Why Are You So Fearful?
By Bud Hancock
In the past, I have joked that this nation is being possessed by a ‘spirit of stupid’. But maybe it is not so much a joke as it is a change in my perspective, the way I have begun to see things as a result of the recent actions taken to control our population. Whether intended as a joke or not, being stupid is not funny. It can make your entire life way more difficult than it should be. My favorite actor, John Wayne is reported to have said, “Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid”.
As much as I still see that ‘spirit of stupid’ at work in our country, I am now seeing a much more destructive spirit beginning to insinuate itself into the lives of many Americans: the ‘spirit of fear’, and it appears to be ramping up to take a long, hard run at destroying our way of life. I’m talking about the ‘virus fear’ causing so many people around the world to do things that make them appear stupid. An old favorite saying is: “Stupid is as stupid does”.
The Coronavirus that was unleashed on the world several months ago has become one of the most contentious events I’ve seen in my lifetime. One would normally expect to see the unbelievers of the world live in fear, and they certainly do, but a Christian should not act as a non-Christian does, ever. We are not to be imitators of the world, conforming to the things they do; rather we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, (Romans 12:1-2) KJV)
What is Fear?
Our God has said much in His word about fear, and the word fear, or words similar in meaning, appear in the Bible more than 800 times. With so much said about it,, fear seems to be a very big deal, and God’s instructions and commandments regarding it are not to be taken lightly.
So, exactly what is fear? The word is used both as a noun and a verb. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines fear as first, a noun, (a) “an unpleasant, often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger”, (b) “profound reverence and awe, especially toward God”, (c) “reason for alarm” : DANGER. As the verb, it is defined as “to be afraid of” : (a) “expect with alarm” //fear the worst, (b) “to have a reverential awe of” //fear God, (c) FRIGHTEN, and (d) archaic : “to feel fear in (oneself)”. As can be seen, fear found in any form evokes an emotion, and since we humans are very emotional creatures, we need to understand why God has placed so many instructions on how to deal with fear in His word.
What Is An Emotion?
Merriam-Webster defines emotion as: “a conscious mental reaction (such as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.” So basically, an emotion such as fear will cause some distinct changes in the human body when experienced; even more important are the outward behavioral changes caused by fear. I’ve heard some leaders described as ‘fearless’, but I really doubt the truth of that statement. Some people, such as soldiers, are trained to use fear to quicken their reflexes and sharpen their skills and focus. Others who have no such training will likely ‘freeze up’, causing them to be more vulnerable to any danger. In either case, it is important to know what fear does to the body. In battle, there is likely to be some benefit to fear, since it sharpens the senses, makes the adrenalin flow and allows the human body to function more effectively.
The Effect of Fear
As important as is the effect of fear on the human body, of greater importance is the effect it has on the human spirit. The first mention of fear, or being afraid, is found in the Book of Genesis. Sometime after Adam and Eve gave in to the temptation of the serpent, or Satan, God came to the Eden Garden to visit them. They heard His voice and hid themselves, knowing they were naked. God called to them: “And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” And he (Adam) said, “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10 KJV). I will surmise that, up to that point in time, whenever God came to visit with them, Adam and Eve welcomed Him joyfully, being completely relaxed in his presence. As can easily be seen, fear caused Adam and Eve to hide, or separate, themselves from God.
