Avoiding Wrong Responses - How God Can Help When You are Haunted by Fear (2)
Sunday, December 17, 2006 -
Like worry, fear is one of those inward responses to outward circumstances that feels like it is beyond our control. Yet God’s Word specifically speaks to our fearful hearts. It addresses our will - our ability to choose when addressing our fears. The principles for dealing with fear in a Scriptural manner are much like those principles relating to worry. These don’t come easily and are not usually our first-line response. But the Holy Spirit can help to gradually bring Scriptural fruit to bear, even in the area of our fears.
1) DETERMINE THE SOURCE OF YOUR FEAR
I spoke with a person who told me all fears were of the Devil, that Satan alone is the cause and source of all fear in life. However sincere she was, this woman had been led astray. Such reasoning is simplistic and untrue. There are some fears used and manipulated by the Devil, to be sure. But not all fears come from him.
a) There are fears that are a normal part of healthy living in this world. You see a car skidding toward you, out of control. You jump off the street, up on to the curb, almost without thinking. Why? Fear. Fear has just saved your life. These are God given, common sense fears that make reflexive action possible when you don’t have time to think through with cold logic alone.
b) There are also abnormal fears and phobias. “Because I once saw a car skidding out of control, every car is going to skid out of control. I will never leave the house again!” This is an example of normal fear gone sour. No room is made for the keeping, preserving power of God. The car out of control is not the problem. My fear out of control is.
c) There are fears that can be overcome with more knowledge and experience. I was once afraid of the dark. As I have grown up, that fear has disappeared. The same is true of driving a car, riding a bike, leading out in prayer, leading a Bible study, etc. God helps us all outgrow certain fears. Overcoming them is one way of measuring our development and maturity.
d) There are fears caused by sin and a guilty conscience. Proverbs 28:1 - “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” This doesn’t mean the righteous never have any fears. Rather, they are spared the unnecessary fear of the wrath of God or the earthly consequences (legal, etc.) that arise from wickedness. Nothing takes peace out of the heart like cherished sin. Sin not only gives momentary pleasure. It also produces long term fear.
e) There is also the fear of man. This is a fear specifically used by the Devil to diminish the direct influence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian. This is the most spiritually relevant fear on this list.
Proverbs 29:25 - “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”
John 5:43-44 - “I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.  How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”
2) JESUS TOLD HIS DISCIPLES, UNDER NORMAL CONDITIONS, THEY WERE ABLE TO CONTROL AND DISPLACE THEIR FEAR
John 14:27 - “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Remember, these words come from a very realistic teacher. This is the same Jesus who gave teaching to His followers about the difference between the things they could do something about, and the things they couldn’t - Matthew 6:27 - “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” And Jesus said fear was something His followers could do something about - “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
a) Do not get gummed up with spiritual guilt over fears that can be overcome with understanding and practice. Don’t let the Devil grind your faith into the ground just because you are nervous about some new venture or challenge. The fear of new things can be overcome with patience, faith and practice in the new area. Don’t turn this into a huge spiritual battle.
b) Fill your life up with the three antidotes to fear - the Word of God, prayer, and the encouragement of the saints.
i) The Word of God - Psalm 56:10-11 - “In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise,  in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
ii) Prayer - Philippians 4:6-7 - “....do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
iii) The fellowship of the saints - Hebrews 3:13-14 - “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”
See also Hebrews 10:23-25 - “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
c) Do the courageous thing in spite of your fears. Many fears can be overcome by working through them with God’s help. Remember, courage isn’t the absence of fear. Courage is moving ahead with trust in God in spite of the fears you have.
See Joshua 1:6-8 - “Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.  Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
d) Keep your heart clean - Cherished sin destroys confidence in God and only confidence in God can overcome fear. This is what gives the battle with fear its spiritual dimension. Remember the words of Solomon in Proverbs 28:1 - “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
e) Involve yourself in service to God and man. 2 Timothy 1:7 - “....for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Most of us would think the opposite of fear is courage. It isn’t. The Scriptural opposite to fear is power, love and discipline. These are fear overcome by the outward flow of life in the power of the Spirit toward others. Usually fear thrives in introspection. Love overcomes fear in service.