The Bare Soul - August 22, 2010
The Fear of the Lord, Part I

The following is the message text and audio recording of a sermon titled "The Fear of the Lord" delivered to the homeless
at the Kansas City Rescue Mission Chapel on August 26, 2010.

The Fear of the Lord - August 26, 2010

Proverbs 8:13 - The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.

What does it mean to hate evil? Much of the world has lost the ability to discern this most basic, God-given knowledge. Sadly, when we hear of some debating whether Muslim extremists blowing up innocent people are evil terrorists or "freedom fighters" then there is cause for alarm regarding basic discernment. This is just one example in a world racked with evil. Unfortunately, the majority of mankind has likewise diminished the definition of wickedness to the point where it is unidentifiable. And, if you can't put a tag on it and call something what it is, then you surely can't hate it. Conversely, by ignoring evil in all its forms, the world has inadvertently embraced it and loved it. Modern society accepts all lifestyles without placing judgment on any. To do so, in their mind, would perpetuate a world of intolerance. Instead, it has created a world of relativity minus any absolutes which is a passive yet powerful strategy of the enemy to entrap the souls of humankind. Unless there is a violent reaction to evil in this world, it is impossible for collective mankind to draw near to God. Those who would go to church on Sunday and fulfill all their worldly desires the rest of the week are wasting both their time and God's. What He seeks is a people that would fear Him in all of His splendor and omnipotent power, for in so doing it expresses a love for his majesty. As we come to the Father through Jesus Christ, then we will begin to hate sin that separates all men from eternal salvation. We will grow in hatred toward iniquity by simply growing closer to God, much in the same way that the majority of the world grows closer to the evil they love and inevitably to the one who hates their souls with an eternal hatred.

Some might say, "God is not to be feared for He is a God of love". Often, these are folks that somehow equate a God of judgment as related by their Sunday pastor. They have never known God, so they seek to justify their own shortcomings by stating that God is some mushy, feel-good deity that is only interested in wrapping His big powerful arms of love around all humankind. However, the Father would not be a loving God if He betrayed His nature and compromised who He is. They fail to realize that without the judgment of God there can be no mercy. These juxtapose one another making their counterpart possible. What these naysayers are really stating is they have never experienced the mercy of God and all they know is the guilt of their own soul, which they rightly equate to God's anger. And, probably for good reason as these have probably never submitted themselves to God to allow His Majesty to have His way in their lives. Therefore, they could not know that God is an awesome God, full of power and might, that upholds them by the word of His mouth (Colossians 1:17). When we begin to grasp God's totality and our own insignificance, we start to see and understand the Holy One for who He is. Another way to state this is that we come into agreement with the character of the Sovereign Lord. Once we see the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for who they are, we can begin to stand in agreement regarding those He loves and that which He hates. Most of us have undoubtedly heard the expression "Hate the sin but love the sinner". The catalyst for this is the fear of the Lord, for He tells us that this is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). It catapults us into a new dimension of understanding because we begin to see with His eyes and feel with His heart. Likewise, fools are educated in folly by their continual dismissal of the fear of the Lord and accepting His life. As their foolish hearts become more darkened to the truth (Romans 1:21), they earn lower degrees of depravity until they graduate with dishonor to hell itself.

The standard, or the plumb line if you will, whether we truly fear the Lord is quite straightforward according to the second part of our lead verse. Solomon mentions pride and arrogance, the evil way and the perverted mouth as those which the Lord hates (Proverbs 8:13). The first two, pride and arrogance, are the condition of the unregenerate heart. The evil way is the outworking of the same (Proverbs 1:16), and the perverted mouth speaks from what fills the heart (Matthew 12:34). Just as the mouth speaks and testifies of God leading a soul to salvation (Romans 10:10), so also it confirms what is in a wicked heart leading to destruction. Are our lives filled with pride and arrogance? If so, we will be manifesting "evil ways" of anger, lust, deceit, hatred toward men, gossip, or any other lawless expression against God's holy way. Beyond that, we will be testifying of these evil ways by our arrogant speech that disregards God's order. However, if we are fearing the Lord and walking in His ways, we will be testifying of His goodness and love. Both our behavior and speech will markedly hate evil by our love for the Lord.

Beloved, if we are truly hating evil in our lives and the world at large, then we are fearing God. And, with that fear there is no judgment because the one who seeks to bring a charge against God's elect has been cast down (Revelation 12:10). Mercy will always triumph over judgment if we will but yield (James 2:13). Once we understand from a place of humility who God is, and what He truly loves and hates, then we too will share in His passion. The determiner will be whether we dare to give ourselves to Him, fearing Him as the all-powerful One that holds the universe in His hands. In all of His splendor and awesome wonder, He still desires to share His life with you and me. We must only answer one question: Whom shall we fear? Shall we fear God out of respect and love, thereby hating sin? Or, shall we fear and bow down to the world and embrace evil? Friends, we shall either fear Him with love in this lifetime, or fear Him in the one to come as vessels of wrath. The choice is ours this day.

Heavenly Father, help us to loathe evil by loving You. Help us to draw near to You, thereby driving evil far from our hearts and our lips. Give us the desire to fear You, to love You, and to worship You always. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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