Fear? - NOT!

Fear is a major element in our lives. We all have fears. Some people's keep them living in terror. They never experience joy and peace. I've heard that Edgar Allen Poe, the writer of horror stories, lived in constant terror himself. For people who specialize in horror, it encompasses them. This isn't the way it should be for the servants of God.

  To live in fear, not only harms Christians, it harms their testimony. When non-Christians see us living in fear or joylessness, they're sure we have nothing that could interest them. We testify by this fear, that our religion offers them nothing for comfort and support. We testify we can't count on God to take care of us. We also testify that Gods unable to overcome our fears. My goal isn't just to lay a guilt trip on us, especially in the area of fear, but we need to be aware of just how damaging allowing fear to reign is. God's goal in this, is in the area of comfort to those that love Him.

  Before we get into the passages in God's Word for comfort, we need to look at the passages calling us to the right area of fear. Christians aren't to be devoid of fear, it's to be in the right thing. If we fear the right thing, we don't have to fear the things that tend to overcome us.
  The thing to fear isn't really a thing, but a person - the Lord! This is a large area in itself, but we will touch it only briefly.

  11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.            
Psalm 2:11
  We can see this 'Fear of the Lord' is a real bonafide FEAR. It's not a make-believe, official front we put on. If the fear isn't there, we're fooling ourselves big time that we know Him. This fear is, notably, in the midst of joyfulness. The world's fear doesn't offer this aspect.

  18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;    
Psalm 33:18

  From this verse, we see the beginning of the answer to our fears. When we fear the Lord, we can know He watches over us.

  26 In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.    
Proverbs 14:26

  It only gets better. We can have absolute certainty God will take care of those who fear Him. That wonderful word, 'refuge' is a shelter for our fears.

  I found a verse in the Psalms that outlines the 'fear of the Lord' from another angle:
  18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:    
Psalm 66:18

  From this, we see our comfort is removed if we don't purify our hearts. God doesn't want us placing hope in false confidences. He wants us to be at peace when we should be, but not when we allow iniquity.
  23 The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.            
Proverbs 19:23
  We have more good promises in this line of 'fear of the Lord'. This 'fear' is healthy. It leads us in the way of satisfaction and with the knowledge that things contrary to God's plans for us, won't come upon us. If we depart from His fear, for the Christian, His discipline will come, and hence the 'fear of the Lord'. If we walk in His fear from the outset, so we don't sin against Him, we can have peace and confidence. Trouble that isn't in His perfect will, won't come our way.

  5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.    
Luke 12:5

  Jesus clearly tells us who to fear and why. He's the ultimate Judge. When it comes to balancing fear, this is the weight to test it by. Say our boss or government tell us to do something contrary to God. We may fear consequences of disobeying these fleshly powers, but when we weigh the issue before God, the fear of man should become a shame to us.
  31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.    
Acts 9:31

  The 'fear of the Lord' automatically goes with comfort. If we walk in the 'fear of the Lord' the comfort of the Holy Ghost will follow. The one is our part, the other is God's. The Holy Spirit not only gives us a mind of peace and joy, as we obey, He also enables us to obey and walk in faith.

  1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.    
2 Corinthians 7:1
  This 'fear of God' pushes us to diligence in being conformed to His image. We've seen what's called for in this 'Fear of God'. It isn't just a state of mind, but a knowledge and faith that brings godly action. It demands we purify ourselves and put iniquity from our lives. Having done this, we're able to move on to promises for overcoming fear in our lives.

A. The Christian Facing Potential Fear

  10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
     1 Peter 3:10-18

  Let's go through this passage verse by verse, because it brings out the whole issue of fear every Christian must face.
  Looking at verse 10, we see the person outlined who wants to avoid fear. He's told essentially, to 'fear God'. We see he's to guard his mouth from evil.
  In verse 11 we see the word, 'eschew' which means to 'shun' or 'avoid'. In this verse, we're told to avoid all evil and pursue righteousness with diligence.
  In verse 12, we see the eyes and ears of the Lord are attentive to those described in verses 10 and 11, but are reminded, He's opposed to nonconformists of 10 and 11. A verse that goes with this is:

