Summary: In a time when people fear everything but God, this sermon is a call for us to learn to fear the Lord.
Living in Fear of the Lord.
In life we can fear many things. We can have a fear of the future, a fear of failure, a fear of losing our job, a fear of people, a fear of not looking good, or a fear of punishment. Many people, including Christians are trapped by these fears. There are now more phobia’s than ever before. While all these fears are increasing, one fear is decreasing, and that is a fear of God. It is decreasing not just in the world, but also in the church. Yet the Bible commands that this is the only fear that we should have.
"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.
5:But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.
We are told not to fear people as in the scripture above and in Proverbs 29:25. We are told not to fear troubles all incidents that may come our way. Luke 21:25-28 & Isaiah 41:10. These fears only trap us and lead us into sin as Saul found out in 1 Samuel 15 after disobeying God by failing to destroy the Amalekites.
Then Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned. I violated the LORD’S command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them.
Saul failed to deal with sin because he feared people more than he feared God. In the same way the church of today is suffering because it does not have the fear of God. I read recently about a knife throwers assistant who in the middle of an act gave out a cry and collapsed onto the floor. Everybody feared the worst, but it was later revealed that a harmless spider had simply crawled up her leg and being terrified of spiders she collapsed in the fright. She was more fearful of the spider that couldn’t hurt her than being still for the knifes that could. We can often find ourselves fearing things instead of God in the same way.
It seems people would rather concentrate on the Mercy of God rather than his fear. The Bible takes the fear of God very seriously. In the old testament alone I counted 158 verses directly relating to, or encouraging people to fear God. This however is part of the problem. Christians see the God of the Old Testament as one to be feared, but the God of the New as one that flows in mercy. We have to realise that the God of the Old, is also the God of the New. He flows in both grace and judgement just as much before as after He sent Jesus into the world. The God who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah in the Old, is the same God that killed Ananias and Sapphira for their sin in the New. I counted almost 40 references in the new testament calling us to have a fear of God.
I want to look at two stories in the life and work of Jesus where people came under the fear of God. I want to look at the different reactions and learn How we can live in the fear of God, what the fear of God produces, and how it affects Gods Kingdom. Both stories are contained in Luke 8 26-48.
They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee.
27:When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs.
28:When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!"
29:For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.
30:Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "Legion," he replied, because many demons had gone into him.
31:And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.
32:A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission.
33:When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.