The Fear of the Lord

The Fear of the Lord

By: John MacArthur | | 3 min read

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is true understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)

In the last post, I demonstrated that wisdom is the most important thing we can seek in education. But where do we start in the search? According to Scripture, the most fundamental aspect of wisdom is this: fearing God.

What Does This Mean?

Proverbs says that the fear of the Lord is the “beginning” of wisdom — that is, it is the most essential component. If you do not fear God, you do not have wisdom. And what does it mean to fear God? It doesn’t mean running away whenever you hear His name. To fear God is to know Him as He is and respond accordingly.

So in order to be wise, we must fear God. And in order to fear God, we must know Him. And in order to know Him, we must be brought into proper relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6-7). Then, when we are saved — when we come to understand God’s holiness and grace in salvation — the proper way to respond is with awe, reverence and worship. This is what it means to fear God. If you have come to know God rightly and worship Him as your Savior, you have already stepped onto the path of wisdom.

We live in a climate, however, that absolutely rejects God. University campuses are populated by those who promote materialistic, naturalistic, evolutionary atheism. They want nothing to do with God. They don’t want Him involved in creation. They don’t want Him involved in morality. These people have rejected the fundamental principle of true wisdom. Because of this, no matter how successful they are in academia, they will never gain a true education. Instead, they are catapulting themselves and all who follow them into the abyss of confusion and tragedy and judgment.

Those of us who are spiritual leaders — pastors and parents and TMU professors — are responsible for teaching the next generation to live their lives according to a proper fear of God. We are to teach them what it means to respect God and worship Him rightly. Above and beyond anything else, modeling and teaching this to students is the mission of TMU.

What Does This Look Like?

Fearing God has several natural implications. For one thing, someone who fears God will respect His Word. Psalm 138:2 says, “God has exalted His Word as high as His own name.” You can’t respect God without respecting His Word. And respecting His Word means knowing it, loving it and obeying it.

It is through Scripture that we learn what God Himself is like; without it, we could not fear Him properly. By studying Scripture, we learn of God’s power, hatred of sin and right to judge. Through it we also learn of His abundant love, mercy and tenderness. In short, Scripture is what allows us to know and worship God as He actually is.

At the same time, someone who fears God will also hate sin. Show me a holy person, and I’ll show you a person who hates sin and fears God. Show me a person who tolerates sin, and I’ll show you a person who doesn’t have respect for God. If you honor God sincerely, it will guard you from the temptations of sin because you will hate the idea of disrespecting Him.

If you fear God, you will also be at peace when your circumstances take a bad turn. Fearing God involves knowing and trusting His complete sovereignty over everything in the universe. And when you have this perspective, you can be confident in knowing that all things are controlled by Him for His good purposes, which removes all reasons for anxiety.

All of that to say, the fear of God is the one indispensable ingredient of wisdom, and many other aspects of skilled living spring out of it. But having begun with the fear of God, we do not stop with it, thinking that this is all there is to wisdom. Next time, we will continue by examining another aspect of biblical wisdom: guarding our minds.

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