  50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.   
 Luke 1:50

  Now looking at verse 13, having laid the groundwork of 'fear of the Lord', Peter moves on. Addressing those on the good side he asks, 'What is there to fear?'
  In verse 14: You say suffering? Isn't that what it boils down to? We see something interesting here, being righteous we may suffer, or rather will suffer (2 Timothy 2:14). Peter goes on to add to that - don't fear, don't be troubled. We also see this echoed in Psalms:
  11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.    
Psalms 56:11
  In verse 15, this pulls us into the big three: faith, hope and love! Sanctify in our hearts the Lord: He is set apart as we stay faithful in suffering through love. He is glorified as we abide faithful. In holding our faith, not fearing He's abandoned us, He's set apart in the object of our faith. The end we see down the road in Christ. This suffering can be the doorway of reaching others for Him. In fact, it's the most common doorway. The fear mentioned here is notable. 'Fear of the Lord', not fear of circumstances and suffering.
  Verse 16 hits the nail on the head. Those who walk in the 'fear of God' have a clean conscience. The persecutors will be put to shame when our object of hope is fulfilled in due time.
  Looking at verse 17. This verse reminds us that if we suffer, it's still nothing to be afraid of. For the saint, we're in God's will. The situation isn't out of control.
  Now at the final verse, 18. So we don't think God is heartless and doesn't care about our suffering (1 Peter 5:7), we're reminded of two things: First, Christ led the way by faithful example, facing total contradictions of justice. The second power point of this verse are those last four words, 'quickened by the Spirit'. This is the 'how' we accomplish 'love life and see good days' (verse 10) in the face of suffering in this world. Walking in legalistic flesh, will never accomplish the miracle of this passage. Only a Spirit-empowered life can and will accomplish this.
  A verse out of Isaiah that condenses the above passage of 1 Peter:

  7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.   
 Isaiah 51:7
  The first part of this verse defines the 'God Fearing' people. Those who can safely abandon fear otherwise. The second half of this verse directly addresses the 'Man Fearing' concern.

B. Don't Focus On Man, Focus On God
  Where we put our focus determines our fear. We find in Proverbs the following:
25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.    
Proverbs 29:25
  How do we avoid the fear of man? This verse tells us. The answer is faith in God. If we don't have faith in God, we will fear man.
  Jesus built more on this focusing on man:

  4 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.            
Luke 12:4

  It's obvious from this, that man's greatest fear lies in what can be done to the flesh. Jesus brings this fear into perspective by looking beyond that limitation. The point here, is that the threat of man is opposed to God. Where does our true focus lie? Where does our commitment lie?
  God's servant does get a promise he can rest on:

  5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.    
Hebrews 13:5,6
  From the second part of verse 5, we see God's diligence to care for His own. Seeing He's diligent, we know no one can stand in His way. His promise of help in verse 6 is secure. This is what gives us the peace to face whatever man throws at us. God wants us to know He's with us, to set our minds at peace. He wants us to be able to make the confession with confidence, as we see verse 6 starts, 'So that we may boldly say'.
  So far, we've been examining man's threats and overcoming that fear. Now we move on to general fears and focusing on God in the face of them:

  25 Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. 26 For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.
     Proverbs 3:25,26

  This is a beauty. I think most people's fears are what's termed here 'sudden fear'. We worry about what might happen. Actually, only the tiniest amounts of those imagined fears, every do happen. All that worrying robs joy, and it does nothing to stop the event from happening. Now we should naturally take proper precautions to avoid bringing catastrophes, but worrying doesn't help. Leave the outcome in God's hands.

  I remember hearing about a Christian man who suddenly had a fear one day he was going to hit a child with his car. The sudden fear just gripped him and he prayed fervently that God wouldn't allow such a horrible thing to happen. He said such an event would be too great for him, and so prayed fervently until the fear was gone and replaced with a sense of peace. The next day he was driving along with a car full of passengers. He suddenly heard, in his spirit, a command to immediately stop his car. He did and just as he did, a toddler ran out in front of him from between two parked cars. The child's mother came running out and grabbed him. She never realized just how close he came to dying. Such an incident illustrates how God does watch over the Christian and takes measures to care for him.

  This passage in Proverbs also shows that evil will befall the wicked, but that it's not accidental. For the God-fearing Christian, God takes care of us and actually preserves us. For the wicked, both chance and judgment meet them.
  Another verse that's good to commit to memory is:

  3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.
     Psalms 56:3

  This is easy to remember when sudden fear seizes you. This reminds us how to overcome all fear. Have faith in God. Look to him, not to the object of our fear.
  Next, we have a passage that doesn't specifically mention fear, but definitely has an impact on this issue.

  19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;    
Ephesians 5:19,20

  Verse 19 speaks of our focus. Again, it should always be God. This focus is a joyful pursuit, 'making melody'. This singing uplifts us and reminds us of how great God is, instead of worrying about how bad the potential fear is.
  Verse 20 shows these are songs of thanks. It also tells us that everything that comes our way is God's will for us. We may not understand why, but we can know Gods in control and He has a beneficial purpose.
  In the following passage the 'Be careful for nothing,' is referring to anxiety, fretting and worrying over things:

  6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.   
 Philippians 4:6,7 (Philippians 4:4-9)
  We're told how to clearly deal with our worrying problems. Tell God about it. Give it into His hands and, thank Him for faithfully seeing to the matter. Some things do require more prayer than others for victory, and that's where 'supplications' comes in. For example, we have Daniel praying and fasting for the restoration of Jerusalem. It took battle, but with verse 7, we have peace with our victory. This isn't just a man obtained calmness either. This is God's hand upon us for a stable mind and emotions. This peace is our decision however, as we can see from Colossians:

  15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
     Colossians 3:15

  It's up to us to decide to give it to God, to trust Him and to thank Him. If we do these things, we can trust Him to supply the peace.

