8 Ways to Grow in the Fear of God
This articel by Tim Challies first appeared in www.challies.com website.
In his book The Forgotten Fear, Albert Martin lists eight “specific directives for maintaining and increasing the fear of God in our hearts.” What follows are his eight directives along with summaries of each point in his own words (lightly tweaked). Consider following these strategies for your own growth in Christlikeness.
1) Be certain that you have an interest in the new covenant. The argument you ought to press before God should be that Jesus Christ has died as the Mediator of the new covenant, and that one of the blessings promised in that covenant is that God would put His fear into your heart. Pray, “Lord Jesus, on the basis of Thy shed blood I plead for an increase of Thy fear. Give me as much of Thy fear as the blood of the covenant warrants and has secured for me.”
2) Feed your mind on the Scriptures in general. There is an inseparable relationship between the special revelation God has made in Scripture and the fear of God. And this relationship is such that, for all intents and purposes, the fear of God can be used as a synonym for the Word of God. The overall effect of every truth of Scripture is to feed the fear of God. In one way or another, the individual who absorbs the most Scripture, spiritually assimilating it into his heart, life, and very being, is the one who will know most of the fear of God.
3) Feed your soul with the reality of the forgiveness of God. When we discover that this great God, holy and just and omniscient as He is, actually forgives sins, and that all of His glorious attributes have been fully engaged to grant me a just pardon and full acceptance, how can we help but fear Him? The measure to which the fact and wonder of forgiving grace sinks into your soul will be the measure of your fear of God. Therefore, if you would have the fear of God sustained in your heart, feed your soul on God’s forgiveness.
4) Learn to feed your soul on the majestic greatness of God. By that, I mean those aspects of His character and attributes such as His absolute sovereignty, holiness, power, omnipotence, and immensity. As we contemplate His majestic greatness, it is unthinkable that any rational creature would not fear such a God. If a creature knows God as He is revealed, he cannot help but fear Him. The principle for us as God’s people is this: If you would grow in the fear of God, then you must feed your soul on the majestic greatness of God.
5) Seek to cultivate an awareness of God’s presence. To walk in God’s fear is to cultivate this awareness of His presence. You cannot fear a distant and a forgotten God. If God is feared, it is as a God who is near and who is remembered. God is there. David’s setting Him there [in Psalm 139] did not put Him there; He was already there. But it is the recognition that He is there that becomes the transforming experience in our lives. May God therefore help us to cultivate this awareness of His presence.
6) Seek to cultivate the consciousness of your obligations to God. One indispensable element of the fear of God is that in each situation the Christian realizes that his relationship to God is the most important relationship he has. Our first prayer every morning should be, “Lord, help me this day to walk in Thy fear.” Jesus came to implant the blessings of the new covenant in the hearts of men so that they will fear Him to the extent that, even if they must sever the deepest of earthly ties, they will be willing to do it for His sake.
7) Associate closely with those who walk in the fear of God. Where you have the opportunity and privilege to select your intimate friends, they ought to be God-fearing people. There is a power of imitation, absorption, and contagion between individuals such that you will become like your most intimate associates. That is why God warns us against forming intimate associations with evil men—so that we don’t become like them. Do you desire to grow in the fear of God? If you do, then associate yourself—intimately, not loosely—with those who walk together in His fear in covenantal church membership.
8) Fervently pray for an increase of the fear of God. One of the unalterable laws of God’s kingdom is, “Ask, and it will be given to you” (Matt. 7:7). Or to put it negatively, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). When we pray for an increase of the fear of God, we ought to pray with unshakable confidence that we are indeed asking for something that is in accord with God’s will. Having this confidence, we can pray for this increase in the firm expectation that God will indeed hear and answer such prayer.
Tim Challies is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Aileen and a father to three young children. He worships and serves as a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario, and is a co-founder of Cruciform Press.