GALATIANS 5:13 - Berean Lamp Memory Verse - (June 12-19)
The Berean Lamp Memory Verse for this week is:
“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).
There is no free society without self-control. Self-control restrains your passions, lusts, and desires from harming others. Self-control is an act of service to others. Where does self-control come from?
Self-control comes from the fear of the Lord. For the unbeliever, self-control of harmful behavior is restraint for fear of the just consequences. For the Believer, self-control is service to others motivated by love.
Without self-control, there can be no freedom. If people didn't cause harm to others, there would be no need for laws. The more harm that is done, the more laws will be passed and the more time, energy, and resources will be spent in enforcing those laws, which reduce the freedom of people by creating external restraints. A free society relies on people policing themselves (internal restraint), rather than the police policing others.
Self-control comes from respect for authority - either through fear of that authority or love for that authority. But if the only authority is man, the people will restrain their behavior to imitate man's morality, regardless of whether it is truly moral. If, as has happened throughout world history, a king or ruler decrees that it is moral and just to murder certain people under certain circumstances, that becomes the new morality, and everyone adjusts their behavior to respect his authority for fear of the punishment if they do not obey - an example would be Nazi Germany. Throughout history, the morality of peoples and cultures has changed on the whim of the men ruling them. There is no sure guarantee that the self-control related to man's authority will actually produce a morality that benefits everyone and encourages freedom.
For all of their flaws, the Founding Fathers understood this. They knew that respect for worldly authority would not bring the sort of self-control and virtue they knew would be necessary for their free government to work. They recognized that an objective, just, righteous, and ultimate authority had to be respected in order for self-control, morality, and virtue to flourish and maximize liberty in their great experiment. Even the agnostics and deists among them understood that Christianity was necessary for a free society to exist - because a free society is maintained by people who governed their own behavior towards their neighbors out of the fear of the Lord.
To the wicked, the fear of the Lord is the proper fear of justice and judgement that no one can hide from. This instills restraint because your behavior is being monitored regardless of where you are - you cannot hide from God. Many wicked people restrain themselves in a just society for fear of the consequences, from God and faithful authorities.
For the Believer, the fear of the Lord is acknowledging our flawed, inadequate nature; His perfect, sufficient nature; and His proper position as our righteous judge, ruler, and Heavenly Father. In obedience to Him, we practice self-control in our behavior towards others, as dear children. And as Christians, we emulate His love towards others, which causes us to serve others rather than ourselves. But this is only possible because of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Indeed, "self-control" is a bit of a misnomer as it is really the restraint of the Holy Spirit on our sin-nature and His fruit that He produces in us, which allow Believers to do acts of self-less love rather than acts of selfish passions.
As such, Christ is essential to the success of a free society. As the fear of God lessens in the hearts and minds of people, love for others, self-control, restraint, and virtue will diminish. More and more harm will be committed and in response, the human authorities will reduce the freedoms and liberties of the people for fear of complete and total anarchy (unrestrained, lawlessness behavior).
May we preach the Gospel of Christ. May we inspire the "fear of the Lord" in our neighbors by not taking part in evil and upholding justice and righteousness in all our interactions. Even so, Amen.
Other verses to consider:
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
“Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17).
“But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, ‘Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you’” (Acts 24:25).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:22-24).
“For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these” (2 Timothy 3:2-5).
“For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:7-9).
“Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God” (1 Peter 2:16).
“But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Corinthians 8:8-9).
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
“And having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18).
FEAR OF RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT THAT SHOULD CAUSE THE WICKED TO FLEE
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).
“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
“Moses said to him, “As soon as I go out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease and there will be hail no longer, that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s. But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God.” (Now the flax and the barley were ruined, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud” (Exodus 9:29-31).
“You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God’s. The case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it” (Deuteronomy 1:17).
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (John 3:19-21).
“Arise, O Lord, do not let man prevail; Let the nations be judged before You. Put them in fear, O Lord; Let the nations know that they are but men. Selah” (Psalm 9:19-20).
“They devise injustices, saying, ‘We are ready with a well-conceived plot’; For the inward thought and the heart of a man are deep. But God will shoot at them with an arrow; Suddenly they will be wounded. So they will make him stumble; Their own tongue is against them; All who see them will shake the head. Then all men will fear, and they will declare the work of God, and will consider what He has done. The righteous man will be glad in the Lord and will take refuge in Him; And all the upright in heart will glory” (Psalm 64:6-10).
“You, even You, are to be feared; And who may stand in Your presence when once You are angry? You caused judgment to be heard from heaven; The earth feared and was still” (Psalm 76:7-8).
“He will cut off the spirit of princes; He is feared by the kings of the earth” (Psalm 76:12).
“As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away. Who understands the power of Your anger and Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:10-12).
“You have removed all the wicked of the earth like dross; Therefore I love Your testimonies. My flesh trembles for fear of You, and I am afraid of Your judgments” (Psalm 119:119-120).
“Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes” (Psalm 36:1).
“There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18).
“Abraham said, ‘Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife’” (Genesis 20:11).
“But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God” (Ecclesiastes 8:13).
“Saying, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man’” (Luke 18:2).
FEAR THAT CONFESSES THE HOLINESS OF GOD AND FINDS A REFUGE IN HIM
“Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose” (Psalm 25:12).
“You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield” (Psalm 115:11).
“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness” (Psalm 33:18).
“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them” (Psalm 34:7).
“But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live” (Exodus 1:17).
“The one among the servants of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord made his servants and his livestock flee into the houses” (Exodus 9:20).
“Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens” (Exodus 18:21).
“Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin’” (Exodus 20:20).
“You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name” (Deuteronomy 10:20).
“Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel” (Deuteronomy 17:18-20).
“But truly we have done this out of concern, for a reason, saying, ‘In time to come your sons may say to our sons, “What have you to do with the Lord, the God of Israel? For the Lord has made the Jordan a border between us and you, you sons of Reuben and sons of Gad; you have no portion in the Lord.” So your sons may make our sons stop fearing the Lord’” (Joshua 22:24-25).
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart” (Luke 1:49-51).
“The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother. Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us!’ and, ‘God has visited His people!’ This report concerning Him went out all over Judea and in all the surrounding district” (Luke 7:15-17).
“‘But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:38-39).
“The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether” (Psalm 19:9).
“The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant” (Psalm 25:14).
“Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him” (Psalm 33:8).
“For the Lord Most High is to be feared, A great King over all the earth” (Psalm 47:2).
“You have given a banner to those who fear You, That it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah” (Psalm 60:4).
“For who in the skies is comparable to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty is like the Lord, a God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all those who are around Him? O Lord God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You” (Psalm 89:6-9).
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:11).
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (Psalm 103:12-14).
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10).
“If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope” (Psalm 130:3-5).
“The Lord favors those who fear Him, those who wait for His lovingkindness” (Psalm 147:11).
“Now then let the fear of the Lord be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the Lord our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe” (2 Chronicles 19:7).
“The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.’ Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land’” (Job 1:8-10).
“Is not your fear of God your confidence, And the integrity of your ways your hope?” (Job 4:6)
“We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him” (John 9:31).