THE FEAR OF THE LORD 2
In our last article we saw what the fear of the Lord is and the fact that we must not take God’s mercy and forgiveness for granted like many us do. This week we will continue to see that God’s mercy is conditional and that we must develop a fear or reverence for God knowing that His judgments are certain and His mercies are sure.
GOD’S MERCY IS CONDITIONAL ON DECISION TO FORSAKE SIN
Many times because God’s judgments or chastenings are delayed and not very severe, because they are tempered by His mercy, we do not link them to our sins (slothfulness and negligence mostly) we simply think they are just Satanic attacks so we do not cultivate the fear of God. We try to get God’s mercy without the honesty of judging ourselves and forsaking our sins.
We need to understand that God’s mercy progressively triumphs over judgment only to the degree that we forsake sin by using the power of the Holy Spirit through prayer and corresponding acts of obedience.
Proverbs 28:13 KJV: He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
James 2:13 NIV: because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
God always gives us space or time to repent and forsake when we sin:
Revelation 2:21 KJV: And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
During this time we should be making a conscious, consistent effort by the power of the Holy Spirit through prayer to forsake the sin; even if we still fall while we are making the deliberate, conscious and consistent effort to forsake the sin God’s mercy will still be available to eventually triumph over the sin.
Psalms 37:23-24 KJV:
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. (24) Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
Proverbs 24:16 KJV: For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
Now, we must not forget that though God is longsuffering He is not slack concerning His promises whether for blessing or for judgment.
2 Peter 3:9 KJV: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Many times God defers or delays His judgments to protect His glory and to give us time to repent and forsake sin.
For instance, when the children of Israel rebelled in the wilderness God deferred His judgment on them spreading it over a 40-year period to protect His glory and preserve the younger generation from perishing in the wilderness.
Isaiah 48:9 KJV: For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.
One other reason why God defers or delays His judgments is because He does not bring judgment until there is a standard to compare with.
GOD’S JUDGEMENT IN THE EARLY CHURCH
For instance, God killed Ananias and Sapphira because there was a high standard of honesty, sacrificial love and obedience in the early Church.
Acts 2:42-45 KJV: And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
In the midst of this great move of God, Ananias and Sapphira chose to be dishonest and hypocritical and God’s judgment on them was immediate and drastic because there was a standard already established by many others in the Church:
Acts 5:1-5 KJV: But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
Acts 5:7-11 KJV: And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
GOD HATES HYPOCRISY
Ananias and Sapphira were killed not because they gave less than others but because they lied and pretended to be more than what they really were spiritually. What God hated, and still hates, is the hypocrisy.
Now let us be honest, many of us in the Church today do the same thing Ananias and Sapphira did in so many ways: for instance, many pretend to pray more in Church and in public than they do privately to make people think they are more spiritual than they actually are.
Matthew 6:5-6 KJV: And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (6) But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 23:14 KJV: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Matthew 23:28 KJV: Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
In the Church today many do things much worse than what Ananias and his wife did and they don’t fall down dead immediately or even much later; in fact some seem to prosper even more: so there is no fear of God in the Church.
This is partly because there is not a high standard of integrity and righteousness in the Church today.
In our next article, we will see how God’s judgments in this 3rd. day or day of the Lord will purify the Church