February 19, 2018

When Fear and Hate Are Both Good Things

Romans 3:13–18

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13   “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
  “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15   “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17   and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

When Fear and Hate Are Both Good Things

Bio | Luke Friesen

Hello, everyone. It's great to be on The Journey with you! I pray God's Word encourages and challenges you Hebrews 4:12-style as you read it today.

Speaking of today, it's my birthday! For my wish—in addition to that pony, of course—I'd love to hear in the comments section how God has impacted your life as you've faithfully dug into His Word this year.

As a motorcyclist and former rugby player, sometimes people assume I have little fear. I have a healthy fear of a lot of things, and today's passage talks about the most important one.

Central Truth

No one is righteous apart from God—not a single human being. Left to ourselves, we don't fear God as we should. Without a healthy fear of the Lord, our speech, actions, and attitude will lead to ruin.

Devotional | Romans 3:13–18

This chunk of Romans 3 is pretty bleak—every human being is totally depraved by nature. This doesn't mean that everyone is as bad as they possibly could be, but rather that sin has affected every part of...

This chunk of Romans 3 is pretty bleak—every human being is totally depraved by nature. This doesn't mean that everyone is as bad as they possibly could be, but rather that sin has affected every part of us, so there's no hope for healing our brokenness apart from God. There's some good news coming a bit later, but we're not there yet.

Our total depravity affects, among other things, our speech and actions. Our words will be bitter and venomous (verses 13-14), and our actions will lead to ruin (verse 16). Verse 18 sums it up: "There is no fear of God before their eyes."

What exactly is "the fear of the Lord"? As I write this devo, we're starting week 1 of Watermark's fall Summit men's Bible study of Proverbs. The topic for our first week is the fear of the Lord. A great definition for this is, "an affectionate reverence for God that results in humble obedience to His will." It's a deep realization, as our pastor Todd Wagner says, that God's wrath is awful and that God's way is awesome. God is a compassionate and gracious Father who is abounding in love (Psalm 103:8), and He's also a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). A healthy fear of the Lord acknowledges and responds to both truths.

So, how do we fear God? One aspect of this comes from Proverbs 8:13, which says that to fear the Lord is to hate evil. Examples of evil from this verse include pride, arrogance, evil behavior, and perverse speech. Sound like today's passage?

There was a time when I didn't fear God, and it peaked in my early 20s. I was trusting in my "Christian resume" and pretended to have it all together while secretly struggling with anger and pornography. You can read more about that in this Porch blog post if you like. I'm grateful that God rescued me from those dark days. His tools were confession, repentance, and community, which are freely available to anyone and result in refreshment, restoration, and encouragement (Acts 3:19-20; Hebrews 3:13). Will you use them?

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Discussion Questions

1. How would you define the fear of the Lord?

2. What are the evidences in your life that you fear the Lord?

3. In what areas of your life does your fear of the Lord need to increase?

4. What steps do you need to take to walk more fully in the fear of the Lord every day?

18 Comments available

Georgia Littlejohn 11 months ago

Q4 raises a good question for me. I’m confused. I don’t fully understand fully in “fear” of the Lord”. I thought we were to love, respect, turn to, look up to, trust, pray, help others and so much more. Bad thing happen in this human world as well as good. Fear to me means scared like fear of snakes. Maybe some can explain

Hope Harris about 1 year ago

JTJ and Tech Team you guys rock.

Sue Bohlin about 1 year ago

@Mike Frizzell BLESS YOU for the upvote and reply button! You da man!

Hugh Stephenson about 1 year ago
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Lindsey - love the Psalm citation.

Sue Bohlin about 1 year ago

Happy birthday, Luke! You know what’s even better than your terrific devo? The title! I loved how you presented a way for both fear and hate to be good things. Learning to think biblically means being able to approach things from a very different perspective, and you sure did that today.

Michael Scaman about 1 year ago

Psalm 36:1 is the only place is Psalms that speaks of ‘fear of God’. Rom 3:10 moves to Rom 3:18, no understanding then no fear of God.

Proverbs has 'The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom ’ yet everyone starts as the simple (and unwise) with both Lady Wisdom and Dame Folly calling broadly to those simple, the world.

Some listen to Dame Folly and go yet deeper and deeper into sin. Some follow the gospel of Lady Wisdom and ‘marry wisdom’ in the conclusion The center verse of Pv 31 is ‘her husband is respected at the gate’ is fitting for Christ and his bride the church

Christ can make the unlikely wise unto salvation and in the Jewish Bible, Pv 31 is followed by Ruth where God makes Ruth wise unto salvation and her husband is even respected at the gate

Larry Miller about 1 year ago

Thank you so much for your message - the point made about our total depravity is particularly compelling to me and a great reminder that nothing in me can be trusted - even the “good” stuff that I think I have. But all is not lost - as you say, the good news is coming! In Christ we are at peace with God and as a result, can be of some good after all. Thanks so much for sharing and Happy Birthday!

Hope Harris about 1 year ago

Happy Birthday Luke!

How has God’s word impacted my life this year? Romans has brought two rich concepts to my life:

Sin disorients and distorts people and the gospel reorients and restores us!

The gift of our conscience helps me understand that God is just and fair in His judgement of all people even those who have not heard the gospel.

