From Fear To Love

Read:

Exodus 20:1-21

Reflect:

“Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning.” Exodus 20:20, NLT

When the world was struck with the Covid-19 infection, nations all around the world reacted in fear to control the pandemic with apparent draconian rules for lock-downs, quarantine and social distancing. For two years, normal life was totally disrupted. Family gatherings, religious activities and travel were restricted. We had to sacrifice personal freedom and privacy to comply with the very inconvenient and frustrating rules to control the spread of the Covid-19 infection.

Spiritually, sin is just as lethal and contagious as the Covid-19  virus. It wreaks much havoc personally, socially, and spiritually. The Ten Commandments are God’s rules to protect us from evil and to keep us from falling into sin.  The first three commandments are to keep us close to God so that we can live in the presence of His unfailing love which is a holy and consuming fire. The fourth commandment to rest on the Sabbath is God’s prescription for a balanced rhythm of life and to have quality time with God. The remaining six commandments are given to promote love in the family and community.

After receiving the Ten Commandments from Moses, the Jews were filled with fear when they experienced the Presence of God through the loud thunder, bright lightning and smoke on Mount Sinai. It was an experience of the consuming fire of God’s awesome love. They felt that they will die if God spoke to them. Unlike Moses, they did not have a personal encounter with God.  They were spiritually challenged with an immature relationship with God. Moses told them not to be afraid as the fear of God was to keep them from sin. They had been chosen to live in the Kingdom of Heaven by loving God as their King with reverence, obedience and love for one another. As citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven they were to live by the laws given through Moses.

Sin fills us with guilt, fears, and doubts that keep us from God and from one another. God’s laws are to open our eyes to see the sins of lust, anger, pride, gluttony, greed, envy and acedia that are in control of our minds and choking the seed of God’s love in our hearts. The ten commandments reflect the reign of God in our lives. The ten commandments reveal the sinful nature of our hearts that keep us from the joy of obedience. God’s laws expose our spiritual condition – we are spiritually dead and enslaved by sin. Like the apostle Paul, we all struggle with sin:

“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong. It is sin living in me that does it.”1 

We can only understand the teachings of the Old Testament when God is a living, personal presence in our lives and not locked up in a book. When my heart is stony, I cannot have a  face to face  encounter with God. It is only by God’s grace that the veil covering my mind is removed so that I am set free from being controlled  by my thoughts:

“But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ.”2 

When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.3  By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.4  Jesus came to fulfill God’s promise of His unfailing love and to empower us to live out God’s commandments with joy and not in fear. Without the grace of God, the voice of the Lord is like thunder and fills us with fear. It is only by grace that we can hear the voice of the Lord as whispers of love that are drowned out by the pleasures of the world. As C.S. Lewis wrote:  “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Our thoughts are spiritual energy. Like nuclear energy we need to learn to harness and direct them towards love and away from evil. Many of us “eat, sleep, and breathe fear.” Fear is a normal human response to danger. However, we are unaware that our mammalian brain reflexes of fear are being constantly reactivated by the thoughts, feelings and fears in our daily interactions.  We are enslaved by sinful pleasures and live godless lives in malice and envy.

We can choose to live in F.E.A.R. (False Expectations Appearing Real) or in L.O.V.E. (Love Overcoming Virtual Evil). It is only when we have tasted God’s agape love that we will understand and experience the wonderful providence of the fear of the Lord.5  To do so, we just need to give ourselves to the Lord and to listen to his unfailing love:

“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.”6 

Let us thank God for His steadfast love that is new every morning:

“The Steadfast Love Of The Lord Never Ceases,
His Mercies Never Come To An End,
They Are New Every Morning, New Every Morning
Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Oh Lord)
Great Is Thy Faithfulness”7

Respond:

Lord, help me to delight in Your Word so that the desire of my heart is to seek and do Your will.

Reframe:

  1. What are the commandments of God that I find hard to obey?
  2. Am I living in fear of God or in love with God?
  3. How can I taste God’s unfailing love each morning?

Song of Praise:

The Steadfast Love Of The Lord

Notes:

  1. Romans 7:18-20, NLT
  2. 2 Corinthians 3:14, NLT.
  3.  Matthew 27:51
  4. Hebrews 10:20
  5. Patrick Kee, Living With Our Shepherd of Love, pg 26-27
  6. Psalms 143:8, NLT
  7.  The Steadfast Love of the Lord

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