From that time on, man walked apart from God, being fearful in His presence. His disobedience to God brought fear into the lives of every person born into this world from that day on. Throughout the history recorded in the Scripture, man had to be told over and over again not to fear. God’s prophets, speaking for Him, encouraged His people to be strong and of good courage and to ‘fear not’. With so much admonition to resist fear and not to give in to it, we might get the impression that God is opposed to fear and wants us to be the same. In fact, the phrases, “Fear not”, or “Be not afraid” appear more than 100 times in scripture. Obviously, it is very important to God that His people understand fear and know why fear is such a bad thing. The Apostle John explains it quite well: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18 KJV)
Fear is ‘Built In’
Fear had a lasting effect on the lives of Adam and his offspring and was the cause of the first recorded instance of murder. When God commanded Adam and all his children to offer specific sacrifices to God, He allowed no deviation as to the source and content of the sacrifices. Abel, the younger son of Adam and Eve obeyed God and brought a proper sacrifice, but God refused to accept the sacrifice offered by Cain because he did not bring the content that God required. Jealousy over his brother’s acceptance and his own fear of being rejected by God caused anger to rise up in Cain and the first son of Adam and Eve became so filled with wrath that he killed his younger brother. Cain allowed built-in fear to take over, turning it into a fierce anger, killing his own brother and thus, ruining his life.
Fear has become so ingrained into the human mind and dead human spirit that some people not only do not resist it, they actually welcome it, seemingly enjoying the rush they feel when frightened. As a young person, I watched many horror films and felt that same rush when the ‘scary parts’ were shown on the screen. I have not watched one of these films in many years, and I never will again. I realize now that reveling in any type of fear is equivalent to welcoming the source of fear, which is Satan. Satan only has two tools, or weapons, that he uses against us: Fear and Deception. If he can get us to allow either into our lives, he has gained a foothold that can be used to take over our lives and eventually control us. Thus, God commands us to not let fear in. He knows how destructive it is and what havoc it can wreak on our lives.
Is Resistance to Fear Really That Important?
One of the most beautiful instances of the grace of God being displayed occurs in the Book of Matthew. “And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-27 KJV). In the Gospel of Luke this same event is recorded and Luke adds the statement made by Jesus recorded in Luke 8:22: “Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.”
Notice in the Luke version, Jesus said they (meaning all the men on that ship) were going to the other side of the lake. Because there was absolutely no fear in Jesus, He knew they would all arrive at the other side, without any loss. It mattered not to Jesus what the wind and waves did, He was UNAFRAID. He gently scolded His disciples for allowing fear into His presence. At the same time, he asked them, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25 KJV emphasis mine). Jesus displayed His faith by speaking to the elements of wind and sea that were causing the fear in them. He is indicating that mature faith will stop the action of fear, regardless of the source.
Life Without Fear
WHAT?!! You mean to say there is actually a way that we can live without fear? You bet I do. If it were not in God’s word. I would not dare to say such a thing, but it is in there. Go back to the paragraph where I quote the words in 1 John 4:18, where the Apostle John clearly states: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18 KJV). The word ‘perfect’ used here is the Greek word ‘teleios’, (Strong’s 5046) pronounced tel’-i-os, and it means complete (in growth), or in other words, mature.
So, how does one get to that ‘mature love stage’ where faith works in every instance to cast out fear? It is certainly not an overnight process, but rather one that requires a knowledge of God’s word, allowing His word to transform us into the image of Jesus, our role model. That is what being ‘Christlike’, or ‘Christian’, truly means. This is achieved only by a dedicated walk with God on a day to day basis, allowing Him to prove Himself in every situation, by relying on Him and depending on His Word. The Apostle Paul, instructing Timothy, his ‘son in the faith’, said, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV). Paul knew that a disciplined study of God and His word will equip a man or woman to face anything that Satan can throw at us and make us victorious. His own life was living proof of that. Paul lived without fear and though he was imprisoned, stoned, whipped multiple times and snake-bitten, no matter what came his way, he walked in complete peace and absolute victory.
God only desires what is best for His children. He knows that, if we live Godly, we will face persecution (2 Timothy 3:12 KJV), but we do not need to fear the persecution, just as we should not fear anything that we face in this life. He instructs us to “Fear Not” because He knows that with fear comes the accompanying torment, and that torment can cause us to make very poor choices.
God proves that He is serious about how we are to handle fear. He provided the Apostle John the details of those people who will not reside eternally in God’s presence: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 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 21:7-8 KJV).
