Fear is to Satan
Faith is to God
Faith does God's work
Fear does Satan's work
God operates on the
basis of faith, which enables believers to resist one of the
devil's chief operative tactics -- fear. God has not given believers
spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline (sound
mind or literally "a saved mind"). (2Ti 1:7-note)
Peter exhorts believers to
resist our adversary, the devil, remaining firm (stable,
immovable) in our faith (1Pe 5:9-note).
In this present evil age believers are to
walk by faith, not
by sight (2Cor 5:7)
instructs believers to take up
the shield of faith with which
you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one (including those intended to make us fearful) (Ep
see also sermon by Wayne Barber)
John adds that whoever
is born of God overcomes (keeps on
continuously conquering) the world (including its fears) and this is
the victory that has overcome the world-- our faith. And who is the
one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of
God?" (1Jn 5:4, 5)
The writer of
Hebrews explains that...
Without faith it is impossible to please (God), for he
who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of
those who seek Him." (He 11:6-note)
And finally Paul
explains how our faith can be fertilized and watered writing that...
faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word
of Christ." (Ro 10:17-note)
Fear knocked at the door.
No one was there.
Fear is generated by
unbelief, and unbelief strengthened by fear. Nothing can cure us of fear
till God cures us of unbelief. - Francis Burkitt
Let none but the
servants of sin be the slaves of fear. -John Flavel
Fear is the tax that
conscience pays to guilt. - George Sewell
Those who would be
fearless must keep themselves guiltless. -Matthew Henry
IT SEEMS AS if doubt were doomed
to be the perpetual companion of faith. As dust attends the chariot
wheels so do doubts naturally becloud faith. Some men of little faith are
perpetually enshrouded with fears; their faith seems only strong enough to
enable them to doubt. If they had no faith at all, then they would not
doubt, but having that little, and but so little, they are perpetually
involved in distressing surmises, suspicions, and fears. Others, who have
attained to great strength and stability of faith, are nevertheless, at
times, subjects of doubt. He who has a colossal faith will sometimes find
that the clouds of fear float over the brow of his confidence. It is not
possible, I suppose, so long as man is in this world, that he should be
perfect in anything; and surely it seems to be quite impossible that he
should be perfect in faith. Sometimes, indeed, the Lord purposely leaves
His children, withdraws the divine inflowings of His grace, and permits
them to begin to sink, in order that they may understand that faith is not
their own work, but is at first the gift of God, and must always be
maintained and kept alive in the heart by the fresh influence of the Holy
I take it that Peter was a man of great
faith. When others doubted, Peter believed. He boldly avowed that Jesus
was the Christ, the Son of the living God, for which faith he received the
Master's commendation, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and
blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."
He was of faith so strong, that at Christ's command he could tread the
billow and find it like glass beneath his feet, yet even he was permitted
in this thing to fall. Faith forsook him, he looked at the winds and the
waves, and began to sink, and the Lord said to him, "O thou of little
faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" As much as to say, "O Peter, thy great
faith is my gift, and the greatness of it is my work. Think not that thou
art the author of thine own faith; I will leave thee, and this great faith
of thine shall speedily disappear, and like another who hath no faith,
thou shalt believe the winds, and regard the waves, but shalt distrust thy
Master's power, and therefore shalt thou sink." (Read full message
Mr. Fearing Comforted)
another sermon entitled
Pdf) writes that...
Things often influence us out of
proportion to their value because of their closeness. For instance, the
moon is a very small insignificant body compared with the sun, yet it has
far more influence over the tides and many other matters in the world than
the sun has, simply because it is so much closer to the earth than the sun
is. The life that is to come is infinitely more important than the life
that now is, and I hope that, in our innermost hearts, we consider that
the things that are seen and temporal are mere trifles compared with the
things which are not seen and eternal; yet it often happens that the less
important matters have a greater influence over us than those which are
far more important, simply because the things of earth are so much closer
Heaven is infinitely more to be desired
than any joy on earth, yet it seems so far off, and therefore these
fleeting joys here may give us greater present comfort. The wrath of God
is far more to be dreaded than the anger of man, yet sometimes a frown or
a rebuke from a fellow creature will have more effect upon our minds than
the thought of the anger of God. This is because the one appears to be
remote, while, being in this body of flesh, we are so near to the other.
Now, beloved, it will sometimes happen that a matter, which is scarcely
worthy of the thought of an immortal spirit, will trouble and worry us
from day to day. There is some oppressor, as the text puts it, whom we
dread and continually fear, yet we forget the almighty God, who is on our
side, who is stronger than all the oppressors who have ever lived, and who
has all people and all things under his control. The reason why we act
this way is because we think of God as if he were far off, while we can
see the oppressor with our eyes, and we can hear with our ears his
threatening words. (Read the full message
Dr. E. Stanley Jones describes the relationship
between faith and fear this way:
I am inwardly fashioned for faith,
not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that
worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I
live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In
anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath—these are not my native
air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely—these are my native
air. A John Hopkins University doctor says, “We do not know why it
is that worriers die sooner than the non-worriers, but that is a fact.”
But I, who am simple of mind, think I know; We are inwardly constructed in
nerve and tissue, brain cell and soul, for faith and not for fear. God
made us that way. To live by worry is to live against reality." The only thing that conquers fear is
faith in the Lord.
commenting on “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee” (Psalm 56:3)
IT must be a very difficult thing to be
the first traveler through as unknown country, but it is a much more
simple matter to travel where others have preceded us; however difficult
may be the road, we discover our path by certain marks which they have
left for us, and as we turn to the record of their journey, we say, “Yes,
they said that here they came to a forest, and here is the forest; here
they spoke of a broad river as here they forded it; here is so exactly the
spot which is marked, we are in the right road, for we are following in
the track: of those who have gone before.” Now God in his providence has
placed us in “the ends of the world” as to time; a long caravan of
pilgrims he preceded us, and they have left us marks on the way, and
records of their joy.
A notable one among the pilgrims to the
skies was David, for his pilgrimage was so singularly varied. Some travel
to heaven amid sunshine almost all the way the; and some, on the other
hand, seem to have story from beginning to end. But David’s case differed
from these, for he had both the storms and the sunshine. No man had fairer
weather than the King of Jerusalem yet no man ever ploughed his way
through soil that was more deep with mire, nor through an atmosphere more
loaded with tempest than did this man of many tribulations. He has been a
kind of pioneer for us. I remember seeing, some years ago, the French army
going through Paris, and noticing some of the big, tall fellows, old men
that had been in the was of the first Napoleon. These went in front, and
they seemed to be worth all the rest that were behind; they were the
pioneers that cleared the way for the others. Now David, and such as he,
of whom we read in the Scriptures, are the grand old soldiers that bear
the standard and lead the way, and we are the raw recruits that follow on
behind them. Let us be thankful that we have some veterans to lead the
van. Our text is rather an extraordinary one, yet it represents the
experience of many of us, and we are comforted by the thought that our
feelings and David’s have very much agreed: “What time I am afraid, I will
trust in Thee.” (Read the full sermon on
Psalm 56:3 Faith Hand in Hand with Fear
- Sermon by C H Spurgeon)
(Related sermon - on Isa 12:2,
Ps 56:8, 41:14 -
Ps 56:8; 41:14 - Fearing and Trusting -
Trusting and Not Fearing - Sermon by C H Spurgeon)
Dr John MacArthur when
asked how a believer should handle fear remarked that
there are two
causes of fear basically. One is a guilty conscience. The other is
a lack of trust. Two things cause fear: sin in your life that
you haven’t dealt with (then you feel you have a right to being
punished and so you’re afraid it’s going to come) (click OT illustration) or secondly, you’re
afraid because you don’t think God can handle your situation. You’re
afraid you’re going to die, you’re afraid you’re going to get sick, you’re
afraid your kids are going to get hurt, you’re afraid the roof’s going to
fall in, you’re afraid the demons are going to get you… Whatever it is, it
comes from two things. Number one, you have a guilty conscience. Number
two, a lack of faith. Now, you can deal with both of those. A guilty
conscience: confess your sin and get it all cleaned out. A lack of faith:
get your Bible open and read what God says about Himself and learn to
trust Him....And pray.