One of the best aspects of the conscience is it uses fear to set off an internal alarm to poor choices. It also activates remorse and regret when we ignore the fear and make poor and unhealthy choices apart from God’s best for our lives. In addition, God sends the Holy Spirit to convict and convince us of our sin and Jesus to gives us the gift of repentance and forgiveness. That thought always humbles me, I don’t deserve those gifts.

Michael Scaman about 1 year ago

After Psalm 14:2-3 (or it’s echo in 53:2-3), Paul goes on to quote Psalms 5:9, 10:7, 36:1. 140:3 and Isa 59:7-8. It appears to me that Paul takes verses about ‘them’, the opposing wicked. Instead of the wicked or evil applied to some ‘them’ out there, Paul applies it into ‘we’. ‘All’, ‘none good’, ‘no, not one’ in these verses include us.

Paul throws the world in the category of the evil and wicked but take heart because those Psalms speak of a category of those who are righteous, as in Ps 5:11-12 ‘Let all who take refuge in you rejoice’ One can find righteousness not taking refuge in their own goodness but that of Christ’s

kirsten hancock about 1 year ago

Loved the devo! Thank you so much for sharing the link to your story! God’s timing is incredible! Last night my CG had two girls admitting to having the same struggle as it relates to being seen as a leader/ wanting to pursue ministry! It means a lot for me to able to share your story (someone who is on staff at WM) to show them that brokenness and not having it all together is part of the authentic Christian life (even for someone in ministry).

Trey Collins about 1 year ago

Great devo Luke, and happy birthday! Great explanations for the fear of the Lord. God is impacting my life this year by showing me a renewed sense of the value of confession and clean living. I am more in tune with God as I walk more faithfully in in open authenticity. John 14:21.

greg jones about 1 year ago

Really enjoying this devotional and the questions today. Question one I would answer this way today. Fear of the Lord is being bothered by what bothers God. It’s obvious that sin bothers God but what is present about us before we sin, and what is present about us before we are obedient toward God? Question 4 realize Adam walked before God sinless but lacking. Myself being sinful, walking before God in what Adam lacked. Grace because of sinfulness that leads to obedience, obedience that comes because of trust, trust because of grace. His grace, my sinfulness, what could separate me from His love? Where is there room for me to boast?

Autumn VerHoef about 1 year ago

Luke, thank you for a great devo that hits me square in the face! I also enjoyed your testimony on the Porch blog. While God is blessing my career and personal endeavors, I struggle with anxiety, FOMO, and an insatiable desire for praise from others. Being “raised Christian” myself, I know in my head that fearing and loving God is vital to success in life. Keeping Him as my #1 priority, then my marriage, then my career and personal aspirations is key to staying balanced, but obviously I’m not maintaining that in my heart if my thoughts and actions largely reflect fear of man more than God. Jeremiah 17:9-10 reminds us that our hearts cannot be trusted and are in fact desperately wicked. I am thankful for an ever-pursuing God who gives us His Word, the Holy Spirit and accountability through community and ministry. And btw Happy Birthday!

Melissa Benge McBride about 1 year ago

Happy birthday, Luke! Thank you for this reminder…the definition of “the fear of the Lord” is “an affectionate reverence for God that results in humble obedience to His will”.

Michael Scaman about 1 year ago

In both Psalm 14:2-3 and Psalm 53:2-3, the Lord looks down from heaven on ‘the children of men’ and find none ‘good’. This is a broad statement applying to all mankind.

Ps 14 and like a stone thrown in a pond skips and lands with a splash Ps 53 and five Psalms of judgement with the middle psalm middle verse being the verse ‘create in me a new heart’ There may be none ‘good’ but a new creation provides a door of hope.

Lindsey Driscoll about 1 year ago

Great devo into the depravity of man when we don’t fear the Lord. When I think of the fear of the Lord I think of setting the Lord before me. (Psalm 16:8 and Romans 3:18) Fixing my gaze constantly on the Lord and learning of his character, putting Him in the forefront of my mind so that my words may glorify him, opposite of 3:13-14. Setting my life, steps, actions before the Lord so that my ways are marked following him not with misery and ruin 3:15-16.

Amy Merritt about 1 year ago

How can we see our depravity when we don’t fear the Lord? How can we acknowledge our own need for a savior when we don’t recognize the evil in our lives. Fear of the Lord for me is seeing the Lord as He is, Sovereign Creator, Loving Father, King of Kings, compassionate, abounding in loving kindness, slow to anger. Honor and respecting who He is & seeing that I am completely dependent on Him! “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”Job 33:4

He was seeking me before I was aware I needed to seek Him. Thank you Lord! John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

Hugh Stephenson about 1 year ago

Luke - awesome and amazing job. Jam packed. Oh, and happy birthday.

I agree that verse 18 is the killer.

So far this year the way Romans has impacted me is to help me see two phrases that really drive the nails home: “total depravity” and “without excuse”. Paul keeps adding to my indictment day by day.

Each day my sinful nature wriggles back out from under the rock and says “Yes, but…”. Then, the next day, God’s words through Paul convict me again.

Each day is a blessing because I see more & more clearly how far I am from God and how deeply I need to surrender to Him.

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