Sin causes Christians to become craven cowards who live in humiliating defeat. They can’t stand up with courage against sin because of the secret sin in their own lives. They excuse the sins of others because of the disobedience in their own hearts and they can’t preach victory because they live in defeat.
King David had enemies. When David was right with the Lord and in good fellowship, none of his enemies could stand before him. But when David sinned and became estranged from the Lord, his enemies grew bold and triumphed over him.
David’s sin of adultery immediately followed one of his greatest victories. This great man of God, basking in the glory of a great victory, began to lust after Bathsheba, killed her husband Uriah and committed adultery with her. “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Samuel 11:27).
So the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to David. The prophet did not come to counsel David on how to handle his guilt and condemnation. Rather, Nathan got right to the heart of the matter. “You have despised the commandment of the Lord. You have done evil in the sight of the Lord. You are guilty of secret sin.” David fled into the wilderness—a weeping, barefoot, cowardly man, shorn of his power and courage because of sin.
We have had enough teaching on how to cope with our problems and fear. We have not had enough teaching about how to deal with sin in our lives. How do you overcome a sin that has become a habit? Where is the victory over a sin that almost becomes a part of your life?
I have no formulas, no simple solutions. I do know there is much comfort in the Bible for those who are fighting battles between the flesh and the spirit. Paul fought the same kind of battle, against the same kind of enemy. He confessed, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Romans 7:19).
Many Christians today haven’t had the fear of God planted in their hearts by the Holy Ghost. The writer of Proverbs declares, “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil” (Proverbs 16:6). “Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord, and depart from evil” (3:7). “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” (14:27).
The “fear of God” referred to here indicates much more than reverential awe and respect. We can’t receive the full revelation of God’s truth until his fear is deeply rooted in us. All revelation is tied to his holy fear.
I’m convinced that without the fear of God, we cannot experience lasting deliverance from sin. Yet, in many churches the fear of the Lord has become a taboo subject. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the fear of God?
One reason for this is that society’s permissiveness has invaded God’s house. In recent years, the term “grace” has come to mean a cover for sin. As the psalmist writes, “There is no fear of God before his eyes” (36:1).