Calvary Road Baptist Church

“NO FEAR”

Romans 3.18

 

My text is Romans 3.18. To provide some context for this portion of Scripture, let’s read Romans 3.10-18: 

10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:

16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:

17 And the way of peace have they not known:

18 There is no fear of God before their eyes. 

I find it amazing that so many people in the world will boldly state their opinions regarding what the Word of God says without ever having read the Bible through even one time. Folks will engage in such preposterous pontificating about God’s Word who would never pick up the novel “Moby Dick,” by Herman Melville, and claim to know what it said, having read only the odd page here and there. Will some fellow declare that he doesn’t like reading Ernest Hemingway who has never read Hemingway? No. How can someone not like something he has never experienced? How can someone form an opinion that is not based on actual knowledge, actual information, facts? But such is the nature of foolish man to engage in just such activity as this. He will form an opinion about the Bible or a book of the Bible, such as Romans, without ever having read either Romans or the whole Bible through even one time. The Bible, however, is far more than a novel by Melville or Hemingway. The Bible is the Word of God! Authored by the Holy Spirit of God, using more than forty men over a period of more than 1600 years, this book is the revelation of the mind of God to the minds of men, and it tells the story of the Son of God to the sons of men.

There once was a man of God named Paul, saved from a life of religious hypocrisy as a member of the Jewish sect known as the Pharisees. At one time the greatest opponent of Biblical Christianity, Paul was transformed by the grace of God into the most effective of all servants of Jesus Christ, enjoying particular success in his efforts to minister to the spiritual needs of the non-Jewish world of the Gentiles. Having served God for some period of years, it was Paul’s plan to relocate his base of operations from the city of Antioch on the eastern shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea to the Imperial capital city of Rome, which would enable him to spread the Gospel westward to what is now Spain. To introduce himself to the Christians in the various Churches in Rome, most of whom he did not personally know and did not personally bring to Christ; Paul wrote the letter we know as the Epistle to the Romans. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, a letter inspired and preserved by the Holy Spirit of God using Paul as a human author, a human instrument; we find some of the clearest and precise theological reasoning found anywhere in the Bible. Allow me to define a word for you, so I can use it a couple of times and then move on to something else.

Justification. “A forensic (legal) term related to the idea of acquittal, justification refers to the divine act whereby God makes humans, who are sinful and therefore worthy of condemnation, acceptable before a God who is holy and righteous. More appropriately described as ‘justification by grace through faith,’ this key doctrine of the Reformation asserts that a sinner is justified (pardoned from the punishment and condemnation of sin) and brought into relationship with God by faith in God’s grace alone.”[1]

To restate: Justification is the act whereby someone who is guilty is declared to be innocent, and is then given the standing and position of someone who is innocent, even though by personal experience the person is not innocent. So, justification is a legal finding made by a judge. Setting aside the details of how it is done for the moment, justification occurs when a judge drops his gavel and declares the guilty criminal standing before him innocent of all charges and free to go. And justification is what happens when a sinner comes to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and cleansing. If this sounds unjust to you, remember that the penalty for sin was paid by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Justice has been well served.

To persuade the Romans to align with him and provide for him both financial and prayer support in his undertaking to the West, Paul wrote his letter to the Romans to explain to them in great detail what he believed about sin and salvation, both for the Jewish people and for the Gentiles. What Paul sets forth in Romans he unfolds in a most powerful and persuasive way. Divided into three main sections, it is the first portion of Romans, chapters one through eight, which lays down for us Paul’s belief system and understanding of man’s sin and God’s salvation. In chapters one, two and three, Paul carefully shows the great need of every human being for justification. Beginning in chapter four, he begins his description of the nature of justification. But my text for today comes at the very end of Paul’s first subsection in Romans of the initial main section, so let’s focus on what he accomplishes in chapters one, two and three.

