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THEOLOGY > Sin > The Character of Sin > No Fear of God 


Man in his natural state (see: The Natural Man) has no fear of God. Perhaps the reader might feel that this is strong language, but it is indeed the language of Scripture:

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart;
there is no fear of God before his eyes.
Ps. 36:1

None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God . . .
there is no fear of God before their eyes.
Rom. 3:10-11, 18

The lack of fear arises from the condition that has been characteristic of man since the disobedience of Adam. The reservoir of evil that is man’s heart, that is, man’s mind, manifests itself in numerous ways, both in thoughts and deeds. Man does not even comprehend his inward state of corruption; the prophet teaches: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9) And it is from this unfathomable and abiding center of wickedness that such a disposition toward God originates. The sentiment addressed in this article and the deeds that flow from this sentiment are some of the most heinous and damnable expressions of man’s state—they are grievous sins.

No fear of God was not part of man as created by God. But the potential for such was obviously a capability from the beginning, just as death was not part of man’s original creation but the potential for death was a possibility. The same event that precipitated death for the race also initiated the condition that produces no fear of God and even hatred of God (see: Hatred of God) by those God has made.

To have no fear of God is to assume an improper disposition toward God; it is in fact to be opposed to God. It is to fail to hold God in awe, consciously rejecting His high and lofty position. It is to fail to do homage to God on the throne. The lack of fear means that one does not recognize His Sovereignty (see: God is Sovereign) and, therefore, does not submit to the King. It is to reject responsibility and accountability to Him. It is to live as though God is not needed. It is a practical atheism.

Lack of fear reveals the magnitude of personal corruption that is in the inner arena of living, the heart of man, wickedness that is ever present and is constantly tempting. Consider  the first verse above: “Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes” (Ps. 36:1 in ESV). Transgression is personified and is speaking, and it is speaking at the innermost area of the wicked—“deep in his heart”; the last part of the verse explains why this is possible: “there is not fear of God before his eyes.” Thus, the absence of fear creates an environment that is rich for the activity of evil. And evil thrives in this environment, speaking, instructing, enticing, tempting, seducing, leading the listener further and further away from God.

Note: For the first of part Ps. 36:1 the NKJV has a different translation: “An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked.” With this translation the oracle becomes the following statement regarding the absence of fear of the Lord in the wicked.

No fear “before his eyes” indicates that the individual is living without God, with no thought of God, with no consideration of God in the affairs of his life. As far as impacting daily life God is a non-entity; He does not matter. God is not seen; He is not before the eyes. It does not matter whether God is formally rejected, that is, His being is denied, for the non-fearer is living as though God does not exist. And into this void created by the rejection of God wickedness rushes speaking and instructing the individual to engage in all types of evil pursuits. If God is not before the eyes, then evil dominates.

The absence of fear of God reveals an inflation of self; Ps. 36:2 reads: “For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.” In the rejection of God there is an increase of turning to self. If I do not fear God then I become my own god, so much so that I believe that my iniquity will not be discovered and hated. I am free to pursue my own agenda with no recourse. In verse three, the psalmist states that the one with no fear “devises wickedness on his bed” and “sets himself in a way that is not good” (NKJV); without fear of God there is freedom to abandon oneself to evil and evil deeds.

For the Scriptures to speak condemningly of the lack of fear of God reveals the importance of having the fear of God. If the text addresses the absence of fear as something negative then the presence of fear must be a positive aspect when it is found in an individual. Constantly the Scriptures teach the fear of God:

Serve Yahweh with fear, and rejoice with trembling (Ps. 2:11);

Let all the earth fear Yahweh; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him (Ps. 33:8);

Oh, fear Yahweh, you His saints, for those who fear Him have no lack (Ps. 34:9);

May they fear You while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations (Ps. 72:5);

The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7);

The fear of We have been wondering how everything was going; it is good ​to hear from you and the family and to know the developments. is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10);

Here is the conclusion of the matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Eccles. 12:13);

Fear God (I Pet. 3:17);

Fear God and give glory to Him (Rev. 14:7).

Fear of God is the foundation for living, for without fear there is neither “wisdom” nor “knowledge.” Before Him there is to be “trembling” and “awe,” and the giving of “glory.” To fear God is “the whole duty of man.”  

See: Gen. 3:15

Return to: The Character of Sin;  Next Article: Hatred of God 

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