God is awesome. I don’t think we fully appreciate the word awesome as its meaning has been diminished in our culture. We attach the word to everything. “This game is awesome.” “This pizza is awesome.” “You’re awesome.”
Really? God and pizza are both awesome? Of course not, but do we really understand what it means to be in awe of God? To fear God? Collectively as a culture we don’t and many in the Church don’t.
It was this view of God which lead Peter and the Apostles after being warned not to talk about Jesus by the Sanhedrin (for Peter and John this was the second time) to say, “We must obey God rather than men,” (Acts 5:29, ESV).
They feared God and so they didn’t fear what that Council could do to them. This was the same Council that later had ordered Stephen to be stoned (Acts 6-7).
Thomas Watson in his book The Ten Commandments said of the fear of God:
To fear God is to have such a holy awe of God upon our hearts, that we dare not sin. “Stand in awe and sin not.” Psalm 4:4. The wicked sin and fear not; the godly fear and sin not. “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Gen 39:9… He who fears God will not sin, though it be ever so secret. “You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling-block before the blind—but shall fear your God.” Lev 19:14.
Suppose you should curse a deaf man, he could not hear you; or suppose you were to lay a stumbling-block in a blind man’s way, and cause him to fall, he could not see you do it. But the fear of God will make you forsake sins which can neither be heard nor seen by men! The fear of God destroys the fear of man.
The three Hebrew children feared God, therefore they feared not the king’s wrath. Dan 3:16. The greater noise, drowns the less; the noise of thunder, drowns the noise of a river. Just so, when the fear of God is supreme in the soul, it drowns all other carnal fear. It makes God to be God to us, when we have a holy filial fear of him.
We are no longer driven by the fear of men, it does destroy it. It destroyed any fear of men that the Apostles had – look at Peter as an example. He denied Christ, chickened out after saying he would gladly the way of Jesus. He was transformed by the Holy Spirit, he had an awe of God and love for Christ that he boldly preached the Gospel even when confronted by the Sanhedrin and then later died a martyr’s death.
The fear of God, as Watson notes, makes “God to be God to us,” otherwise He’s just some caricature that our culture comes up with who isn’t worthy of being worshiped or obeyed. But He is truly awesome and that is why we do worship, love and obey Him.
HT: Ben Terry for the Watson excerpt