Here are 4 common signs God will use to tell you to fear him more.
1. If You Have Lost a True Fear of God By Replacing It with Just Respect for God, This Is a Sign God Is Telling You to Fear Him More
It’s popular among Christians to simply substitute the phrase “fear God” for “respect God.” I believe this is a mistake. Yes, respecting God is a big part of fearing God. But when you truly read the Bible and study the fear of God, it’s impossible to walk away without a genuine fear. I can respect the stranger on the street, but that’s not the same thing as fearing him.
I understand why people try to minimize this phrase, “fear God.” The Bible is full of passages clearly meant to teach us that God is not a distant angry God ready to punish his children at a moment’s notice. People who see God has harsh and quick to punish have been misled.
God is clearly a loving father – tender, merciful, concerned, and near his children. And so when people have grasped the biblical truth about the love of God in a personal way through Jesus as it should be grasped, they see this “fear of God” phrase in the Bible as something incompatible with the intimate relationship with God that they cherish so much. And so they try to make the two commands to “love God” and “fear God” fit together by changing “fear God” to just “respect God.”
I believe this is a mistake because a healthy fear of God is foundational to fully understanding the great love of God. Without believing in the wrath of God and his hatred of sin, Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross is minimized. When you lessen the holiness of God in your mind you will lessen your appreciation for the gospel in your heart. John 3:16 says that God sent Jesus to save us because he loves us, but Hebrews 10:30-31 also says, “For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
“Fear God” means you fear God. No matter how close you get to God, no matter how much you walk with God day to day as your loving Heavenly Father – all of which is biblical – you must never forget that God is still truly God. Moses was allowed to talk with God in a way no else was allowed to, but even he could not see the face of God or else he would instantly die. Exodus 33:18-20 states:
Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory.’ And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name “The Lord.” And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.’”
God does love you. You should never be afraid of God in a way that would cause you to run from him. But like a little child who fears discipline from her father, you should run towards God and confess your wrongs because you know he is the ultimate authority in your life. And in love, he will forgive us and save us when we ask him to. Through Jesus you can talk with God every second of the day because he is your attentive, affectionate, loving Heavenly Father. But he is still God. He is still holy. And thus there must be a genuine fear of God as well which will cause us to approach him with reverence while also having a greater appreciation for the gospel which also allows us to approach him with confidence, as Hebrews 4:15-16 explains:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
2. If Your Fear of Anything Else Besides God Is Controlling You, This Is a Sign the Lord Is Telling You to Fear Him More
If you don’t fear God, you will end up fearing everything else. Life is dangerous. Around every corner there is an unknown. People smile at us while they can also secretly hate us in their hearts, planning evil against us. The sunny skies can suddenly turn stormy in a moment’s notice. You can enjoy little waves on the beach, but you can’t control when the tidal wave will come.
And yet, in Luke 12:7, Jesus tells us to “Fear not.” How? Why? Shouldn’t all these earthly issues cause us to be fearful? You can’t fear two things at the same time. You can switch back and forth between fears. But when you are truly terrified you are totally focused on that one thing causing this fear. When you fear God, it causes you to lose your fear of everything else. In Luke 12:4-7, Jesus taught:
I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Jesus shows us that obeying the command to “fear him” will lead you to also obey the command to “fear not.” When you know that God is the one who is sovereign over all, all fear of anything besides God himself will vanish.
A healthy fear of God will cause you to lose an unhealthy fear of anything else.
3. If Your Prayers for Something Have Become Panicked or Demanding, This Is a Sign God Is Telling You to Fear Him More
How we pray is a window into our souls. A lack of prayer shows us we don’t believe God is listening. Small request show we don’t believe in God’s awesome power. Fearful, panicky, and demanding prayers show that we want something so bad that we are willing to disrespect God to get it. The Israelites consistently showed their lack of fear for God by complaining and grumbling whenever they had a need. Number 20:2-6 says:
Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people quarreled with Moses and said, ‘Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.’”
They could have just asked God for water instead of blaming him and freaking out. When you keep reading, Numbers 20:6-8 explains how God then gave Moses and Aaron instructions on how to make water flow from the rock. Instead of just asking God in faith, the people complained and grumbled against God in fear. How you approach God with your desires reveals the condition of your heart. Notice in Mark 4:37-41 that Jesus was not upset that his disciples woke him so he could save them from the storm. He was upset with them because they were so afraid. It states:
And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’”
So if you have a desire in your heart that you feel might go unmet and this is causing you to approach God in a panic or in a demanding spirit, this is sign God is telling you to reevaluate your understanding of who he truly is.
4. If You Lack an Intense Focus on Christ, This Is a Sign the Lord Is Telling You to Fear Him More
You focus on what you fear. You can always know what you fear the most by looking at what you focus on the most. God calls us to fear him above all else because God knows our hearts need to focus on him above all else. A healthy fear of God leads to a passionate devotion to Christ.
Proverbs 14:26-27 says, “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.” When you fear God, you will be so focused on him you will not be able to focus on worldly things. As Deuteronomy 10:12-21 explains:
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen.”