The word ‘fearful’ in verse 8 above is the same word Jesus used when he scolded His disciples for not having faith in His words, “Let us go to the other side of the lake” (Matthew 8:26 KJV). In that event, He was instructing His followers to exercise the faith God gave them to resist fear and live ‘fearlessly’. In Revelation 21, we see that living in fear is actually a much more serious issue, one that can damn our souls to hell. I know that may sound harsh, but we need to understand why God hates fear so much. The original sin in the garden brought all men into subjection to Satan, having to learn how to cast that fear off or be eternally separated from God. God desired to walk closely with his created children and have a loving, face to face relationship with them, but fear instead brought spiritual death and separation, and eventually physical death. If that were the end of it, none of us would have any hope.
But, thanks be to God, He did not leave us in subjection to fear. His magnificent plan brought Jesus into our world where He lived a perfect, flawless life, not only being a perfect role model for us to imitate, facing every temptation of Satan without failure, but also offering Himself as the spotless Lamb of God, the sacrifice that would allow us to live in perfect health through faith, enabling us to cast off ALL fear and walk as Jesus walked. Can we actually do that? We not only CAN do it, we MUST do it. Our very lives depend on it.
As stated at the beginning of this article, we are seeing the spirit of fear take its toll on our daily lives, which is bad enough, but it is also wreaking havoc on our spiritual walk with God. We have witnessed the unconstitutional order to close our places of worship, all in the name of ‘keeping us safe’ from a microscopic virus. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying this virus in not a serious event, I know it can be very serious, even deadly to many people with compromised immune systems. But, let me ask you a question. “Do you believe that there is one God”? James, the half-brother of Jesus said, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19 KJV). So, if you answered ‘yes’, wonderful, but we all know that the devils Jams mentions will NOT inherit the Kingdom of God. Living victoriously requires more than just believing that God IS. It requires taking a stand on the words that God has spoken, living in the faith that demands action corresponding with the faith.
In the case of this current virus, the Coronavirus, COVID-19, or whatever name it goes by, living victoriously means getting up every day and thanking God that He is the same today as He was yesterday, a year ago, a century ago or a million years ago. God changes NOT. It requires something that I have personally dealt with many times in my walk with God: Resisting Fear, no matter what shape it takes, whether the shape of a man, the shape of a devil, or the shape of a virus. It means looking over the ‘masks of the fearful’, into the ‘eyes of the fearful’, those that tremble at the thought of a virus ‘getting them’, and declaring that you will NOT fear because you serve a God Who never changes.
I often find myself wondering why Christians seemingly find it easy to believe God for eternal life but they find it almost impossible to believe that He can protect them from any disease or that He can heal them of any sickness or disease. Can not the same God who they believe can resurrect their bodies also heal of, or protect from, the diseases that can kill their bodies? If He cannot be trusted to keep our mortal bodies free from disease, how can He be trusted to make those same bodies immortal at the resurrection? This seems to be a contradiction, but “Contradictions do not exist; if you see what appears to be a contradiction, check your premises, you will find that one of them is wrong”.
This quote from Ayn Rand is so appropriate here. The premise some hold, that God is capable of one amazing feat, the ‘resurrection from among the dead’, but is incapable of keeping us safe from the ‘agent that wants us dead’ in the first place is an obviously wrong premise.
Read Psalm 91, and begin to actually believe it. Once it gets into your spirit, you will be able to stare death in the face and quote God’s word, “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee”, with a confidence that will send the devil fleeing (James 4:7 KJV). When you see his ugly backside running away, then you will know what living victoriously is all about, and your virus-free, sickness-free and FEARLESS existence will glorify God. No matter what enemies might come against you, trying to destroy you, they all must bow their knees to the Name of Jesus, as Paul taught the believers at Philippi: “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;” (Philippians 2:8-10 KJV).
Now, start trusting God, by faith in the Name of Jesus, to establish His word in your heart. Soon, you will experience the reward of your faith: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Be strong and courageous, resist fear, send the devil fleeing and give God all the glory!