Home > Hermeneutics > Distinguish between things that differ: Example 2

Distinguish between things that differ: Example 2

In like manner we must distinguish sharply between two totally different kinds of fear: the one which is becoming, spiritual, and helpful; the other carnal, worthless, hurtful. Believers are bidden to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), that is with a conscientious horror of displeasing the One who has been so gracious to them. Conversely, “perfect love casteth out fear” (John 4:18), namely that slavish dread which causes torment, those terrifying thoughts which make us look forward to the day of judgment with dismay. “God is greatly to be feared” (Psalm 89:7): that is, held in the highest esteem and reverence, the heart deeply impressed with His majesty, awed by His ineffable holiness. When we read of those who “feared the Lord, and served their own gods” (2 Kings 17:33), it means that out of a dread of His vengeance they went through the outward form of worshipping Him, but that the love of their wicked hearts was set upon their idols. Thus a filial fear inspires with a grateful desire to please and honor God, but a servile fear produces terror in the mind because of a guilty conscience, as was the case with Adam (Genesis 3:9, 10), and is so now with the demons (James 2:19). The one draws to God, the other drives from Him; the one genders to bondage and leads to despair; the other works humility and promotes the spirit of adoration.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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