Christian, let God’s distinguishing love to you be a motive to you to fear Him greatly. He has put His fear in your heart, and may not have given that blessing to your neighbor, perhaps not to your husband, your wife, your child, or your parent. Oh, what an obligation should this thought lay upon your heart to greatly fear the Lord! Remember also that this fear of the Lord is His treasure, a choice jewel, given only to favorites, and to those who are greatly beloved.
My son, every day you rise up from your sleep, do not be naïve that life is perfect and nothing perilous exists. On the contrary, life is a spiritual war zone! If you turn on the news, you will see just how bad the war truly is. The spiritual battlefield is far worse than any war the United States has ever engaged in. And you are part of this war. As a sinner, you will be tempted to do sinful things. You will have wicked thoughts and will act out on many of them. The sin you commit is not only dishonorable to your parents but most importantly, it is a crime against God.
The war between good and evil has existed for a long time. At the beginning of creation, the serpent, who was a manifestation of the Devil, tempted Adam and Eve to transgress the law of God that was given to them (cf. Gen. 3:1–5). This is why terrible things happen in this life: sin entered into the human race. If you study the Bible, you will see that Adam and Eve are not the only ones Satan has harmed. Throughout history, the Devil has roamed the earth (Job 1:6–12), he accused Joshua (Zech. 3:1–2), he tempted the incarnate Christ (Matt. 4:1–11), he caused Ananias to lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3) and had his messenger torment the Apostle Paul (2 Cor. 12:7). Satan does not care about your race, religion, or national origin. He is an equal opportunity deceiver, so do not ever think that he will not tempt or try to deceive you. If you try to contend with him without God, you will certainly fail and perish.
You need to be aware of how Satan will try to trap you. For the Devil, catching a child in sin is really no different than catching a mouse. To catch a mouse, all you have to do is hide a sticky mouse trap in an inconspicuous area and place a small piece of cheese in the center. It would be impossible for the mouse to eat the cheese unless it takes the first step where it will be subdued by the sticky trap. In the same manner, all the Devil has to do is set up a trap that will afford you with the opportunity to act upon your sinful desires by placing the cheese (i.e., the lust of the eyes & flesh, the pride of life) at the top of his trap. You must not fall for these devices!
When you sin, it is not so much that you have sinned against your neighbor or your friend. Sinning is an offense to God. Therefore, when you sin in what you think is a private place where no one is looking, you need to think again. According to Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good,” and Job 34:21 states: “For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings.” Know these verses well, my son. The Lord sees and knows all things. Pay careful attention to David’s words in Psalm 139:1–6:
O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
In his book, “Thoughts for Young Men,” J.C. Ryle provided an excellent testimony on the dangers of thinking that God cannot see our sins in secret:
Endeavor, I beseech you all, to realize this fact. Recollect that you have to do with an all-seeing God, —a God who never slumbereth nor sleepeth (Psa. 121:4), —a God who understands your thoughts afar off, and with whom the night shines as the day (Psa. 139:2,12). You might leave your father’s roof, and go away, like the prodigal into a far country (Luke 15:13), and think that there is nobody to watch your conduct; but the eye and ear of God are there before you. You may deceive your parents and employers, you may tell them falsehoods and be one thing before their faces, and another behind their backs, but you cannot deceive God. He knows you through and through. He heard what you said as you came here today. He knows what you are thinking of at this minute. He has set your most secret sins in the light of his countenance, and they will one day come out before the world to your shame, except you take heed (1 Cor. 4:5).
Thus far, the point to be made is not about fearing the wiles of the Devil. You must fear the Lord. According to the book of Proverbs, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (1:7). Fearing God is important because he is the creator and judge of all things. God has the power to destroy both the body and soul in hell (Matt. 10:28). His word demands that we worship the Lord with reverence (Heb. 12:28–29), and in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Also, fearing God is the beginning of knowledge. This means that you can never have wisdom unless you appeal and submit to God in all matters of faith and practice. Without God, you cannot make sense of the world around you, and you will have no justification for anything in this life. Christians must never abandon this worldview, or embrace neutrality with anyone whose worldview does not appeal and submit to God as the standard of all standards. Christ explains why in Matthew 12:30: “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” To know more about why it is important to fear the Lord, it is imperative that you study his attributes. The Westminster Longer Catechism (Question 7) provides a wonderful example:
Question: What is God?
Answer: God is a Spirit (John 4:24), in and of himself infinite in being (Exodus 3:14), glory (Acts 7:2), blessedness (1 Timothy 6:15), and perfection (Matthew 5:48); all-sufficient (Genesis 17:1), eternal (Psalm 90:2), unchangeable (Malachi 3:6), incomprehensible (1 Kings 8:27), every-where present (Psalm 139:1-13), almighty (Revelation 4:8), knowing all things (Hebrews 4:13), most wise (Romans 16:27), most holy (Isaiah 6:3), most just (Deuteronomy 32:4), most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth (Exodus 34:6).
Young man, do not be the fool who despises wisdom and instruction. If you do, you will be an unarmed soldier in a battlefield called life with no weapons to defend yourself. You will be subject to the perils of this world and will fall prey to the “roaring lion” that is always looking for someone to devour (1 Pet. 5:8–9). “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil” (Prov. 3:7). Departing from evil is easier said than done. But if you are truly walking with the Lord, you will not only depart from evil; you will despise it.
Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate (Prov. 8:10–13).
If you are wise, you will fear God and arm yourself for battle (Eph. 6:11–16). This is the only way to resist the Devil (Jam. 4:7) and to depart from evil. I will be praying for you, my son. I love you very much.