In our series Fear on the Run, we are learning about the perfect love of God that has the power to chase fear right out our lives. Our chief scripture 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].”
So far we’ve learnt that to fear is a sin, and that it’s a powerful spiritual force with the ability to paralyse our faith, and cause us to shrink back from our convictions - should we yield to it. However, fear has a far more powerful enemy than itself. The perfect love of God will out run, out last and completely cast out every trace of fear in our lives.
Since God is perfect love, the best way to learn the truth about fear, and how to conquer it, is to see it from His perspective. So let’s take a look at what God’s Word says about fear.
To begin with, fear is not natural, and it’s certainly not OK for any born-again believer to have any part in it. According to scripture, fear is a spirit that is not from God. We know this to be true from 2 Timothy 1:7 which says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”
So How does fear come?
To understand how fear comes, we must understand the nature of a seed. It always produces after its own kind.
God’s Word is an incorruptible seed that when sown into our hearts and minds, produces the very life and nature of God in us. 1 Peter 1:23 says, “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,...”.
When we hear and meditate on the truth of God’s Word, it produces life, peace, and the spiritual force of faith inside us (Proverbs 3:17-18; Romans 10:17; Romans 8:6). Just the same, when we hear and meditate on anything that contradicts the truth of God’s Word, what we hear becomes a seed that produces the spiritual force of fear inside us.
I once heard Creflo Dollar explain that just as faith is a spiritual force that comes by us meditating on God’s Word; fear is a spiritual force that comes from meditating on the contradiction of God’s Word.
Now how are we ever going to know what the contradictions are if we don’t know what the truth is? If we don’t become diligent students of God’s Word, we’ll never recognize if what we are hearing is contradicting God’s truth or not. Which means we’ll just believe anything that sounds convincing enough. Because of our ignorance of God’s truth - we end up filling our lives with seeds that will give rise to fear and death.
The problem comes when we believe what we hear from the media or people’s opinions without first checking what God has to say about the matter. Even what we hear from the pulpit at church must line up with God’s Word, or it will be a seed that contradicts God’s truth. When it’s sown into our hearts it will produce fear.
Here’s a well know example of this. When we are told that God gives and takes away, unless we know who actually said that, and why he did, we will believe it’s something God said. As a result, we will constantly live wondering if God will choose to take things away from us, for whatever reason He deems fit. That is a complete contradiction of His dependable character. It doesn’t strengthen our faith, it cripples it, giving root to fear.
The truth is, Job was the one who said that God gives and takes away, and he said it when he was not in his sound mind. Job admitted that what he said was inconsistent with the true character of God. He was speaking out of his brokenness and despair. He admitted that the very thing he feared came upon him. It wasn’t God Who took from Job, it was Job who harboured the spirit of fear and it produced destruction in his life, because fear is a spirit that opens the door for the devil to torment us.
Just the same, when we live in deliberate disobedience to God’s will, we open the door for destruction in our own lives. God doesn’t turn His back on us, or turn our world upside-down to punish us. Our own free will to do what we know is wrong is us walking away from God’s goodness and opening our lives to trouble.
That doesn’t mean that if bad things happen to us, it’s a direct result of our being in sin either. We have an enemy, the devil, who is bent on trying to overwhelm us with worry and fear by manipulating circumstance to distract us from our faith in God. Jesus said that while we are in this world trouble would come - but if we learn to focus on Him and His Word, and refuse fear, we will have the power to overcome anything (John 16:33).
Let’s make a deliberate decision to not just accept what we hear from the media, or people’s opinions, no matter how convincing they may seem. Instead, let’s take what we hear and measure it up to what God’s Word says. If it contradicts what He says, we have every right to dismiss it from our thoughts and replace it with the truth of God’s Word. This is how we are going to successfully guard our hearts against fear.
In my next letter, we’re going to see what God’s Word has to say about us becoming skilled at this process of guarding our hearts and minds to combat fear. Until then, watch what seeds you allow into your mind - hold on to the truth and refuse anything that contradicts it.
All my love,