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“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15 ESV).

The words Joshua spoke here to the Israel of old, to the Jews, are still relevant to our lives today who are followers of Jesus Christ. We, too, are to:

1. Fear the Lord, giving him honor, respect, and obedience​
2. Serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness​
3. Put away all foreign gods, the idols of this world​
4. Choose this day whom we will serve – God? Or other gods?​

Fear the Lord

We read in Matthew 10:28 that we are to “fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” And in Hebrews 5:7 we read, speaking of Jesus, “and he was heard because of his reverence.” And in Romans 3:10-18 we read of what we are like outside of faith in Christ, that “there is no fear of God before their eyes,” implying that there must be the fear of the Lord before our eyes. And in Acts 9:31 we read of the church, “And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”

We read in Luke 1:50 that “his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.” And in Acts 10:34-35 we read, “but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Then we read in Philippians 2:12-13 “as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

The fear of the Lord is not just Old Testament teaching. The fear of the Lord is also New Testament teaching. And to fear God is to revere, respect, honor, worship, and obey him. To fear God involves believing that what he says he will do, that he will do it, whether promises of blessings or promises of judgments, and then to act accordingly in obedience to him. It means to do what is right and acceptable to him and to make it our goal to please him. And it involves acceptable worship of God and cleansing ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion.

[Matt 10:28; Luke 1:50; Acts 9:31; Acts 10:34-35; Rom 3:10-18; Rom 12:1-2; 2 Co 5:6-11; 2 Co 7:1; Php 2:12-13; Heb 5:7; Heb 12:28-29; Rev 11:18; Rev 14:7; Rev 15:4]

Serve the Lord

We read in Ephesians 2:10 that we who believe in Jesus Christ are God’s workmanship, “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” And we read in 1 Corinthians 15:58 that we are to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” And in 2 Corinthians 9:8 we read, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

And in Colossians 1:9-14 we read that we are “to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” And in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 we read, “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power.” And in Titus 2:11-14 we read “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”

[Eph 2:10; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 9:8; Gal 5:6; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; 2 Thess 1:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:21; Tit 2:11-14; Jn 15:1-11; Tit 3:8; Jas 2:17]

Forsake Other gods

The NT Scriptures speak much against idolatry. And “A definition of idolatry is ‘anything we serve, love, desire, trust, fear, and worship…apart from God to give us love, joy, peace, freedom, status, identity, control, happiness, security, fulfillment, health, pleasure, significance, acceptance, and respect’" (Gospel Transformation, pg. 59).

We read in 1 Corinthians 5:11 that we “must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater…” And we read in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 that we are not to be deceived, for “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers… will inherit the kingdom of God.” And in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 we read “What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?... Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.’”

And we read in Ephesians 5:3-6 “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” And we read in Galatians 5:16-21 that “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry…” that “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” And we read in Colossians 3:5-10: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.”

[1 Co 5:11; 1 Co 6:9-10; 1 Co 10:1-33; 2 Co 6:14-18; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Col. 3:5-10; 1 Pet 4:1-5; 1 Jn 5:21; Rev 21-22]

Who Will You Serve?

We all have a choice. We can choose to serve the Lord with our lives, or we can choose to serve the idols of the flesh and of man and of this world. We can’t do both. And if we choose the idols of this world and of the flesh, we must know that the Scriptures teach that we will not inherit eternal life with God. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t just make a decision to believe in Jesus Christ and then go on living in deliberate and habitual sin against the Lord following after the idols of this world, instead.

So, the encouragement here to all of us is to walk in the fear of the Lord and to serve the Lord in all sincerity of heart and mind, and in action, and in faithfulness. And this involves us forsaking the gods and the idols of the flesh and of this sinful world. But we shouldn’t choose to follow the Lord just out of fear of going to hell, although that is certainly a motivation. We should serve the Lord because we love him, and because we want to serve him, and because it brings much joy to our hearts to serve him.

Teach Me, Lord

An Original Work / June 12, 2011

Teach me, Lord, to walk in Your ways,
And observe all You command.
May I ever hasten to You,
And desire to not offend.
Teach me how to follow Your steps,
Gently guiding me each day.
May I love and serve You always,
Loving others, this I pray.

Teach me, Lord, to listen to You
Speaking Your words to my heart.
May I never stray from Your truth,
And from Your law ne’er depart.
Teach me how to instruct others
In the way that we should go,
Leading them by my life witness,
So that Jesus they should know.

Teach me, Lord, to be a light in
This dark world of grief and sin.
May I always care for others;
Share their burdens; help to mend.
Teach me how to share with them that
Jesus came to set them free,
So that they could be forgiven;
Live with Christ eternally.