Defeating Our Fears

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Defeating Our Fears

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As we begin to look at the word fear, we can see fear comes in many different flavors, shapes and sizes. Fear can be subtle; fear can be obvious. Fear, as we know it, can be an intense motivator. Fear can also be equally destructive. We have all heard of examples of very unassuming individuals who have lifted cars off of loved ones who would otherwise have died. We have also heard of people who have run into burning buildings to help those trapped inside. These are obviously examples of motivating fear.

The fear mentioned in Deuteronomy 6:2 is obviously the kind of fear we need more of. “That you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments, which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.”

This is not the kind of fear I am talking about here. The fear I am speaking of is the kind of fear we all face today, which will increase as we approach the end times—a fear that can keep us from obeying God. None of us is immune to fear, and many of those who came before us were just as susceptible to the effects of fear.

Definition of fear

According to the Webster’s Dictionary, fear is “a painful emotion or passion excited by the expectation of evil, or the apprehension of impending danger.”

None of us is immune to fear, and many of those who came before us were just as susceptible to the effects of fear.

My first example of fear does not come from the Bible but from my own life. In our early years when my wife and I came into the Church, we did not have a lot of money. There were times when tithing seemed difficult, and we were afraid. We ultimately fell behind in our tithes, and we realized things were going poorly for us. (You see, God does not send bill collectors to the door.) So, after some discussion and prayer, we bit the bullet and put our tithe check in the mail. The next day we checked our incoming mail and, lo and behold, a check we were not expecting was there. Was this just a coincidence or did God bless us for exercising faith?

A second example is found in Proverbs 3:25-26 where we see, “Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.” The fear mentioned here in Proverbs is the kind of fear that we can fall prey to if we don’t prepare now and strengthen our defenses.

Speaking for myself, in the days after September 11, 2001, I experienced tremendous fear, and as the Bible tells us, this is only the beginning. In Daniel and the book of Revelation we see that fear will begin to dominate the world we know.

It could be the fear of sending in your tithes because you have started to struggle with finances.

Fears always come up, such as the fear that if we don’t work on the Sabbath we may lose our job. It could be the fear of sending in your tithes because you have started to struggle with finances. I consider these obvious examples of fear. Less obvious or subtle examples would be working 15 or 20 minutes past sunset on Friday night to finish a project your boss gave you earlier in the week. Yes, this may be a subtle example, but I would consider it a form of fear. This is the kind of fear that pulls us away from God and the things we know to be true. If we allow these fears to persist in our lives, they will soon develop into habits.

Now, let’s look at some examples of fear from the Bible.

Peter’s denial of Christ

In Matthew 26:34-35 we read, “Jesus said to him [Peter], ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ And so said all the disciples.” So, all the disciples, beginning with Peter, declared their undying loyalty to Christ. They said they would rather die than deny Christ.

But then what happened?

Reading further in Matthew 26:69-75, “Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, ‘You also were with Jesus of Galilee.’ But he denied before them all, saying, ‘I do not know what you are saying.’ And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, ‘This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ But again he denied with an oath, ‘I do not know the Man!’ And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, ‘Surely you also are one of them; for your speech betrays you.’ Then he began to curse and swear, saying, ‘I do not know the Man!’ Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ So he went out and wept bitterly.”

Why did Peter deny Christ? It was his fear—the deep-down human fear we can have when we feel concerned. He didn’t have the faith he needed to overcome. Peter was defeated by his fear. He should have remembered Psalm 118:6 where it states, “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Peter walks on the water

In Matthew 14 we read of Jesus walking out to the disciples on the water. “And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid’” (verse 26). Christ reassures them in their fear.

Again and again, we read of fear interfering with faith in God.

Peter, as usual, was the most impetuous of the group—if it was Jesus, Peter wanted to come to Him. After Jesus told him to come, Peter walked straight out onto the water. Now look at verses 30-31, “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’”

Again, we see it was fear causing Peter’s failure.

Christ in Gethsemane

In Matthew 26:36 we find Christ and the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, and once again, we read of fear. But this time Jesus Himself, being in human form, felt fear. His fear was of His impending death. We see this in His plea to God in verse 39. “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’” What allowed Jesus to move forward was not His (Christ’s) will, but God’s.

Again and again, we read of fear interfering with faith in God. Another example is in Mark 4:37 where Jesus slept on a ship while the disciples feared for their lives in a storm. Again, Jesus chided them for their lack of faith.

In Daniel 3 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were to be burned alive for their refusal to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. Seriously, could you put yourself in their position and have no fear at all? Not likely. Yet what was it that gave them the courage to say what they said and stand by their words (verses 16-18)? It was their strong and abiding faith in God.

Faith can overcome fear

Probably the two most well-known examples of strong faith are the stories of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22 and David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. In the first, we have Abraham faithfully going up the mountain to sacrifice his son. And in the second we have the teen David coming face to face with a giant. Again, what gave these people their strength against the most powerful of fears man has, that of death itself?

In every one of these cases the answer is faith! Fear can stop us from doing what is right. It can stop us in our tracks. We cannot let it invade our lives. We are to put it away from us and lean on God when we get into fearful situations. The examples that come from the Bible of extreme faith exhibited by Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Noah, David, Daniel (I could go on and on) should be inspirations to all of us.

As we pray, we need to ask God to give us the strength to defeat our fears by the power of His Holy Spirit and our faith in God. This is our armor and these are our weapons. We need to strengthen them, so our fear does not overcome and defeat us.

We are continually reminded in Scripture to avoid fear and find our faith.

In Psalm 34:4 we read, “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” In 2 Timothy 1:7 we read, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

And in Matthew 17:19-20, “Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast [the demon] out?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly I say to you, If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there; and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’”

The faith of a mustard seed! This is something tangible. We can visualize it and see how small it is. If we have this kind of faith within us, we can conquer all of our fears—we can move mountains! We have to believe it and use the Spirit God gave us. Romans 10:17 states, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

As we see the fears around us increasing on a daily basis, we need to pick up our slings, sharpen our swords and, like David, find the faith we need to slay our giants.