Faith obeys God in
spite of circumstances or consequences, and it is not afraid of what
others may say or do. An “Elijah complex” in
(see below) can rob you of power and joy, so beware! Elijah went from
victory to defeat because he started walking by sight and not by faith. He believed
the wicked queen Jezebel's words but not God’s word, and he forgot
how God had cared for him for three and a half years. Fear replaced
and he ran for his life. We need to obey the words
Do not be afraid;
only believe (Mark 5:36).
Only he who can say,
“The Lord is the strength of my life,” can say, “Of whom shall I be
afraid?” -Alexander Maclaren
God incarnate is the
end of fear; and the heart that realizes that he is in the midst... will
be quiet in the midst of alarm. - F. B. Meyer
This is a wise, sane
Christian faith: that a man commit himself, his life, and his hopes to
God; that God undertakes the special protection of that man; that
therefore that man ought not to be afraid of anything. - George Macdonald
C H Spurgeon advises
Fear to fear. Be afraid to be afraid. Your worst enemy is
within your own bosom. Get to your knees and cry for help; and then rise
up, saying, “I will trust, and not be afraid." He goes on to add
that we need to "Get away
from the world and nestle under God’s wing. Exchange doubt for certainty
and fear for confidence. Faith laughs at what fear weeps over.
over mountains at whose feet mere mortal strength lies down to die."
A W Pink (An
Exposition of Hebrews) writes that
Faith not only
elevates the heart above the delights of sense, but it also delivers it
from the fear of man. Faith and fear are opposites,
and yet, strange to say, they are often found dwelling within the same
breast; but where one is dominant the other is dormant. The constant
attitude of the Christian should be,
“Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be
For the LORD GOD is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation (my Yeshua = my Jesus)." (Isa
But alas, what ought to be, and what is, are two vastly different things.
Nevertheless, when the grace of faith is in exercise, its language
“When I am
afraid, I will put my
trust in Thee”
THIS DIVINE RESOURCE WHEN YOU ARE TEMPTED TO FEAR:
Amazing grace! How sweet the
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
SOME OF THE FEARS
SATAN'S MINIONS CAN TAUNT US WITH
1). FEAR OF DEATH:
On September 7, 1851,
the unbeliever Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal,
Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.
Fear of death enslaves individuals, keeping them in bondage.
Hebrews records that Jesus' death rendered powerless the devil "who had
the power of death" and that Christ's death on the Cross was able to "deliver
(release, completely set free from bondage) those who
through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives." (He
He 2:14; 15).
The Greek for "subject to" (enechos)
pictures one who is ensnared, entangled or held in the grip of the fear of
death. "Slavery" (douleia) describes servitude, dependence
or the state in which an individual is prevented from freely possessing
and enjoying their life. Outside of Christ all of mankind is pictured as a
bondslave continually subject to a cruel master named "fear'!
Satan uses the fear of death as a terrible weapon to gain control over the
lives of people. His kingdom is one of darkness and death. The
gospel is used by God to
open (unsaved, enslaved mankind's)
eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of
Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an
inheritance among those who have been sanctified (set apart from the
world and unto God) by faith in (Jesus). (Acts
Believers are now free of the fear that permeates
Satan's kingdom of darkness, for God has
delivered us from the domain
of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son" (see
We who trust in Jesus Christ have once and for all been
delivered from Satan’s authority and from the terrible enslavement to fear
of death. All those who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior face eternal
death and thus are eternally held in slavery. Only Jesus sets man free
from this slavery. (Click
God has not given us a spirit of
(of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear)
2 Timothy 1:7)
Read the brief testimonies of
how two men were enabled to face the very real and imminent fear of
death at the hands of the Nazis in World War II -
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Pastor John Piper has the
following thoughts on why believers do not need to be afraid...
We will not die apart from God's
gracious decree for his children.
James 4:14-15, "If the Lord
wills, we will live and do this or that."
Matthew 10:29-30, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not
one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the
hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of
more value than many sparrows."
Deuteronomy 32:39, "See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no
god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is
none that can deliver out of my hand." (See Job 1:21;1Sa 2:6; 2Ki
Curses and divination do not hold
sway against God's people.
Numbers 23:23, "There is no enchantment against Jacob, no
divination against Israel."
The plans of terrorists and hostile
nations do not succeed apart from our gracious God.
Psalm 33:10, "The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to
nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples." (Spurgeon's
Isaiah 8:9, 10, "Take counsel together [you peoples], but it will
come to nothing; speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us."
(See 2Sa 7:14; Neh 4:15)
Man cannot harm us beyond God's
gracious will for us.
Psalm 118:6, "The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man
do to me?" (Spurgeon's
Psalm 56:11, "In God I trust; I
shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Spurgeon's
God promises to protect his own from
all that is not finally good for them.
Psalm 91:14, "Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I
will protect him, because he knows my name." (Spurgeon's
God promises to give us all we need to
obey, enjoy, and honor him forever.
Matthew 6:31 (note)
"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall
we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' . . . Your heavenly Father knows that
you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his
righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
Philippians 4:19 (note)
"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in
glory in Christ Jesus."
God is never taken off guard.
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
(see commentary notes)
God will be with us, help us, and
uphold us in trouble.
Isaiah 41:10, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your
God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my
righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:13, "For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who
say to you, 'Fear not, I am the one who helps you.'"
Terrors will come, some of us will
die, but not a hair of our heads will perish.
Luke 21:10, 11, 18, "Then [Jesus]
said to them, '. . . there will be terrors (!) and great signs from
heaven. . . . and some of you they will put to death. . . . But not a hair
of your head will perish.'"
Nothing befalls God's own but in its
John 7:30, "So they were seeking
to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet
come." (Cp John 8:20; 10:18)
When God Almighty is your helper,
none can harm you beyond what he decrees.
Hebrews 13:6 (note),
"So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what
can man do to me?'"
Romans 8:31 (note),
"If God is for us, who can be against us?"
God's faithfulness is based on the
firm value of his name, not the fickle measure of our obedience.
1Sa 12:20, 21, 22, "And Samuel
said to the people, 'Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. . . .
For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name's sake.'"
The Lord, our protector, is great
Neh 4:14, Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is
great and awesome.
Trusting firm promises with you in
fragile times, Pastor John (Ref)
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For the believer, “death is swallowed up
in victory” (1Co 15:54),
because for a believer death simply releases us into the presence of our
Spurgeon in fact once said that
Your dying hour will be the best hour you have ever
known. Your last moment will be your richest. Better than the day of your
birth will be the day of your death. It will be the beginning of heaven,
the rising of a sun that will never go down forever. Let the fear
of death be banished by faith in a living Savior.
I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I fear no
For Thou art with me.
Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me
Spurgeon has these comments on
Psalm 23:4 (ref)...
Yea, though I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. This unspeakably delightful
verse has been sung on many a dying bed, and has helped to make the dark
valley bright times out of mind. Every word in it has a wealth of meaning.
Yea, though I walk, as if the believer did not quicken his pace
when he came to die, but still calmly walked with God. To walk indicates
the steady advance of a soul which knows its road, knows its end, resolves
to follow the path, feels quite safe, and is therefore perfectly calm and
composed. The dying saint is not in a flurry, he does not run as though he
were alarmed, nor stand still as though he would go no further, he is not
confounded nor ashamed, and therefore keeps to his old pace. Observe that
it is not walking in the valley, but through the valley. We go through the
dark tunnel of death and emerge into the light of immortality. We do not
die, we do but sleep to wake in glory.
