What does it mean to fear God?

Last updated on April 20, 2021

“And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile…” (1 Peter 1:17)

Today’s text speaks about people who call on God as their Father, and says they should conduct themselves with fear. How do these two ideas fit together? How can “fear” exist in a relationship of Father and child? 1 John 4:18 even says: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

The fear that Peter is speaking of, is not a crippling anxiety, but the awareness that God hates sin and will judge it. Knowing that God will judge impartially according to each one’s deeds, is a motivation to fight sin as much as we can —
not because God would condemn us for our sins, which He has clearly promised not to do if we believe in Him, but because we fear his fatherly displeasure. The stronger our love for our heavenly Father is, the more we fear and hate
and fight sin!

Both the longing to please God and the outlook of his impartial judgment of our deeds are strong admonitions to live a holy life “throughout the time of [our] exile”, that is throughout our earthly life. Jesus will come soon, bringing his
recompense with him, to repay each one for what he has done (Revelation 22:12).

Do you fear your heavenly Father?

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