In over 20 years of ministry I have found one of the most common issues we all struggle with is fear. Fear is defined as, “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.” Fear is debilitating for many people, paralyzing them from living a fully productive life.
Fear entered the human experience in the Garden of Eden. After eating the forbidden fruit, Scripture says, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (Gen. 3:7-8) Never before had Adam and Eve tried to hide from their beloved Creator.
There are multitudes of fears that can plague us – fear of death, fear of punishment, fear of loss, fear of the dark, fear of rejection, fear of poverty, etc. Fear stems from a lack of faith, or trust in God. I have heard it said that there are 365 verses in Scripture saying, “Do not fear,” or “Do not be afraid.” This clearly indicates that God understands our tendency to be fearful, and desires we become free from these fears. In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul states, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Fear does not come from God; it comes from the enemy. He uses it to control God’s people, hindering us from walking in obedience and thus, receiving God’s blessings.
When we walk in fear on a regular basis, not only are we being controlled by the enemy, but we also become controlling ourselves. We try to control others and our circumstances, believing that by doing so, we can avoid pain. There are many forms of control – isolation and withdrawal, anger and fits of rage, wearing a “mask,” passive aggression, passivity, taking on a victim mentality; these are just a few. This is a great deception for we cannot control anything or anyone other than ourselves. The only legitimate form of control is self-control, which is a fruit of the Spirit. In 2 Timothy 1:7, quoted above, the word translated “sound mind” literally means self-control.
The good news is that God has given us a way to get free from fear and the control that comes with it! The Apostle John tells us, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18) God’s love is the only perfect love because He is Love. The way to get free from fear is to receive the revelation of His perfect love for you. Revelation comes from the Spirit and far exceeds mere head knowledge. If we lack this critical revelation, we must ask Him for it, knowing it is His will for us to be free – free to be loved by Him, free to love Him, others, and ourselves as He does.
The more we experience and receive His love, the more secure we will become. Our faith and trust in Him will grow stronger and deeper. We will no longer fear what others can do to us, for we will truly believe that He works all things together for our good. (Rom. 8:28) His love enables us to surrender more fully to Him, letting go of our need to control. We will be free to love and serve Him wholeheartedly. Then we can love ourselves because He does, and love and serve others with the love we have received from Him.
What effects have fears had in your life and walk with God? Comment below.