Death is not the house but the
not the goal but the passage to it.
The dying article is called a valley.
The storm breaks on the mountain, but the valley is the place of quietude,
and thus full often the last days of the Christian are the most peaceful
of his whole career; the mountain is bleak and bare, but the valley is
rich with golden sheaves, and many a saint has reaped more joy and
knowledge when he came to die than he ever knew while he lived. And, then,
it is not "the valley of death," but the valley of the shadow of death,
for death in its substance has been removed, and only the shadow of it
remains. Some one has said that when there is a shadow there must be light
somewhere, and so there is. Death stands by the side of the highway in
which we have to travel, and the light of heaven shining upon him throws a
shadow across our path; let us then rejoice that there is a light beyond.
Nobody is afraid of a shadow, for a shadow cannot stop a man's pathway
even for a moment. The shadow of a dog cannot bite; the shadow of a sword
cannot kill; the shadow of death cannot destroy us. Let us not, therefore,
I will fear no evil. He does not say there shall not be any evil; he had
got beyond even that high assurance, and knew that Jesus had put all evil
away; but "I will fear no evil;" as if even his fears, those shadows of
evil, were gone for ever. The worst evils of life are those which do not
exist except in our imagination. If we had no troubles but real troubles,
we should not have a tenth part of our present sorrows. We feel a thousand
deaths in fearing one, but the psalmist was cured of the disease of
fearing. "I will fear no evil", not even the Evil One himself; I will not
dread the last enemy, I will look upon him as a conquered foe, an enemy to
For thou art with me. This is the joy of the Christian! "Thou art with
me." The little child out at sea in the storm is not frightened like all
the other passengers on board the vessel, it sleeps in its mother's bosom;
it is enough for it that its mother is with it; and it should be enough
for the believer to know that Christ is with him. "Thou art with me; I
have, in having thee, all that I can crave: I have perfect comfort and
absolute security, for thou art with me."
Thy rod and thy staff, by which you govern and rule your flock, the
ensigns of your sovereignty and of your gracious care -- they comfort me.
I will believe that thou reignest still. The rod of Jesse shall still be
over me as the sovereign succour of my soul.
Many persons profess to receive much comfort from the hope that they shall
not die. Certainly there will be some who will be "alive and remain" at
the coming of the Lord, but is there so very much of advantage in such an
escape from death as to make it the object of Christian desire? A wise man
might prefer of the two to die, for those who shall not die, but who
"shall be caught up together with the Lord in the air," will be losers
rather than gainers. They will lose that actual fellowship with Christ in
the tomb which dying saints will have, and we are expressly told that they
shall have no preference beyond those who are asleep. Let us be of Paul's
mind when he said that "To die is gain", and think of "departing to be
with Christ, which is far better." This twenty-third psalm is not worn
out, and it is as sweet in a believer's ear now as it was in David's time,
let novelty hunters say what they will.
2). FEAR OF FAILURE:
And so you
reason that it is safer not to do anything, concluding "If I do it I will
fail" and you become effectively immobilized.
Click illustration of paralyzing effect
A W Pink adds that
is the result of distrust, of taking the eye off God, of being unduly
occupied with difficulties and troubles." (from An Exposition of
Hebrews, page 808) (Click devotional)
When the servant of God obeys and
trusts the Word of God, he or she need not fear failure.
1 Kings 19 records the story of Elijah
who had just defeated Jezebel's false prophets, thus incurring the queen's
scorn and wrath. (1Ki 19:2).
What was Elijah's reaction? Scripture records that
he was afraid
and arose and ran for his life... (1Ki 19:3)
Why did Elijah fear he would fail now after only hours earlier he had
exterminated several hundred of Jezebel's false prophets? James 5:17 reminds us that Elijah had “a
nature like ours,” and thus was a
man of clay subject to the same trials and failures as any believer.
Yet still it seems strange that Elijah should be able to face several
hundred angry prophets and not be
afraid, and then run away from the threats of one woman!
there may have been a physical cause to his failure as the Mt.
Carmel confrontation (read
1Kings 18) must have wearied him. But the main cause for Elijah’s failure was spiritual,
for Elijah focused on the death threats of
Jezebel, rather than the definitive promises of Jehovah. In every step
prior to this time,
Elijah had waited for God’s command (1Ki 17:2, 8; 18:1, 36), but now his
fear led to disobedience. He was no longer risking his life for God’s glory,
but instead was trying to save his life for his own sake. In a moment of
testing the man of faith was transformed into a man of fear. Don't we all
tend to react at times like Elijah did?
3). FEAR OF CRITICISM:
Someone has said that if your enemy cannot fool you, he will try to
frighten you. One of the ways he does it is by the use of opposition
which can paralyze us with fear. This fear can prevent us from living out
the truth of Christ in us the hope of glory or of verbally proclaiming
God’s truth. Or it may lead to compromise, so that we “give in” in order
to protect ourselves from criticism. Are you afraid of rejection (click
here)? Do you fear being
Because we know we have been
accepted by God and are righteous in Jesus Christ, we need not fear or
fret when Satan throws his accusations at us. Often Satan will use
people—including Christians—to slander and accuse us; and we are tempted
to fight back. But these “fiery missiles” must not be allowed to
penetrate and hit the vital organs. Rest on the finished work of Christ;
realize that you are “accepted in the beloved” (Ep 1:6-note)
and know that God’s righteousness, placed on your account will never be
Know who you are in Christ and
whose you are, Christ's!
If you fear God, you need fear
nothing else for you are safe in the Father’s hands. So live your life
in such a way that God
could publish a book about you and you would not be ashamed for the
whole world to read it. Live with eternity in view, and people and
circumstances are less likely to make you fearful.
