“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth
for the manifestation of the sons of God” – Romans 8:19.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” – Romans 12: 1-2.
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him Who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” – 2Timothy 2: 3-5.
Nonconformity or not conforming to the world is expression of piety or fear of God. The opposite of not conforming to the world is conforming to Christ’s Image or the heavenly life. Non-conformity which we see in Bible and which our fathers in the faith throughout history held on to is almost not with us today. Yet, God has in no time lower the standard or will He ever do because His ways are equal (Ezekiel 18 25, 29). The same yardstick for making heaven applies to all! Only the violent since the days of John the Baptist takes the Kingdom (Matthew 11: 12).
The fear of the Lord, piety or nonconformity: What a place it has taken in the life of pilgrims since the days of John the Baptist! Check church history. This age cannot and should not be otherwise.
Piety is true religion or real Christianity, as we saw in our previous work. This is the trademark or distinctive characteristic of the Christian and of Christianity. Nonconformity is its key expression. Piety or nonconformity: How so vital in presenting our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, this being our reasonable service; and how vital in transforming us through the renewing of our mind so that we may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Nonconformity or not conforming to the world but rather being heavenly conscious or living for heaven sums up the Christian race. This is the heart of piety or the fear of God.
In 2Timothy 2: 3-5 we also see that not conforming to the world is the only way of pleasing God Who has chosen us to be soldiers: “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him Who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” To get the crown is to strive lawfully; to strive lawfully is not to love the world or entangle ourselves with it; and not to love the world is to love God and the same translates to or doubles as the fear of God or piety.
Between the Fear of God and the Love of God
To love God and to fear God are inseparable. And we would presently dwell on the relationship between the fear of God and the love of God before we take up the subject matter of the fear of God vis-à-vis nonconformity with the world (which is also the same as not entangling ourselves with the world or not loving the world and the things in the world – lust of the eye, lust of the flesh and pride of Life). Some think they see in 1 John 4:17-18 reason why they should not fear God thinking what matters is to love God; and that loving God ‘cast out the fear of God’. No! That Scripture reads:
“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”.
That Scripture is not saying that we don’t need to have godly fear. Rather, it is talking about fearlessness in approaching the throne of grace, about death and about the day of judgment because we feared God enough to flee sin and all unrighteousness and do His will which is the best or indeed almost the only expression of our love for Christ; and in this there is no fear: In approaching His throne, in the matter of death and the coming judgment. Or, as Dake would say: “By God dwelling in us, by our dwelling in Him, by having the fullness of love in our lives, and by the perfection of that love in daily manifestation, we may have boldness in the day of judgment. This is possible because we are like God – holy, pure, loving, good, and true – in this world (Titus 2:11-12)”.
‘He that feareth is not made perfect in love’ it says. Dake comes handy: “The one who dreads judgment has a reason to fear. His love is not perfect. He must purify himself, as in 1 John 1:7; 1 John 3:1-10; 1 John 5:1-18. One should have Godly fear (Psalm 2:11; Psalm 15:4; Psalm 19:9; Psalm 34:7-11; Psalm 85:9; Psalm 103:11; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 3:7; Proverbs 8:13; Proverbs 14:27; 2 Cor. 7:1). The ungodly do not have this kind of fear (Psalm 36:1; Psalm 55:19; Romans 3:18)”.
Hear Joseph telling Potipher’s wife: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Look at that statement carefully. You find both the fear and love of God there: They go together. The partner who loves his or her spouse would fear to offend him or her. If we love God we would dread to offend Him.
And we offend Him when we sin, disobey Him or do contrary to His stated will in Scriptures, in our consciences and in our hearts. For these and other bases of the coming Judgment see Chapter 8, “The Great White Throne Judgment”, in my Pondering Eternity. Not to offend Him, is to fear Him. And not to offend Him, is to love Him.
‘If you love Me, keep My commandment’ He says; but beyond a strong appeal to love Him that we see here, we also see an inherently strong appeal to fear Him. Then also remember He says: ‘A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a Father, where is Mine honour? and if I be a Master, where is My fear? – Malachi 1: 6; and beyond this strong query we see here concerning fearing Him, we also see an inherently strong appeal to love Him. To say it again: The fear of God and the love of God are inseparable. One makes no meaning without the other.
“And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul” – Deuteronomy 10:12. This beginning of wisdom or the fear of God leads to obedience which is the evidence of loving God. And loving God leads to obedience which is, again, the evidence of fearing God. It is all about obedience. This is the goal of both the fear of God and the love of God!
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil – Proverbs 8:13; the fear of the Lord is to depart from evil – Proverbs 3:7; the fear of the Lord is not to envy sinners and their acquisitions and also not wanting to be like them – Proverbs 23:17. “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” – Proverbs 14:27. Compare that with this: “The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” – Proverbs 13:14. Both the fear of the Lord and the law of the wise (Scriptures) are fountain of life. And again, the fear of the Lord and the law of the wise (Scriptures) give the same effect, which is: departure from the snare
s of death, or from the snares of eternal damnation in eternal fire. All of those must give us the goal of the fear of the Lord: Total obedience to Scriptures to get His blessings untold, now and in all eternity. And that is the goal of love for God too.
“In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence and His children shall have a place of refuge” – Proverbs 14:26. Strong confidence! Compare this with 1 John 4:17-18 already visited above whilst considering ‘perfect love casting away fear’. The love of God and the fear of God give same effect. Like love, those that fear God are fearless in approaching the throne of grace. Also, they don’t fear death or the Day of Judgment. Strong confidence! More than that: They have a place of refuge, even an eternal place of refuge! And so, they could say with John the beloved: ‘Even so, come Lord Jesus’. Like love, like the fear of God.