In chapters one and two, Paul describes to his readers the problem man faces. Each person. Every human being. And the problem each of us faces, the problem you face, of course, is sin. Sin is in your nature and sin is in your behavior. And it’s because of the sinfulness of your nature and the sins you commit that God has already begun to judge you, and will yet more severely judge you in the future. But realizing that unsaved people always have objections when an indictment is leveled against them and will protest their innocence even when they have been caught red-handed in the very act of committing heinous crimes, Paul mounts a formidable prosecution against sinners, using three powerful themes:

First, Paul shows that your relationship with God illustrates by your conduct that you are under the dominion of sin and in need of being justified. You are not righteous in the sight of God, you do not understand righteousness, you do not seek righteousness, and you have never actually practiced righteousness. That’s in Romans 3.10-12. From there, he moves on to show that your speech, the way you talk, establishes that you are under the dominion of sin and in need of righteousness, using four illustrations to demonstrate this truth: He compares your throat to an open sepulcher or a tomb. He declares that your tongue is used for deceit. He portrays your lips as covers for snake poison. Finally, he says that your mouth is full of destruction and bitterness.

Doesn’t sound much like a modern-day television evangelist speaking, does it? In his final thrust, which we have just read, Paul declares that your deeds prove you to be under the dominion of sin and in need of being justified. Verses 15, 16 and 17 of Romans chapter 3 detail your conduct, while it is in verse 18, my text for this message, that the cause of your conduct is found. Would you look at Romans 3.18 once more, please? 

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 

This is why you commit the sins that you commit. You do not fear God. I rather think this is the reason you talk the way you talk, as well. And this has to be the reason why you do not seek to remedy the absence of any relationship with God. 

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 

What does it mean to have no fear of God before your eyes? Let’s investigate two words in this verse to give you a better idea of what Paul is referring to: The word translated “fear” is the Greek word “phobos,” from which we get the word phobia. This word does not mean to merely have reverence for someone, to have respect for him. It means much more than that. In Revelation 1.17, where we see the Apostle John’s reaction to seeing the glorified Savior, we see the word pictured by the apostle’s reaction: 

“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.” 

A synonym for “fear” is “terror,” or “fright,” or “scared.”

The other word in our text is “before.” 

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 

This translates a Greek word that means in front of or opposite. “Before their eyes” forms an idiomatic expression that simply means they see no reason to be afraid, they see no cause to fear God. This is the great indictment against you by that man who spoke for God, the Apostle Paul. Take everything that God holds against you, all that is wrong with you, and everything which offends God, and the very peak of this pinnacle of Paul’s indictment against you is this: 

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 

This is incredible! The reason you sit where you sit week after week without being converted, the reason you can walk out of the auditorium without inquiring “What must I do to be saved?” is your utter lack of fear of God. This is not to say you would necessarily be saved if you suddenly began to fear God. But life as you know it would be drastically altered if you feared God. What would change if you feared God? Have you ever pondered such a thing? If you feared God, at the very least, your brazen and blatant sins would go underground. You would not stop your sinning altogether. You are unable to do that. But you would sin far less, and the arrogance and the openness of your sinning would stop. As well, some of you who profess to be Christians, who are not, would no longer make such a false claim . . . for fear of God. Yes, my friend. So much would be different if you feared God. If that be true, why is it that so few fear God? Why is it that you do not fear God? That is the subject of my sermon. 

SERMON: 

One commentator rightly observed that 

“Man’s true spiritual condition is nowhere more clearly seen than in the absence of a proper submission to and reverence for God. Biblical fear for God consists of: 1) awe of His greatness and glory, and 2) dread of the results of violating His holy nature.”[2] 

That observation is right on target. Having no fear of God, then, is symptomatic of a profoundly serious spiritual affliction. And my question to you is, Why do you not fear God? This may be a question that you have never asked yourself. But I have asked this question many times, and I am prepared to provide you four answers: 

First, YOU DO NOT FEAR GOD BECAUSE YOU ARE DEPRAVED 

Human depravity is a subject most people don’t want to spend any time considering. This is because depravity is rightly seen to be unflattering and devastating to one’s self-esteem. But the fact of the matter is you are depraved, there is little about you worthy of commendation, and you have no cause for an elevated self-esteem. The essence of human depravity is the complete and total absence of love for God. That means you have no love for God. And you can’t dispute this since love is not an emotional sentiment. Therefore, your sentimental feelings about God properly indicate nothing at all. As well, love for God is perfectly shown by obedience: 

“And this is love, that we walk after his commandments,” 

Second John 6. But you do not obey Him, do you? You don’t tithe. You don’t attend Church regularly. And you participate in no outreach ministry of any kind. Let me show you using several passages why you are depraved:

Romans 3.23: 

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” 

This is a blanket statement. It applies to everyone. It applies to you. You have wronged God, and you do not measure up to His standard. So, you are sinful, and you fall short.