The writer of
Hebrews addresses fear of rejection and being left alone exhorting his
Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what
you have; for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I
EVER FORSAKE YOU," so that we confidently say, "THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I
WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT SHALL MAN DO TO ME? (see note
(See the notes on the encouraging name of God,
Jehovah Ezer: The LORD our
A W Pink comments that
One of the Divine promises is quoted, which if
it be duly appropriated by us, we shall be dissuaded from covetousness and
persuaded to contentment. Resting on this Divine assurance will both
moderate our desires and alleviate our fears. “I will never leave thee
nor forsake thee” is a guarantee of God’s continual provision and
protection, and this rebukes all inordinate desires and condemns all
anxious fears...The comfort of our soul does not depend upon outward
provisions, so much as on our appropriation and enjoyment of what is
contained in the Divine promises. If we rested more on them, we
would crave less of this world’s goods. What possible cause or ground for
fear remains when God has pledged us His continual presence and
assistance? ...“I will never, no, never leave thee, nor ever forsake
thee.” In view of such assurance we should fear no want, dread no
distress, nor have any trepidation about the future. At no time, under
any circumstances conceivable or inconceivable, for any possible cause,
will God utterly and finally forsake one of His own. Then how safe they
are! how impossible for one of them to eternally perish! God has here
graciously condescended to give the utmost security to the faith of
believers in all their difficulties and trials. The continued presence of
God with us ensures the continued supply of every need." (An
Exposition of Hebrews)
Pink goes on to comment that
that we may boldly say, The Lord is my Helper, and I will not fear what
man shall do unto me.” Once more the apostle confirms his argument by
a Divine testimony, for he quotes from Ps 118:6. In this citing of David’s language, Christians are again
taught the suitability of O. T. language unto their own case, and the
permissibility of appropriating the same unto themselves: “we may boldly
say” just what the Psalmist did! It was in a time of sore distress that
David expressed his confidence in the Lord, at a time when it appeared
that his enemies were ready to swallow him up; but contrasting the
omnipotence of Jehovah from the feebleness of the creature, his heart was
emboldened. The believer is weak and unstable in himself, and constantly
in need of assistance, but the Lord is ever ready to take his part and
render all needed aid.“The Lord is my Helper”
implies, as W. Gouge pointed out, “a willing readiness and a ready
willingness to afford us all needed succor.” Those whom He forsakes not,
He helps—both inwardly and outwardly. Note carefully the change from “we
may boldly say” to “the Lord is my Helper:” general privileges are to
be appropriated by us in particular. “Man can do much: he can fine,
imprison, banish, reduce to a morsel of bread, yea, torture and put to
death; yet as long as God is with us and stands for us, we may boldly say,
‘I will not fear what man can do.’ Why? God will not see
thee utterly perish. He can give joy in sorrow, life in death” (Thomas
Pink ends this section with a prayer it would good for
all saints to pray at all times, but especially when experiencing
May the Lord graciously grant both writer and reader more faith in
Himself, more reliance upon His promises, more consciousness of His
presence, more assurance of His help, and then we shall enjoy more
deliverance from covetousness, discontent, and the fear of man. (An
Exposition of Hebrews)
4). FEAR OF EXPOSURE OF ONE'S
The enemy of our soul likes tongue-tied, ineffective Christians and plays
on our secret fears and inferiorities to make us one of them. We reason to
ourselves "If I do a work for God, and am out where people can see
me, then my weaknesses will be exposed and that would bring criticism,
etc." As a result we are neutralized
by our perceived weaknesses or shortcomings. We focus on our areas of weakness
rather than on the truth that we can
do all things through Him Who
strengthens us (Php 4:13-note)
Jay Adams reminds us that
"God wants you
to seek to please Him first, and think about the problem of fear
secondly. That is why when speaking of worry (a lesser form of
fear), in Mt 6:33
He commands “Seek first the
kingdom of God and His righteousness.” If you put anything else first—even
the desire to rid yourself of a terrifying fear—you will
discover that you will fail to achieve either goal. God will not take
second place, even to a legitimate concern to be free of fear..."
Adams goes on to advise that "Whenever you catch your mind wandering
back into the forbidden territory (Ed note: those thoughts which
incite fear and anxiety) (and you can be sure that it will—more
frequently at first, until you retrain and discipline it...) change
the direction of your thought. Do not allow yourself one conscious moment
of such thought. Instead, crisply ask God to help you to refocus upon
those things that fit into Paul’s list recorded in Php 4:8 (note),
(note). The attitude must grow within you
that says: “So if I have a fear experience, so what? It’s unpleasant, it’s
disturbing, but I’ll live through it—at least I always have before.” When
you honestly can think this way without becoming (fearful or)
anxious, you will know that the change has been made" (from his
pamphlet “What Do You Do When Fear Overcomes You?”, 1975]).
As someone else has well said "When
fear knocks at your door, let faith open it."
Anxiety disorders—from generalized
anxiety to panic attacks and full-blown phobias—are the number one
mental-health problem in the United States, affecting as many as 1 in 10
people and costing tens of billions of dollars in treatment and lost
productivity. (see John Piper -
Anxieties: To Be Cast Not Carried) Fear
may on occasion be so profound that it produces a "panic attack" which is
often related to an unfounded fear, albeit still
overwhelming and overpowering such that it causes rapid heart rate
(tachycardia), chills, flushing, or excessive perspiration. The person
with such an attack feels
completely unable to cope with the moment (Click
here). In the succeeding section we
will discuss Biblical ways of handling our fear.
the helmet of salvation
and the Sword of the Spirit,
which is the Word of God."
In this verse, the Christian soldier is
commanded to deliberately and readily take to themselves the helmet of
salvation (not a call to be saved for he is speaking to believers), which
pictures a saved mind controlled by God. Satan seeks to destroy the
believer’s assurance of salvation with the fear that he or she
might not be saved. The believer's helmet serves to protect the mind from
fears that one might lose his or her salvation. Paul writes
elsewhere that the helmet symbolizes the "hope of salvation"
explaining that this hope is not a "hope so" but is certain because of
the fact that "God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining
salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Th 5:8, 9 -
Second, our only offensive weapon in
battle is the Word of God. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the
wilderness, He used the "Sword of the Spirit" and defeated the
enemy, three times declaring “It is written” (Mt 4:1,
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
A single (relevant) passage of Scripture is more
effective in our battle against fear, than all the wisdom the world
might offer. The moment we cease relying on the Sword of the Word, relying
instead on human
reasoning to conquer our fears, that is the moment we have set
ourselves up for defeat. We become like a soldier who even though involved
in fierce, active combat, decides to throw away his
sword and use only his hands to meet the advancing well armed
We must remember that
"though we walk in the flesh, we do
not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of
the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are
destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the
knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience
of Christ." (2Cor 10:3, 4, 5 -
God gives us a powerful weapon against
the spirit of fear, and that weapon is the sword of the Spirit
which is the Word of
God. (Click devotional)
Old Testament Illustration:
the book of Judges when
"Israel did what was evil in the sight of the
LORD... the LORD gave them into the hands of Midian seven years."
Fearing the power of the Midianites,
"the sons of Israel made for themselves
the dens which were in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds."
God explained that their fear was the
result of disobedience, declaring
"I am the LORD your God; you
shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But
you have not obeyed Me." (see note
Judges 6:10) In those dark, fearful days, God raised
up a deliverer named Gideon.
of the LORD
study) appeared to him
and said "The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior...Go in this your strength and deliver
Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?" (see note
Judges 6:12, 14)
Judges 6:22-24 (note) : "When Gideon saw that He was the angel of the LORD,
he said, "Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the Angel of the
LORD face to face." And the LORD said to him, "Peace to you,
not fear; you shall not die." Then Gideon built an altar there
to the LORD and named it the LORD is Peace (Jehovah Shalom-
part 1 ;
As Israel faced the
huge Midianite army ("as numerous as the sand on the seashore"!), the LORD told Gideon
The people who are with you are too
many for Me to give Midian into their hands, lest Israel become boastful,
saying ‘My own power has delivered me’ (see note
Only after Gideon had reduced his force to 300,
was the Lord satisfied. Faced with overwhelming odds, would Gideon
choose to believe God or
fear the enemy?
The LORD recognized Gideon's
and gave Gideon instructions to
"Arise, go down against the camp
(of the enemy) for I have given it into your hands. But if you
are afraid to go down, go with Purah your servant down to the
camp and you will hear what they say; and afterward your hands will
be strengthened that you may go down against the camp.” So he went
with Purah his servant down to the outposts of the army that was in
the camp."(see note
What happened to Gideon's fear? Gideon received God's Word of
instruction, responded in obedience and received reassurance which
alleviated his fear (read (see
Judges 7:13-25 for the rest of the story). Faith in God's Word
which promised victory regardless of the "odds" strengthened Gideon and
conquered the fear that had previously incapacitated him, even
causing him to winnow wheat in a wine press out of fear that the enemy
might spot him winnowing in the usually more elevated threshing floor
There is a little of Gideon in all of
God's saints isn't there? How often we too fear men rather than God
and "hide" so others can't see who we really are! But like Gideon we can
have victory over these seemingly unconquerable fears by choosing to place our
trust in God's unchanging and trustworthy Word. Strengthened by His
Word, we can
experience victory over the fears that bombard our mind like flaming
missiles. Faith can break the stranglehold of fear.
wilt keep in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on Thee
because he trusts in Thee
Trust in the LORD forever,
for in God the LORD,
we have a Rock of Ages."
