It’s curious to me that “being afraid” doesn’t enter the scriptures until after Adam & Eve chose to sin. They realized what they had done and then they were afraid, so they hid themselves, or tried to hide themselves from God.
We are only born with 2 fears; the fear of falling, & the fear of loud noises…
So, all other fears, or phobias, are learned. And, they can also be “unlearned”.
Most adults share four main learned fears:
a) Fear of Failure. What if I’m not good enough? We all desire success, and failure hinders this. Sometimes our fear of failure keeps us from accomplishing the success we wish for.
b) Fear of Rejection. What if people don’t like me? Many people have a disproportionate sense of approval that drives them to seek after unhealthy drives to achieve it. Sometimes a sense of looming rejection is that toxin that killing us.
c) Fear of Loss. What if _______ goes away? Many people’s need for security hinders their sense of freedom. Security in finances, security in relationships, security in business are wonderful assets to strive for, but seeking them for unhealthy reasons is not from God.
d) Fear of the Unknown. What if I don’t know what to do, or what if I can’t control the outcome? Controlling patterns of behavior can be and generally are the very toxins that hinder a life of freedom.
With bridge collapses, trains derailing, and tornados around the country … fear is a reality.
1. Fear comes from the Satan, not from God.
If you look up “do not fear”, or “do not be afraid” through the Bible, you’ll find 126 different occurrences of this phrase. Why? Humans share illegitimate fears all throughout history, and when God interacts with humanity, he leads with “do not be afraid”.
2 Timothy 1:7 “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Are there healthy fears? Yes, we should avoid pain, death, injury …
We are talking about fears that capture us and de-rail our freedom. Some fears debilitate our forward progress. Some fears have become engrained in our lives that keep us “stuck”, or in a “rut”.
Some examples of fear come from Scripture. Most of our important leaders in the bible had to learn to “overcome” debilitating fears, and trust God. Remember: Fear comes from the enemy, not from God.
In the encounter with the burning bush, God told Moses to lead the people of Israel to freedom, but Moses was afraid to.
Exodus 3:11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” 13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
It’s easy to see that when we rely on ourselves, “Who am I, that I should go…” instead of relying on God, “I am who I am”, we let fear from the enemy enter in and sabotage the mission.
2. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6
Fear is not only an individual issue – it can be a “group” /community issue. Our personal fears can hinder others who walk with God.
One of the “most fearful” things in life, according to research, is “speaking in public”. Many people let the fear of rejection rule their life, and don’t step into leadership b/c they let fear talk themselves out of it. Fear wins.
We see this in the Scriptures when Joshua & Caleb, 2 out of the 12 spies who did a reconnaissance mission into the promised land of Canaan reported back with favor rather than fear, but fear captured the heart of the rest of the people.
Numbers 14:1-10 says, “But the whole assembly talked about stoning them.” Fear won, again.
Here’s a popular question: “What would do with your life if money were no object”?
I have another question: “What would you do through God, if fear did not stop you”?
Everyday God puts an opportunity before you to bring Him glory, or to bring yourself glory. Many of us will give into glory for ourselves rather than taking a risk to bring glory to God… mainly because of rejection, or lack of approval, or failure.
Without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6
Yeah right, Pastor Reid, you make it sound easy… real issues of fear cripple my life.
• My father passed away and I’m hurt by the pain it caused, so I’m afraid to let go of that.
• Or, my spouse left me b/c of something I said and now I’m afraid to love again b/c of the hurt.
• Or my boss is mean to me and I’m afraid to set boundaries for myself. I don’t want to lose my job… again.
• There’s nothing I can do… I’m trapped in this relationship, or job, or hurtful past. I’m afraid I can’t move.
I call these traps the “What-if’s” – what if this doesn’t work, what if I fail, what if she leaves me?
There is something you can do… it’s a biblical instruction from Apostle Paul.
3. Take your “fearful” thoughts captive.
Pastor Craig writes in Soul Detox (pg. 155):
“What about you? What’s your greatest fear? Loss, unknown, rejection, failure? You can choose to trust God with it? Be as honest with yourself as you can. This is really important. In my experience, the farther away I get from God, the more the “what-ifs” of this world begin to pile on, trying to suffocate me with fear. But the closer I am to God, the more I am able to trust Jesus, and the less hold the things of this world have on me. You can choose. Tell God what you’re afraid of. Then trust God no matter what.”
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
How do we take “fearful” thoughts captive & make it obedient to Christ?
A. Tell Jesus about the thoughts that capture you … use divine power. (Pray when afraid)
B. Say the words aloud, that make you captive to fear. (“I am afraid of…”)
C. Repeat God’s promises from scripture.
Scripture gets me through my fear: Claim the Promises of God…
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
D. Tell another person about the thoughts that CAPTURE you.
We saw in the Oklahoma tornados that fears are learned, and can be “unlearned”, or overcome. Oklahoma teachers played a game singing songs with kids during the tornado on Monday. If there were ever people who overcame the fear of the “unknown”, the fear of “loss”… it would be those teachers. They risked their lives to protect kids, when they could have thought of themselves. They considered the kids more than themselves, gathered them together and sang promises of hope over them during the most fearful experience of their lives.
What are the fears that have a chokehold on your life?