How do I become a person who dreads sin and lives in awe of God? I think I know how many people who sincerely want this for their lives and who want the same thing or their children and for their church would answer their question, and the unfortunate thing is that the answers many come up with are very different than Peter’s.
When they want to motivatge others and even themselves to fear, they turn to intimidation. Isn’t that the basic tactic of the world? If you want to cause someone to fear, you bully them. And believe it or not, some people carry that same tactic over into their relationship with God.
In thier own lives they just beat themselves up over a sin…it’s not simply that they grieve over it, they call themselves all sorts of names, they deride themselves, they beat themselves up. In their children’s lives, they try to scare them into doing what’s right. They argue with their children, try to make their children feel stupid for struggling with sin, and even sometimes make fun of their children for sinning. And in the life of the church, they turn to legalism. They constantly emphasize rules, rules, rules.
The problem with that approach is that while intimidation, name calling, bullying, and legalism may produce a type of fear, they don’t produce the kind of godly fear of which Peter speaks.
The fact is the kind of fear intimidation produces doesn’t work the same as the godly fear grace produces. It produces external conformity, but doesn’t touch the heart. You know that. When you are driving and you see a cop, what do you do? Slow down. But when he’s not looking? Speed up. That’s the way many Christians are with sin.
If you honestly want to be awestruck with God’s glory, you honestly want to dread offending Him, you honestly want to be overwhelmed with God’s holiness, you honestly want to live a God-centered, Christ-consumed life, you need to move away from legalistic intimidation to grace.
Specifically, if you want this kind of fear, you need to make a commitment.
REFUSE TO TAKE THE GRACE GOD SHOWED YOU FOR GRANTED.
Once in a while in certain neighborhoods you’ll have one of those kids that flies nazi flags on independence day. Seeing that gets your blood boiling and makes you want to go over to that teenager and say, ‘man, don’t you know what it cost so that you could have freedom?’ The thing is, if you did that, I can pretty much guarantee you the kid would say, “Yeah I do. Get off my back.” But we know, no matter how much he says he knows how much it cost, he doesn’t. If he did, his life would be different. And the same is true for us.
We might say we understand God’s grace but if it’s not making an impact on our attitudes, the way we speak, the way we think, we don’t. Sometimes people who know they are struggling spiritually,still think man, I fully get the gospel. The problem must be somewhere else. You can sit in church all day long and say I get it, but if you are not awestruck by God, if you don’t dread offending Him, if you are not overwhelmed by his holiness, if there’s no fear, then no matter what you say, you are not getting it. Not the way you should.
If you want to grow in the fear of God go back and make sure you fully appreciate the grace of God. DON’T TAKE HIS GRACE FOR GRANTED.