A Primer on Virtue & Spiritual Growth Manual For Christians

By Cris Hernandez, Child of God

 

Table of Contents

Introduction

Part I – Preparation

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  (Gal.2:20)

Chapter

1) Notes on Spiritual Growth            

2) Definitions 

3) All Human Needs Are Satisfied In Christ

4) Anatomy of Temptation that Leads to Sin and Bondage 

5) Understanding the Meaning of Virtue      

6) The Beginning of Spiritual Warfare; Knowledge of Good and Evil

7) The Purpose of Studying Virtues:  part 1- Obedience

8) The Purpose of Studying Virtues:  part 2- Knowing and Pleasing God

9) The Purpose of Studying Virtues:  part 3- Preparing for Heaven

10) The Acquisition of Virtues:  How To

 

Part II – Pursuit

“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”  Job

 Chapter

11) The Foundations of Virtue:  Fear of the Lord, Knowledge, Wisdom

12) The Pursuit of Virtue:  Faith, Courage

13) Recognizing Virtue:  Discernment, Remembrance, Watchfulness                      

-The “D” test for discerning goodness from evil

14) An Attitude of Virtue:  Peace, Abiding Prayer, Stillness, Hope 

15) Perpetuating Virtue:  Purity, Simplicity, Honesty, Integrity       

16) The Pleasure of Virtue:  Joy, Thankfulness, Praise      

17) The Essentials of Virtue:  Humility, Selflessness, Goodness

18) Sharing Virtue: Justice, Dignity, Mercy  

19) Virtue and the Human Will:  Self-Control, Patience, Gentleness

20) Empowering Virtue: Charity, Generosity, Hospitality

21) The Beauty of Virtue: Forgiveness, Kindness, Compassion

22) The Fulfillment of Virtue:  Love

 

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation” 

Herbert Spencer as quoted in “Alcoholics Anonymous” © 1939, 1955, 1976 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

 

Introduction

            The purpose of this book is to encourage and to challenge fellow Christians to a life of greater intimacy with God.  The study of virtues is the means to this end.  This book defines virtues as the characteristics of God, the fruits of the Holy Spirit, that we can aspire to obtain as part of our own being.  To know virtue experientially, is to know God, and to know Him as if He were a flesh and blood companion of many years whose personality and characteristics are familiar and recognizable enough to be emulated.  To study virtues is to learn the ways of God such that His workmanship is readily discernible in us, in others, and in the world around us.

 

Hebrews chapter 4, verse 12 describes the Word of God as a razor sharp, double-edged blade that easily slices the meat off the bone.  In that spirit, this book aims to be a stiletto, a dagger that is just long enough, just narrow enough, and so very pointed, that it slides easily through the protective rib cage and goes straight to the heart.  Thus slain by His Word and crucified with Christ (Gal.2:20), a death to self that we might be alive in Him, the work of separating the flesh from the spirit can begin.

 

The pursuit of virtue is presented here as an exercise in spiritual growth.  Spiritual growth means increasing our awareness of the presence of God in our day-to-day lives while conforming our ways to His, from the core of our being outward.  Prior to examining individual virtues, spiritual growth issues will be reviewed in detail, including specific “how to” recommendations.  It is imperative that we prepare our hearts in humility and submission as well as being well practiced at confession and repentance prior to our attempt to learn virtue.  Since God is the goal of our pursuit, it is best understood upfront that encounters with God can be very humbling experiences.   His awesome holiness is so overwhelmingly powerful and pure, all our impurities and ungodliness become grotesquely obvious to us as we near Him.  First, our imperfections are exposed and then our faithless bravadoes and facades are completely stripped away from us, for no unclean or impure thing can exist in His presence.  Akin to being naked, defenseless, and completely humiliated, our flesh will want to grab familiar garb and lean on comfortable crutches rather than let go of worldly ways so that our spirit may move freely toward God.  We need to be prepared for this encounter or we will be no less devastated than Isaiah (Is.6:5) when confronted with the ugliness of sin which dwells in our flesh (Rom.7).  Prior to studying virtue and having a more intimate, intense relationship with God, we as Christians, as children of God, need to be fully assured that God loves us.  We need to know with conviction that Christ has provided the means for the forgiveness of our sins (1Jn.1:9), and that in Christ we are wholly acceptable to God and welcome into His presence, worthy of His blessings (Eph.4:20-24, Gal.4:4-7).

