Good Fear vs Bad Fear – Why Does God Say We Should Fear Him?

Good Fear vs Bad Fear - Why does God say we should fear him?

Good Fear vs Bad Fear


Over a hundred times in the Bible, God tells us to ‘fear not‘.  Apparently one of His greatest desires is for us to live fearless and bold lives.  So why does He also say that we should fear Him?  It all comes down to the difference in good fear vs bad fear.

What is a ‘Bad’ Fear:

Fear is frequently the only thing standing between the life you’re enduring and the thriving life that you are destined to live.  Bad fears are weights and chains that keep us stationary in life.  They weigh us down and hold us back.  Any fear that keeps you from reaching for the good desires of your heart is a bad fear.

You have a Divine blueprint stamped deep within the core of your being.  That destiny calls out from within you and speaks to your heart of the great things that your intended for your life. Your destiny is unique to you, and it is different from that of any person you’ll ever encounter.

In Hebrews Chapter 11, the Bible talks about the amazing men and women who conquered their fears and listened to the calling of greatness God had placed within them.  No two faith walks will ever be identical. God calls each of us to a uniquely fearless life.

Because you have a unique destiny, you will have to conquer fears that are specifically related to that destiny.  Walking by faith always requires that we rise above our fears.  It demands that we step into our divine nature and accomplish the impossible.

Any fear that causes you to shrink back or cower is a bad fear that is hindering the purpose and plan of God in your life.  Fear of rejection.  Fear of failure.  Fear of embarrassment.  Even the fear of success.  All of these, and many more, are bad fears that must be conquered in order to embrace the thriving life you are called to.

What is a ‘Good’ Fear

If you haven’t already read the first post in this series titled, ‘Sometimes I Still Sleep With a Light On‘, then you’ll need to understand that I personally struggled with fear for many years.  The most significant of those fears was an extreme fear of God.  I was literally terrified. I need to start there because any fear that compels you to run away from the love of God is a bad fear.  With that understanding, here are a couple of verses where God directly tells us to fear Him.

Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’ – Deuteronomy 4:10 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

Why does the God who is so emphatic about us living fearless and bold lives tell us to fear him?

    1. The fear that God wants for us to have is a fear that causes reverence for who He is.
    2. Good fear will actually help lead us into a healthy, whole, and abundant life.

1.)  As long as you aren’t dealing drugs, robbing banks, or some other criminal activity, you don’t have to be afraid of a police officer passing you on the street.  At the same time, you are very wise to have a healthy reverence for the power he has to enforce the laws that keep you and the rest of the world safe.  

This is the kind of fear God desires.  It is a reverence that comes with the understanding that He holds the ultimate power to enforce those laws that keep you and the rest of the world safe.  Ignoring those laws or willfully breaking them puts us in conflict with that power.  

A police officer carries weapons to ensure the free will of one person doesn’t involve harming another.  If necessary, he will use those weapons to enforce that law.  This understanding is the source of good fear, or reverence.  The officer’s power is only a danger to those who are violating the law.


2.)  The Bible says that this kind of good fear is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom.  A healthy reverence of God’s authority and power will actually lead you into the wisdom and knowledge you need to thrive in this life.  A reverential fear of God will keep you from the destructive actions, attitudes, and environments that would rob you of your best life.

When you understand that God ultimately desires what is good for you, then this reverence takes on a whole new dynamic in your life.  God does not wield judgment and punishment as weapons with cruel intentions.  He enforces laws that keep us safe and enable us to life full and free lives. Understanding this love of God frees us from any bad fear we may have.  In 1 John 4:18.  It says that there is no fear in love and that perfect love casts out all fear.  

So where does that leave you today?  Where do you stand in the tug of war between good fear vs bad fear.  Are your bad fears keeping you from God’s best, or is your good fear propelling you into an environment where you can thrive and live a truly fearless life?

View the entire set of posts in the How To Conquer Fear Series here:

How To Conquer Fear

About the Author

Jeremy BinnsWhen I'm not trying to save the world from the coming zombie invasion, I love my wife, hug my daughters, write, photograph, listen, observe, explore, and worship.View all posts by Jeremy Binns →

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

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