Recently I have seen many people who have been overcome by fear. They have been paralysed or strung out and have withdrawn into themselves through the power of fear. This is a terrible situation because fear is a great limiter on our lives.
Overcoming fear brings release to your life and allows you to be free. Overcoming fear and the power that fear has over a persons life is critical to moving forward. While you are living in fear you are in chains, but in Christ those chains can and will be broken if YOU allow Him to do so.
The scripture today suggested this issue to me along with discussions I have had online recently, so let’s take a look at what this is all about and what we can do about overcoming fear.
This scripture today talks about many not believing in Jesus despite the miracles and works He had done. But it also says that there were many, including some of the leaders and authorities who did believe, but would not admit it because of fear.
42 Nevertheless many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:
43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
They were afraid of what the Pharisees would say and do if they admitted to believing in Jesus. They were afraid that they would be put out of the synagogue, and thus be shamed and lose the respect of the people.
These fearful men were more interested in their earthly position than their eternal salvation. They were fearful of losing a place of comfort now and were not prepared to exchange that to stand up for what’s right.
They were bound in chains of fear. Fear prevented them from moving forward to receive the true gifts of God. Fear had them rooted in the old ways for the sake of an earthly existence rather than looking to Jesus and a spiritual life with Him.
What is Fear?
If we have a chance of overcoming fear we need to understand fear. What is fear? We often see the symptoms of fear in biochemical reactions in our bodies, the classic “fight or flight” syndrome. The body produces adrenalin that prepares it to do one or the other. But these are simply the reactions to fear, they are not fear itself.
There have been some good definitions of fear over the years. One dictionary definition says that fear is, “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.”
The great Zig Ziglar, recently passed away, used fear as an acronym and it was a good lesson. He used to say fear was “False Evidence Appearing Real.” I like that definition better than the dictionary meaning because the dictionary is focussed on emotions, and you can’t do much about emotion. But you CAN do something about “false evidence appearing real.”
Fear is a negative reaction to a stimulus that may be real or imagined. Whatever the stimulus is though, it can be overcome. And if we overcome the stimulus we overcome fear. John said it best in 1 John 4:18, “…fear has to do with punishment.” We fear because we expect or imagine that we will suffer in some way, whether punishment or a loss of privilege or whatever. And we don’t want to suffer.
For example we may fear the unknown, the future, what someone might say or think, as the men feared the Pharisees in the example above. But if we learn the methods for overcoming fear we can move beyond these things recognising them for what they are and putting them into the places where they belong. And though we may suffer at times, we understand that the purpose of our suffering for a greater good to come. Those who feared the Pharisees missed this vital point.
One of the real issues I have noticed with some Christians is that they suffer because of fear. Fear rules their lives through guilt, self-condemnation, believing they are not good enough or believing they are not forgiven and are still sinners. They think that whatever it is they have done they could not possibly be forgiven by God.
This is truly “false evidence appearing real.” The Grace of God is greater than anything any man has or could ever do. When people suffer fears like the one above, I like to give them some REAL evidence to quash their imaginations.
Look at Paul. A Pharisee who opposed Jesus to the point of raging with letters to all the towns of Israel to imprison the disciples. He consented to the stoning death of Stephen the martyr. Ask yourself, have you sinned to the point of opposing the people of God. Have you consented to have a righteous person killed? No? Well look at the outcome of Paul’s life. He was mightily used by the Lord to teach and preach the word and to unravel the mysteries of the Gospel of the truth so that we can understand the New Covenant today!
Not too shabby eh? If God can use a man who had sinned to the extent Paul had and turn him into one of the greatest vessels and ministers of the word…don’t you think he could do the same to you? Do you still think your sins cannot be forgiven? So tell me again, why are you afraid?
Until we come to the realisation that Jesus has taken away our sins we will suffer some fear. When we understand that we are truly freed, then fear of sin and the “not feeling good enough” syndrome vanishes. While we think that way we are saying God and the sacrifice Jesus made for us is not good enough. Well, whether you believe it or not, and you better believe it, His sacrifice was good enough…better than good enough!
The writer of Hebrews said of Jesus, “…”I will never fail you nor forsake you.” Hence we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
Paul also wrote in Romans 8:31-37,
31 What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us?
32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?
33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies;
34 who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, “For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
If none of these things can stand between us and the love of God, why do we fear? If God is for us, who can be against? Who can oppose God and win? Not man, not the devil himself and certainly not us, even though in our fears we believe we have done worse than the Lord has the capacity to forgive. We are wrong.
So how do we as Christians overcome fear? They do it by relying on God and seeking the ways of the Lord. As we walk with Christ we come to the place where we begin to understand the working of His Covenant. As we are established in Christ He gives us His perfect love and we see the fulfilment of the words of John which say,
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18)
The perfect love of Jesus Christ takes away your fears. Do you need to fear the future? No, for He has a plan and a path for you that leads from salvation to eternal life.
Do we have to fear the loss of things on this earth? No, for he has said that He will provide all of our needs and that we are of more value than the birds of the air and that not one of those falls to the ground without it being the will of God.
Do we have to fear what man might do to us? No, because He has given us His protection and will see us through the trials and troubles of this life. Look at the times the disciples were imprisoned and beaten and how the Lord saved them from those situations.
Do we need to fear the unknown? No, because the Lord has said that if we ask it will be given, if we seek we will find and if we knock it will be opened. He will have the things whispered in secret shouted from the rooftops. Whatever is unknown will become known and knowledge will drive away fears of the unknown.
Do you need to fear that you are not good enough? No, because if you have come to Christ in repentance and are seeking to follow Him, He will guide you into the truth and you will know that you are saved, know hat you are free and know that your sins have been taken away.
Do you need to fear anything at all in this world? No, for we already have the victory over the world in Jesus Christ. And the result of that victory is the outpouring of the perfect love of God into our lives through the Holy Spirit and perfect love casts out fear.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Lena Povrzenic)