What, Me Worry? – Why teach this? You might say “I don’t really think I have a problem here – I mean I’m not really afraid of anything.” Well okay, I can hear that. But the climb to Bible Ground informs us that fear can be a component of many of our difficulties. As we move through this lesson together let’s remember to consider fear as a noun and fear as a verb. As a noun in fear being a real thing to deal with. As a verb in fear moving us into taking specific actions. Let me illustrate what I mean. Take for example, our study of the 7 Deadly Sins. (Mash this link to get to our 7 Deadly Sins Sermon Sermon Series). The table below summarizes how the presence of fear (as a noun) promotes fear in action (as a verb) which results in the sin. Fear is a contributing factor in all of the 7 Deadly Sins:
- Pride – fear of not being thought unique
- Envy – fear of being undervalued
- Wrath – fear of not getting your way
- Sloth – fear of being asked to serve
- Greed – fear of restraint
- Gluttony – fear of insufficiency
- Lust – fear of living unfulfilled
This evaluation is instructive in other areas of struggle in the human condition
- Anxiety – fear about the future
- Depression – fear of being disregarded
- Addiction – fear of taking responsibility
- Self-Indulgence – fear of God’s authority
- Arrogance – fear of being thought ordinary
So let’s get started by looking at three things which fuel fear; three conditions under which fear thrives – and hence three areas for you and I to avoid
Fear is fed when you and I step off the Jesus Path. We must maintain our walk with God to remain above the fears generated by our worldly circumstance. Not too hard to find an example of this from the Word – how about the first book…
- And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself” – Genesis 3:8-10
Adam was afraid? – why? Not because he had no clothes on; but because now things were different. But because He had turned off the path. He thinks that from off the Path he can not be seen. “I hid myself.” You and I need to remember we cannot hide ourselves from God. But fear is fed when you and I step off the Jesus Path.
Secondly, fear gangs with the wicked. Fear is the bread and butter of the wicked – something with which they are most familiar. Check out the bad company fear is found among:
- But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death – Revelation 21:8 KJV
- How are the wicked are brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors – Psalm 73:19
And lastly, fear is a lie against the Truth. And what is the Truth – it’s not that fear does not exist, but that you and I point it in the right direction. But you and I live afraid of tomorrow, in fear of men and their doings
Fear is a lie. And fear is a very bad lie because fear apart from God hinders deliverance from all your enemies. Fear does not want you to experience deliverance from the enemies of Godly living, fear wants you bound up in anxiety – taking your focus off from fearing God
- But it is the Lord your God you shall fear; and He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies – 2 Kings 17:29
A quick word about fearing God. Now my conservative large denominational training emphasized fear means “reverence.” Make no mistake, it certainly means that. But it also means fear, as in the thing you feel if trapped in a room with a lion. Check out this verse and you will see what Restart Church wants emphasized when speaking of fear:
- My flesh trembles for fear of You, and I am afraid of Your judgments – Psalm 119:120
Now many of you reading this may counter with Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The point being that we don’t need to tremble at Him or be afraid of His judgements. I would agree that those cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb are not under fear of eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire. But I assure you all Believers are still going to be judged.
- For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad – 2 Corinthians 5:10
You and I are going to stand on the Pavement (Bema) before the Lamb who sits on His Throne. And all our action, thoughts and intentions are going to be piled there in front of us and Jesus is going to light a match to it and all the crud we did for ourselves is going to burn up – and as Paul continues, we will “suffer loss.”
We need to live in respectful, but knee-shaking fear. The Writer of the Hebrews says “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). Let’s not play games here. If you stop to work at it – when you picture yourself on earth in balance against He who “dwells in unapproachable light”; the One who holds our times in His hands – then yes, it’s best that our flesh trembles for fear of Him, and we remain afraid of His judgments.
So how do we turn this fear thing around to make it work against those things that hold us back; those things which mar and scar us; those things which control and manipulate us? Permit me to suggest four things to help us along.
First, you have to simply know you can do it, if you choose to. You can have victory over fear, anxiety, uncertainty and anguish. You can turn your mind from fearing other things. You can set your mind on fearing God – and when you do, you can live more confidently:
- Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope? – Job 4:6
The Bible instructs there is a strong relationship between yearning for deliverance and seeking God. And not just deliverance from one fear or another – but from all our fears.
- I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears – Psalm 34:4
Secondly, you need to remember Who fights for you and that you are not alone. What you see as your options – who’s there to help you or who has abandoned you has no bearing on the power and ingenuity of your Lord and Savior Jesus:
- Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them – 2 Kings 6:16
- For the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few – 1 Samuel 14:6
- Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you – Deuteronomy 13:6
Third and importantly, know in your deepest soul that real power is available to you in your deepest soul. We live in power! Now maybe the power you’ve experienced may be a little – or it may be a lot – but fear curbs power and so you must use aim all the power you possess at fearing God and not the thing you fear. If you find yourself overwhelmed with anxiety and fear, then perhaps you are neglecting your power in Christ and should work through these next verses.
- For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline – 2 Timothy 1:7
- On the other hand I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and courage – Micah 3:8
- Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us – Ephesians 3:20
- And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
Real power is available when you and I directly address our weakness to God, our fearfulness to God. Notice the word “perfected” – that means a process. We gain power the more directly and intentionally we focus and confess our fears to God. Power is available in you and when you stop to direct your power (or will) away from your circumstances and towards obedience to the commands of God for Godly living.
Lastly then, the key to Fear Smacking lies in the power of love. A few things to note: we need to perfect our love – just like our previous verse speaks to power being perfected – so too love must be perfected. Simply put – it is a process to learn to love God more. But it is something that will harness power to begin our victory over fear. Check out this verse:
- There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love – 1 John 4:18
Love bears all things – God’s love for you removed your punishment. Fear is the absence of God’s love. Let’s see how this verse works
- Love casts out fear
- Fear involves punishment
- Therefore Love casts out punishment
Did you follow that? Love casts out the punishment of self-loathing that accompanies depression and anxiety. Love casts out worry over the unknown outcomes which await us. Love casts out constant letdown of reliance on others to find our contentment – instead of reliance on the Holy God who made us. God is not punishing you with your difficult circumstances,so that you dread them and turn to wicked things to “keep your sanity.” God does not punish you with your circumstances so that you grow to hate yourself and fail to see yourself as He does. He knows we are inclined to flee our troubles by turning to more trouble:
gambling, drugs, alcohol, self-serving indulgences. He knows that and acts in our favor to drive these destructive behaviors far from us… if only we would fear Him sufficiently to obey His ways. Solomon wrote:
- The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person – Ecclesiastes 12:13
We need to keep God in front of our conscious minds. To set our minds on things above. We need to plow through our circumstances with our eyes on Christ. There is no room to say, well my situation is unique; my circumstances are overwhelming – fearing God and keeping His commandments applies to all persons. You can know that you must fear God, but if you fail to exert energy to pray, to read the Word, to gather with other Believers, to serve others and to share your experiences with Jesus – in short – to Obey His Commands then you are doomed to live in fear.
- To fear God is something you understand; it is fear as a Noun
- To keep His commands however is a Verb; it is something you must do.
It is my prayer and the prayers of all your Friends at Restart Church that you would take on fear right now, this instant. That you would turn your focus from your struggles (and I know they are real and harmful) – but to use your will power to set your mind on things above, where Christ is, seated in the Heavenly Places. You got this. Let’s begin to fear God as never before. Thank you for tuning in. It is my prayer the you have benefited from your visit. May the Lord Bless You as You Go. – Pastor Bob