Godly Fear versus Tormenting Fear

Proverbs 2:1-5 Amplified Bible (AMP):  “My son, if you will receive my words and treasure up my commandments within you, Making your ear attentive to skillful and godly Wisdom and inclining and directing your heart and mind to understanding [applying all your powers to the quest for it]; Yes, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, If you seek [Wisdom] as for silver and search for skillful and godly Wisdom as for hidden treasures, Then you will understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of [our omniscient] God. For the Lord gives skillful and godly Wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

1 John 4:17-19: “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.”

In these blogs dealing with Bible Answers, one of the most puzzling topics to some is the difference between godly fear and tormenting fear. We must resolve what may seem like a contradiction when the Bible tells us that Jesus loves us and came to set us free from fear, while on the other hand we are told to fear God. The two scriptures above define those two kinds of fear and will give us a better understanding of what the Bible has to say about the subject. 

Fear of God

First, let us look at what the Bible means by having the “fear of God.”  Notice in the verses above from Proverbs that it defines the fear of the Lord God, as a reverent and worshipful fear. This is not a fear of what God will do to us, but rather a fear and awe of His almighty power. God is almighty and He tells us in the Bible what happens to all people who reject Him and His love.  Their fate is one of facing God in the Day of Judgment and if they have not repented of their sins and accepted Him as their Savior, they will be condemned to hell. Now, if we believe the Bible, we will respect its Words. Therefore, we will have a healthy fear of going to hell if we reject His Word. Or, if He told us to keep His commandments, we will have a fear of what will happen to us should we break them.  This holy fear helps us to refrain from sin because sin has consequences.  We will reap what we sow.

An example of godly fear in the natural realm would be like our parents telling us not to do certain things because if we do them, it will cause us pain or could even kill us. That is why the Bible tells children to obey their godly parents. If we respect our parents, we will believe their warnings to us and we will be afraid of the consequences our actions may bring. This will keep us from going down a wayward path. Not only will we reap the fruit of our sin, but we will also face the anger or displeasure of our parents. Our heavenly Father is no different, if we respect Him, we will also be afraid to disobey Him as He has already outlined the consequences of sin. This is not God overtly punishing us, but rather we are punished because when we sin, we bring the punishment of our sins upon our own selves.

Jeremiah 2:19 “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.”

This verse tells us that if we have the fear of God in us, we would not be doing wicked things. Therefore, godly fear is a good thing for us, as His children.

Tormenting Fears

The other kind of fear which the Bible tells us about is tormenting fear. This kind of fear is the fear Jesus went to the cross to set us free from. It is the crippling fear that brings torment to us. Tormenting fear brings us into bondage of the devil.

Romans 6:16 “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”

Some examples of these kinds of fear are:

  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of losing a loved one
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of the future
  • Fear of getting a disease
  • Fear of being robbed
  • Fear of poverty
  • Fear of man
  • Fear of the devil

Fear of Terrorism

Every evil dictator down through history has used the element of fear to keep his subjects under his control and forced them to do things that they did not want to do. We see the same thing today in some countries that have groups that are terrorizing the people into subjection to their demands. Without God, people do not know how to overcome this type of terror; therefore many people succumb to it. We have been given power over terror and evil through the power of prayer and guidance of the Holy Spirit. However, we cannot walk in this power unless we accept Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, as it takes God to bring victory over great evil because this kind of evil is a manifestation of Satan and his demons (devils) in this world.

Victory Over Fear

The Lord has not left us without a way to overcome evil because this is what His Word tells us. As we submit unto Him, He will make a way to come and save us. Only through holiness and Christ’s righteousness can we have the power to destroy the works of the devil. We cannot destroy the devil and his demons, but we can destroy the works they do. We can bind him from all that pertains to us as God’s servants. The devil will live forever (along with the fallen angels and sinners who follow him) in his final place of confinement – hell. When Jesus returns the second time, He will bind Satan and his demons in chains and the earth will rest, as Christ and His followers restore His Kingdom on earth

2 Peter 2:4 “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.”

Luke 10:17-20 “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”

Romans 8:15 “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

1 John 3:8 “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Bottom Line: Receive the Holy Fear of God and live and you can be free from the tormenting fear of the devil.

Additional articles can be found on our Bible Answers page at http://bibleresources.org/bible-answers/

 Related Topics

What the Bible Says about Fear

What the Bible Says About Demons

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