 

With the threat of devastation to our self-image now looming, the question as to why we should pursue a study of virtues begs to be answered.  Many reasons could be given here as to why Christians should be acquainted with the virtues, but the primary reason is unity with God.  Unity with Him is the ultimate purpose of this life God has given us; it is how we honor Him best.  Virtue puts our lives in accord with life as God intended it to be.  The resulting harmony of His purpose and our intent added to the indescribable joys and pleasures we experience as we grow in nearness to God, the source of all goodness, makes this endeavor the most rewarding life pursuit option available to us.   Also, part of the beauty of this pursuit is that it can be done while pursuing other life interests, and as long as the ways of God are given top priority, all other areas of life become richer, fuller, and more rewarding.  As Jesus said, His yoke isn’t burdensome or weighty (cf. Mt.11:28-30), and the pursuit engenders the fullness and abundance of life Christ promised (Jn.10:10).

 

Our study of virtues isn’t merely a discourse on individual virtues and love isn’t just presented as the supreme virtue.  Though Jesus clearly teaches us the supremacy of love in Mt. 22:35-40, the focus here is more in line with verse 40, where Jesus says that love is the fulfillment of the law  (also see 1Pe.4:8;  Rom.13:8,10; Gal.5:14;  Jas.2:8).  In this work, love is presented as the fulfillment of all virtues and as the supernatural life of Christ as expressed through us.  Presenting the interdependency of virtues and expressing the need for them to grow together, may be a new approach to some readers.  The study of the component virtues provides the building blocks, or stepping stones, that need to be in place as we are learning to love.  Two things to note here, first, this work is not meant to be merely a source of information or read as a mental exercise.  Virtues must be lived in order to be learned, and this requires practicing their expression as we tend to the daily circumstances of our individual lives.  Secondly, our pursuit of virtue equates to the pursuit of God, for God is love, and since God is eternal and infinite, it is important to understand that we will never in our time on Earth be finished with this pursuit.  As humbling as this can be, to believe otherwise may lead to unnecessary frustration from our perpetual failings, or worse, giving up the pursuit altogether.

 

The pursuit of virtue also involves spiritual warfare, for there is no way to grow spiritually without combating the demons.  Demons can be understood as any obstacle that prevents a soul from being wholly united with God and His will, as the rebellions and temptations we face when we attempt to surrender fully our human will to His divine will.  The Bible portrays demons as the legions of fallen angels who are loyal to Satan, having both intelligence and purpose (Mt.12:25-27; 2Cor.2:10-11; Eph.6:11-13; Rev.12).  Their aim is to defame God and desecrate all that is sacred.  They especially hate Christian souls who have a sincere and strong desire to worship God and honor all that is His.  Demons operate using the powers of suggestion and persuasion to communicate with human souls.  They tempt the children of God into acting outside of His will.  They easily influence ungodly souls who are not even aware that demonic suggestions are not their own ideas and therefore unable to separate evil notions from their own thoughts.  The greater their influence over a soul, greater is the soul’s potential for committing acts of heinous evil.  This work aims to prepare us for this battle by first revealing the demon’s tactics and then explaining how to overcome their assaults.  Lack of preparation here can likewise have devastating results.

 

The author is a firm believer that unity in Christ and expressing the love of God are far more important than strict adherence to the doctrines that serve to divide His disciples.  Accordingly, an effort has been made to walk lightly around theological issues, choosing certain words that are less likely to be the cause of theological debate, while defining others within this text so that the reader knows the author’s intended meaning (2Tim.2:14).  For example, “unity” will be used frequently; “salvation”, “theosis”, “justification” and “sanctification” are used sparingly.   It is the author’s prayer that the purpose of this text, for us all to grow in nearness and likeness to our Lord Christ Jesus, not be compromised by our doctrinal differences.  As Christians, we all read the same book; therefore, the Bible is liberally referenced in this text as an inerrant and authoritative source of Truth.  Again, it is the author’s prayer that any current differences in our understanding and application of scripture not become an impediment to our pursuit of virtue.  The author also invites the readers to read around, or translate into their own framework of beliefs, any statement herein that is a matter of doctrinal interpretation in order to keep from dismissing the intent of the text altogether.  Likewise, if the author’s definitions don’t match the reader’s definition, the reader is invited to switch the pairings of words and their definitions throughout the text.  Giving priority to meanings instead of demanding that a particular word convey the same theological concept for all Christians is one way to keep from compromising our unity in Christ.  The author prays for your indulgence for the rewards of virtue are great.

