It is true that fear has a destructive power in our life. But it is also true that faith in God is a delivering power from the spirit of fear.
Paul told Timothy several things about how God has equipped us to fight our fears:
- God has given us the spirit of power (2 Timothy 1:7). God has given us the resources we need to meet our enemy. When we were saved, the Holy Spirit of God came to dwell in our hearts and the power of God would reside within us (Acts 1:8). This is the same power that spoke the worlds into existence, raised Jesus from the dead, gave sight to the blind and made the lame to walk!
- God has given us the spirit of love (2 Timothy 1:7).
The Apostle John made an important statement about fear and love:
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The man who fears is not made perfect in love.”(1 John 4:18)
This verse does not mean if I love God perfectly, I will not be afraid. On the contrary, it says, “I don’t have to be afraid, because God loves me perfectly!”
- God has given us the spirit of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
Because fear is based on irrational thoughts, a Christian should not fear because God has given us a discerning mind to refute irrational thoughts.
Zig Ziglar has made an acronym from the word fear (F.E.A.R.) and says it means, “False Evidence Appearing Real.”
Zig Ziglar is right on target! The devil causes us to be afraid when there is nothing to be afraid of!
Solomon wrote, “The wicked flee when no man pursues” (Proverbs 28:1).
Paul could look ahead and see that God was ultimately victorious in the light of his Word (2 Timothy 1:12). All the things the devil was now doing in Paul’s life did not blow Paul away because he knew we are more than conquerors in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:31-39).
So, how do we overcome these irrational thoughts? Let me suggest several steps the believer can take:
1. Make sure you are saved. If you are not at peace with God, you can never be delivered from the spirit of fear (Hebrews 2:15).
John Sutherland Bonnell points out, “Christians have lost all fear of death. Since the fear of death is the mother of all fear, when it has been destroyed, all other forms of fear are thereby vanquished.”
This is true. And the good news is you can deal with the fear of God, death and judgment right now.
Without a fear of the Lord, one will not be saved (Hebrews 4:1). Jesus said:
“But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him [God] who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him” (Luke 12:5).
Come to Jesus today, repent of your sins and experience life and an intimate relationship with your creator and savior.
2. Admit fear as a sin.
Fear is not based on faith, so the scriptures teach that it is a sin (Romans 14:23). The guilt of unforgiven sin will certainly cause fear. After Adam sinned, he explained, “I was afraid . . . and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10).
Isaiah said, “The sinners in Zion are afraid . . .” (Isaiah 33:14).
King Herod, who had John the Baptist executed, was filled with fear because of the guilt of his sin (Mark 6:16).
Don’t be plagued with fear which can become guilt which will weigh you down; cast your burden on the Lord.
3. Pray for deliverance from fear.
It is not God’s will that we be afraid. It is God’s will that we be delivered from fear.
Therefore, when you pray and ask God to be delivered from fear, it is his will and he will answer that prayer.
President Abraham Lincoln was fearful about many things as a Civil War divided our country. His well-worn Bible opened easily to Psalm 34 where a finger smudge could be found by this verse: “I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).4.
4. Meditate on the Word of God.
The psalmist spoke these words to God:
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)
The Word of God is our spiritual food, which strengthens our spiritual life and increases our faith (2 Peter 2:2). The antidote for fear is faith!
5. Think on positive things.
What you are frightened about, you think about. As you begin to think more about it, your fear sounds a little more real. So you attach more fear to it and the fear brings the thought to your mind again. This is a vicious cycle in the mind. To break the cycle, you must begin to challenge the irrational thoughts and reassure yourself with positive ones.
Paul told Christians what we are to be thinking about:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
6. Act decisively.
When you are scared to death, gather up the courage to take the first step. If you can ever take the first step usually the next steps will come easily.
Being fearful is not the problem—the problem is doing nothing when you are afraid.
7. Trust God.
Listen to the words of the psalmist: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you” (Psalm 56:3).
God is not only with you—he is within you (Isaiah 41:10). Since he is within us, he is always with us (Acts 18:10).
The psalmist also wrote:
Psalm 27:1: “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear. The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”
8. Remember God’s promises.
God’s promises are never changing. When your fear begins to coil around you like a cobra, state these promises out loud and with faith. Have them written out and ready; or better yet, memorized.
Have your “sword of truth” well oiled and sharpened for battle.
Some of these promises include:
- God is our shield (Genesis 15:1).
- The angel of the Lord camps around those who fear the Lord (Psalm 34:7).
- God will fight on behalf of believers to give them the victory (Deuteronomy 20:4).
- We can overcome anything the world hurls at us through Christ (Revelation 3:2).
- We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13).
- Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39)
In 1944, a Japanese soldier named Shoichi Yokoi, saw the tide turning against Japan, so he deserted his army and went up into the mountains of Guam and lived in a cave. He came out only at night and ate rats, fruit, berries, snails, frogs, nuts, and shrimp. For twenty-eight years, he lived as a prisoner of his fear. When he did come down out of the mountains, I’m sure he was surprised to learn that Americans were driving Toyotas, watching Sony TVs, and taking vacations to Disneyland in Tokyo. This man was living in fear because he didn’t know the war was over.
Christians need to remember the war is over and Jesus has won!
*This outline was adapted from a sermon entitled, “How to Handle Your Fear” by Adrian Rogers.