FEAR THE LORD
Updated: Apr 3
“...what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”
Over the past several decades, many televangelists and megachurch pastors have found themselves in hot water for their words and actions. From Jeffress to Hagee, Osteen to Copeland, Robertson to Bakker - these allegations have run the gamut, ranging from hate speech to sexual misconduct. Quite often, the allegations have absolutely nothing to do with sufferings for Christ, evangelism, faithfulness to God’s Word, or The Great Commission. Instead, the most common allegations pertain to moral impropriety.
From behind prison walls, Jim Bakker was asked, “When did you fall out of love with Jesus?” Bakker responded, “I didn’t. I loved Jesus, but I didn’t fear God.”
Therein lies the rub. Bakker, with all his memorized verses, all his charisma, all his abilities, gifts, talents, and skills, all his influence and affluence - even while under God’s divine discipline - still believed in some artificial distinction between legitimate love for Jesus and the Fear of The Lord.
This mythical discontinuity is rampant throughout Christian churches, ministries, sermons, missions, and culture today. Some would blame televangelists and megachurch pastors for tarnishing the reputation of Christianity. But what we should be asking is, “How do the likes of Osteen, Bakker, Duplantis, Copeland, Jakes, Hinn, Dollar, Hagee, and Swaggert rise to notoriety and fame in the first place?” Maybe even a better question than “How?” is the question “Why?”
Scripture exposed the underlying issue thousands of years ago.
“For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but - with itching ears - they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires. So they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” -2 Timothy 4:3-4
We live in an age of wanton biblical illiteracy. The issue isn’t inability, it’s apathy. Many who claim to be followers of Christ can tell you every minute detail about their job, love interest, new hobby, or favorite TV show - but are completely ignorant regarding rudimentary terms, fundamental principles, and the basic teachings of Scripture. As Ephesians 4:14 states, they are instead “infants, tossed about by the waves and carried around by every wind of teaching and by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming.” Why? Apathy.
They are those, as 1 Timothy 1:4-7 reveals, paying attention to myths and endless genealogies, which promote endless speculations rather than God’s plan. They’ve turned aside to fruitless discussions and have even become teachers although they don’t understand what they are saying or what they are insisting on. They are, in fact, those whom the Apostle Paul exposes in 1 Tim 4:1, who have willfully departed from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons.
We live in a culture today where people want “new and improved.” The world craves - even demands - a “fresh word” from God. They want the updated, modernized, and revised Bible 2.0. They’re quick to jump on the latest social media “revival” bandwagon like junkies chasing their next fix. They’re the ones supporting and elevating false teachers, false prophets, charismatic motivational speakers, and morally destitute televangelists. Then, after the idols they’ve erected inevitably fall, they exclaim, “See! Christians are no different!” Scripture reveals it is the pagan “Jesus lovers” who run after all these things while followers of Christ seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness - and in doing so - true revival, the fire of the Holy Spirit, and the abundance of Christ all spill forth from heaven’s floodgates thrown open!
In Numbers 20:2-3 we read, “Now there was no water for the congregation, so they gathered against Moses and Aaron…” Then, beginning in v.7 we read, “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Take the staff and assemble the congregation. You and your brother Aaron are to speak to the rock while they watch, and it will pour out its water. You will bring out water from the rock and provide drink for the congregation and their livestock.’”
Rather than being obedient to the LORD’s explicit instructions and merely speaking to the rock, we read, beginning in v.10, “Moses said to them, ‘Listen now, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?’ Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff, so that a great amount of water gushed out, and the congregation and their livestock were able to drink.”
Through his outburst, Moses demonstrated he’d lost his fear of the Lord. Somewhere along the way he fell victim to his own ego and pride. Moses allowed himself to fall away from absolute desperate dependency upon God and wound up in a place where he saw himself as the arbiter, rather than a mere conduit, of divine provision: “Must we bring you water out of this rock?”
Who was Moses referring to in this first-person plural? Who’s the “we?” Was Moses putting himself on the level of God or was he referring to himself and Aaron? All we really know is that God was having none of it. It resulted in immediate divine discipline. In Numbers 20:12 we read, “But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust Me to show My holiness in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.’”
After being disqualified from entering the Promised Land, Moses, Israel’s greatest prophet and servant-leader, had one final message for God’s people: “This is the command - do this so that you may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life… Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
There can be no discontinuity between our genuine love for Jesus and our Fear of The Lord. Even Paul, the greatest missionary the world has ever known, the man who suffered beatings, relished imprisonment, endured starvation, and who found contentment in unending persecution, conveyed his very real fear of The LORD in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “No, I batter my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
If we have no legitimate fear of the Lord, then we have no legitimate love for Jesus. If the people in our churches are merely attending rather than devoted members… if merely volunteering rather than faithfully serving… if merely tithing rather than joyfully giving everything… if we love experiences, programs, productions, church traditions, and a sense of community rather than loving the LORD with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength… rather than having a very real and tangible Fear of The Lord… then we’re embracing Satan’s lie, “You can love Jesus without any fear of The LORD.”
Embracing that lie landed Jim Bakker in a worldly prison, and it leaves countless others in a permanent prison that continues even beyond physical death.
“Fear the Lord your God, serve Him only and take your oaths in His Name.”
Grace and Peace,
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