July 15 I Wednesday
“Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.” —Acts 5:11
How do we feel towards God? If we were to compile a list of emotional responses that Christians give towards their feeling of God, we would likely expect answers like “amazed,” “comforted,” “humbled” or “overwhelmed with praise.” But how many of us would include “fear” on this list?
Acts 5 states twice that people experienced “great fear” when they heard Ananias and Sapphira had fallen over dead after lying to the Holy Spirit. Verse 5 says, “great fear seized all who heard what had happened,” but verse 11 highlights “the whole church” becoming gripped by fear. They saw firsthand the holiness of God in the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira.
Though we know we are forgiven in Christ, some Christians treat this like a “get-out-of-jail-free-card.” They fail to realize how sin grieves God and think future sins to be irrelevant because of the cross. Paul clearly condemns this attitude, saying, “Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2). We should all have a healthy fear of sin—not that we can somehow lose our salvation if we sin too often, but that sin can and will corrupt our relationships with God as well as others if we allow it free reign in our lives.
More importantly, Scripture calls us to a wholesome, healthy fear of God. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Fear can be a negative, paralysing and destructive emotion, but it can also be positive, constructive and enlightening when it produces power and purity within us by making us aware of our need for repentance.
Because of what happened to Ananias and Sapphira, a spirit of purity permeated the church and liberated the early believers to exercise power in the fear of God. The apostles, dependent on Christ, then went out and performed miraculous signs and wonders. Fear initially made others hesitant to join the church, but Luke tells us these miraculous signs eventually drew people so that “…more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number” (Acts 5:14). Fearing God led to receiving the Spirit’s power, which in turn led to the growth of Christ’s church. When we, as believers, fear the Lord, God will turn even Satan’s attempts at corruption into a means of purification so that Christ’s power may be manifested through the working of His people.
Prayer: Lord God, though Satan tries to attack and corrupt me, thank You for drawing me closer to You in the midst of it. Develop within me a healthy fear of You. Praise You!