What has happened to mankind?
In the first six chapters of the Bible we read how mankind was gloriously created by God, fell in sin and became so corrupt that God saw no other alternative but to wipe them out by a flood. Only Noah and his family were spared. It didn’t take long before mankind once again turned their back on their Creator and made their own gods.
What exactly was it that caused the human race to end up in such tragic deception and live in its bitter consequences? The first three chapters of Romans paint a vivid and painful picture of how it happened and why. In spite of the knowledge God put in people’s hearts and the clear revelation of His attributes, majesty, power and divine nature seen in creation, men, by their own will, chose to suppress the truth and create their own gods and spiritual value systems (see Romans 1:18–23). Their departure from the Living God was not out of ignorance or accidental; it was a deliberate choice. We find the underlying reason in this Scripture: “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18).
Paul even spoke of Christians who had created another Christ, a christ that suited their imagination.
People’s cultures have a lot to do with the creation of deities, whether they are graven images, philosophies, materialism or self-elevation. When I had to take a course about higher criticism in Bible college, I was amazed by how many horrible beliefs came from people interpreting Scripture based on their own cultural behavior. With it they justified their twisted actions or at least obtained permission for them.
The saddest event recorded in Romans chapter 1 is man’s downward spiral into ever-increasing depravity to a point where God went silent and gave them over to what they had chosen. With their conscience no longer functioning as a compass for right and wrong, they were comfortable in their wickedness and evil deeds. And it all started with having “no fear of God before their eyes.”
What is it about the fear of God that makes it so important for us to have? The fear of God is our only protection from making our own gods and walking off the same cliff into sin and depravity, like the people described in Romans did. That’s why God told Moses to let the Israelites experience His awesome presence and hear His voice at Mount Sinai: “…that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin” (Exodus 20:20).
The fear of God is a deep reverence, respect and honor from the heart for our Creator, which translates into us worshiping and serving Him only and doing His will. It positions us to experience God’s favor, blessing and protection (see Malachi 3:16–18).
The Apostle Paul speaks about the importance of “perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). We cannot grow into christlike maturity and godliness without having the fear of God in our lives.
So how do we develop and grow in the fear of God?
In our present culture, respect and honor are words that are difficult to explain. For the most part, they describe past generations where husband and wife were loyal to each other, children didn’t dare talk back to their parents, students stood up when the teacher walked into the classroom, and people upheld promises made with only a handshake. Today 50 to 60 percent of marriages are ending in divorce, families are breaking down, young people are messing up their lives, children are defiant, and a promise given to someone has no meaning.
We may have never been taught how to show respect to anyone, including God. So we come into His house with a casual attitude and attire fit for the movies or the beach, chewing gum, talking, joking, checking our iPhones and texting during the worship service. All the while, the angels in heaven fall on their faces before Almighty God and cry “holy, holy, holy.” They do it because they know who He is. Knowing Him is the key to fearing, revering and honoring the Lord.
We must seek to know God! How? James 4:8 says: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Jesus promises in John 14:21 that He will reveal Himself to the one who keeps His commandments and loves Him. Then, like Peter, James and John when they were on the Mount of Transfiguration, we will see His glory, majesty and the light that surrounds Him. It will create a deep sense of respect and reverence in our hearts that will totally change our worship and outward behavior when we come into His presence. We will be so aware of His holiness, majesty, power and love that we will forget our distractions and fall on our knees in reverence and desire to honor Him with all our being.
May the Lord give you grace to seek to know Him in this way.
Dr. K.P. Yohannan
Founder & Director of Gospel for Asia
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About 5 Minutes with K.P.
5 minutes with K.P. is a short devotional that first appeared in our ministry magazine, GFA World and is written by Gospel for Asia's Founder and Director, Dr. K.P. Yohannan.