“I ain’t afraid of going to prison,” the brash, young gun-toting youth told Dr. Phil. “I’m cool, you know… I can take care of myself!”
The wise advisor listened patiently as the young man boasted of his street-smart exploits, feigned a tough guy accent, and gave continual dual hip-hop ‘I love you’ hand gestures all while slouched in his seat.
When the lad finally stopped, the wise counselor spoke… “If you’re not afraid of prison you’re a fool!” he said. He next introduced an individual seated in the studio audience. This man had known the street life, had been in prison, had been abused, had experienced addiction, crime, life-threatening situations, and all the raw realities of which the first youth fantasized.
Joining the others on stage he spoke at length to the youth, confirming the doctor’s initial comment. Prison is indeed a place to dread and the one who thinks otherwise is indeed foolish…. Very unwise indeed!
The Bible tells us two very important things in relation to this.
First, it tells us we have something to dread far more serious and enduring than any prison sentence.
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” (Luke 12: 4-5)
Second, it tells us that the fear of the Lord is the starting point for all wisdom and knowledge.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7); “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” (Prov. 9:10).
The psalmist wrote, “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” (Ps. 19:9). It is a good thing to stand in the fear of the Lord… to be purged by it — a wise thing.
The wonderful news for the penitent soul, the soul who accepts his guilt and trusts in the sacrificial death of the sinless Christ as full atonement for his sin, who now yields the throne of his heart to Him and covenants to follow Him as His Lord… the wonderful news for that soul is this:
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:18-19).
Christ demonstrated His love for us first in that “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8). He made this provision for us at a time when we cared nothing about Him. Our backs were to Him. We were in rebellion of all that He is. But now, if indeed we have understood … if indeed we have turned around in repentance, looking Him straight in the Face, acknowledging He is Lord… now “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1)
Have you learned to fear the Lord?
The book of Proverbs teaches us much more about this godly fear. It teaches that the fear of the LORD is “to hate evil: pride, and arrogance, and the evil way” (8:13), it prolongs one’s life (10:29), it provides a “strong confidence” (14:26), is “a fountain of life” (14:27), it satisfies (15:16, 19:23) and keeps one from evil (16:6) and is itself true “riches, and honour, and life” (22:4).
Proverbs teaches we should “be in the fear of the LORD all the day long.” (Prov. 23:17). It speaks also of those who “hated knowledge,” those who “did not choose the fear of the LORD” (Prov. 1:29). Proverbs is all about not being a fool, but being wise.
Which do you choose?
To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Nov. 17 message.