, peace and liberty. People are not afraid of the Lord. But they are careful not to grieve the Lord. They do not take liberties with the Lord. They do not think of spiritual liberty as spiritual licence. They do not cast off restraint, they do not ride rough-shod over all sacred things, calling it liberty. No, there is holy fear which restrains and in restraining keeps things pure and keeps things clear and makes a straight way for the Lord. The true fear of the Lord is not dread. It is a very blessed and precious thing.
If the children of God have come to know their Lord and God and have received the spirit that makes them fear Him too, they will change a lot. For example, you won’t catch them making fun about saints in the Bible by turning their failures into ridicule. Much less they will mock Jesus’ humanity in any way. Instead, this fear of the Lord is so holy that they abhor what God abhors and they love what God loves. Of course, no human being is able to feel and act accordingly on their own. But once equipped with the fear of the Lord which is quite powerful, you will quickly realize who truly knows God and who does not. And you will realize that God’s children cannot have fellowship with another person who does not fear God at all. When the Holy Spirit is grieved, they feel it immediately and suffer with God whose Spirit dwells in them, in their hearts and souls, in their spirits, and even in their bodies (cf. 1 Cor 6:19).
Furthermore, you won’t meet true Christians who keep mocking their brethren or speak evil about them. The reason is that the children of God share the same Spirit of Him who is love. Can you and I speak evil about someone whom we truly love? I don’t think so. At this point I want to deepen this last issue by pointing you to a very often misused Bible verse that says, “Do not touch the anointed one of the Lord.” I say misused since I heard that especially in Charismatic circles where those preachers with a false anointing thought they were speaking for God. And if someone disagreed with them or doubted the authenticity of their ‘anointing’, they quoted that verse. However, if someone has been genuinely anointed by God Himself, it can be perilous to resist or even attack these Christians. Here’s why. T. Austin Sparks explained these things in that same article of which I took the definition above (emphasis in bold letters mine).
If you go through the Word and you find those various instances where God came out in judgment because this fear [of the Lord] was not there, you will find that it was that those instances represented something like this. In Numbers 16 you have Dathan and Abiram and their company. What are they doing? To Moses, the meekest of men, the anointed servant of the Lord, they say, “You take too much on yourself. You are not the only one through whom the Lord speaks. We are as much the children of God as you are!” That is how they speak, and they fear not to put their hand upon that which is anointed. It is not that Moses is anything, but it is the anointing. It is something anointed of God and they were guilty of the sin of spiritual assumption; it was due to a lack of meekness. The Lord came out in terrible judgment, showing for all time that when the Lord anoints anyone or anything, that anointing is not something that constitutes that person a special office or officer. The anointing is the Lord, the Lord Himself. The Lord is on that, the Lord Himself is in that, the Lord is there, and when you touch that, you touch the Lord; you touch that in word, you touch the Lord, you touch that in deed, you touch the Lord. “He reproved kings for their sakes, saying, Touch not Mine anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm” (Psa. 105:14-15).
If you and I ever have the slightest reason to conclude that the Lord is anywhere or with any person or with anything or with any people, we touch that to our peril if it is touching it other than in the fear of the Lord. It is a tremendous check. We read that little bit from 1 Samuel. Yes, David was anointed, David was God’s chosen one, but Saul had been anointed and Saul was not yet dead. Saul was not yet set aside finally, although potentially. David got an opportunity and cut off the skirt of Saul’s garment and then it says, “David’s heart smote him”. David’s heart smote him. We in New Testament times in whom the Spirit dwells would say, “The Lord rebuked me, smote me in my heart, in my spirit”. Again and again this comes up – exactly what happens in the case of the bringing up of the ark. When Uzzah died before the Lord, what was the reason? It was a lack of the fear of the Lord of the right kind. It was an assumption. It was a putting forth of a hand to touch holy things. That is terrible. The evil of not fearing, you see. It comes from an insufficient apprehension of the sacredness of what is of God.
I was just reminded of another Scripture that also displays how much God identifies with someone, here Abra(ha)m, whom He gives His Holy Spirit. God promises Abram, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt.” (Gen 12:3 NLT) We may also think of that frightening occurrence described in Acts after Pentecost when a couple lied to the apostle Peter and dropped dead soon afterwards (Ananias and Sapphira, see Acts 5). Barnes’ exposition on Genesis chapter 12 says ,
“I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” Here the Lord identifies the cause of Abram with his own, and declares him to be essentially connected with the weal or woe of all who come into contact with him. “And blessed in thee shall be all the families of the ground.” The ground was cursed for the sake of Adam, who fell by transgression. But now shall the ground again participate in the blessing. “In thee.” In Abram is this blessing laid up as a treasure hid in a field to be realized in due time. “All the families” of mankind shall ultimately enter into the enjoyment of this unbounded blessing.
From hence, we might understand that judgment (condemnation) is not ours. If we have been treated wrongly BECAUSE we belong to God, we can be sure that He will be a righteous judge of our case. However, since God is love, as Christians who share God’s Sprit we know how we ought to ‘react’ when we are cursed by others. Jesus told us how as he said,
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” (Lk 6:27-35 ESV)
In closing I want to paste a few verses from an ancient book of the Apocrypha which confirms much of what has been said (by TAS in particular). In Ecclesiasticus we read,
1:22 The fear of the Lord is a crown of wisdom, filling up peace and the fruit of salvation.
1:25 The root of wisdom is to fear the Lord: and the branches thereof are longlived.
1:26 In the treasures of wisdom is understanding, and religiousness of knowledge: but to sinners wisdom is an abomination.
1:27 The fear of the Lord driveth out sin:
1:28 For he that is without fear, cannot be justified: for the wrath of his high spirits is his ruin.
1:29 A patient man shall bear for a time, and afterwards joy shall be restored to him.