Fear is devastating to faith! Fear has torment and often is the gateway for many other ungodly emotions such as hate, envy, covetousness, anger, and aggressive hostility. The most distressing and demoralizing consequence of fear is how it ruins our relationship with God. Yet, God has not given us the spirit of fear but rather power, love, and a sound mind, according to 2 Timothy 1:7. Nor has He given us a spirit of slavery leading to fear but the spirit of adoption as sons leading to an intimate relationship with Him, as Romans 8:15 states.
Since the fall of man, fear of God has been an issue for mankind. When Adam and Eve heard God in the garden, immediately after the fall, they hid themselves because they were afraid of Him. Prior to their sinning while living in Paradise, they enjoyed a loving harmonious relationship with God without any fear or other encumbrance.
When Moses was leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, under the direction and power of God, they came to the Red Sea, and because Pharaoh with his army drew near, the Israelites “freaked out”. They were frightened and turned on God. They said, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt?” Moses had to reassure them “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of Yahweh which He will accomplish for you today.”
In the time of Saul, king of Israel, Samuel told him that the word of Yahweh was to completely destroy the Amalekites. When the battle was over, Samuel confronted Saul because he did not follow the explicit instructions by saving some of the Amalekites. His reason for not obeying is written in 1 Samuel 15:4 – “Then Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the LORD [Yahweh] and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice.” Saul had an issue throughout his life regarding self-confidence and tried to gain acceptance from the people rather than having obedience to God.
The demon-possessed man in the country of the Gerasenes must have been a problem for the community since constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains and cutting himself with stones. The residents were upset enough that they often tried to chain the guy without success because he broke the chains apart. The man of the house must certainly have held concern about his wife going out alone or the children waiting for the school chariot in the morning. This nut running around must have impacted property values! After Jesus cast the demons out the man, he regained his right mind and got dressed. Surely, everyone would rejoice and praise God, right? However, Mark 5:15 says the people became frightened and asked Jesus to leave town. Fear caused them to reject Jesus!
Over and over in the Scriptures, we see that fear interferes with faith. Adam and Eve were afraid of God because of their sin, the Israelites turned on God because they feared dying, Saul disobeyed God because he feared the people, and the Gerasenes feared Jesus because they saw the power of God manifested in the insane man. Whenever we focus on circumstances, other people, or self, the invasion of fear can creep into our minds and negatively thrive.
The way to avoid fear is to concentrate on God and His Word. When David found himself before his arch enemy, Achish, the king of Gath, fear overwhelmed him until he took hold of his thoughts and focused upon God. He writes of his experience in Psalm 34.
3 O magnify the LORD [Yahweh] with me, and let us exalt His name together.
4 I sought the LORD [Yahweh], and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. 5 They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the LORD [Yahweh] heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
David prayed and began to concentrate upon God and therefore was delivered from his fears and thusly his enemies. If we fail to quickly deal with our fears, they are permitted to grow. So often what we fear becomes our reality because fear is negative believing.
Another great antidote for fear is love. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18). When our focus is on loving God and loving our fellow man, self-focus dissolves, and fear goes along with it.
Remember God has not given us the spirit of fear, but rather power, love, and a sound mind.