Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Psalms 99:8 O LORD our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.
I get very excited this time of year. It’s the beginning of the whitetail deer mating season, and for the next five weeks my thoughts are easily distracted by deer hunting.
Earlier this week I spent a few hours on one of my stands in a new location and I saw two deer come down the hill into the bottom land of the woods. My heart raced, then fell back to normal as they turned and walked towards my old stand location.
One of my tree stands is called a self-climber, meaning that I carry it to the woods, attach it to the tree, get on it, and gradually climb it up the tree to the height that I want. It can be dangerous. I have a very healthy fear of what could happen if I do not follow all the safety precautions necessary. I fell out of that same stand several years ago. Since then I’ve added some check points to my safety list to ensure that I don’t fall again. Falls from tree stands not only hurt, but they can kill.
Fear can be a good thing. There are two kinds of fear – fear generated by perception and fear generated by reality. Fear of the dark is based on the perception of what could be lurking ready to pounce, when in reality there may be nothing there at all. Fear of grizzly bears is based on the reality of what that bear could do if provoked.
My fear of heights is based on both the reality of having fallen and the perception that at any moment while I am in the air I could fall again. The perception is immobilizing at times. That’s why my safety precautions and safety harness are so important to me. If I obey the rules and stay attached to the tree with the harness, I am safe and can climb 15 to 25 feet up into a tree so I can have a chance at a monster buck.
It is crucial that we put fear back into our spiritual lives. It has been the mission of the enemy of Jesus Christ to undermine and destroy a healthy fear of God. We currently live in an age of destructive spiritual thought within Christianity itself. The majority of people who call themselves Christians might choose to end our Scripture verse for today with the phrase a forgiving God. There has been a steady and purposeful elimination of the fear of the justice of God.
As Christians, we have bought into the perception that God is only loving and forgiving, and as a result we have thrown away the safety checklist and the safety harness. We believe there is nothing to fear from God because that’s what we want to be true.
But the reality is that God is just. He forgives sin that has been confessed in true repentance, but He also punishes any sin that is left unconfessed.
Now, to be clear, the life of a born-again Christian is free from all eternal condemnation, but the Enemy has done a magnificent job of removing our fear of the Father’s discipline of His true children. We have lost the Biblical concept of the fear of the Lord.
I spend time almost every week counseling people who are being destroyed by the consequences of sin in their lives because they don’t have a healthy fear and respect of the holiness of God. They have chosen to believe that God is only a forgiving God. They do not want to face the reality that the hardships and suffering they are experiencing may be the discipline of God necessitated by their choice to sin.
I am perplexed that so many people do not have a fear of the justice of Almighty God. The desire for immediate gratification and fulfillment of the flesh has destroyed the fear of the reality of God’s punishment. The immediate pleasure far outweighs the pain of the consequences. It is the same deception that the Serpent used on Eve in the Garden of Eden. As a result, we throw out the checklist and remove the safety harness, and then wonder why we fell.
We must bring back the balance to our understanding of God. He is a forgiving God who, in Christ, accepts us as His children; but He is also a loving Father who disciplines His children so that they might be like Him in holiness.
It’s imperative that we have a healthy fear of that reality. It’s necessary so that we will stop sinning. God has given us the power of the Holy Spirit to be holy. When we cease to pursue that holiness, He will discipline us. He does it to mature us and grow us up into the image of Jesus.
Take a look at the current hardships in your life. Then, rather than focus on a fix to the problem, focusing on fixing the sin that caused it – then stop doing it. God will answer with His love and grace.