As humans all of us have to deal with or are subjected to some kind of, or levels of fear from time to time. Let us for a moment put our brakes on, or take our running shoes off and together examine the theme and principle of Fear. For most people, it is the thought of fear itself that is greater than what it is they are fearful of. When fear is fully cooked, it consumed all in its path and brought about a life of pain and misery. It becomes a life wasted in the shadows, lost opportunities, not willing to venture out and live life to the full. The opposite of fear is courage, a life that is not afraid to engage with reality and challenge perceptions for what is tangible. From a biblical basis, fear is challenged, laid bare and destroyed with the spirit of valour.
It is only when we are able to confront our fears, that most of the time we will discover that the thing we fear, that giant that stood before us, the insurmountable mountain in our way, a large barrier that block our path, that we will finally realise it was not really such a big deal, not such a threat after all. The young and energetic David suppresses fear and confronts the Philistine giant through courage, born out of his confidence in God. He recognise as we all should that fear and dread already defeat us before we start, as it did the whole Israelite army. So the realisation is that fear defeats more people than any other one thing in our world. Fear Satan’s voice already echoes, we will not make it, so there is no need to try. However, most of our problems would be solved, totally disappear before we faced them and if instead of fearing we face them with courage and make up our minds to walk boldly toward them rather than away from them.
Whenever change is introduced whatever the context, the fences start going up, we’re afraid and it is because we don’t know enough. We feel uncomfortable, uncertain of what will happen, we want to cling on to the past. Many great inventors, developers, theorists argues that they faced many rejections, doubts and challenges when they first introduce something new to the world. If there was no acceptance of new inventions, washing machines, electrics lights, motors vehicles of aeroplane what would the world be like today? We are inheritors of those great inventions, great introductions of change from what we knew to something different. For many of these new things, though they signify change, if we understood enough, about the difference it would make to our lives, we would never be afraid. From Paul’s position, whenever we fear anything, we give that certain thing, or person we fear power over us. Therefore, gain strength, courage and confidence by and through any life experience that we encounter. We must seriously contemplate our position and take a stance, look squarely at fear and say you have no power over me. This is our courage our resistance to fear, we must put fear under subjection, master it, and not become a slave to it.
In the Scriptures, fear is use for a mental boldness against sin and characterised by panic when in a dangerous situation as well as intimidation. All who experience fear recognise that it is a painful demonstrative grief stimulated by imminent pain, danger and disaster, evil or by impressions concerning the same. It can be fear of something we experience that is real to us or something perceived to be. Whatever it is and from wherever its origin fear will torment us and punish us, because fear is self-induced misery. Satan knows that the only way that he can defeat us, is by causing us to fear, which increase doubts where we once have confidence. “There is no fear in virtue-love; but mature love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not matured in love” (1John 4:18). What is fear? It is perturbation, uneasiness, dread, or shock. Perturbation is when a person becomes alarmed, and paralyzed by feelings of anxiety toward the problems or situations that they faced. It is an irrational fear of the unknown, a dread of unseen and unproven future. Usually people run away and hide from their problem, from friends and society, like cornered terrified animal. Humanity’s’ biggest fear is death, even though the Scriptures advised that we should not fear it because Christ is the answer and the only solution to death brought to us by Adams action. Therefore, we should not fear death, but we should fear never beginning to live, fear blocked life, it paralyses.
There is a Reverential Fear
This kind is a reverence manifesting itself in obedience. In this respect, fear is a Christian virtue. “Honour all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honour the king” 1 Pet. 2:17). The meaning of “fear” then is determined by the context in which it is used. Neglect or rejection of the mystery doctrine of the Church-age and failure to utilise its fantastic problem-solving devices result in many problems, including fear. Fear is also lack of thinking under pressure. It is a general problem in life.
We are designed by God to be rational creatures but fear makes us irrational. Fear is an irrational and emotional sin. In fact, many believers have discovered that when you face your fear, most of the time you will discover that it was not really such a big threat after all. For the believer, fear is failure to learn and apply Bible doctrine to the problems of life, and failure to learn and utilise the problem-solving devices.Fear is also a part of the emotional complex of sins. Fear is made up of a whole system of sins that include worry, anxiety, insecurity, incapability of doctrinal application, and therefore inability to use the problem-solving devices. The word worry comes from the word to choke, to strangle, and it is an extension of fear.