First Corinthians 2.14: 

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 

This verse essentially declares that because you are sinful and unsaved, the Spirit of God can’t teach you anything about God. Those things about God which are true seem foolish to you. You simply cannot know them. I can say that God is all-powerful, but it means nothing to you, not really. I can say the word “holy,” but it, too, is not really grasped by you. So, you don’t really know God, and you don’t really know things about God.

Deuteronomy 6.5: 

“And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” 

This is the Great Commandment. But a question needs to be asked of you: Is it possible for you to love someone you neither know nor really know anything about? No. For you to love someone, even if you’ve never met him, you must know something about him. But because you are a sinner, and can really know nothing about God, you do not love God at all. Knowing really nothing about God, which would cause you to love Him, you do not know that He is to be feared, that He is fearful, that He inspires terror, that He evokes adoration and awe. So, you do not fear God because you do not know enough to love Him. You are depraved. 

Second, YOU DO NOT FEAR GOD BECAUSE YOU ARE DEPRIVED 

Again, let me read and then comment on several verses:

Proverbs 1.7: 

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” 

This verse does not mean that if you do not fear God, you do not know anything. But it does mean that if you do not fear God, you don’t know anything that is eternally worthwhile, anything that is profoundly profitable, anything that is truly beneficial. Why is this? This is because when a person first begins to learn things that are valuable, that are important, that are profound, that are significant, the person begins to learn about God. What good does it do you to learn how to make big bucks if you learn nothing about the God you will someday stand before in judgment and give an accounting to? What good is knowledge of cell life do you if you know nothing of the God who gave life to that tissue? So, it is a testament to your profound ignorance that you do not fear God, showing that you know so little about Him. The great tragedy is that those who know nothing about God despise wisdom and instruction. They either will not come to Church to learn about God, or they will come to Church but pay little attention as God’s Word is opened, thereby despising wisdom and instruction about God that would result in fearing Him.

Hosea 4.6: 

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee.” 

When people know nothing about God, the result is that they will not fear Him. Not fearing Him, they have no concern about the consequences of sinning against Him. Then sinning against Him will result in judgment, damnation, and perdition. If you continue to reject the truth about God, truth that will result in fearing Him, which may lead to your conversion, He will reject you. And all this because you are deprived, deprived of the truth about God which would cultivate in you a fear of Him. 

Third, YOU DO NOT FEAR GOD BECAUSE YOU ARE DELUDED 

Two passages:

Second Corinthians 4.4: 

“the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.” 

Do you not find it amazing the number of people who will believe anything but the truth? The most cautious of people are wary of any kind of conspiracy except the real one, the supernatural one, the Satanic one. As well, people who are deluded tend to think that all but they are deluded. Everyone is affected by the delusion except them. Are you deluded by Satan or one of his demons? I’ll give you a foolproof test to determine whether or not you are deluded. Are you ready? Here it is: Do you fear God? If you don’t think it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, you are deluded. You have been tricked, duped, deceived, blinded into thinking that God, Almighty God, is not a terrible God, a God Who is terrible in majesty.[3]

Second Thessalonians 2.11-12: 

11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 

This is one example of what is called judicial blindness, where God is the One Who blinds the mind of that unsaved man or woman. Go on and indulge yourself in sins. Reject the truth and call God a liar by denying the truthfulness of His Word, the Bible. Have pleasure in unrighteousness. Perhaps you do not fear God, not because Satan has blinded you, but because God has blinded you. In any case, you lack sight because you are deluded, and you will never fear God . . . except in Hell. 