Isaiah 26:3, 4
We are stayed upon Jehovah when we choose to set our minds on the truth
about God and His Word, which is our "sword of the Spirit." The result is
that in place of fear and anxiety, we begin to experience perfect peace.
A River Glorious and sing this wonderful hymn, as you ask
God to help you deal with fear by setting your mind on the truth about Him
in His Word.
upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest,
finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest."
A River Glorious)
WHAT DOES GOD'S WORD
SAY ABOUT FEAR?
PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT FEAR:
By this, love is perfected (brought to its intended goal) with us,
that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so
also are we in this world (The believer who has practiced love during his
earthly life will be able to approach the judgment seat of Christ without
any shame). There is no fear
in love; but perfect
love casts out
involves punishment (or torment), and the one who
is not perfected in love." (1Jn 4:17-18)
Love That Casts Out Fear)
Dearly beloved, as a believer in Christ Jesus, one of the first things you need to
do is to accept and understand that God loves you with a
perfect love. His love is not like most human love which has conditions
attached, but is a perfect, unconditional love. Do you truly believe this?
It is the truth about God and nothing you can do, good or bad, can alter
His love for you because you are accepted in Christ Jesus, His Beloved (Ep
Wiersbe adds that
Just as truth
is victorious over lies (1Jn 4:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6),
love is victorious over fear
As you mature in your love for God, you realize that you have nothing to
fear, for your Father has everything under control. You trust those you
love, and faith and love will give victory over fear." (With the Word
Bible commentary: Thomas Nelson)
AN OLD TESTAMENT EXAMPLE
Failure to trust God's love kept Israel
from inheriting her possessions. To be sure Israel’s tragic delay in
arriving at the Promised Land was caused by conscious, willful
disobedience of God’s command. But where did that disobedience stem from?
Moses identifies fear of the Canaanites as the immediate
cause of the disobedience. Their fear in turn was rooted in
a failure to trust God’s love, Moses reminding them --
you grumbled in your tents and
said, ‘Because the Lord hates us, He has brought us out of the land
of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us." (Dt
1: 27) and added that even in face of God's divine protection, "you
did not trust the Lord your God." (Dt 1: 32)
In the same way, failure to trust God's love can keep
believers from inheriting their possessions which Paul describes as being
blessed...with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in
Christ (Ep 1:3-note).
Being secure in God's love lays the foundation for dealing with all
other fears and enables us to encounter the world and the
fears that bombard us. It is then that we understand that because He loves
with a perfect love, He will not let anything happen to us that is not for
our good and our growth in Christ-likeness. When that truth guards our mind,
we are prepared to handle the fears that may come.
When we have such a mindset, we filter the fearful circumstances through the grid of an all powerful, all knowing
to study His attributes) Who loves us with a perfect love and Who is
totally sovereign, in control of every circumstance. This mindset
amplifies the great truth found in
Isaiah 26:3,4 -- keep your mind
(not your feelings which may deceive you)
steadfastly fixed on Jehovah, stayed on the Truth about Him as revealed in
His Word. The result will be that you will grow in grace and knowledge (2Pe
and in understanding that the Almighty, All Powerful God of the Universe loves
you personally with a perfect unconditional love and that as you take
refuge in this Truth, fear is cast out.
God has not given us a
but of power and love and discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7)
In general fear does not come from God. John MacArthur notes that
"from a negative perspective, we can be sure that any spirit of timidity
we might have is not from God. Both testaments speak of a fitting and
proper fear of God, in the sense of awe and reverence. But deilia (Greek
word translated "fear" or "timidity") is a timid, cowardly, shameful fear
that is generated by weak, selfish character. The Lord is never
responsible for our cowardice, our lack of confidence, or our being
shameful of Him. The noun deilia (timidity) is used only here in the New
Testament and, unlike the more common term for fear (phobos), carries a
generally negative meaning. (MacArthur,
J. 2 Timothy. Chicago: Moody Press
Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44) and when a negative thought comes it is not from God
but from the enemy of our soul. Acknowledge the truth in this Scripture
when faced with fear, recognizing that instead of fear, the resources we
have been granted from our heavenly Father include power
(effective, productive, supernatural energy) and love (cf Ro 5:5-note
- volitional and selfless love that
desires and works for the best interests of the one loved) and
discipline (a secure and sound mind with the added idea of a
self-controlled, disciplined, and properly prioritized mind). When we
experience fear, vacillation and apprehension we can be sure that it is
because our focus is on ourselves and our own human resources rather than
on the Lord and the truth about His available, all sufficient,
Johnson Flint beautifully expresses in rhyme where a believer's
focus should rest when fears come in the windows of our mind, writing...
Annie Johnson Flint
I know not,
Oh, blessed rest from
All my unfolding days
To Him are plain and clear.
Each anxious, puzzled “Why?”
From doubt or dread
Finds answer in this thought:
I know not, but He knows.
I cannot, but God can;
Oh, balm for all my care!
The burden that I drop
His hand will lift and bear.
Though eagle pinions tire,
I walk where once I ran,
This is my strength to know
I cannot, but He can.
I see not, but God sees;
Oh, all sufficient light!
My dark and hidden way
To Him is always bright.
My strained and
May close in restful ease,
And I in peace may sleep;
I see not, but He sees.
POWER COMES FROM GOD
God makes His power available to believers
= command not a suggestion - emphasizes the importance that we chose
to rely on His strength not ours - and present tense calls for this to be
our continual mindset!
How are you doing, beloved?) in the Lord
(NB: The little preposition "in" means "in the sphere of" or in the
"atmosphere" of, like a fish who functions best when "in the sphere of"
the water in the fishbowl), and in the
strength of His might.
= Command to do this now! Don't delay! It conveys a sense that this
need is urgent) the full armor (How much?
Is there some "chink" in your armor, some sin you need to confess
and repent of? If so, humble yourself before God, admit it, plead with Him
to grant you His gift of repentance
- cp Ro 2:4-note) of God, that you may be able
to stand firm
against the schemes (word
study) of the devil
- word study)." (see
see sermon by Wayne Barber)
God has broken Satan’s power over believers through Christ’s crucifixion
and resurrection, which forever conquered the power of sin and death (see
Ro 5:18, 19, 20, 21-see
1Co 15:56, 57; He 2:14-note). Although our struggle
continues in this life, we need to understand and appropriate the truth
that God has provided His power, the strength of His Spirit, and His Word
to enable us to obtain victory over fear. Earlier in his letter to the
Ephesian saints Paul wrote...
I pray that the eyes of your
heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of
His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in
the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power
toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working
of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He
raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly
places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every
name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And
He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over
all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills
all in all." (see notes
sermon by Wayne Barber)
Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers to have spiritually enlightened
minds, for he knew that this was the only means of truly understanding,
appreciating and appropriating God's power to live obediently and
victoriously. Note that the "surpassing greatness of His power" is
the same power which raised Jesus from the dead and lifted Him by
ascension back to glory to take His seat at God’s right hand where He is
enthroned over all rule and authority (over all demonic hierarchies).
Believers have been given access to this same power at the time of
Acts 1:8) and it is our ever-ready
resource when fear assails our mind. Paul was not praying that
God’s power be given to believers but that believers become aware of the
power they already possess in Christ and use it accordingly (see similar
prayer in Ep 3:14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 - see notes
see also sermon by Wayne Barber).