 

Also, please do not take the aforementioned warnings lightly, learning to live in the spiritual realm has inherent dangers, whether from agitating the demons or from adverse reactions to encounters with the holiness of God.  To proceed without proper preparation is analogous to getting married without first being willing to make a faithful commitment, or having children without first being willing to put aside selfish, self-serving ways in order to rightly provide for them.  Lack of preparation here can be similarly painful and harmful to self and others. It is quite intentional that the first 10 chapters of this book all concern preparation for the 12 that follow.  It is also recommended that this undertaking not be done alone, the use of a mentor is highly recommended, as is having someone to provide feedback and compare notes.  Before proceeding, a few more specific precautions:

  • Do not compare yourself or your progress to others, you will either become smug and conceited, or disillusioned and defeated; learn to be satisfied with simply pleasing God.  Comparing ourselves to others always leads to sinful pride or an erroneous sense of inadequacy.
  • Do not believe any suggestion that the pursuit of virtue is futile, unrewarding or unfulfilling, all such suggestions are from the demons and are contrary to the Word of God.
  • Keep your primary focus on Jesus and the examples of the saints who have gone before us, do not dwell on your successes or failures; again the result is either pride or frustration.
  • As we grow spiritually and learn to recognize the goodness of God more readily, it should become easier to compliment and encourage others as we learn to live our lives in the fullness of His love.  Likewise, ungodliness also becomes more apparent.  Do not succumb to self-loathing or the temptation to point out the failings of others, and do not lose heart when those who were once esteemed begin to appear all too human.

 

The author would also like the reader to understand that these lessons were originally prepared so that the author could learn about virtue.  The author does not claim to be a “paragon of virtue”, but rather a soul who came to Christ as an adult and has had to unlearn a wealth of sinful habits in order to learn of virtue.  There are many un-referenced sources in this work because the author pursued many topical studies prior to formulating the idea of writing a book.  These sources include books, magazines, preachers on the radio and television, pastors and priests during worship services, classes, friends, and so on.  One last note; the scripture passages following the chapter texts contain lessons to be learned as taught to me in my personal travels and studies, they aren’t meant to be literal or condensed translations.

 

I pray ye well.

 

Cris Hernandez

Child of God

email:  aprimeronvirtue@yahoogroups.com

 

 

Copyright Information:

King James Version (KJV):  public domain (http://www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible)

New American Standard Bible (NASB*):  © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

New International Version (NIV):  © Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

(* Unless otherwise noted, scripture passages quoted within this text are from the NASB)

The Philokalia: (Vol. I © 1979 The Eling Trust; Vol. II © 1981 The Eling Trust; Vol. III © 1984 The Eling Trust; Vol. IV © 1995 The Eling Trust; Vol.V unavailable to the author)

Concerning scripture contained within quotes taken from The Philokalia, “All Biblical passages have been translated directly from the Greek as given in the original Philokalia.  This means that quotations from the Old Testament are normally based on the Greek Septuagint text.”   (from the translators of the Philokalia)

Note:  text within the quotes from the Philokalia and elsewhere contained within brackets “[example]” is from the author.

 

The author extends his appreciation to all his teachers whose thoughts are contained within this text as well as to those who supported him while these lessons were being prepared.

 

Chapter 11 – The Foundations of Virtue – Fear of the Lord, Knowledge and Wisdom

Fear of the Lord:  reverence and awe for God; the recognition of His supreme authority that leads to obedience to His Word; to hate evil

Knowledge:  awareness of Truth learned from the revelations of His Word; the experience gained by living according to Truth and abiding in the Holy Spirit

Wisdom:  understanding Truth, seeing as God sees; the application of knowledge

 

As we begin our pursuit of virtue, let us be reminded of the circular nature of this pursuit.  Though we begin here, there is no definitive starting point, and no ending point to signify completion of our task.  How we individually come to pursue the goodness of God is unique to each of us.  We begin with these three virtues because they seem the most foundational for our purposes here, while all that follow are predicated upon an appreciation of these even though we can hardly speak of these without alluding to those that follow.  Likewise, on subsequent readings, our understanding of the virtues discussed in the chapters ahead will undoubtedly give us a greater appreciation for the virtues we introduce here.  We commence with the fear of the Lord which elevates God to His rightful place in our hearts, then onto knowledge which distinguishes Truth from all manner of deception, and then learn of wisdom which rightly divides the holy from the profane.

