Thursday, June 23, 2011

Overcoming Fear

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

Fear is sin. True or not?

Fear grips many people in their lives. Whether it's a heritage of fear passed down through generations, fear that comes from personal experiences, of fear that is a result of the world we live in. You may ask, "How can I not live in fear? Have you looked around lately?"

God tells His people over and over throughout scripture not to fear.

When Joshua is about to lead the Isaelites into the battle of their lives, the Lord tells Him to be strong and couragous several times. The tool God gives Joshua? His law, telling Joshua to meditate on it day and night. {Joshua 1:6-9}

David declares in Psalm 3:6 that he "will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against" him. Why? Because the Lord sustains. (v.5)

Another Psalmist tells us, "Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." (46:2-3) What comes before the "therefore"? "God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble." (46:1)

Romans 8:15 tells us that we have not received "a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

I could go on and on, but I think the picture is clear. God commands us not to fear anything outside Him. And the fear of God is a reverent awe of His perfect nature.

So, if we're commanded not to fear, why are so many in this world, including those who believe in God through His Son Jesus, gripped with fear? Because our flesh sees what's right in front of us and our imaginations tend to take on a life of their own. A heritage of fear is not easily dismissed and real dangers are not easy to ignore. And Satan knows that if he can trap us in fear, he renders us ineffective for the gospel.

But don't let even fear of fear grip you! Don't think, but I can't overcome it, I don't know how to not fear, it's my nature. Remember, Satan is the chief of all liars and encourages us to believe lies. If God says, "do not fear," then it is possible, through Him, to not be gripped by fear. Therefore, in a sense it's true: you cannot in yourself escape the grip of fear. But in Christ, nothing is impossible (Matthew 19:6, Mark 10:27, John 18:27) and nothing can separate us from the love of God! (Romans 8:38-39)

What are we to do, then?
We are to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith..."

We are to meditate on God's Word and believe every bit of it.

We are to "know and rely on the love God has for us." (1 John 4:16a)

We are to sometimes do it afraid, swallowing our fear, holding our hand out for Jesus to guide us, and keep our eyes fixed on Him!

It is hard to admit that fear is sin if you've been gripped by fear your whole life, or even just since surviving some major catastrophe in life. It feels natural and we've been fed the lie that things that are natural can't be bad nor do we have any control over them. But God's word is more trustworthy than our ideas and other human words. And if God says that fear is a lack of trusting in Him, and not believing His word is a sin, then it is so. In that, however, He also provides the way through and out of it. We simply have to walk with Him step-by-step, day-by-day, and, sometimes, minute-by-minute.