Finally, YOU DO NOT FEAR GOD BECAUSE YOU ARE DISTRACTED 

From Paul’s letters to Timothy:

First Timothy 6.5-10: 

5  Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

6  But godliness with contentment is great gain.

7  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

8  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

9  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 

His name was Achan. And he knew that God was to be feared. After all, he had seen God part the waters of the Red Sea under the outstretched rod of Moses, and destroy the Amalekites under the uplifted arms of Moses, and swallow Korah and his rebels alive into the bowels of the earth, and stop the waters of the Jordan River during flood season so his people could cross over dry-shod into the Promised Land. He had eaten manna for forty years. He had seen the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of smoke by day for forty years. He had wondered at sandals which never wore out and clothes that never became threadbare, for forty years! But all he could think about was money, money, money, got to get some money. So when they attacked Jericho, it was as if Joshua had said nothing to the fighting men. It was as if no warning was ever issued. And when he saw the gold and the silver and the Babylonish garments he just took them. What was Achan’s problem? He was sleeping in Church. He paid little attention to what Moses had preached over the years. Of late, he did not heed the specific warning of Joshua. So, when the chance to grab some money came along, he went for it. And it destroyed his life, the life of his wife, and the lives of his children, who were all stoned to death with him.[4] Why did he not fear God? Why did he ignore all that he had seen and experienced over the years? He was distracted. He was distracted by the lure of money, and he forgot that godliness with contentment is great gain.

Second Timothy 4.10: 

“For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica.” 

Demas served alongside Paul for quite a while. But one day he raised up his head and noticed that the guys at his high school reunion all had new cars and big houses and expensive suits. And he had been watching TBN and saw that those Christian television charlatans seemed to delight in gold and silver and gaudy jewelry and women’s hair styles on men as they flew about the country in their Gulf Stream jets. So, one day he decided he would quit serving God and go for the brass ring. What did it for Demas, who had seen God work astounding miracles at the hand of Paul? He was distracted by the lure of money. But the distraction doesn’t have to be money. It can also be the allure of power and sex. It can take the form of fame or notoriety. A boy might envision himself as a professional athlete or wearing some really sharp uniform and think being a soldier of the nation is better than being a soldier of the cross. A girl might see herself as an actress or a model. Whatever the distraction is, it shines in your eyes so you can no longer see the need to fear God. Will the distraction wear off? Perhaps. After your destruction. Distraction got former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, who as a college student claimed that he was saved, and actually wrote a Gospel tract that was distributed for several years. Distraction got the late Senator John Glenn, who once espoused Christian values before he became a United States Senator. Distraction got Al Gore and numerous others in politics, including former Baptist Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives, now thrice married Roman Catholic, Newt Gingrich. So far, distraction doesn’t seem to have gotten Tim Tebow. But I’m afraid Billy Graham was distracted long ago, aren’t you? 

God is awesome.

God is fearful.

He is terrible in majesty.

It is a fearful thing to fall into His hands.

Yet you do not fear Him.

Why?

You do not fear Him because you are depraved. No love, hence no fear. You do not fear Him because you are deprived, of information, of knowledge, of truth. Yet you will not be taught. You are deluded, but convinced it is others who are deluded. And you are distracted, by the lure of money or fame or power or notoriety.

What will it take for you to fear God? Beyond the efforts of a preacher to teach you, to reach you, to preach to you, it will take a supernatural work of God. He will have to bring the truth home to you.

But that does not mean you are to sit idle and continue on your merry way. Oh, no. There are responsibilities you must fulfill. But in the end, it requires that God alarm you, awaken you, enlighten you, and illuminate you, or you will never fear Him.

Do you fear God?

Do you want to fear God?

Are you alarmed by your lethargy, your dullness, your coldness to the things of God?

Let us talk to each other, face to face, and see what will come of this.

__________

[1] Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999), page 69.

[2] See footnote for Romans 3.18, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1697.

[3] Deuteronomy 7.21; 10.17; Nehemiah 1.5; 4.14; 9.32; Job 37.22; Psalm 47.2; 66.3; Jeremiah 20.11

[4] Joshua 7

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org