|Vol. 13 No. 12 December 2011||
Ernest S. Underwood
Generally, when we talk about fear, we have in mind the act of being afraid of something. I am afraid of spiders. I loathe them, killing every one that comes close. If you have one for a pet, well, I have doubts about your sensibilities. Just to think of such gives me goose bumps.
However, there is a fear that has a different meaning, and, it is commanded by God. In Psalm 128:1 we read: “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways.” Notice that this fear, rather than being panic of any sort, is simply having respect for and awe of God. Those who have such fear will always be found walking in the way of the Lord. One cannot have such respect for God and fail to walk in His ways. This is one of the major problems of denominationalism. Those trapped therein have not been taught to have a proper fear (respect) for God. Did not the wise man Solomon say, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)? Question: Is one showing proper honor and respect for God and walking in His way when he calls himself after some man or some system? Is one walking in the ways of God when he deliberately rejects anything that God has commanded as it relates to one receiving salvation from past sins? Are you walking in the fear of the Lord?
[To denominate something or to speak of a denominator as in fractions pertains to a part of the whole. Denominationalism may be parts of the whole manmade religious community, but the church about which anyone can read in the New Testament is not a part of anything, it is the whole – the one, true church that Jesus Christ promised to build (Matthew 16:18) and for which He died to establish, over which He is Head and for which one day He will return to retrieve and take back with Him to heaven forever. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
The Christians to whom the Epistle of Hebrews was written were in danger of leaving the Lord and returning to their former life of practicing Judaism. Basically, Hebrews is a book that exhorts discouraged Christians to continue strong with Jesus in light of the complete superiority of Who He is and what He has done for us. They were encouraged to “go on unto perfection [maturity]” (6:1). This instruction was given to those that had become “dull of hearing”(5:11) and were in danger of drifting away from the Lord (2:1). The author exposed their dullness of hearing and failure to mature (5:11-12); he also diagnosed their spiritual condition as babes in Christ (i.e., according to the time they had been followers of Jesus, they should have been much more mature than they were). Their diet of “milk”should have been a diet of “meat.”In the original language, the sense of “for he is a babe,” is “for he has become a babe.” There is nothing more delightful than a true babe in Jesus. Yet, there is nothing more irritating and depressing than someone who should be mature but who has become a babe! These Christians demonstrated immaturity by both their lack of discernment between good and evil and in their contemplation of giving up Jesus. Therefore, it can be said that all five human senses have their spiritual counterparts. Consider how discernment and exercise relate to our senses.
The mature Christian is marked by discernment and by unshakable commitment. The ability to discern is a critical measure of spiritual maturity. Babes are weak in discernment, and they will accept any kind of spiritual food. However, through the exercise of our spiritual senses (trained by practice and habit) our discernment between good and evil will produce maturity.