This is a subject I have thought about a lot in recent years. What is the fear of God? Is it a feeling of terror that one would expect to have in the face of danger? Is it that out-of-control feeling when faced with an uncertain situation? Is it the expectation of certain punishment when we're guilty of wrong-doing?
These all describe different aspects of fear. It is normal to be afraid when faced with danger, to be anxious when things are going on of which we do not have full control and to dread exposure or punishment when we are guilty of an offense.
The source of this feeling of impending doom, the panicked feeling, the racing heart rate, the sweaty palms and forehead is a substance called adrenaline. It is produced by the body in preparation for stressful situations and helps the individual ride the tide of the particular situation and when the storm is over it is broken down in the body and the heart rate returns to normal, the panic subsides and equilibrium is restored.
Sometimes we experience this sort of fear when we have transgressed any of God's laws but is this really 'the fear of God'? Hebrews 12:28-29 tells us:
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire."
A reverential fear of God is crucial if we would worship Him in an acceptable way. When children are brought up in a loving environment, they mostly grow up to have a deep love and respect for their parents and would do everything in their power to honour them in their daily lives. There are things they wouldn't even consider doing so as not to be a disappoinment to their parents.
Well think of God as the supreme Father. How much more should we love and honour Him, who holds our lives in His hands; the creator of the entire universe, who paid the ultimate price for the redemption of our sins?
The Bible is replete with verses extolling the benefits of the fear of God.
Proverbs 1:7: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction."
Proverbs 10:27: "The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short."
Proverbs 19:23: "The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble."
I choose to fear the Lord rather than man. The fear of man is unprofitable and will prove to be an entanglement (Proverbs 29:25). It is very important to obey the laws of the land and respect other people as that also ties in with scripture, but when you deny God the reverence due Him it is a precarious position to be in.
"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Mathew 10:28).