Mortal Fear vs Godly Fear

In our daily lives, we are aware through the media of criminal activities, famine, wars, natural disasters, terrorist activities, corruption and disease which causes any of us to experience fear. Living in Reno, to a large extent, we have not been subjected to the calamities which we read about and see on TV in the overwhelming numbers that affect others in distant locations. Until now, that is, for today the global threat of Covid-19 has the capability of spreading far and wide and ultimately, it has come to our community. This threat is altering all of our lives and is producing great fear and anxiety.

I recently read a talk by David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which I found to be helpful in putting my fears in perspective. I would like to share some of the main points that he made with you. Mortal fear creates alarm and anxiety. This distressing emotion of fear arises due to impending danger, uncertainty or pain through experiences that are unexpected, sometimes sudden, and a negative outcome is produced. Fear and uncertainty is clearly visible to us as we see grocery shelves empty and hoarding taking place, see stores closing, see schools close, events being cancelled and measures being taken to try to social distance everyone to abate the eventual spread of the virus.

Mortal fear has been with us from the Fall of Adam and Eve. In Genesis 3:9-10 we read that Adam answered God’s call by saying “I heard thy voice…., and I was afraid.” Bednar asks, “…but can we hush our fears that so easily and frequently beset upon our world today? Yes, the basic principles are central to receiving that blessing in our lives: look to Christ, building upon the foundation of Christ, and press forward in faith in Christ.”

The word fear in Godly fear has a totally different meaning: it is to respect, revere, and to trust with confidence in Christ. Unlike worldly fear that creates alarm and anxiety, Godly fear is a source of peace, assurance, and confidence. “When we fear God, we have a reliance on His merits, mercy and grace which leads to hope, through his Atonement, and to Resurrection and Eternal life. Hope such as this brings into our lives the sweet peace of conscience. Atonement made repentance possible and strengthens us to see, do and become good in ways we could never recognize or accomplish with our Mortal capacity.”

From Philippians 4:7 we read that the blessing of discipleship is “peace of God, which passeth all understanding.” Godly fear as the scriptures certify is “the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs1:7), “the instruction of wisdom” (Proverbs 15:33), “a strong confidence” (Proverbs 14:26), and “a fountain of life” (Proverbs 14:27). Ecclesiastes 12:13-124 tells us to “Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man.” This Godly fear dispels mortal fears. For we believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. (Articles of Faith1:5).

Godly fear is loving and trusting in Him. As we fear God more completely, we love Him more perfectly. And “perfect love casteth out all fear.” “The bright light of godly fear will chase away the dark shadows of mortal fears as we look to the Savior. He is our Redeemer and because of Him “our hearts need not be troubled or afraid (see John 14:27) and our fears will be hushed by His blessings.”

Submitted by: 

Pat Meidell , President NIA,
Public Affairs Director for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints