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Romans 3:18

Those who pursue sin and wickedness do not fear God.

Paul now shifts the quote to Psalm 36:1. Psalm 36:1-4 describes the makeup of a wicked person; wickedness begins by not fearing God. The Greek word translated fear is “phobos” which is the root of our English word “phobia.” It originally meant “flight” as in the Greek poet Homer’s characters fleeing in fear. Phobos is usually translated “fear” but is also translated “awe, reverence, and intimidation.”

When we fear another person it might come from a number of motives or attitudes. We might have great respect for, or we might loathe, a person we fear. But in any case, the underlying concern that leads to fear is connected to the action the person we fear can take that we wish to avoid. For someone we love and respect, fear might take the form of desiring not to generate disappointment. We might be desperate to live up to the expectation of a parent we adore. For a person with great wisdom, we might fear not following his advice, realizing that shame might come if we don’t.

When we do not fear God, it means we are not concerned with what God thinks. We are also not concerned about following His advice. We give it no value, and only value our own opinions. These attitudes toward God are at the very heart of wickedness.

Biblical Text

18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”