 

Fear of the Lord

 

Fear of the Lord has many facets.  Among them we find reverence, awe, humility, obedience (pursuing goodness while abstaining from evil), and being paralyzed in fright.   This is not to suggest that we fear God as we would lions, tigers and bears whose intent is to eat us for dinner, nor fear Him as a cruel punisher of misdeeds who just waits to zap us with lightning bolts upon our next misstep.  No, God loves us and disciplines us as needed for the benefit of our spiritual growth, and our fear is more akin to respect for the immensity of His power and acknowledgment of our puniness and feebleness before Him.  Like standing at the edge of a great precipice or on ground quaking from an erupting volcano, this type of fear is instinctive and born of our vulnerability and powerlessness before that which is immensely greater than we are.  However, unlike the forces of nature that are obvious, God is spirit and the flesh of humanity has the capacity to ignore Him.  The children of God choose to fear Him.  Those who choose to defy God or reject His revelation, incur the terror of His wrath in ignorance.  Furthermore, we neither profane His providential care by attributing it to luck or coincidence, nor do we fail to see God as Lord of all.  We believe God is all knowing, all-powerful and ever-present.

 

Initially, our fear of the Lord is acknowledging His being, followed by the realization of His power, and then an appreciation of the implications of His omnipotence, omniscience, and presence everywhere at all times.  The initial fear may not be much more than the admission that God exists and therefore the rules of life are not determined by us; an acknowledgement that God is the final authority of creation, not man.  This may come from observing creation, noting the order and detailed design, and then deciding there is a Creator whose beautiful handiwork is certainly neither arbitrary nor random.  Or, maybe on a personal level, we notice that we cannot selfishly mistreat others without subjecting our conscience to various anxieties and emotional stresses.  Then from this awareness of innate moral influence, become conscious of God.  Regardless of how the fear of God originates, without acknowledging the revelation of His Word, there is only speculation.  Both the Truth of God, and how a person should respond to Him, remains hidden until we are educated by revelation.  Therefore, knowledge of God from revelation is required to develop our fear of God righteously and in Truth.

 

As we learn to fear God from the revelation of His Word, we are confronted by His holiness; a totally nebulous concept in the secular world for there is no meaning or application of holiness apart from God.  Occasionally in nature, we may experience something so beautiful, so wondrous, so awe inspiring, so delicate, so intricate, so captivating, so rare, so unique, so undefiled, so intimate, and so pure that we may get a small taste of what it means to partake of His holy presence (witnessing childbirth seems to have this effect on many souls).  However, without fear and knowledge of God the insight is lost in the ignorance of holiness.  As children of God, we enter into His presence and are in the midst of His holiness whenever we abide in prayer.  We sense His presence more keenly when we enter into sacred places.  At these times, the filth of our sin and our failures before God become all too apparent to us.  God is holy; unclean things can not exist in His presence.  However, from the revelation of scripture, we learn that God has provided for us and that we must accept His provision in order to be with Him.  Accepting Christ Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior is to receive the gift of reconciliation that God offers to all human souls (Jn.3:16-17).  In Christ, we are forgiven and cleansed of our sin; in Christ, we have the righteousness of God that allows us to enter into His presence; in Christ, we are redeemed and restored and able to live in communion with Him (1Cor.1:30-31, Jude 1:24-25, Eph.4:24).  May our praise be to God for His infinite mercy.

 

When God created the heavens and the Earth, He declared that it was good (Gen.1-2).  The imprint of His holiness upon all creation causes our conscience to be disturbed when we violate its natural order.  Responding to this innate sense of right and wrong by drawing closer to God, by desiring to act in accordance with His ways, is to fear God.  Ignoring one’s conscience and all manner of revelation is to rebel against God and is indeed sinful.  Ignorance of His holiness likewise leads to the degradation and depravation that accompanies partaking of evil.  Whether the deeds of the godless seem large, small or of no consequence, they all are contrary to God and impede the way of salvation, therefore they are all equally guilty of promoting evil.