C. Comfort For The Time Of Trials
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.    
1 Thessalonians 5:18

  It's important to remember that this verse was written to a particularly persecuted church in Thessalonica. Paul knew we need to be reminded to thank God. Only by thanking, do we truly put our trust in action in our heart. We're also at peace knowing He's in control, and we remind ourselves of this fact through being grateful.
  We have a biblical illustration of this in Acts 16:22-34. Paul and Silas are beat and thrown in prison. We see from the passage they are singing and praising God in this disheartening situation and condition. In this particular instance, God worked a miracle and opened all the doors, which resulted in the jailer's conversion and Paul and Silas' more merciful treatment.
  In Romans we find an oft quoted verse:

  28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.    
Romans 8:28
  As we walk faithfully before God, we have the assurance that whatever befalls us is in God's greater wisdom. This true confidence removes the fear.
  In Isaiah, we find more than warnings of judgment, if repentance isn't forthcoming. We find these passages of comfort for those who fear God:

  4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.    
Isaiah 35:4

  10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.            
Isaiah 41:10(-14) (Isa 43:1)
  God directly addresses the fearful. He wants to comfort the down cast that lean upon Him. In verse 10, God clearly points out He will actually strengthen us and hold us up. He goes a long way to pull us out of fear.
  Jesus wanted us to know of how great a value we are before the Father. He wanted us to take comfort in remembering that God places great value on each and every one of us. Jesus said that God takes care for every single sparrow, and then uses that point to draw out this comfort against fear:

  31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.    
Matthew 10:31(Luke 12:7)
  Finally, in this section, we have a rather peculiar verse:

  31 The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.    
Proverbs 21:31

  This is a proverb that reflects on the military strategies of the days in which it was spoken. The kingdoms at that time depended upon having horses and chariots for superior military protection. It's kind of like modern countries accumulating masses of arms and nuclear warheads. The countries count on this stockpile to keep them safe, but this verse points out that man's confidence is faulty. God can easily override man's strengths, to accomplish His will. He can even cause such might to fail when aimed at His faithful servants, if that's according to His will. We find many examples of this throughout the Bible. The story of Gideon and his small army against the Midianites (Judges ch. 7) is one example. We also have the account of the army of Assyria (2 Kings 18:17-19:37) that surrounded Jerusalem when Hezekiah was king. In the New Testament you find Peter miraculously delivered from jail (Acts 12:1-11).

D. Strength For Living By The Spirit
  We're to find the courage and peace for our challenges in life, through the Holy Spirit's abiding in us. He is our strength.

  7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.    
2 Timothy 1:7

  The Holy Spirit keeps our minds sound and stable, not erratic through fear. Not panicky in dismay. We're intended to have a mind abiding in courageous confidence, and we're supplied with what we need. Having a mind settled in peace, we look to others in love, instead of focusing on self in fear.
  The following two passages address the area of where we get our strength.

  16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.            
Ephesians 3:16-21
  The 'inner man' in verse 16 is our spirit. The Holy Spirit abides in the Christian's spirit, strengthening us according to our needs. We abide in Christ by faith, and by this simple act of faith, we find the fulfillment of the 2 Timothy 1:7 verse listed just before this.
  We see the love detailed in this Ephesians passage. Again, where there is no fear, love is free to replace it and flow out. This love exceeds man's intellectual understanding. He can't understand how anyone can have such a love. Remember how Jesus loved His persecutors. He didn't get swallowed up in fear, because love was actively at work in Him.
  In verse 20, we're reminded that God's strength in us is beyond our wildest dreams. This means that it can conquer our greatest fears. We're told here that power is in us. From this (in verse 21) proceeds that thanksgiving and praise we talked about earlier. A verse in Philippians recaps the Ephesians passage in a very succinct manner:

  13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.    
Philippians 4:13
  I read the story of five missionaries who were led of God to reach out to a hostile tribe in South America. They lost their lives in doing so. They left behind their wives and children. They knew the risks, but as individual families, were committed to taking the Gospel to people who had never heard it. When the news of their deaths got to their wives, the women received Christ's special comforting. Not one of them was hysterical. They were grieved, naturally, but they testified to Christ's supernatural comfort and peace. Even in the midst of our worst fears, Philippians 4:13 holds true.

