Fear is a real thing. Any ten year old, sharing a bedroom with an older brother, can tell you that fear is a real thing. Recently I discovered a flaw in my own thinking about scriptures concerning fear. I’m sure it will not be the last time I miss the target of God’s Word, but in the past I had looked at 2 Timothy 1:7,which states, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” and taken that in conjunction with John 1:3, telling me that “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Thus I concluded, and even taught others, that fear was obviously an illusion and therefore nothing. If God didn’t give it to me then it did not exist at all.
The flaw in this theory is, well, the whole theory; except that last part. If fear exists at all it is one of two things; it is either Deity, or it is a creation from Deity. God’s Word says, in Jeremiah 2:19 thatwe are to
“Know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that My fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts.” Right there God claims ownership of fear and, therefore, proves its existence and placement beneath Him as a created thing; He also tells us that it is evil if we do not have this fear.
Therefore fear, having been proven real by God’s own Word, was in fact created by Jesus and it is Jesus who maintains the existence of fear. Read Colossians 1:16-17, For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
If fear was created by Him, and as the scripture says, for Him, then there must be a purpose for its creation. Ecclesiastes 12:13 says to “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” After much study of God’s Holy Scriptures and careful scrutiny of personal life experience, this writer has come to consider fear in three different and equally real categories.
I. Godly fear is the gift that brings us to a place where real worship begins to take shape. Fearful worship of Yahweh is the ultimate intimacy with the Creator, maintaining the position of Him as Almighty God and me as His subject, not at all presuming equality or even proximity with God’s Majesty. Luke 17:10 brings it into perspective saying “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”
Godly fear, or the fear of the Lord, produces many positive results, including that it
II. Instinctive fear is an alarm for caution when caution is called for. Just as God has given us pain to identify problems with our bodies, He has given us instinctive fear to alert us of dangers in the spiritual and physical realms. Instinctive fear, having provoked caution in me, should then be replaced by faith that God is in control and will guide me through the danger if I will trust Him and yield control to Him.
III. Fear that is not controllable by acknowledging God’s sovereignty is the spirit of fear, that messenger of satan whose goal it is to imprison the people of God and render them useless for His Kingdom.
Demonic spirits were created as angels by Christ Jesus but fell away to follow satan. These spirits manipulate natural elements and men’s emotions to carry out the will of their dark master. The Bible gives us instruction to combat this spirit in James 4:7 saying “Resist the devil and he will flee from you”
If, therefore, we can understand that fear is something good which God has instilled in us, we can then begin to see the spirit of fear for what it is, an attacker that disguises itself in a cloak of our own instinct for self preservation. Just as with all other cases, the enemy has taken something that God created for good and perverted it in such a way as to be used to bind and cripple those people that Jesus would see free and healed.
Indeed even men, led astray by the manipulations of these outlaw angels, are subjects to the god of this world. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 God tells us For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
I have been active in the foreign mission field many times during the last thirteen years and, without exception, every one of my twelve trips has been preceded by fear. Fear of terrorists, disease, hunger, the plane crashing, sudden violence, disappointing God, my own failure, and guilt. All of these things are real threats.
The fear of these things attempting to persuade me into complacency and apathy so I would rather stay in my comfort zone is an effort of God’s enemies to inhibit the growth of His Kingdom.
In preparing for the most recent excursion to East Africa I was once again met and confronted by the spirit of fear. For several days and nights I found myself worriedly mulling over many possible scenarios that did not end well. When I recognized my fear for the attack that it was I began to “resist the devil”, professing my intention to “submit to God” and follow the call despite anything, and refusing to accept the influence of fear. It was not long before I realized that fear was no longer present and, in its place, peace…. “power, love, and a sound mind.”
The final week spent in preparation for the trip was one filled with joy over the new understanding and awe that I would, once again, serve Him in spite of my many shortcomings. J.