By the way, we always have to throw this in, if you have fear, worry, anxiety or insecurity in your life, you are sinning in those areas. (Rom 14:23b), whatever is not from faith is sin. Fear includes all the problems of emotionalism, for fear is an emotional sin. Many sins involve only thinking but fear involves emotion and no thinking. The Christian loser is bogged down and hindered from his advance by various categories of sins and arrogance related to fear. Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.
The only thing we have to fear is Heb. 4:1-4, Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to really live. Look at Heb 13:6, so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?” And this is a quotation of Psa 56:4, “In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” To face your fears and not be afraid is the final test of maturity. Fear is crippling, it shackles those who could do great things and keeps them from even attempting that which they could possibly achieve. Fear chokes and kills dreams and creativity and the most interesting thing about fear is that it is a learned behaviour.
Then there is what we call the snowballing principle of fear. The more things you surrender to fear, the more things you fear. Today you may be worried about only one thing; tomorrow about two things, etc. And soon you become so emotionally involved in fear that you have no identity. Irrationality means loss of identity, which means the accumulation of fear until you are afraid of life. And fear is something that, if not controlled, continues to develop in your life until you have no capacity to enjoy life and as a believer you become a loser.
“There they were in great fear where no fear had been;” (Psa 53:5), here David was speaking of the ungodly David.You see fear is irrational thinking, there was no reason to fear. One of the motivations for becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol is fear of life, anxiety, worry, and tension. So the extent to which you surrender to fear, the greater is your capacity for fear. To the extent to which you surrender to fear, to that extent fear controls more and more of your life. And increasing fear means increasing insecurity, which destroys your capacity for love, life, happiness, and blessing. And no set of circumstances in life will ever make you happy. No matter how much wealth you have, success, prosperity, you’ll have all kinds of fears.
“Give ear to my prayer, O God; And do not hide Thyself from my supplication. Give heed to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted, Because of the voice of the enemy, Because of the pressure of the wicked; For they bring down trouble upon me, And in anger they bear a grudge against me. My heart is in anguish within me, And the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me; And horror has overwhelmed me” (Psa. 55:1-5). That is what fear will do, it destroys happiness, and where there is fear happiness is absent. That is because there is no way you can have true love or true happiness apart from a healthy mental attitude. And fear destroys the mental attitude. The greater our capacity for fear, the more we increase the power of fear in our lives. The more we increase the power of fear in our lives, the greater our mind set as a failure believer and the greater our chances of disappointment to execute the plans of God through the process of the gospel and the spiritual life.
The greater our chances of failure to execute the gospel of Christ, is the sooner we cancel our equal opportunity to glorify God. The sooner we cancel our equal opportunity to glorify God, the sooner we live a life of total misery through volitional responsibility. The more things that acquire the power of fear in your life, the greater your capacity for fear. Most of our problems and obstacles would melt away if, instead of shrinking in fear before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them. Look at what happened to the children of Israel when Moses told them to “stand still” and stop being afraid. “And as Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them” (Ex. 14:10). By concentrating on Pharaoh’s army, the problem, they were overwhelmed by fear and they completely forgot the grace of God and the power of God and the amazing liberation that they had experienced recently.
The people concentrated on the wrong thing, they were concentrating on the problem! They not only freaked out but they began to do something which all of us have been guilty of at some time or another “they began to whine and complain.” Moaning and cranky Christians are not going to solve the problems! If we’re cranky, we’re focusing on the wrong things! We have all done this at some time in our lives! We focus on the situations of stress rather than the ideologies of the code. We focus on the adversity rather than the resolution. The point is that we have to know what to focus on in times of stress. One of the main disruptions in time of stress is mentioned in verse 10, “…and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord” (Ex 14: 10). The response of fear and anxiety removed any possibility of applying creed. The people had seen the power of God in their deliverance from Egypt, but they made no application from that principle to this disaster.
The people failed to focus on what they had learned and allowed fear and panic to control them. They expressed fear rather than their faith and they screamed in terror to the Lord! Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” Nevertheless, Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent” (Ex 14:11-14).
First they had to be calmed in their mental state or else some of them would have turned back to the Egyptians “begging to be slaves”! And you’ll live like a slave unless you learn to become stabilised under pressure! The Jews faced extermination from the pursuing chariot army of Pharaoh…they were not trained in war…they were in a hopeless situation! So Moses told the Jews “do not fear!” When we are in a hopeless situation, that is when we need to think, and there was a hopeless situation. The Lord will fight for you as he did for Israel, while we keep quiet and remain calm. It’s the same thing as David said “And that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands” (1 Sam 17:47).
The advice and process is the same today, Paul advice to us, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (Rom 8:31). We do well if we listen and apply.