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  • Writer's pictureMichaela A de Guire

What is Holy Fear?

Most of my life I have wondered how we are to love God with our whole being, our heart, body, mind and soul, and fear Him at the same time. How can you love someone and fear them too? I also thought fear was a thing of the devil, not of God. If fear is a thing of the devil, why then, are we told to “Fear God”, how does that even work?

Husband and wife standing before a church

I have learned that there are two different kinds of fear, one is of God, it is a holy fear, a fear that reminds us of our place. It is a fear that we have because of God’s unconditional love for us. More on this in a moment.


The second fear, the one that most of us know as a bad feeling deep in our heart, this one is of the devil. This one is the one that puts a stop to us reaching up for our dreams, our goals, and living the life God wishes for us. This fear comes in different versions, such as intimidation, uncertainty, a fear to please because you fear the consequences will hurt more than if you do not do as told, even if it is wrong.


Now we all know and understand what unholy fear is and how it makes us feel. Some of us live with this fear on a daily basis. But do we fully understand what holy fear is? It took me nearly all my life to finally begin to understand and wrap my mind around what it is. So, if you already know this, I applaud you, because it has quite literally taken my entire lifetime to understand what this is.


Holy fear, in regards to God, is fear of what our actions do to another. It is a fear of whether our actions will disappoint, disrespect, or violate another person. Holy fear is a loving fear, not a hurting fear. Holy fear is a wanting of the best for another. It is true love for the other.


Holy fear is being freely loved by another, unconditionally. It is the love we receive from God, and the want to always do our best because of that love. Holy fear assists you in seeing the world through the lens of reverence. Reverence for God, Jesus, fellow human beings, animals and all things.

Family baking cookies together

Holy fear also helps us to be constantly aware of the fact that God himself is attentive to our every thought, word, and deed. One would think this is awful, but in reality it helps us intuit the correspondence between one’s own mind and God’s. However, what I find is the most beneficial aspect of holy fear, is the gentle and relentless internal caution against sin, and a gentle call to repentance after one has sinned.


Imagine we didn’t have Holy fear. We would not have the reverence we have toward God, or that of one another. We would not always be striving to do and be our best self. Maybe we are not at our peak everyday, maybe we are not our best self all the time, but with Holy fear we are able to be our best self more frequently.


Holy fear, the fear of God, is to hate sin, to hate injustices. I use the term hate in the most correct terms. The term hate is an intense dislike towards something. This intense dislike I am directing it towards is sin.


Holy fear is the exact polar opposite of unholy fear. Hoy fear draws us closer to God, it brings you into His proximity, into His fold. Unholy fear takes you further away.

We are all on a journey to be with God, for He has already found us

How do you know if you have Holy fear?


If you have holy fear you will tremble in awe and reverence before God. You will have an inward force within you, a determined sense to carry out God’s will. Holy fear is to respect, honor, and submit to God’s direct authority. It is this holy fear of the Lord that shapes our intentions, thoughts, words and our very actions.


Holy fear is just the beginning of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Holy fear is the beginning of the journey to loving God with your whole being, heart, body, mind and soul.


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