 

To fear God is to hate the evil caused by willful or mindless ignorance of Him and His commandments for us.  As children of God, we are not to partake of evil, not as individuals and not as a collective society; evil has no place in His kingdom.  The fear of God means obediently abstaining from that which is offensive to Him and from that which is contrary to the order of His creation.  God has commanded us to love Him and to love others as we love ourselves (Mk.12:28-31).  To love God is to obey His commandments (Jn.14:15).  His commandments are always right and best for us and have many practical benefits (Hos.14:9).  Not only are we blessed for doing so, we are also physically, emotionally and spiritually healthier when we do not corrupt the intentions of God.  Disobedience grieves our spirit which causes stress and anxiety in our souls which in turn depletes the body.  This downward spiral is further exacerbated by the immediate consequences of sin and the inherent risks associated with ungodly behavior.

 

Though we may harbor sinful attitudes or dwell on sinful thoughts, outwardly sin is most often expressed in our relationships.  When we fail to let God rule our hearts by failing to be caring and nurturing toward others, we sacrifice the peace of God and invite corruption.  On the personal level, sin is manifest in abusive and broken relationships.  On a larger scale, monstrous acts of evil may occur, such as mass murders or mass suicides.  At such times, the existence of God is often questioned by those who fail to acknowledge the evil in their own hearts and likewise fail to recognize it in the world around them.  The question is often asked, if God is a loving God why do such things happen and why is there such human suffering?  These things exist because we let them exist.  We may not be able to stop hurricanes, earthquakes and droughts, or murders and rapes, but as the Christian keepers of the Earth, we have the means to keep our own hearts pure, evangelize lost souls, come to the aid of victims or move them out of harm’s way, and then bring justice to the perpetrators of evil.

 

Knowledge

 

Knowledge of God enables us to make decisions rightly in accord with Truth.  Knowing and believing Truth provides us with the basis for making sane decisions based on our accurate perception of reality, for reality is living according to Truth.  Likewise, the opposite is true, failure to acknowledge Truth lends towards a life of fantasy and delusion where decisions are made by a mind that is out of touch with the reality of God and therefore less than wholly sane.  God is Truth, and Truth is absolute, not relative.  God gave man free will and it can be used to believe or disbelieve Truth; all belief systems contrary to the Word of God are fictitious and summarily invite the ungodly consequences of sin.

 

To learn of God we read His Word and receive instruction from our Christian teachers.  When we encounter a teaching from scripture that is contrary to our beliefs, we are to forsake our false belief and conform to the Truth.  For instance, say a person believes in reincarnation, then reads the Bible and discovers that every soul is unique and has only one physical life in which to find their way home to God (Heb.9:27).  Such a person should immediately disbelieve reincarnation and all subsequent thoughts and replace them with the Truth of His Word.  Failure to do so means continuing to live outside reality by believing things that are not Truth.  Wrong beliefs lead to wrong thoughts.  Wrong thoughts lead to faulty decision-making processes that in turn result in ungodly behavior and ungodly lives.  People create for themselves situations of mayhem, disorder, disagreeableness, tension and discontent whenever there is friction between one’s framework of thoughts and the reality of any given situation.  The discord results in unhappiness, distress, and mental disturbances that are the precursors of even more serious consequences.  When left uncorrected, these things progress to beliefs that are even more convoluted and behaviors that are even more bizarre.  Mental illness is often the result for those unable to cope with the constant stress of being out of touch with reality.  In contrast, being spiritually healthy by believing and acting on Truth, results in an inner peace from being in harmony with God and the natural order of creation.  Though the world around us is fraught with chaos, in Christ we have peace (Jn.14:15-27,16:31-33).

 

The habit of forsaking beliefs contrary to Truth while adopting Truth as the basis of our decisions, leads to experiential knowledge of God.  Such knowledge comes from the testing of our faith, by making decisions based on His Word and His ways, ways that run contrary the ways of the world and our own flesh.  As we part with the crutches, props and cosmetics that we use to make ourselves measure up in the secular world, the first steps are expected to be a bit wobbly.  Forsaking the secular value system and replacing it with the priorities of God is difficult initially, but as we proceed and accustom ourselves to new ways, we grow stronger in our faith and our convictions.  Our ability to trust God encompasses more and more areas of our lives as we realize for ourselves the joys of walking with God.  We come to know firsthand that He loves us and has our best interest in mind; we see otherwise awful things produce good things because of loving Him, and we learn of virtue as we behold His benevolence and mercy.