To fear God is not to love the world; it is nonconformity with the world. And to love God is not to love the world; it is nonconformity with the world. To love God and to fear God are inseparable.
Nonconformity: Separation begets Separation!
So, as we were saying: ‘No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him Who hath chosen him to be a soldier’. ‘And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully’. Real Christianity is what takes to heaven. To know this and to lay it to heart is a problem solved halfway. And to live so, is the other half solved. But to be full back to this and go ahead to thrill our flesh and justify our fancies in the pulpit and pew leads the disastrous way.
May God help us to perpetually fear and love Him enough as not to love the world and as not to be entangled in our heart with it! Let our messages and songs point upward so that our eyes can look upward and our hearts fixed there. In this, these things the world seek after will be added unto us; because, as messages, songs and living or lives point up, our problems drop down and as it is written in the Old Testament: “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” – Psalm 37: 25; and in the New Testament: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” – Matthew 6:33.
See the following Bible command on Christian separation or nonconformity with the world: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” – 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.
Is this not clear and unmistaken enough! To be separated now, is to be received of God. All who shall finally be separated from the rest of humanity; dead and alive, are those who separated themselves from unrighteousness, darkness, the Belials, infidels and idols in the world (and, sorry to say, in the church – pulpit and pew); in short, those who are not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: That is, those who fear or love God enough ‘not to walk in the counsel of the ungodly, not to stand on the way of sinners, and not to sit on the seat of the scornful but their delight is the law of the Lord, and of which law they with fear and trembling meditate on and obey, and thus prosper continually thereby now and, more so, in all of eternity just as they will constitute the eternal congregation of the righteous, a congregation without the ungodly since they (the ungodly) cannot stand in the judgment; ‘for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, a way though narrow but certainly leading to eternal bliss; but the way of the ungodly shall perish; that is, the broad-way, trod by all in the world and many in the church, shall empty itself in eternal fire of torment’ – being my humble paraphrase of parts of Psalm 1.
I introduced the article “Defining Christianity and Christ Call”, earlier mentioned in the previous work – “Fear of God and Manifestation of the Sons of God”, this way: “This is sad, very sad: The ‘church’ has become unimaginably too worldly today; and the world has become unthinkably too churchy today. The ‘church’ has given the world mere religion as against Christianity. The ‘church’ and the world today are become like one stream flowing with same source and apparently heading the same way. Few men and women, however, cannot be blinded to the fact that true Christianity (The Church) is a stream with a different source, different path and heading different way from that of the world. The church (now, the real church, that is) never meets with the world. Yes, it is in the world but not of it. It is in the world as light to drive away its thick darkness and not to borrow it. It is in the world to point captives of its darkness to the Bright and Morning Star and not to embrace the darkness and its depth, which is hell”.
Romans 13:11-14 is very critical to the Christian race: “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” This is a clarion call or urgent message to all pilgrims, strangers in this world and saints walking their way to the City that has foundation, Whose Builder is God!
Commenting in his Daily Devotional on Romans 8: 12: “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors”, Charles Spurgeon has this to say about that verse of Scripture vis-à-vis the subject matter of presenting our bodies living sacrifice:
“As God’s creatures, we are all debtors to Him: to obey Him with all our body, and soul, and strength. Having broken His commandments, as we all have, we are debtors to His justice, and we owe to Him a vast amount which we are not able to pay. But of the Christian it can be said that he does not owe God’s justice anything, for Christ has paid the debt His people owed; for this reason the believer owes the more to love. I am a debtor to God’s grace and forgiving mercy; but I am no debtor to His justice, for He will never accuse me of a debt already paid. Christ said, ‘It is finished!’ and by that He meant, that whatever His people owed was wiped away forever from the book of remembrance. Christ, to the uttermost, has satisfied divine justice; the account is settled; the handwriting is nailed to the cross; the receipt is given, and we are debtors to God’s justice no longer. But then, because we are not debtors to our Lord in that sense, we become ten times more debtors to God than we should have been otherwise. Christian, pause and ponder for a moment. What a debtor thou art to divine sovereignty! How much thou owest to His disinterested love, for He gave His own Son that He might die for thee. Consider how much you owe to His forgiving grace, that after ten thousand affronts He loves you as infinitely as ever. Consider what you owe to His power; how He has raised you from your death in sin; how He has preserved your
spiritual life; how He has kept you from falling; and how, though a thousand enemies have beset your path, you have been able to hold on your way. Consider what you owe to His immutability. Though you have changed a thousand times, He has not changed once. Thou art as deep in debt as thou canst be to every attribute of God. To God thou owest thyself, and all thou hast – yield thyself as a living sacrifice, it is but thy reasonable service”.
Paul or New Testament’s Great Appeal to Pilgrims!
Note that Paul began Romans 12 by saying “I beseech you by the mercies of God…” What an appeal by the Spirit through one that truly fears God! What an appeal to us to fear God! What an invitation to piety! Then in verse three we read: “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith”. Besides mentioning ‘grace’ immediately after his appeal, he seems to address church ministers and people (or ‘every man that is among you’) who take lightly the subject matter of piety to be sober. To be sober means ‘to be serious’, and in what else if not about God and eternal or heavenly matters or the things God says we should seek; and it also means ‘not intoxicated’, and in what else if not with the world, temporal and things God says He will add if we seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness.