So many people flee from the words “Fear of God”, seeing that such words are not suitable for the covenant of grace which we live. On what bases do they build their claim?
1. They say: why should I fear God while He accepted Augustine who had been ungodly for a long time? God also accepted Moses the Black who was cruel and a murderer, and accepted Mary the Copt who was in deep filthiness and corruption. He likewise accepted Mary Magdalene who had seven demons (Mk 16: 9), and the adulterous woman who met Him in the Pharisee’s house (Lk 7: 37)
It is a blessing, my son, that you know all these examples. But let us discuss them: do you have such true repentance like those saints? Do you have the kind of repentance of Augustine and Moses the Black who never returned to sin again but continued in spiritual growth and became guides to many people for generations after them? Do you have the contrite heart of that adulterous woman who humiliated herself very much and poured her tears before all people?
Do you know how God led Mary the Copt through fear, when His hand shut the doors of the church against her and nailed her to the ground that she might not reach the holy icon? Do you know that she struggled for seventeen years after her repentance, persisting firmly against the continued fearful wars of the devils? Do you have such love as the Magdalene Saint had, such great and amazing love that could keep away fear from her?
Be like those in their repentance and love, and you will not fear. Think of how they attained and how much time did they take to reach such levels. Do not put yourself in the same level of such saints. There is a big difference between you and them, between your beginning and their end!
However put them before you to give yourself hope, and try with all your power to follow their way with the same seriousness and true intent, and with the same fear with which they started. Only then you will not be afraid.
2. I hear you saying: ‘Why should we fear while God is a Father having compassion upon us?
Yes, He is a Father with all the significance that the word bears. The Psalmist said about Him, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities … As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Ps 103: 10, 12) It is good, my son, that you used this Psalm and these verses in particular, but let us read them together to see what do they mean: The Psalmist says, “As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.” He did not say that God pities those who continue in their sins or in breaking His commandments, but those who fear Him (Ps 103: 13). And about His mercy and forgiveness the Psalmist says, “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him.” (Ps 103: 11)
I see that you have quoted the verses that suit your mind and ignored the rest! You quoted the verses (10 & 12) of (Ps 103) and left the verses (11 & 13). You ought to have quoted the whole Psalm to understand the full meaning with respect to God’s dealing with us. It is true that God is Merciful, Compassionate, and Longsuffering, but in order that we may repent. Then He will pity those who fear Him and will not deal with them according to their sins. Because of the fear of God they repented, and through repentance their sins were blotted out, so He did not punish them for iniquities which He had already forgiven, and did not deal with them according to sins they had already repented for.
God deals with you as a Father, but you ought to deal with Him as a son. He is truly a Father, but He has no partiality. See what St. Peter the Apostle says in this context: “If you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear.” (1 Pet 1: 17) He is a Father with all the significance that the word bears, but He is a Holy Father who is not pleased with sin. He also is a Just Father who does not take the side of His children. Therefore, since He will judge us according to our works without partiality, we ought to fear making Him angry lest we lose His love.
God is our Father, and as a Father He blames His children for their disobedience. The prophecy of Isaiah the Prophet starts with the words, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: ‘I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me.’“ (Isa 1: 2) And in the Book of Malachi (1: 6), the Lord says, “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?”
Can we say then that disregarding God’s honor and reverence is an evidence of lack of fear of God in the heart, which is against the teaching of the Scripture? If you are a son of God, where is His honor as a Father?