 

Wisdom

 

By adopting Truth as our belief system, we begin to see as God sees and come to make decisions in accord with the will of God.  Understanding the world around us in light of revelation and responding to it in a righteous manner, is wisdom.  Wisdom is born of communion and union with God.  It is a gift bestowed from the blessed presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  It is the fullness of God made manifest in our humble circumstances.  It is the joy and peace born of experiential knowledge of goodness and of righteousness.  It is the freedom and exhilaration from cleanliness and purity as opposed to the burdens of sin and filth.  It is oneness with God in His eternal splendor and partaking of all the beauty of creation with His blessing.  It is our life’s ultimate ecstasy to be in the presence of His holiness, His power and His glory.  The more we cultivate our openness to God, the greater our awareness of His presence.  Our ability to behold Him then grows as we learn to live according to His wisdom.

 

By living in His presence, we begin to see manifestations of the eternal in the day to day, and to see the spiritual implications of our physical existence.  As Jesus used the common sites of His day as the settings for the parables that teach us of Heaven, our lives likewise become an allegorical representation of eternal Truth.  Parenting is no longer just interaction between fathers, mothers and children, but a fertile source of learning about the love of God for His children from firsthand experience with our own children.  Outside the home, our interactions with others are no longer mundane business or social affairs, but opportunities to express and bring to Earth the eternal Kingdom of God.  All of life is seen and understood as being in the presence of our living Lord (Mt.12:28, Lk.17:20-21).  Passing segments of time are no longer seen as mere, short-lived circumstances, but rather as opportunities to traverse the eternal with an expression of virtue or the accountability for a sin of omission.

 

As we learn to live in His presence and abide in His ways, we get to know God from personal experience.  We will watch Him live His life through us and learn to recognize Him internally in our hearts and externally in our circumstances.  Our experiences should reinforce what we learn of Him from our biblical studies.  This involves acting contrary to the ways of the world, for the ways of God are foolishness to those who primarily seek money, power, fortune, fame, pleasures, or other such worldly trappings that prevent a soul from seeking God as one’s first priority (1Cor.1:18-24).  We express the wisdom of God that is ours in Christ when we learn to recognize both our temporal motivations as well as the eternal implications of any given decision, and then choose to act in accordance with the ways of God.

 

Scriptural References:

 

Fear of the Lord as hating evil:

Pr.8:13, the fear of the Lord is to hate evil

Pr.23:17, instruction to fear the Lord always and not to envy sinners

Mal.3:5, judgment to befall those who do not fear the Lord

 

Fear of the Lord as source of knowledge leading to wisdom:

Job 28:28, fear of the Lord is wisdom to forsake ungodliness

Pr.1:7, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge

Pr.2:1-5, pursuit of wisdom means learning to fear God and gaining knowledge of Him

Pr.9:10, the fear of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom

Is.33:6, fear of the Lord as a treasure; He is the source of knowledge and wisdom

 

Fear of the Lord in the presence of Holiness: 

Ps.19:9, clear thinking (clean and pure) comes from fearing the Lord

Is.8:9-22, instruction to fear the Lord and revere His holiness

 

Fear of the Lord in light of His Judgments: 

2Chr.19:7-10, the fear of the Lord is to govern our relationships with others

Lk.12:4-10, Jesus teaches that fear of the Lord is more important than worldly concerns

2Cor.5:10-11, fear the Lord in preparation for our total accounting before God

1Pe.1:17-19, fear the Lord, be mindful of Him in all things, He holds us accountable

 

Fear of the Lord as obedience

Deut.10:12-13, instruction to fear God, walk in His ways and love Him

Ps.111:9-10, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and a result of obedience

Is.50:10, fear of the Lord as obedience

 

Fear of the Lord in awe of His Power:

Josh.2:23-24, Jer.5:22, Mt.14:26-28, fear of the Lord as being in awe of His power

Lk.9:30-36, the awesome wonder of the Transfiguration

Rev.1:17-18, fear of the Lord expressed as falling prostrate in His presence

 

Fear of the Lord concerning His Providential Care (dealing with non-believers/evil):

2Chr.17:10, non-believers’ fear of the Lord causing them to avoid children of God

Mk.4:39-40, fear of the Lord as trusting in His power to overcome worldly fears

 

Fear of the Lord and quality of life: 

