1 Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete purity because we fear God.
“Because we fear God.”
Fear. An interesting word. The Bible has much to say about fear. For the unbeliever, fear of God means fear of judgment and separation from God. Hollywood is famous for their interpretation of this fear of God. I recall several scenes, like that famous scene where Indiana Jones is in the cave with the ark of the covenant. You remember the scene, when they open the ark and and all …well, heaven breaks loose.
For the believer, however, fear of God is something altogether different – something more like reverence for God. Hebrews chapter 12 has a famous description:
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.” (NIV)
Proverbs 1:7 declares:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…
Deuteronomy 10:12,20-21 records:
Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen.
It’s this reverence and awe that’s the motivating factor for us to surrender ourselves to our Creator, Father God. We are not to be “afraid” of God. Certainly there’s no reason to be afraid of Him. He has told us that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). He promised that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Fearing God means having such a reverence for Him, that it affects the way we live our lives. The fear of God is respecting Him, submitting to His discipline, and worshiping Him in awe.
So – back to 2 Corinthians.
Do you fear God? What do you fear?
Consider Paul’s life – consumed with Christ. He chose to forsake all – family, friends, career, self – to follow Jesus. He went from city to city, strategically preaching and teaching, then moving on. He thought of nothing else. As a result, he ended up in prison, but even then kept up with his God-given purpose.
You see, Paul had a healthy fear of God. He understood that life is not “all about himself” and he truly wanted to please God and understand the purpose for his life. This reverence and awe of God is what drove him to surrender completely to God.
That goes completely against our human nature. As humans we want “our rights” and complain that God asks “too much.” We say we could never life the kind of life Paul did. We give our token offerings on Sundays and we volunteer just enough to keep the guilt-o-meter at tolerable levels, but a life completely surrendered? How can that be a good thing? What about my family? What about my job? What about my own free-time?
Hmmm…I imagine that is exactly the kind of questioning that Paul was writing to the church at Corinth about. I imagine if he were alive today…
It’s too bad we couldn’t see the letter Paul refers to in verse 8:
8 I am no longer sorry that I sent that letter to you, though I was sorry for a time, for I know that it was painful to you for a little while.
Paul is apologizing for a letter he sent. This was apparently the 3rd letter to the Corinthians but has been lost. It must have been a zinger, but it was effective in bringing them back to repentance.
But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
Is there any unrepentance in your life?
Do you fear God? What do you fear?
Lord, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear You. Send us Your Holy Spirit today so we can ourselves be brought to that place where we properly fear You, and then are able to encourage others to do the same.
grace & peace,