Do Christians follow God because they fear hell? Yes. That’s one reason.
Listen to what Jesus said in Luke 12:4-5:
“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!”
Jesus just told us we should fear Him, because he can cast us into hell. I think it wise to take His advice.
- 2 Corinthians 5:10-11, “Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”
From Believer’s Bible Commentary (page 1839)
“This verse, 2 Corinthians 5:10-11, is commonly taken to mean that since Paul was aware of God’s terrible judgment on sin and the horrors of hell, he went everywhere seeking to persuade men to accept the gospel.”
As Christians, we share the way of salvation with as many people as possible so they can choose to escape the judgment to come. The terror of the Lord is a reality because Jesus Christ will be the Judge at Judgment Day, and He will sentence people to hell. In addition, this verse indicates that Christians fear God because He holds us accountable if we don’t share the way of salvation with others (Acts 20:26, 18:6; Ezekiel 3:18).
- Psalms 119:120 reads, “My flesh trembles for fear of thee, I am afraid of thy judgments.”
David was aware of the future judgment, and feared it to the point of avoiding sin. He writes in Psalms 4:4, “Stand in awe, and sin not.”
Jude 23 says, “Some are saved by fear, pulling them out of the fire.”
Some will only get saved by having a fear of hell.
So yes, we serve Him with reverential fear and respect because He is the Almighty, eternal, infinitely powerful God who created us, and the Universe.
- Psalms 33:8, “Let all the earth fear the Lord. Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.”
When Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead for lying, it says, “Great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things” (Acts 5:11).
- Hebrews 12:21, When Moses was in God’s presence, he said, “I exceedingly fear and quake.”
- Hebrews 11:7, “Noah moved with fear, prepared an ark.”
- Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
If a person doesn’t fear God, then they don’t even have the beginning of wisdom so yes, fear is one reason we obey God.
Second, we serve the Lord because we love Him, and we are extremely grateful for what He has done for us.
- Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead.
- He delivered us from hell and from Satan’s power.
- He gave us eternal life and the opportunity to live with Him forever in heaven.
- He redeemed us from sickness and disease.
- He gave us His spirit to live inside us, guide us, comfort us and strengthens us.
- He will never leave us or forsake us and He loves us unconditionally.
The list could go on and on! This is why we serve Him and love Him.
- 1 John 4:19, “We love him because he first loved us.”
- Revelation 1:5, “Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”
- Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
When a person truly realizes that they are a sinner, they cannot save themselves, and they are headed for an eternal hell, they have cause to stand in awe of the Lord. He has shown His love by dying on the cross for us. He then rose from the dead to prove what He told us is the truth.
You can either be saved by experiencing His goodness (Romans 2:4) or by the fear of being cast into hell, as stated in Jude 23, Luke 12:4-5 and Matthew 25:41.
Jesus told us He is the only way of salvation in John 14:6, and sadly, many people say they don’t believe Him. In Revelation 21:8, he said, “All unbelievers shall have their part in the lake of fire.” There is the warning. This is why He said in Matthew 12:37 that a person’s own words will condemn them to hell. They say, “I don’t believe Jesus is the only way of salvation” so their own words condemn them.
Hell scares the wise person, but not the simple.
- Proverbs 15:24 says, “The way of life is above to the wise; that he may depart from hell beneath.”
- Proverbs 27:12, “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.”
Submitting to God is a willing submission because we know He loves us and He has the best plans for our life. We must yield to Him and seek Him so we discover that plan. Obeying God is not slavery but freedom. We can choose to fear and respect God and escape hell, or have no fear of God and spend eternity in the flames of torment.
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By Bill Wiese, author of 23 Minutes in Hell