Why Does the World No Longer Fear God?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, so why is the fear of God disappearing around the world?

Good Fear

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, so why is the fear of God disappearing around the world? It may seem strange to say that fear can be a good thing, but it is. For example, it keeps us from taking unnecessary risks or avoiding certain activities that we might think are dangerous. That’s just self-preservation, and that’s a good thing. Even the animals have this survival instinct, but fear keeps me from climbing untrustworthy ladders, or from standing too close to the edge of a room, and so on. That kind of fear keeps us alive. So not all fear is bad. In fact, it is good to fear the Lord and a healthy fear of God is pleasing in His sight. When we’re afraid, we suddenly have more adrenaline and can sometimes act quickly so fear is human and it’s a natural, God-given instinct that God has placed in us, thankfully. Now, what about the fear of God? Why should we be afraid of God?

Be Very Afraid

The Author of Hebrews tells us that it is a very grievous sin to reject the only way to be saved (Acts 4:12), and that is Jesus Christ (John 3:16). It is fearful enough to fall into the hands of a human enemy who’s going to kill you, but it’s even a more “fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31). That’s because none can deliver from His hand! When Jesus was speaking to His disciples about their being persecuted, He told them to “not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt 10:28). Our body can be destroyed by someone, but only God can destroy both body and soul (in Hell).

Body and Soul

Jesus said to fear not only someone who can destroy the body, but He who can destroy both body and soul in hell, because “after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:5). That is actually a healthy fear…a fear of God’s judgment in an eternal, unchangeable state and place for those who reject His Son, Jesus Christ. All who reject Christ up until His return (Rev 1:7) or their death (Heb 9:27) will have their fates sealed for all time (Rev 20:12-15). Knowing the judgment of God so compelled the Apostle Paul to evangelize and seek out the lost that he said it is by “knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others” (2 Cor 5:11a). This is why we are all given the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). We are to warn them of the wrath to come (Matt 3:7), just like John the Baptist did the “religious group” who trusted in their own righteousness, justifying themselves before God (Luke 18:9). Many people still do that today in rejecting the gospel.

Godly Fear

We must all work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). He is not saying we don’t work because saved people produce works naturally through the Holy Spirit (James 2), but the Scripture warn “anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12). The wisest thing you could ever do is to put your trust in Jesus Christ. Fearing God is obeying God’s call to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15). So what is a good and godly fear? Frequently in Scripture, we read “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov 1:7), so what exactly does it mean to fear God? A person who reverences, has deep awe and respect, and high regard for God and His Word will bear godly fruit (Gal 5:22-23). That’s godly fear and that’s true wisdom. We will never be sinless in this life, but we should be sinning less over time, because of “the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil” (Prov 16:6). We don’t want to break God’s commandments; therefore we respect His Word and obey it. That is precisely a godly fear. A godly fear is a healthy fear that bears godly fruit. You cannot even begin to have godly wisdom until you have a healthy fear or respect for God and the Word of God. That kind of fear bears godly fruit and brings eternal life.

No Fear of God

“There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom 3:18).

When a person or a nation no longer fears God, God withdraws His blessings from them. Ancient Israel is a perfect example of what happens when a nation fails to fear God in a way that honors, reveres and respects Him and His Word, the Bible. Ancient Israel was taken into captivity and the Kingdom split apart (The Southern Kingdom, Israel and the Northern Kingdom of Judah). Today, as it was in Paul’s day, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom 3:18). As a result, God is withdrawing His blessings upon people and nations, and when that happens, difficult days are expected. To begin with, not fearing God means there is no wisdom in how to live their lives or run their nations. Godly wisdom is essential to all of life, but they have rejected God and no longer fear Him, despite the truth that “The fear of the Lord prolongs life” (Prov 10:27a). Of a truth God says, “Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord” (Prov 14:2a), and “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge” (Prov 14:26). That’s very comforting to me being a parent and grandparent. Fearing God might prolong your life, bless your life, and provide you protection, so no wonder the “fear of the Lord is a fountain of life” (Prov 14:27a).


I pray you have put your trust in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If that has not happened yet, my friend, you are in real danger of hell fire. And I mean, in immediate danger. You’re one breath, one heartbeat…one accident away from eternity when it will be too late to repent. Today is the best day to believe (2 Cor 6:2) since tomorrow is no guarantee. If Jesus Christ came today, here is your fate (Matt 7:21-23). This is why I plead with you as you read this, repent today…and I mean right now. Put your trust in Jesus Christ. If you do not, you will face God’s judgment after death guaranteed (Heb 9:27) or at Jesus Christ’s appearance (Rev 20:12-15), which could happen at any moment.

Here is some related reading for you: What Does it Mean to Fear the Lord?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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