Also, in view of the truth that God has "raised us up with (Christ) and seated us with (Christ) in the heavenly places in Christ
Jesus" (Ep 2:6-note),
we also have authority (the right and the might) to refuse those
fearful thoughts that come like fiery missiles from the evil one who
is seeking to neutralize and immobilize God's saints. Dearly beloved, take
hold of this "sword of the Spirit" with which you have been
entrusted, that you may be truly more than a conqueror in the battle with
When Elisha's servant saw the city surrounded by "horses and chariots
and a great army" (2Ki 6:14),
he cried in fear
Alas, my master! What shall we do? (2Ki 6:15)
Elisha stood firm and maintained his God centered focus, declaring...
not fear, for those
who are with us are more than those who are with them." Then Elisha
prayed and said, "O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see."
And the LORD opened the servant's eyes and he saw and behold the
mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha"
(2Ki 6:16, 17)
(Click devotional by Spurgeon)
Larry Richards writes that
Fear is never very far from any of
us. Even when we have experienced God’s blessing...we’re prone to forget
if some setback comes. Looking back and remembering what God has done for
us brings comfort. Looking ahead and worrying about what might happen is
both foolish and useless. (The 365 Day Devotional Commentary.
Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books)
C H Spurgeon prayed
May the Spirit of God assist us to
leave the mists of fear and the fevers of anxiety and all the ills which
gather in this valley of earth and to ascend the mountains of anticipated
joy and blessedness. May God the Holy Spirit cut the cords that keep us
here below and assist us to mount.
WHAT CAN SEPARATE A BELIEVER
FROM GOD'S PERFECT LOVE?
Paul expands on the character of God's
"perfect love" by posing the rhetorical question...
shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or
distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or
sword? Just as it is written, "FOR THY SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO
DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED."
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who
loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor
angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in
Christ Jesus our Lord." (see notes
Don't miss what Paul just said about God's "perfect love"
for His children. We gain a surpassing victory through the One Who loved
(and continues to love) us. Even in the midst of the tribulation, in the
midst of the distress, etc, we are not to think that God has withdrawn His
love from us, for the truth about us is that we are "more than
conquerors" through Christ.
Warren Wiersbe explains that Jesus
us victory and more victory! We need not fear life or death, things
present or things to come, because Jesus Christ loves us and gives us the
victory. This is not a promise with conditions attached: “If you do this,
God will do that.” This security in Christ is an established fact,
and we claim it for ourselves because we are in Christ. Nothing can
separate you from His love! Believe it—and rejoice in it!" (Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor
not fear because the power of Christ is able to bring sweetness out of
bitterness, strength out of weakness, triumph out of tragedy, and blessing
out of heartbreak. The victorious life is not our life. It is
Christ's life in and through us. It is His love that supports and enables
us to courageously face and more than conquer every adversity. We are not
grim stoics who grit our teeth and somehow manage to muddle through but
instead we are victors who have found from experience that God is ever
present in our trials and that the love of Christ will empower us to
overcome every obstacle which tempts us to be fearful.
When Chrysostom was brought
before the Roman Emperor and threatened with banishment if he remained a
Christian he fearlessly replied:
not banish me for this world is my father’s house.” “But I will slay
thee,” said the Emperor. “Nay, thou canst not,” said the noble
champion of the faith, “for my life is hid with Christ in God.” “I
will take away thy treasures.” “Nay, but thou canst not for my
treasure is in heaven and my heart is there.” “But I will drive thee
away from man and thou shalt have no friend left.” “Nay, thou canst
not, for I have a friend in heaven from whom thou canst not separate
me. I defy thee; for there is nothing that thou canst do to hurt me.”
FEAR AND PRAYER
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer (this Greek word for
prayer focuses one's attention on God, His character and
attributes) and supplication (specific requests) with thanksgiving let
your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,
which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your
minds in Christ Jesus." (see notes
the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
(cf David's prayer in
Ps 55, esp
"From my distress
upon the LORD;
The LORD answered me and set me in a large place.
The LORD is for me; I will not fear;
What can man do to me?"
The sons of
Moab and the sons of Ammon...came to make war against
Jehoshaphat...and Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his
attention to seek the LORD; and proclaimed a fast throughout all
Judah....Then in the midst of the assembly the Spirit of the LORD
came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah...and he said, "Listen, all
Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus
says the LORD to you, 'Do not fear or be dismayed because of
this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's.
Take your burdens to the Lord. It is
good to talk things over with others, but only the Lord can work in
your heart and turn fear into faith. God knows everything the enemy
says and writes, and He has a perfect plan. By faith, take everything
to Him in prayer.
Listen for God’s message. The words of the enemy will discourage you,
but God’s Word will encourage you. In every battle, His word to you
is, “Do not be afraid”. After all, He has everything under
Corrie Ten Boom wrote
Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God
Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. adds that believers should
Never doubt in the darkness what God has told you in the light.
We become worried, anxious, and fearful when we fail to trust in
God’s wisdom, power and goodness, reasoning (falsely) that God is not wise
enough, strong enough, or good enough to prevent disaster. In this
setting, Paul instructs us to begin by focusing on God's character, being
mindful of His wisdom, omnipotence, sovereignty, etc (if you've not
pondered His attributes recently, click
Attributes of God for a refresher).
And what is the result of seeing His character, of petitioning Him
specifically and of doing all this with an attitude of gratitude for your
present circumstances? Peace -- that inward tranquility of the soul which
comes from God! This peace includes a confident trust in His perfect
wisdom and infinite power which in turn provides calm in the midst of the
storms of life and which releases us from the grips of fear.
So when we are anxious and fearful, we need to go to God with a
thankful attitude before we even utter a word. We can have such an
attitude of gratitude by recalling God's promise that nothing will be
allowed to occur in our life "but such as is common to man and (He
remains) faithful, (and) will not allow (us) to be
tempted beyond what (we) are able, but with the temptation will
provide the way of escape also, that (we) may be able to endure it"
Furthermore God promises to work out everything for our good in the end (Ro
adding that "after (we) have suffered for a little while, the
God of all grace, who called (us) to His eternal glory in Christ,
will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish (us)" (1Pe
5:10-note) and finally that our "momentary, light affliction is
producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison"
These are key principles for living the
so-called "victorious Christian life". But we need to move beyond just
memorizing these great verses, to the point that we let them be the grid
through which we automatically interpret everything that happens in our
life. We need to acknowledge that all of our difficulties are still part
of God’s purpose for our life. Being thankful can release you from fear
and worry, for such an attitude is a tangible demonstration of trusting
your situation to God’s sovereign control. Jonah was surely fearful in the
belly of the sea creature, and yet he was still able to declare
While I was fainting away, I remembered
Jehovah and my prayer came to Thee, into Thy holy temple...I will
sacrifice to Thee with the voice of thanksgiving...salvation is from the
Lord. (Jonah 2:7, 8, 9, 10)
Jonah was confident of God’s ability to
deliver him if He so chose. In the same way the peace of God will help
stabilize us if we react to our circumstances, however unusual or
ordinary, with thankful prayer instead of fear and anxiety. The challenge
of the practical Christian life is not to eliminate every uncomfortable
circumstance from our lives (which won't be a reality until we are in
glory), but to trust our sovereign, wise, good, and powerful God in the
midst of every situation prone to produce fear.
God Moves in a Mysterious Way
God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much
Are big with mercy, and shall break
With blessing on your head.
During World War II, a German freighter
picked up a missionary whose ship had been torpedoed. The missionary was
thrown into the hold and at first was so filled with fear that he refused
to even close his eyes. He goes on to tell us how he got through that
"I began communing with the Lord.
He reminded me of His word in the 121st Psalm: ‘My help cometh from the
Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be
moved: He that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold He... shall neither
slumber nor sleep’ (Ps 121:2,
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 -
See notes on Psalm 121).... So I said, ‘Lord there isn’t really any use for both of us to
stay awake tonight. If You are going to keep watch, I’ll thank Thee for
some sleep!" (Paul S. Rees, The Adequate Man: Paul in Philippians.
