The fear of God is the greatest deterrent for sin (Exod. 20:20; Prov. 16:6). Those who perceive God as a benevolent and gentle grandfather will treat their sin superficially. They will worship halfheartedly. They will live life on their own terms rather than God’s. But a reverent fear of holy God will dramatically affect the way a person lives. Even though Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ, he feared God and knew that one day he would stand in judgment to give an account for everything he had done (2 Cor. 5:10).
Our world does not applaud fearfulness. We teach our children to love God, but not to fear Him. We want to present a loving and nonthreatening image of God to nonbelievers in the hope that Christianity will be more appealing to them. One of the great condemnations of our day may be that we have lost the fear of God. We promote Him as a “best friend” who saves us and “lives in our hearts,” but we do not fear Him. It is true that we are God’s adopted children and that we are fellow heirs, even friends, with Jesus (Rom. 8:16–17; John 15:14–15), but we are not His equals. He has forgiven us, but we are still His creatures. He is God, and we are not!
If you find that you have become complacent with God’s commands and have become comfortable in your sin, you are completely isolated from God’s holiness. Take time to meditate upon the awesome holiness of God and allow the Holy Spirit to instill into your life a proper reverence for almighty God (Isa. 40:12–26). A deep sense of awe is essential to knowing God.