E. True Peace Because His Promises Are Good
  This final section is a collection of the passages that speak great comfort when facing fear. You will notice all but the last two are from the Psalms. The Psalms aim to help comfort in times of sorrow and affliction and, when in real trial, the book of Psalms is an excellent place to meditate on God's Word.
  4 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.   
 Psalms 23:4

  This is a single verse out a whole comforting Psalm. This verse lays out the greatest of fears yet sends comfort by reminding us we don't need to be afraid, as we recall God's presence.

  1 (A Psalm of David.) The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?    
Psalms 27:1
  This verse is not just a meditation on a fact, but a rejoicing. This is a joyful recollection in bold confidence.

  7 The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.    
Psalms 34:7
 Here's a verse promising a guardian angel who watches and protects those who walk in the fear of the Lord. The 'encampeth' adds extra comfort in knowing the angelic protection is here to stay. If you're afraid as you go to sleep, this fact helps comfort in remembering the angels have their bedrolls spread out with you.
  We find an example of this in the story of Elisha (2 Kings 6:8-23). His city was surrounded by an army, come to take him. His servant was afraid, but Elisha prayed God to let his servant see that angelic army that was there to protect him. God answered his prayer.

  24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. 25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.    
Psalm 37:24,25
  Verse 24 lets us know the righteous may suffer some kind of hardship. Walking in the fear of God doesn't promise us 'a rose garden' as the song goes. The verse also points out that, even though this is so, we can have comfort in knowing Gods carefully watching over the whole situation. He never lets it get away from Him.
  The Psalmist reflects on his experiences and observations in verse 25. The righteous may go through sufferings, but are never destitute.
  1 (To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth.) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.    
Psalm 46:1-3
  We're told that our confidence is no make-believe, false comfort. We can rest assured God is 'very present' when things seem their worst. The author uses a poetic picture showing how our whole world may be falling apart, but we don't have to be afraid. Not being in the problem, we may wonder how could we be comforted. God doesn't give us His comfort ahead of time so we can bankroll it. 'Give us this day our daily bread' like we find in the Lord's prayer. In the day we need that comfort, it will be there.

  4 In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.    
Psalm 56:4

  We see this comfort starting with praise. We know we can trust His promises of care found in His word, so can rejoice in His promised help. We put our trust in those promises, so have no fear.

  7 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.    
Psalms 112:7
  These 'evil tidings' may be real or rumor. Whatever reports come our way, if we trust in the Lord, our hearts won't be filled with fear.
  Now days, there seems to be an abundance of 'evil tidings' over the news services. There's always some 'bad news' about what's going to happen in our backyard. A scare of 'act quick or we'll all lose our rights.' There's truth to much of this, and sometimes it calls for action. Even if we have to take action, we need to remember, if the heart's fixed, trusting in the Lord, we'll have no cause for developing ulcers.

  6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?    
Psalms 118:6
  This is the type of verse that armies use to bolster up their ranks. Each opposing side yelling the same thing, 'The Lord is on our side!' Only if we walk in the fear of the Lord, can we know this to be so. Allowing for that, we can rest in peace.

  19 He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.    
Psalms 145:19
  This is a great one. God cares about our desires, if we fear Him. He's attentive to our cry and will be with us and strengthen us.
  24 When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.    
Proverbs 3:24

  This verse is good to comfort those who fear the dark. We don't need to worry, God will watch over us when we're asleep and unable to watch over ourselves.
  For our concluding verse we have the words of Jesus.

  27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.    
John 14:27

  What greater comfort could we ask for? Jesus promised His own abiding peace. This peace isn't anything like the world offers. Its quality is of another realm. Psychologists try to help their patients overcome fears through all sorts of therapy techniques, but we're told God's peace is totally unlike that attained through such therapy. The one is a work of the flesh, the other is a Spirit-filled fruit. Jesus cares and takes active part to help. What He calls us to do, is to place it and leave it in His hands.

  If we walk in the fear of God, we have all we need to face our fears in life. We live our lives entertaining all kinds of fears: job security, finances, health, personal safety, any area where we can be afflicted. They govern our behavior, and act as motivators for how we live. God intends for us to be free from this oppression and to walk solely in the fear of God. This fear will result in wise behavior and peace.

  A living faith is what's called for. A living faith trusts God, brings forth fruit in accordance with the fear of God, and proceeds victoriously in life over the enemies of our mind. It boils down to a call from God. You may say it's a call or a command. Maybe you will look at it as a promise. However you look at it, His words distill down to 'NEVER FEAR!'

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Free to Copy under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND3.0 License by Darrell Farkas
All quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible

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