The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Does God want us to live in fear?


I don’t know how I never noticed this before, but tonight I was reading Luke and this stood out to me:

*Luke 1
73 The oath which He swore to Abraham our father,
74 To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.

The idea of living in heaven in constant fear is not very comforting. This verse suggests the ‘fear of the Lord’ we are supposed to have is not the kind of fear we usually think of i.e. being scared, but something else!


qaz… perhaps you are reading this wrong?? There’s nothing spoken of heaven. This is the freedom or absence of “fear” serving God under the tyranny of occupying “enemies” in this life, i.e., Israel’s past and then present life.

I’m not sure these verses actually do suggest that, not even the context. But as to ‘the fear of the Lord’ that can be rightly understood in terms of reverence.


qaz, I too find this challenging text striking. It seems that reverence for God means that we need not live in scared dread of the threats of this world. As Jesus put it elsewhere, they may kill you, but will not be able to touch a hair of your head. That seem’s a view of ultimate security.


Some time ago, I noticed that 15 times in the NT writings people are urged not to fear. It seems to me that it is God’s will that we do not fear.

Here are the passages in which people are asked not to fear:

Matthew 1:20 10:26,28,31 17:7
Mark 5:36
Luke 2:10 8:50 12:4,7,32
John 12:15
1 Peter 3:14 Revelation 1:17 2:20

In addition, these two verses indicate the importance of not fearing:

So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)
… And you are [Sarah’s] children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. (1 Peter 3:6)


There seems to be a freedom factor to those who are following Christ in the text’s… Christ said that his yoke was easy.

To fear might well be a lack of submission, or might be a failure to submit totally?


Fearful people do as they’re told so I would guess so.



I found this scene from the Prince of Egypt to display the fear of the Lord.


(Isaiah 11:3 ESV) And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD…

If “fear” refers to “terror,” How could anyone be delighted in being terrified of the LORD?
However, the word translated as “fear” can also mean “reverence.”
One can be delighted in revering the LORD.


Because the love and Beauty of God. It’s the fear of the consequences of turning away from God’s protection by breaking His moral law that brings delight. There’s nothing unusual about having such fear and being happy. Paul was sorrowful yet always rejoicing. People are complex. People who are awake are terrified of breaking the moral law. As the founder of A.A. Bill Wilson states:

For all its usual destructiveness, we have found that fear can be the starting point for better things. Fear can be a stepping stone to prudence and to a decent respect for others. It can point the path to justice, as well as to hate. And the more we have of respect and justice, the more we shall begin to find the love which can suffer much, and yet be freely given. So fear need not always be destructive, because the lessons of its consequences can lead us to positive values.

worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness; Tremble before Him, all the earth. ~~ Psalms 96:9

As the Irish Catholic priest, poet, and mystic (John O’Donohue) describes it in “Beauty”

While beauty usually quickens our senses, awakens our delight and invites wonder, there are occasions when the force of beauty is disturbing and even frightening. Beauty can arrive in such a clear and absolute sweep that it throws the heart sideways. It takes over completely and we are overwhelmed, unsure what to do or how to be in the presence of this radiance. The authority of such beauty unnerves us for awhile. This is of course an exceptional experience of beauty, yet it befalls everyone at some time. It could be the beauty of nature, music, painting, poetry or the unseen beauty of kindness, compassion, love or revelation. For a while we are caught up in the majestic otherness of beauty. It is an experience in which the sheer eternal force of the soul strains the mortal frame; the natural gravity of the body no longer grounds one. This causes unease and yet the unease is still somehow delightful. - John O’Donohue


“It is often said that fear of God has no place in the Christian’s life for, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears (for himself) is not perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).”

“But there are many commandments to fear in the New Testament; for example, Romans 11:20, “They [the Jews] were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud but fear.” Similarly, Hebrews 3:12 warns against unbelief (although the word “fear” is not used): “Take heed, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil unbelieving heart leading you to fall away from the living God.” (Other texts admonishing fear: 1 Peter 1:17; 2:17; Philippians 2:12-13; Luke 12:5; Isaiah 66:2; Acts 9:31; 2 Corinthians 5:11; 7:1; etc.)”

continued at: … ian-s-life


This is true but no one is made perfect in love in this life. Moreover, there are many forms of fear - some healthy others unhealthy.


From my book “Humility of Heart” by the Catholic Fr. Cajetan Mary da Bergamo:

We must acknowledge that one of the five reasons why we do not live in this necessary humility is that we do not fear the justice of God. Look at a criminal, how humbly he stands before the judge, with lowered eyes, pallid face and bowed head: he knows that he has been convicted of atrocious crimes; he knows that thereby he has merited capital punishment and may justly be condemned to the gallows; and hence he fears, and his fear keeps him humble, chasing from his brain all thoughts of ambition and vainglory. So also the soul, conscious of the numerous sins it has committed, aware that it has indeed deserved hell, and that from one moment to another it may be condemned to hell by Divine Justice, fears the wrath of God; and this fear causes the soul to remain humble before Him; and if it does not feel this humility, it can only be because the fear of God is wanting: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Ps. 35:1).


Individual examples of people being told to fear particular things in no way implies that the answer to the question, “Does God want us to LIVE in fear?” is “Yes.”


Don, I tend to agree with you when it comes to today, but there is a historical component to some OT passages that have to be dealt with:

2Ki 17:7 Now this came about because the sons of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and they had feared other gods
2Ki 17:8 and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD had driven out before the sons of Israel, and in the customs of the kings of Israel which they had introduced.
2Ki 17:9 The sons of Israel did things secretly which were not right against the LORD their God. Moreover, they built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city.
2Ki 17:10 They set for themselves sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree,
2Ki 17:11 and there they burned incense on all the high places as the nations did which the LORD had carried away to exile before them; and they did evil things provoking the LORD.
2Ki 17:12 They served idols, concerning which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.”
2Ki 17:13 Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets.”
2Ki 17:14 However, they did not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God.
2Ki 17:15 They rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them.
2Ki 17:16 They forsook all the commandments of the LORD their God and made for themselves molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal.

2Ki 17:18 So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.

An angry God is not a happy God and does some big stuff. Someone maybe should have feared Him. :astonished:


Don’t really have time to add anything more right now but this little extract from our old friend George MacDonald might be a helpful starting point as to fear’s purpose:

Persuade men that fear is a vile thing, that it is an insult to God, that he will none of it—while they are yet in love with their own will and slaves to every movement of passionate impulse and what will the consequence be? That they will insult God as a discarded idol, a superstition, a thing to be cast out and spit upon. After that how much will they learn of him?