Ps.33:18-19, fear of the Lord endears us to God bringing His blessings

Ps.34:7, fear of the Lord brings the protection of angels

Ps.115:13, God blesses all who fear Him

Pr.10:27, fear of the Lord engenders long life

Pr.14:27, fear of the Lord causes a man to avoid things harmful or fatal

Pr.15:16, peace of mind from fearing God as opposed to the turmoil of ungodliness

Pr.22:4, the rewards for humility and fear of God are honor and a rich, full life

Pr.23:17, fear of the Lord is contrary to envy, covetousness, and want

Pr.29:25, fearing man instead of God is an impediment to holiness

Ac.9:31, peace with others from fearing God

 

Fear of the Lord as reverence:

Ps 22:23, fear of the Lord as reverence expressed in praise and exaltation

Rev.14:6-7, instruction to fear the Lord and worship Him being mindful of His power

 

Fear of the Lord and its power to redirect the human soul toward godliness:

Mt.10:28, Jesus teaches us to fear God and not men

Lk.5:8-11, a demonstration of the power of God leads to lives being redirected to Him

 

Fear of the Lord personified:

Lk.1:46-55, the Magnificat of Mary

 

Knowledge of God:

Rom.1:21-32, ungodliness is the result of forsaking knowledge of God

2Cor.10:5-6, instruction to forsake worldly speculations and believe in Christ

Col.1:9-12, walking with God leads to knowledge of God and virtuous deeds

2Tim.2:24-26, instruction to teach Truth so others may escape insanity and condemnation

2Pet.1:2-4, knowledge of Truth leads to godliness and partaking of His divine nature

 

Wisdom:

1Cor.2, the wisdom of God is ours in Christ

1Cor.3:18-20, the “wisdom” of man is foolishness in the presence of God

Eph.3:1-19, the application of knowledge and wisdom leads to understanding

Col.1:25-29, completeness in Christ from wisdom

Col.4:5, wisdom as our witness

Jas.1:5, prayers for wisdom will be answered

Jas.3:13-18, wisdom manifest in demeanor of goodness and gentleness

 

Commentaries:

 

Fear of God:

“The first good which actively affects us, namely fear, is reckoned by Scripture as the most remote from God, for it is called ‘the beginning of wisdom’ (Ps.111:10;  Prov.1:7; 9:10).  Setting out from this towards our ultimate goal, wisdom, we come to understanding, and this enables us to draw close to God Himself, for we have only wisdom lying between us and our union with Him.  Yet it is impossible for a man to attain wisdom unless first, through fear and the remaining intermediary gifts, he frees himself completely from the mist of ignorance and the dust of sin.  That is why, in the order established by Scripture, wisdom is placed close to God, and fear close to us.  In this way we can learn the rule, and law of good order.”

St. Maximos the Confessor (6-7th C.); The Philokalia Vol. II, pg. 220#41

 

Knowledge:

“The spirit of knowledge is a grasping of the commandments and the principles inherent in them, according to which the qualities of the virtues are constituted.”

St. Maximos the Confessor (6-7th C.); The Philokalia Vol. II, pg. 219#39

 

Wisdom:

“The spirit of wisdom is ascension towards the Cause of the higher spiritual principles inherent in the commandments, and union with it.  Through this ascension and union we are initiated, in so far as this is possible for human beings, simply and through unknowing into those inner divine principles of created beings, and in different ways we present to men, as if from a spring welling up in our heart, the truth which resides in all things.”

St. Maximos the Confessor (6-7th C.); The Philokalia Vol. II, pg. 219 #39

 

“We ascend step by step from what is remotest from God, but near to us, to the primal realities which are furthest from us but near to God.  For we begin by abstaining from evil because of fear, and from this we advance to the practice of virtue through strength; from the practice of virtue we advance to the discrimination [discernment] conferred by the spirit of counsel; from discrimination to a settled state of virtue, which is cognitive insight; from the settled state of virtue to the spiritual knowledge of the divine principles inherent in the virtues; from this knowledge to a state of understanding, that is, to the transmuted state in which we conform to the divine principles of virtue that we have come to know; and from this we advance to the simple and undistorted contemplation of the truth that is in all things.  From this point of vantage, as a result of our wise contemplation of sensible and noetic beings, we will be enabled to speak about the truth as we should.”

ibid. pg. 219 #40