FEAR

 

DEFINITIONFear is a sense of alarm or apprehension of danger.  For a believer, fear is an expression of unbelief in God or a lack of understanding of His ways.

FACTS ABOUT FEAR:

All fear is not bad.  The “fight or flight” response that is common to all people is not negative.   “Fight or flight” is a normal response that protects you in the face of perceived danger.  For example, if you are threatened by a dangerous beast your “fight or flight” response will kick in so you can either escape or successfully confront the animal.  This is a rational response to danger that differs from irrational and tormenting fears.

Fear was first manifested when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden.  When God came seeking them in the cool of the day, Adam replied:  “…I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid…” (Genesis 3:10).  One of the first negative emotion  resulting from sin was fear.

Fear is a spirit.  The Bible declares that God has not given us the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).  If the spirit of fear is not from God, then it is from Satan.

Fear is a tormenting emotion  According to 1 John 4:18, fear has torment.

Fear fosters irrational phobias and negative emotions.  Its most severe manifestations causes people to withdraw from society and become agoraphobics–confined in their own home where they think they are safe.  The spirit of fear will make you a slave to fear (Romans 8:15-16).

Medical science has proven that fear results in stress, high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks. The Bible speaks of men’s hearts failing because of fear (Luke 21:26) and of people living in bondage all of their lives because of the fear of death (Hebrews 2:15).

Fear is sin and leads to other sins.  You are either functioning in fear or in faith, and whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).  There are numerous biblical examples of fear leading to additional sins. Abraham was so afraid of Abimelech that he lied to save his own life, saying Sarah was his sister (Genesis 20:1-13).  Isaac feared for his life and committed the same sin (Genesis 26:7).   Ten of the twelve spies who investigated the promised land were terrified of the giants and their fear resulted in Israel’s disobedience and the death of a whole generation (Numbers 13).   Saul tried to murder David because he feared him (1 Samuel 18:12,15,29) and later Saul sinned by offering a burnt offering because he feared the people would scatter (1 Samuel 13:11-12).  Acting in fear cost Saul the kingdom.  What will fear cost you?

Fear focuses on the future–whether it be today, tomorrow, or in the distant future.  God designed the universe to run on a 24-hour period of time.  That is why the prayer Jesus taught His disciples was to be a daily prayer for needs to be provided, forgiveness, etc.  Fear enters in when you violate this principle and begin to worry about the future (Matthew 6:25-34).

DEALING WITH  FEAR:

Ask yourself, “Why am I so fearful?”  Jesus asked His disciples this question (Mark 4:40).

Deal with fear spiritually.  Because most fear is irrational, it cannot be dealt with through rational means.  Fear must be dealt with spiritually.  David said:  “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

Repent of fear.  Whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).  Fear is not faith, so it is sin.   When you fear, you are functioning in unbelief–not trusting God to care for you and your concerns,

Make your fears a matter of prayer.  When David sought the Lord, he was delivered from all of his fears (Psalm 34:4).  Philippians 4:6-7 directs us to make every concern a matter of prayer instead of worrying, and we will function in God’s peace instead of fear.

Focus on God instead of the fear.  Isaiah 26:3 promises: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”   David said he sought the Lord, and He delivered him from all of His fear (Psalm 34:4).

Do not fear the future.  Claim God’s promise instead:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”  (Jeremiah 29:11).

Eliminate things that feed your fear.  These include scare tactics generated by others and media violence viewed through news reports, horror movies, the Internet, or violent video games.

Overcome fear by God’s power, His love, and a sound mind.  These are the keys given in 2 Timothy 1:7:  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”.   

You overcome fear by:

-Power.  Jesus delegated to believers power over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19).  Face your fears in the power of the promises of God.

-Love. You eliminate fear by really coming to understand the love of God.  His perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:16-18).

-A sound mind.  Irrational fear is just that:  Not rational.  It is the result of  irrational          thinking, so you cannot deal with fear by trying to be rational.  You must develop a sound mind that cannot be tormented by fear (Romans 12:1-2).  You do this by living by the Spirit rather than by the flesh (Romans 8:5-6). Fear begins in the mind, and it is in the mind where you must conquer it.  Fear is a battle that starts with lies instigated by the god of this world and the father of lies, Satan (John 8:44). This is why the scriptures direct you to cast down vain imaginations.  “Cast down” means to conquer, pull down, and hold under one’s power.  The word “imaginations” means logic.  Your mind can develop strongholds that result from logical reasoning.  A sound mind is one controlled by the Holy Spirit, rather than the logic of your own carnal mind. (For further study of the battle of the mind, consult the Harvestime publication entitled “Spiritual Strategies: A Manual Of Spiritual Warfare.”  See also  “Mind And Thoughts” in this database.)

Do not play the “what if” game.  “What if this happens, what if that happens?”  The power to face difficult situations is given when it is needed, not when you are worrying over the future  (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Reject the fear of death.  The fear of death is a major issue for many people (Hebrews 2:15).  True believers need not fear death, because when you vacate your body you will immediately be in the presence of the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:8).  The Apostle Paul said that to die would be gain (Philippians 1:21).  Peter refers to death as putting off an earthly tabernacle (2 Peter 1:14).  David wrote:  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me ” (Psalm 23:4).  When Jesus returns, you will be reunited with your loved ones (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Make this declaration daily.  “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.  In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me ..In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me”  (Psalm 56:3-4,11).

Be of good courage.  Courage is not the absence of fear, rather it is acting and persevering in spite of fear. God repeatedly told His people to be of good courage (Deuteronomy 31:6-7,23; Joshua 1:6,9,18; Joshua 10:25; 1 Chronicles 28:20).   The psalmist said if you wait on the Lord and are of good courage you will receive the strength  you need to face the difficulties of life (Psalm 27:14; 32:24).

Praise the Lord in the face of fear.  David did so and God delivered him from all of his fears (Psalm 34:1-4).

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT FEAR:

The Bible is filled with references about fear–so many that we cannot include them all.  Use a concordance to study the subject of “fear” in the Bible.  Here are some key selected references.

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.”  (Exodus 14:13)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

The Lord is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life –of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.  Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.   I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:1-4)

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:2-3)

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? When I am afraid, I will trust in you. (Psalm 56:3-4)

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,  nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.  A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand,  but it will not come near you.  (Psalm 91:5-7)

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6)

The Lord watches over all who love him. (Psalm 145:20)

…but whoever listens to me will live in safety  and be at ease, without fear of harm.(Proverbs 1:33)

The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. (Proverbs 28:1)

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. (Proverbs 29:25)

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. (Isaiah 12:2)

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear, your God will come.” (Isaiah 35:3-4)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

But now, this is what the Lord says–he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:1-2)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:31-34)

You of little faith, why are you so afraid? (Matthew 8:26)

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  (Matthew 10:28-31)

Don’t be afraid; just believe. (Mark 5:36)

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. (Luke 10:19)

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)
Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]  (John 14:27, AMP)

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,  Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  (Romans 8:15-16)

… everything that does not come from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)

Stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel, without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. (Philippians 1:27-28)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:6-7)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Since the children have flesh and blood, he (Jesus) too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil–and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14-15).

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  (Hebrews 4:15-16).

The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. (Hebrews 13:6)

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.  (1 John 4:4, NKJV)

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 1:18, NKJV)

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.  (Revelation 2:10)

(See also “Anxiety” in this database.)

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