In Luke 1:67-79 The father of John the Baptist, Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying... "The Lord God of Israel has granted us the freedom to serve Him without fear because He has saved us from the hand of our enemies."
This is huge. Here the Holy Spirit through Zacharias says God no longer requires us to fear Him. Many of us have suspected as such but may not have seen it so concise in the New Testament. But here is the reason we need not fear God, "He has saved us from the hand of our enemies (sin, death, Satan)." This says the only reason people had to fear God in the Old Covenant was because of the power the enemy had to harm them!
In Luke 17:4-7 (while still under the Old Covenant) Jesus cleared this up further. He said God values you deeply so do not be afraid of Him but instead be afraid of "the one who kills" which Hebrews 2:14 makes clear is Satan who has the power of death. So the point of fearing God was to trust Him like one would trust a body guard. If you didn't fear God, meaning fear the consequence of refusing His instructions, you would face turmoil or death. That is why the old covenant was based on performance because sin & Satan were based on performance & without the law showing people the consequences or "curses" of their actions they would be lying down in the street not knowing that they would be run over.
When Moses says in Leviticus 18:5 "The man who obeys these laws will live by them" he literally meant "live by them" as in obedience would prevent Satan from killing them. Paul said in Galatians 3:24, "the law was our guardian until Christ came." The law could not give life but obedience to the law could prevent death & guard people. God did not want to curse or harm anyone. Lamentations 3:33 says, "God does not make people suffer nor cause them grief from His heart." Whether we like it or not God did have to put some consequences out there upon some of His people for the greater good of the whole of His people. But He didn't do this because of His "holiness" or "justness." He did this because He was protecting His people from Satan who holds the power of death.
This was NOT about God having a "holy standard" or requirement that people weren't meeting so He had to give the law to show them that they didn't measure up to His expectations. He brought the law to reveal sin because sin earned people death, sin produced death in people, sin crouched at people's doors waiting to devour them. God was ALWAYS a Savior. God has ALWAYS loved the world. God would have never given Adam & Eve the law. His only "law" to them was to "avoid the one thing that will kill you."
The law was not God's guidelines to righteousness. Romans 3:20 says flat out that "no human is made righteous by keeping the law" & "the law was given to make people conscious of sin." Why? Because "the wages of sin is death." Death is God's ultimate enemy because He loves mankind. He is life & the life giver. But there was a huge problem with the law. It was weak because obedience to the law was based on human effort. Sin took ahold of the law & produced more death. The only upside to this was that sin made itself even more evident as a problem that needed to be fixed.
Mankind was addicted to the drug of sin & destroying themselves with it. That is why God hated sin so much, it destroyed those He loved. As any parent would, God became angry with His children who were willingly destroying themselves & especially angry at those who were destroying others, the drug dealers who drug other kids into danger (something Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for doing).
Those God killed in the flesh & those who did not or were not able to trust in Him, God sent to what 1 Peter 3:18 calls "prison." A good father would let his drug dealing son go to prison or even turn him in to be imprisoned, particularly if it kept his other children from following the same path of addiction & drug pushing. That is a picture of God & the flood & every other place in scripture where God commands or threatens death for people.
"Jesus told the good news to those who were dead. He gave them the same choice that living men have, the choice to live like God in the spirit." (1 Peter 4:6)
Instead of sin being something where God deemed mankind unworthy of life because of their actions, God actually deemed mankind worthy of life despite their actions. He took some people's life away in the Old Testament & locked them up in "prison" so that they would one day take the chance to "live like God in the spirit" after Christ came off the cross.
So you see it was never about God being "too holy" to accept people or let them live. That is absurd. It was about God going to any lengths to save men from sin even if it was by taking their life here on earth, sending their spirits to prison, then giving the life of His Son to save them & set them free.
Hebrews 2:12-15, "Since God's children live in flesh & blood Jesus Himself became flesh & blood, that through death He might render powerless the one who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives."
Even the most wicked people you could imagine, those you would help hunt down before you would forgive them, God gave the choice to be set free & know Him. The bible says humans were slaves to sin & slaves to the fear of death. Slaves are victims to those more powerful than themselves. Humans were victims of sin because of Satan, sin, & Adam's choice. Adam chose death. God didn't say, "Good you deserve it!" No, instead God said, "You chose death but I choose life. I will defeat death itself. I will save you & give you life again, life that lasts forever." Then God stepped into the world & bore the curses, consequences, & wages of sin.. He died so that we may live. He did not save us from Himself! He didn't kill His Son because He was unwilling to forgive us unless His anger was satiated & His wrath satisfied. He died saving us from our enemies & rose again to life to have triumph over them. Because of Jesus we are freed from all fear, fear of death, fear of sin, fear of Satan, & even fear of God. We are slaves no more! We are His sons, daughters, & friends.
Second Chances & Why God Killed
The Devil Has the Power of Death
To Fear or Not to Fear?
For all related posts see my Choose Life & Live! page