Should a Christian Fear God’s Wrath?

17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

1 John 4:17-18

Fear is always a temptation in the life of a believer. We have a million things that can represent possible fears. Over and over again, God’s command to His people is to fear not (Joshua 1:9, Psalm 23, Philippians 4:6-7, 2 Timothy 1:7).

Scripture is clear that the one person we should all fear is God (Matthew 10:28, Psalm 27:1, Romans 8:31, Proverbs 1:7). He is the one who holds the ultimate power of judgment. God’s judgment comes with the ultimate power of life and death.

The reason that we are told not to fear the punishment of God is because we know AND experience His love as believers in Christ (see the sermon for May 24, 2020). The same love that God the Father has for the Son is the love that will resurrect the believer in the final day of judgment.

We don’t have to fear the punishment of God because it was poured out AND extinguished on the cross.

As beloved children of God, we should expect and welcome discipline as the means in which God molds us into HIS righteousness (Hebrews 12:5-7).

But, there is a fundamental difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline builds up and punishment destroys.

God’s wrath is clear in the world even today (Romans 1). There are untold ways in which people are being destroyed in their sin. Punishment can come even in forms that people don’t recognize as the judgment of God. The response to judgment is fear nonetheless.

The question for the believer in Jesus is this: Will we fear the right thing in the right way or will we follow the ways of the world around us in fearful expectation of judgment?

Discussion

  • What are the greatest fears present in our culture today?
  • Are people living in fearful expectation of punishment without realizing it?
  • What is the difference between discipline and fear?
  • How can discipline be experience both positively and negatively?
  • Does our view of God influence whether we expect punishment or discipline from him?
  • What are some practical ways that you are overcoming fear?
  • What is the role of you abiding life in Christ in overcoming your fear?

Prayer

Engage in a time of prayer for one another. Make sure that every individual prayer request is prayed for by another individual in the group.

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Jonathan Pugh
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