That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 NLT
Some might look at this call to “fear and obey”, see that it is from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiasties, and immediately dismiss it with some statement like “were not under the law anymore”. My recommendation, friends, is that we not exclude or leave out portions of the Word of God or cherry pick things to listen to, preach, or obey — but that we do our duty, fear God and obey just as this verse teaches.
But how does a man fear someone he doesn’t know or obey something he does not understand? This is where duty comes in. It is our duty to get to know God. It is our duty to learn His way. And while for saints, the Holy Spirit does well in teaching and guiding and comforting — there are also other spirits (and even our own feelings and desires) that would love to counterfeit that guidance and lead us astray.
If we want to truly obey God, we can’t reasonably think that we can point the finger at “the devil made me do it” or “you are the one who made me and gave me those desires” as our excuse for disobedience — this is where the fear of God and respect for His Lordship over our lives comes in. So we must learn how to judge between God’s will and The Way that the Holy Spirit leads — versus everything else. We must learn God’s voice and character and nature through The Word in order to distinguish and obey.
God’s will is not as simple as a 10 point list of DON’Ts, or a large list of IF THEN ELSE statements, or even a larger gathering of CASE statements (sorry for the programming reference of you aren’t familiar with the specifics) — because hardened hearts (just like hackers finding holes in a program) will find a way to follow the letter while still completely subverting the true intent. Someone can cherry pick a single line and twist it to their own agenda and purpose, just like Satan when He tempted Jesus in the wilderness, and just like many fake preachers, politicians and “Christians” who just use the gospel for their own benefit and agendas but have no true fear, reverence or love of God. I’m not saying this to point a judgemental finger at “THEM”, as if that somehow makes me better than them, as if you should instead listen to me. No, I have failed God in this same way myself repeatedly, which is why I repent each time, accept that I am forgiven not by my own self-righteous but by the Blood of the Lamb, and I resolve myself yet again to fear and obey.
The point of “fear and obey” is not to produce shame in a Saint (because there is no condemnation in those who have been brought from death to life). But since there also is no shame in the wicked who hate God and do not fear Him at all, the absence of shame isn’t the point. The still condemned cannot simply live lives of wickedness, saying they are saved by Christ, lying by saying that they are filled by the Holy Spirit just because they went through some religious ceremony involving “water and words”, never feeding and obeying God — because their deceit testifies against them and “blasphemes the name in the eyes of the unbelievers”.
The point of “fear and obey” is that the world would see Christ in us — not that they would have yet another batch of evidence for speaking badly of Christians, of the church, and of God. So we should ask ourselves, “Are those around me seeing Christ or seeing something else?” This is our duty, this is the point of “Fear and Obey”. Not so that we might live up to some measuring stick God has set for us in order to earn a prize — but to reveal clearly to a dying world the true children of God — to reveal Himself alive in His Children.
Lord, if we hear “Fear and Obey” and it causes its to shrink back in offense or shame, maybe that is because we don’t know or trust the one saying it, and our knowledge of those in power using such words to oppress and exploit and condemn is a trigger to dark things. I pray that where this is the case, that you will reveal yourself merciful, kind, loving, just and faithful, and that your very nature and character will woo us away from the dark and into the light, to prove that The Way is the best and most abundant and most free choice. If we hear “Fear and Obey” and dismiss it in apathy or presume upon your promised grace in order to trample upon the Blood of the Lamb, I pray that your Word will bring conviction, or that discipline will come, or you will confront us face to face before it is too late for us to turn back and be saved. If we hear “Fear and Obey”, and we are convicted and compelled to repent and to draw closer to you, I rejoice, I celebrate, I praise, and I worship you for doing it again! Thank you Lord! Amen.