The name “Father” for God has been brought to the fore by the very popular song entitled Good Good Father by Chris Tomlin. It is an inspiring and truthful song. He truly is the perfect Father to those who have received the gospel of Jesus Christ and have been born again. Sadly, those who have rejected His Son’s sacrifice on the Cross for their sins and His Lordship still have another father, Satan.
If we like this song and are calling God our “Father”, we need to give heed to what the Apostle Peter said about calling God “Father” in I Peter 1: 17-19:
“And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (Emphasis added)
He says if we address God as “Father”, we need to
“conduct ourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon the earth.”
For us to properly understand his instructions we need to understand what it cost God to justly purchase us out of slavery to the devil and what the word “fear” means in this scripture. The purpose of this study is to look at the word “fear”.
Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words defines “fear” as follows:
- reverential fear of God, as a controlling motive of the life, in matters spiritual and moral,
- not a mere “fear” of His power and righteous retribution, but a wholesome dread of displeasing Him
- a “fear” which banishes the terror that shrinks from His presence, Romans 8:15, and which influences the disposition and attitude of one whose circumstances are guided by trust in God, through the indwelling Spirit of God.
- concerning I Peter 1:17 specifically it says: “the reverential “fear” of God will inspire a constant carefulness in dealing with others in His “fear”.
The Greek scholar Vincent, quoting Wardlaw on Proverbs, defines the word “fear” as follows:
- “This fear is self-distrust; it is tenderness of conscience; it is vigilance against temptation;
- it is the fear which inspiration opposes to high-mindedness in the admonition, ‘be not high-minded but fear’;
- it is a constant apprehension of the deceitfulness of the heart, and of the insidiousness and power of inward corruption,
- it is the caution and circumspection which timidly shrinks from whatever would offend and dishonor God and the Savior.”
As we can see this “fear” or “wholesome dread of displeasing Him” shapes our Christian character and our conduct “in dealing with others”. It is not being terrified of the Lord because Romans 8:15 says
“For you have not received a spirit of slavery, leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!.”
This “spirit of slavery, leading to fear again” is referring to the terror the children of Israel expressed to Moses when God came down on the mountain to talk to them. They shrank away from God’s presence because of it. As born-again people in the New Testament period, we have been adopted into God’s family and He is our Heavenly Father. We can come boldly to His throne of grace to find help in time of need. Yet, we are still exhorted in the New Testament to conduct ourselves in the fear of the Lord.
The quote from Wardlaw throws light on this “fear” and its relation to our old sinful self. Though this is the “old man” that died with Jesus on the Cross in Romans 6:6, we must be on the alert for the old sinful self’s insidiousness; how it draws us into disobedience in a way that is gradual or not easily noticed.
In conclusion, if we are calling God our Father, Peter tells us to pay attention to our behavior. The standard of conduct can not be what we think is right or wrong, but the standard must be what His Word, the Bible, says is right and wrong.
If we are living in sin and calling Him “Father” and He really is our “Father” because we are born-again, remember He disciplines all His children so they may partake of His holiness. Discipline, maybe severe discipline expressed as “great tribulations” in Rev. 2: 22, may come our way if we are obstinate and persist in our rebellion to His will. Paul told the Corinthians in II Corinthians 12: 21 concerning unrepentant believers:
“I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.”
Paul’s desire was to come to Corinth and build up the church. If these people did not repent and change their behavior, he would mourn because he would have to “tear down” the sin these people had built into their lifestyle. He would use his apostolic authority from the Lord to bring severe discipline to these believers. In the early church, this could mean dying, being turned over to Satan, or other visible manifestations of God’s anger/displeasure. We find him grieved in Galatians over the believers who forsook grace and returned to legalism, knowing that they would be severely disciplined for this.
God desire is to build us up to be like His Son Jesus. Not to have to tear us down because of our rebellion. But He is the Good Good Father.
I love you in the Lord. I close with my favorite definition of the fear of the Lord.
“And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” Job 28:28