Luk 1:50  from generation to generation he is merciful to those who fear him.

Luk 1:72  He has done this to show mercy to our ancestors,   and to remember his holy covenant —
Luk 1:73  the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham.   This oath grants
Luk 1:74  that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,   may serve him without fear,
Luk 1:75  in holiness and righteousness before him for as long as we live.

Luk 12:5  But I will warn you whom you should fear: Fear the one who, after the killing, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

Luk 12:28  And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, how much more will he clothe you, you people of little faith!
Luk 12:29  So do not be overly concerned about what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not worry about such things.
Luk 12:30  For all the nations of the world pursue these things, and your Father knows that you need them.
Luk 12:31  Instead, pursue his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Luk 12:32  “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom.


Rom 3:18  “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Rom 8:15  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Jud 1:23  save others by snatching them out of the fire; have mercy on others, coupled with a fear of God, hating even the clothes stained by the flesh.

2Co 5:11  Therefore, because we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people, but we are well known to God, and I hope we are well known to your consciences too.

2Ti 1:7  For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.


1Jn 4:18  There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love.


1Pe 2:17  Honor all people, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king.

Should Christians fear God?

The Fear of the Lord is a complicated subject because on the face of things scripture seems to send us two different messages.  Paul writes “because we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people” but he also writes “we did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear” and “God did not give us a Spirit of fear.”

Covering theology makes no attempt to reconcile Paul and John’s words about fear in the Christian life.  Consider John’s words in context to get a sense of what role fear plays in the Christian life.

1Jn 4:9  By this the love of God is revealed in us: that God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him.
1Jn 4:10  In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1Jn 4:11  Dear friends, if God so loved us, then we also ought to love one another.
1Jn 4:12  No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God resides in us, and his love is perfected in us.
1Jn 4:13  By this we know that we reside in God and he in us: in that he has given us of his Spirit.
1Jn 4:14  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
1Jn 4:15  If anyone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God resides in him and he in God.
1Jn 4:16  And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has in us. God is love, and the one who resides in love resides in God, and God resides in him.
1Jn 4:17  By this love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because just as Jesus is, so also are we in this world.
1Jn 4:18  There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love.
1Jn 4:19  We love because he loved us first.

Fear of God, fear of his holiness should drive us towards Christ.  Once we recognize the work of the Spirit in our lives, the love of God being perfected in us that fear should fade in to the distance.  As a father and a husband I should fear the consequences of adultery because of the disaster it would bring in my life.  However that shouldn’t be a daily fear.  It should lead me to live according to some wise principles but there is no need to worry about it.

Once we are in Christ we are held tightly in the grip of His love.  His love for us is secure, nothing can separate us from it (Rom 8:35-39).  If I lived in daily anxiety about doing something wrong resulting in disaster for my family I would be told to seek counselling.  It isn’t healthy to live in fear.  That is the opposite of peace and love.  It is no different in our relationship with God.

Paul wrote “we haven’t receive a spirit of slavery.”  The CEV has “Spirit doesn’t make us slaves who are afraid of him.”  A slave is a afraid of his master because if steps out of line he is punished.  Paul contrasts this with a “Spirit of adoption.”  In English adoption means one is formally accepted by choice.  God chose to accept us as his children.

Covering theology leads to fear

In churches that believe in Covering Theology fear is constant.  People are commonly reminded that disaster that looms if they leave the covering of their leaders.  If  someone chooses to disobey God’s delegated authority then he or she is in rebellion and is inviting destruction and demonic deception in to their lives.  Fear becomes a constant guide.  The fear is so strong people don’t have the freedom to think about certain ideas.  Even if they do conclude that something might be wrong they don’t have the freedom to talk about it because that would be inciting even more rebellion.  This fear impairs discernment and puts a straight jacket on what the Spirit might do in the body.

It isn’t uncommon for the leaders of these churches to qualify that authority isn’t about control.  However the fear instilled through the teaching is a very effective means of control.  Regardless of whether there are rules about whether people are allowed to question or discuss their issues with fellow members such activity is effectively muted.

Two types of control

Authority can work in a couple of different ways.  One functions well and the other is repressive.  Consider the fictional company XYZ widgets.  The president of company orders the marketing department to show up 1/2 hour early on Monday for a sales report with the president.  The Marketing director objects to what she believes is an unfair burden on the employees in her department.  She voices her concern to the president but her objections are ignored.  The marketing manager has two legitimate choices.  She can suck it up and organize the meeting or she start looking for work elsewhere.  That is how much of the world’s authority works.  It is control, but not of the mind or spirit.  The Marketing director can think whatever she wants about the new meeting she just has to hold it.  Many organizations recognize that shouldn’t squelch the independent thinking of their people because it will impair them.

Imagine a different fictional company: ABC manufacturing.  The company is very focussed on productivity and facilitates a culture that frowns heavily on slacking off.  They recognize that they can’t legally impose restrictions on bathroom breaks so there are no rules about it.  However they discovered another way to keep people on the production line.  To get to the washrooms they have to walk past the desk of the floor manager who keeps close tabs on who is working and who is not.  Employees who appear to be slacking off get called in to the office and told they need to decide how committed they are going to be to their job.  They aren’t told they aren’t allowed to use the bathroom they just talk about commitment and dedication and how we are all in this together.  They deliberately avoid making the expectations clear because its more effective when people don’t know exactly what they can do without fear or punishment or retribution.  The lack of uncertainty keeps people off balance and unable to defend their actions by an objective measure.

When it comes time to lay people off the perceived slackers, the  “dead weight” are unloaded first.  The other employees recognize this pattern and learn how to avoid suffering the same fate.  ABC manufacturing doesn’t use threats or rules to control their people.  They use fear and uncertainty which is far more effective at getting people to act a certain way.

In a healthy organization the leaders are open to ideas and the objections of the people they lead.  No one is afraid to voice their own opinion.  On the contrary independent thinking is encouraged.  The organization expects people to follow appropriately when decisions are made.  People know what the rules are and expectations are clear.  People are not governed by fear.  They know that if they don’t do their job they will get fired but most don’t live in any fear of that because they know they are accepted.

A healthy church recognizes that people need to feel safe so they can be themselves.  They need to know the joy that while they were still sinners Christ died for them.  People must know that they cannot earn merit through works or submission to church leaders.  The members have to come to their convictions through wisdom, knowledge and faith not in fear.