The missionary replaced his fear with thankful prayer,
and the peace of God that resulted enabled him to sleep soundly. Dearly
beloved, if you are "Much-Afraid", it is possible for you to enjoy peace
and rest if you seek to cultivate the habit of looking to God with an
attitude of gratitude.
When assailed by fears, seek to pray as did
Thomas a' Kempis
O Lord, if only my will may remain right and firm
towards Thee, do with me whatsoever it shall please Thee. For it cannot be
anything but good, whatsoever Thou shalt do with me. If Thou willest me to
be in darkness, be Thou blessed; and if Thou willest me to be in light, be
Thou again blessed. If Thou vouchsafe to comfort me, be Thou blessed; and
if Thou willest me to be afflicted, be Thou ever equally blessed. (The
Imitation of Christ).
WHO DO YOU FEAR?
GOD or MAN?
fear (trembling, shaking fear) of man brings a snare
(captures & controls), but he who
trusts in the LORD will
be exalted (lifted up, kept safe and protected). (Proverbs
29:25) (See William Arnot's discussion -
Proverbs 29:25 The Fear
of Man Bringeth a Snare)
Note once again the opposition of fear and faith, which are like oil and
water. They simply don't mix! What is the fear that ensnares? In part
is it not the tendency to seek to become men pleasers, trying to do whatever it takes to make men like
Paul wrote that
If I were still trying to please men, I would not
be a bond-servant of Christ. (Gal 1:10).
Believers cannot simultaneously be bondservants of God and slaves of men. If we want to
walk without fear of men, we must first focus on walking as "God-pleasers".
William Gurnall (1617-1679 author the classic "Christian
in Complete Armour") was right when he said
"We fear man so much,
because we fear God so
Each believer must make a conscious decision to live with an "attitude of holy abandon",
an attitude that
says whatever pleases my heavenly Father, I am
willing to do regardless of what men may say or think (cf
2Cor 5:9). To the extent that
we learn to fear God, we can overcome our fear of
people. If we fear God we will find that we have nothing else to
Ps 112:1 Praise the LORD! How
blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who greatly delights
in His commandments (Spurgeon
v1)....7 He will not fear evil
tidings. His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
v7) 8 His heart is upheld, he will not fear, until he looks
with satisfaction on his adversaries (Spurgeon
the LORD, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him,
There is no want (lack, deficiency)
Psalm 34:9 (Spurgeon
One of the saddest examples of the
consequences of the fear of man is found in the story of Israel's
first king, Saul, who upon the occasion of his disobedience was informed
by God's prophet Samuel that the Lord had rejected him from being king (1Sa
Upon hearing this horrible judgment Saul replied to Samuel
sinned; I have indeed transgressed (Hebrew means "overlooked" - Saul's
confession was superficial for what God had called "rebellion" Saul
referred to as an "oversight"!) the command of JEHOVAH and your words,
because I feared the people and listened to their voice. (1 Sa 15:24)
J Vernon McGee comments
Notice the low motivation of this man
(referring to Saul). He said he was afraid of the people and so he obeyed
their wishes. He wanted to please everyone. Many folks are like Saul. Lots
of preachers try to please everybody. I heard about a prominent minister
lately who has begun to compromise, and he says he is doing it be cause he
wants to get along with everyone. That was Saul’s approach. It is true
that he confesses that he has transgressed, but his penitence is not
J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson
Fear of man rather than fear
of God proved supremely costly to Saul. Although the following
passage is referring to a different OT context, the principle in Paul's
admonition to the Corinthian church is apropos --
Now these things happened...as an
example and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of
the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest
he fall. (1Cor 10:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
Jesus instructed His disciples
not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather
Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Mt 10:28 -
If we genuinely accept this truth, it will ameliorate our fears and "amalgamate"
our courage. We will come to
realize that even if our Father allows our enemy to destroy our
temporal, physical life, we lose only what is keeping us from enjoying
the presence of our Lord eternally. To the extent that we grow in
our fear of God, we are enabled to overcome our fear of people and
circumstances. The greatness of God helps us overcome our fear of man.
In the Old Testament Daniel and his 3
friends found themselves confronted with the fearful prospect of a
death sentence (Da 2:13-note)
from the desperate despot Nebuchadnezzar who had experienced a strange
dream. As the story goes Daniel and his friends boldly sought
permission from the king to declare the interpretation of the dream (read
2 Commentary). How could they be so
fearless in the face of death? Because the four men had come to God’s
throne, they had no fear of Nebuchadnezzar’s throne. They feared
God and consequently had no fear of man. Read Daniel 3:1-30 (Daniel
3 Commentary) for a similar story of
fearless courage exemplified by Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego who
refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzar, choosing instead to bow to God alone.
Because they feared God rather than man (Nebuchadnezzar) they were
enabled to fearlessly declare
our God whom we serve is able to
deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and He will deliver us out of
your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O
king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image
that you have set up." (Da 3:17,18)
O God, give us all similar fearless
hearts so aflame for Thee that we might fear men less and less. Amen.
FEAR CAN MAKE US
I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who
are you that you are
of man who dies, and of the son of man who is made like grass; that
you have forgotten the LORD your Maker, Who stretched out the
heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; that you
fear (to the point of trembling)
continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor, as he
makes ready to destroy? But where is the fury of the oppressor?
(NASB, Isa 51:12, 13)
As the nation prepared to leave Babylon and return home, they needed to
strengthen their faith in Jehovah God. In this passage, God
instructs the righteous remnant ("you who pursue righteousness, who
seek Jehovah" Isa 51:1) by asking why do they fear
men who wither like grass? Then God answers His question. He says that when we begin to
fear man, we forget "I Am" our Maker, the omnipotent
The sermons of Deuteronomy (cf Dt 6:4,
5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12) stress the importance of memory
for faith and the devastating effect of forgetfulness on God’s
people. Isaiah records that forgetting makes them fear continually in
anticipation of the fury of the oppressor.
Fear causes us to
forget Who God really is because faith and fear cannot
what we should forget!)
Fear focuses our eyes on the
overwhelming circumstances (e.g., "human oppression" and "enemies") and
not on the great "I Am" Who is anything and everything we will ever need.
When we take our eyes off of God, we tend to forget Who He is and what His
character is like -- all wisdom, completely sovereign and in control,
perfect goodness, etc. And whatever is occurring in our life is filtered
through all of His unchanging attributes. God is saying to us in essence
Take your eyes off of men, for they
are going to wither and die like grass. Don't fear them. Remember Who I
Am. I Am in control...even of those who would oppress you. Keep your eyes
on Me for I will give you perfect peace which is far more wonderful than
the human mind can understand.
Whether opposed by human forces or oppressed by circumstances, we need to
recall to mind that our God is Creator of all. When we are tempted to
fret, we need to look up to our Creator, not ahead at our
circumstances, for Jehovah is our Father and so we have nothing to fear!
Study these parallel passages
on the futility of fearing men rather than God
Isa 51:7-8 "Listen
to Me, you who know righteousness (know right from wrong), a
people in whose heart is My law. Do
not fear the reproach of man,
neither be dismayed (shattered,
broken, immobilized) at their revilings (Do not be afraid of
people's scorn or their slanderous talk.) (Why not?) For
the moth will eat them like a garment, and the grub will eat them
like wool. But My righteousness shall be forever, and My salvation
to all generations."
Isa 2:22 Stop regarding man,
whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be
esteemed? (Stop putting your trust in mere humans. They are as frail
as breath. How can they be of help to anyone?)
Jehovah is for
me; I will not fear.
What can man do to me? (Spurgeon's
"And I say to
you, My friends, do not
be afraid of those who
kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I
will warn you whom to fear:
the One who after He has killed
has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you,
CONFLICT AND FEAR:
DO NOT BE AFRAID IN CONFLICT
Listen to the timeless words spoken
through Jehovah's prophet Moses...
