Dealing with Fear
It is time now to deal with fear. Anyone who has lived in fear doesn't have to be told it's a terrible place to be. Job didn't enjoy the consequences of fear, and we won't enjoy them either. I've been afraid, and I know from personal experience that fear encases, enslaves and defeats you. Can fear be overcome? Can we live without fear? Is such a thing possible? According to God's word, yes it is, very much so.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Fear here is contrasted with power, love, and a sound mind. By biblical definition then, being afraid is not living with power, it is not living with love, and it is not having a sound mind. One of the benefits to having power, love and a sound mind is living without fear, and that's a wonderful place to be.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
Here again, fear is contrasted with love. In other words, fear and love cannot mix. Contrary to common christian belief and teaching, someone cannot be full of love and full of fear at the same time. Like an antidote to snake poison, love is the antidote to fear. Love is, therefore, more powerful than fear. That's right, there is something more powerful in life than fear, and you can have it if you want it. David lived without fear, even when he was still a teenager looking after the family sheep.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
It wasn't paradise for David living out in the wild countryside. The wilds had their challenges, and not just from the weather - there were dangerous animals, robbers, rustlers, and invading enemies to be concerned about. David lived in the wilds for much of his teenage life, day and night, in all weathers. He enjoyed his life and enjoyed sweet sleep, even while living rough in the country alone with his sheep.
When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.
David wasn't afraid of anything. Remember Goliath? David was only a teenager when he faced him. Even children can be fearless.
So does God want us to be afraid? No, because God didn't give us the spirit of fear. God gives us a spirit of power, and of love and of a sound mind. That's what God gives, therefore he does not want us to be afraid. If we have fear, we are not made perfect in love, because there is no fear in love. When the children of Israel were camped on the shores of the Red Sea and pharaoh's armies were marching after them, God told his people by way of his prophet Moses to fear not.
And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
When Moses was dead and Joshua was charged with leading God's people into the promised land, God told him to fear not.
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
While Ahab was scouring the world for Elijah during a famine, God sent Elijah to Zidon to meet up with a widow who was preparing a last meal for her and her son. Elijah told her to fear not.
1 Kings 17:13,14
And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.
When the king of Syria sent his special forces to take Elisha, and Elisha's servant looked over the city walls and saw the army, the word to him was fear not.
2 Kings 6:16
And he [Elisha] answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
When Jairus had come to Jesus to ask for healing for his daughter, and his servants came and told him his daughter was dead, Jesus Christ immediately confronted his fear, and then went and healed his daughter anyway, despite her being dead.
But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.
Time and again, throughout the bible, the exhortation is to fear not, to not be afraid, to be courageous, to be without fear.
Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.
For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.
And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
It is clear that fear and love cannot co-exist. They cannot survive together, they are not mutually compatible, they do not enjoy any kind of symbiosis. If you have love, you have no fear. If you're afraid, you are not made perfect in love. Love is the antidote, the cure, the fix, the solution, the way to escape from fear.
We now need to define our terms so we can see clearly and think soundly regarding both love and fear. We need to know what they are. These are not nebulous concepts or ethereal myths, they are as real as gravity. They exist, and they both affect our lives, so we need to understand exactly what they are. First, we will deal with fear. Here is a dictionary definition:
1. A distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, or evil, whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
2. A specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling, like an abnormal fear of heights.
3. Concern or anxiety; a fear for personal safety.
4. Reverential awe, especially toward God, used in the bible as the fear of God.
5. Something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of, such as being in a road accident
There are a number of points here. Firstly, fear has a few different meanings. Similar to our English word bank, which can be a river bank, an aircraft banking to port or starboard, or a bank where we stash our money, fear also has different meanings, and only from the context of where the word is set can we determine which meaning it carries.
Anxiety, for example, is a normal human emotion, and although technically it can be classified as fear, it can actually keep you safe. If you are driving too fast and you begin to feel anxious, it's probably because you are putting your life at risk. If you slow down, the anxiety fades and the danger passes. Feeling anxious isn't wrong. Without anxiety, life would be dangerous. I parachuted a few times out of a Hercules C130 aircraft, and I can assure you I know what anxiety feels like. But when a hand slapped my shoulder and someone shouted Go, I jumped. If I'd had fear, they would have weeded me out on the Trainasium during P Company at Aldershot. I wasn't afraid to jump out of an aircraft, but it sure made me anxious as hell waiting for that green light to come on. Anxiety is a normal human emotion which God built into the fabric of life to help keep us safe. Like any emotion, it can be controlled, so don't confuse anxiety with fear.
Anxiety if not controlled however, can lead to fear, that's the distinction. Like all emotions, it is only when it gets out of control that we have problems. That's what happened with Job. Anxiety, like any emotion, if not controlled can become dangerous. Human love is great, but if not controlled it can quickly grow into lust, where you commit evil acts to satiate your own selfish desires, such as homosexuality, rape, bestiality, and paedophilia. It is how we deal with our emotions that determines whether we control them or they control us. If anxiety is not dealt with, it can grow into something particularly dangerous, as the book of Job teaches.
And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, [Job's sons were feasting] that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.
Job had anxiety. He was concerned that his sons were neglecting God and perhaps even cursing him silently in their hearts. Instead of dealing with it by confronting his sons and sorting it out, he offered burnt offerings for them every morning. Why didn't he deal with it? What was it that made him think his children were cursing God in their hearts? Did he see things in their lives that caused him concern? Whatever the reasons, Job did not deal with his anxiety and allowed it to grow into dangerous fears. As the word teaches, fear is believing, and what we believe for is what we are going to see in our lives. Job learned this lesson the hard way. God had his life recorded so we could learn from him and avoid the consequences of fear.
Job was a great man though. He pulled himself together and God turned his life around so that he had twice as much as before. He even had another family. He never permitted fear into his life ever again after that either.
Next, we need to look at love to ensure we know exactly what we're talking about here. You see the word love in 2 Timothy 1:7 and 1 John 4:18 isn't talking about human love, it is the Greek word agapē which is the love of God, and we will deal with that in the next chapter.
Chapter 7 - Agapē: the Love of God