One of the characteristics of God that we are given in His Word is that He is just. It is written, “The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He.” ([italics added] Deuteronomy 32:4 ESV); “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before You.” (Psalm 89:14 ESV). The definition of justice is the process or result of using laws to fairly judge and punish crimes and criminals (Merriam-Webster). And the definition of being just is: having a basis in or conforming to fact or reason; reasonable (Merriam-Webster). If God is merciful, loving, and just, then His justice is evident within Him to the equal degree that He is merciful and loving, among all His other characteristics–all of these comprising His nature of being holy.
Fear the Holy
We are told countless times in the Bible to fear God. Oxford Languages defines fear as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” Fear without God is exactly this, but the fear of God produces wisdom, which, in turn, leads to life. Truly, God is One to be feared. In the words of Christ, “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed someone, has the power to throw that person into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:5 NASB). To contemplate the nature of God is to contemplate a Being with the destiny of your soul in His hands. To find oneself on the wrong side of such a Power is a terrible thought indeed. But, thank God He has done all that we will ever need to be saved.
Fear of the Lord is an understanding that God is not One to be taken advantage of or One to be thought of as a fool–we can lie to Him, but what good does that do? He already knows the truth. To fear God is to understand that He is different than us mere mortals and that His ways are far higher than we can comprehend. At the same time, fearing God is also knowing that God is a judge who has given us His standard of holiness through the law and will exact justice according to it. As it stands, the Law of God is unattainable of our own power–we can never attain the holiness and perfection that is God without Him. To fear the Lord is to realize the reality of our sinful nature and need and that all one can hope for in salvation is the mercy of God. To be held in the tension that nothing you can do can save you from sin and that we deserve God’s wrath; and the reality that God sent His one and only Son to take our place in that judgment. For those who do not believe in Christ, the question that must be asked is, “Is it worth it?” For those in Christ, the question we must ask ourselves daily is, “Is my life honoring the sacrifice of Jesus?”