When you go out to battle against
your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous
than you, do not be afraid of them; (Why not?)
for the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is
with you (Remember the Red Sea - He delivered you then. He will
deliver you now). Now it shall come about that when you are
approaching the battle, the priest shall come near and speak to the
people. And he shall say to them, 'Hear, O Israel, you are
approaching the battle against your enemies today.
Do not be fainthearted. Do not be
afraid or panic or tremble
before them, (Why
not?) for the LORD your God is the One who goes with you, to
fight for you against your enemies, to save you.' (Deut 20:1, 2, 3,
You might say
But what if I get killed?" Where will you be then?
Paul teaches we will "be absent from the body and...at home with the
Lord. (2Cor 5:8, 9, 10, cp Ps 16:11-note,
with the Lord! We do not need to fear death. Once we see Him we will
never wonder why we died when we did. We will be exalting and worshiping
Jesus our Redeemer. We will not want to go back into this world! And
remember no one can kill you without God's permission. You are invincible, indestructible
and immortal until God says "Come home" (eg see God's two
witnesses in Re 11:7-
And no matter what you are
called to go through, remember that
God is faithful, Who will not
allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation
will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.
Paul writes to the Philippians
In no way
(this verb pictures a horse shying away in battle) by your opponents-- which is a sign of
destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.
For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in
Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict
which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me."
We are not to be afraid in conflict. When we are not afraid in conflict,
it shows that we have confidence in God. We trust that God will keep us in perfect peace if you keep our mind stayed
on Him (cf Isaiah 26:3)
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN
YOU ARE AFRAID?
What did David the man after God's own
heart do when he was fearful? Meditate on his response to fear. Consider
committing these verses to memory. I can personally testify that these
verses (which I had memorized) proved to be a genuine place of protection
when I have been confronted with circumstances that produced
otherwise overwhelming fears. When we hide guides Word in our heart, then
His Words will be readily available to meditate upon when one is assailed
by torents of fearful thoughts whether they be to danger which is real or
imagined. Someone has written an article entitled "What if God had an
answering machine?" One of the "emergency" numbers listed to call when
"much afraid" is Psalm 27!
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation.
Whom shall I
fear? (What is the
The LORD is the defense (see
Hebrew word ma'oz) of my life.
Whom shall I dread? (What is the
implicit answer?) (Spurgeon)
2 When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries & my enemies, they stumbled and fell (Spurgeon)
3 Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident
4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may
dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the
beauty of the LORD, and to meditate in His temple. (note)
5 For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock. (note)
6 And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around
And I will
offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will
sing praises to the LORD. (note)
Note where David chooses to focus his faith in the face of fear. Faith is
not an emotion or something we try to create within ourselves. Faith is a
spiritual grace which enables its possessor to look away from human
terrors, and to confide in an unseen God. Faith is real and vital because
of the object. Even little faith reposed in Jehovah, our Light, our
Salvation, our Defense can have a wonderful transforming effect. The
effect is not because we have faith but because of Who our faith is in! (Spurgeon's
William S. Plumer commenting
Psalm 27 writes that
Courage is a necessary virtue. In Jehovah is the
best possible foundation for unflinching intrepidity.
is built on faith--trusting God.
John Knox said
One with God is a
When Cromwell was asked why he did not fear anyone, he
I have learned that if you fear God, you have no one else to
Alexander Maclaren wrote that
Only he who can say, "The Lord is the
strength of my life," can say, "Of whom shall I be afraid?
("strength" in KJV, Ps 27:1) is the Hebrew
word (ma'oz) describing a place of safety and protection and is
translated by several terms including stronghold, fortress, fortified
place; rock and strength. The most common use of this Hebrew word is as a
figurative description of God Himself as our stronghold, strength, refuge,
place of safety. Thus Nehemiah encouraged the Jews (read immediate context
Neh 8:8, 9 to help understand Neh 8:10)
Do not be grieved, for the
joy of the LORD is your strength. (ma'oz) (Neh 8:10).
David uses ma'oz frequently in the psalms:
Jehovah is their
strength, and He is a saving defense to His anointed." (Ps 28:8)
Incline Thine ear to me, rescue me quickly; Be Thou to me a rock of
strength (protection, NLT, refuge, NIV), a stronghold to save
me." (Ps 31:2)
Thou wilt pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me;
for Thou art my strength (protection, NLT, refuge, NIV)."
The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD. He is their
strength (fortress, NLT; strong city, ICB, refuge, NRSV,
stronghold, NIV) in time of trouble." (Ps 37:39)
For Thou art the God of my strength (safe haven, NLT;
stronghold, NIV; fortress, GWT); why hast Thou rejected me? Why do I go
mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?" (Ps 43:2)
Behold, the man who would not make God his refuge (stronghold, NIV), but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and was
strong in his evil desire." (Ps 52:7)
Elsewhere we find that
The way of the LORD is a stronghold
(ma'oz) to the upright, but ruin to the workers of iniquity." (Pr
Thou hast been a defense for the helpless, a
defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a
shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless Is like a rain storm
against a wall." (Isa 25:4)
O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, And my
refuge in the day of distress.... (Jer 16:19)
The LORD roars from Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem, and the
heavens and the earth tremble. But the LORD is a refuge for His people and
a stronghold to the sons of Israel (Joel 3:16)
And my favorite use of ma'oz below...
good, a stronghold in the day of trouble,
And He knows those who take refuge in Him.
wisdom and discretion...they will be life to your soul, and
adornment to your neck. Then you will walk in your way securely, and
your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be
afraid. When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not
be afraid of sudden fear, nor of the onslaught of the wicked
when it comes, for Jehovah will be your confidence, and will keep
your foot from being caught. (Proverbs 3:21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26)
WHEN YOU FEAR WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
"When I am
afraid, I will put my trust in Thee.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?
In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?"
(Ps 56:3, 4,11)
The sure antidote for the poison of fear is faith in God (in
56 above David reiterates his confidence in God), focusing on the
truth about Him -- His sovereignty, His wisdom, His power, His goodness,
etc. The truth about God can effectively deflect the enemy missile of
fear. Next time you are afraid. Go to truth about God. Study His
attributes so that you are secure in his unchangeable, faithful character.
Drink deeply of the psalms in which fear was handled biblically. Then rest
in the truth the Spirit illuminates for you. Bury your head in the bosom of the Father and let Him put
His omnipotent arms around you and hear Him say (through His Word)
Hush child. I love you with a perfect
love and all things will work together for good
><> ><> ><>
Other psalms to study and meditate upon
when you experience fear
then shall we say to these things?
If God is for us, who is against us?
Why We Must Learn to Forget the
Past (from article in Illinois Medical Journal Article): There are
two days in every week about which we should not worry—two days which
should be kept from fear and apprehension.
One of these days is Yesterday with its mistakes and cares, its aches
and pains, its faults and blunders. Yesterday has passed forever
beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back
Yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed; we cannot erase a
single word we said. Yesterday is gone.
The other day we should not worry about is Tomorrow with its possible
adversities, its burdens, its large promise and poor performance.
Tomorrow is beyond our immediate control. Tomorrow’s sun will rise
either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds—but it will rise. Until
it does, we have no stake in Tomorrow, for it is as yet unborn.
That leaves only one day—Today. Any man, by the grace of God, can
fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the
burdens of those two awful eternities—Yesterday and Tomorrow—that we
It is not the experience of Today that drives men mad—it is remorse or
bitterness for something which happened Yesterday and the dread of
what Tomorrow may bring. Let us, therefore, journey but one day at a
Lawrence, Life’s Choices, Multnomah Press, Portland, 1982, pp. 111-112)