Editorial – To Fear or Not to Fear

One of the immediate consequences of sin, and one, which has ever since been an aspect of human existence, was fear. Adam and Eve, because of their nakedness, were fearful. We are told that even after covering themselves with garments that they had fashioned from fig leaves, they still feared to meet their Creator. “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.’” Genesis 3:8–10.

Although we generally think of fear as a negative emotion, there is a healthy aspect of fear, which recognizes that God’s mercy does not make void His justice. It is the absence of this respect, or fear, that leads men to presumptuous sin. God can never, however, dishonor His Law by suffering it to be transgressed with impunity. This is the fear of God spoken of in the First Angel’s Message. (See Revelation 14:6, 7.)

In the end, there are only going to be two classes of people—those who fear God and those who fear men. It is inevitable that each person will be controlled by one or the other of these fears. Those who have perfected the fear of God will, as a result, be willing to suffer the loss of all things, even life itself, rather than to act contrary to His will in any particular. Those who are governed by the fear of men will find themselves helpless to withstand the nearly overwhelming pressure to compromise and will succumb to the force of human opinion urging conformity.

Those who keep all of God’s Commandments, including the Sabbath, have the divine promise that God will make them holy. (See Ezekiel 20:12, 20.) These faithful few will receive the seal of God, while the rest of the world, because of their fear of men, will give their homage to the beast and receive his mark.

If you are going to survive that time, you must be delivered from the fear of man. God desires to do this for you. He says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish.” Isaiah 41:10, 11.

“There are troublous times before us; the judgments of God are coming upon our world. The nations of the earth are to tremble. There will be trials and perplexities on every hand; men’s hearts will fail them for fear. And what shall we do in that day? Though the earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and be removed like a cottage, if we have made God our trust, He will deliver us. ‘He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.’ ‘Because thou has made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee. . . . For He shall give His angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways.’” Review and Herald, March 15, 1887.

To those living in the last days, the Lord says; “Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’ concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. He will be as a sanctuary [that is, a refuge for you], but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble; they shall fall and be broken, be snared and taken.” Isaiah 8:12–15.

When Jesus came, He showed to His disciples the only sure escape from fear is through perfect love that results in perfect obedience to God’s Law. (See I John 4:16–19; 2:5.) In every generation, God has had people who have developed this experience; and by being perfected in love, He wants to deliver you from fear in the Day of Judgment.