Title: LIVING VICTORIOUSLY OVER OUR FEARS
He had just experienced an overwhelming victory with an awesome demonstration of God’s power. All of her false prophets had been slain and people believed in the Lord God Almighty once again. You would think this man of God would be soaring on a spiritual high. But a one-sentence threat on his life sent him running like a coward, and fear took control to where he ran for his life 110 miles to flee this vindictive woman, and he hid in a cave in a mountain. Fear of a threat transformed Elijah from one of the greatest men used of God into a wimp.
90% of the chronic patients who see today’s physicians have one common symptom. Their trouble did not start with cough or chest pain or hyperacidity. In 90% of the cases, the first symptom was fear. Fear of losing a job, of old age, of being exposed—sooner or later this fear manifests itself as “a clinical symptom.” Sometimes the fear is nothing more than a superficial anxiety; sometimes it is so deep-seated that the patient himself denies its existence and makes the round of doctor to doctor, taking injections, hormones, tranquilizers and tonics in an endless search for relief.
On the spiritual side, fear has both a constructive and destructive role. You see this in the definition of fear: an emotional foreboding or dread of impending danger or misfortune; a feeling of reverence, awe, and respect. That’s what our study is about…both faces of fear. There are even two kinds of fear in the hymn “Amazing Grace” verse 2: “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear…and grace my fears relieved…” One fear pushes us away from God; the other makes us draw near to Him. 2 Ki. 17:38-39
Fear that Pushes Us Away From God
1. Naturally, we do not desire to come close to the thing we fear. Gen 3:8 Have you had things in your life that you avoided because you feared it?
2. What happens when we nurse our fear? (It grows until we have very strong feelings of terror or dread; we lose our perspective; we take foolish courses of action; faith often goes out the window.)
3. The following verses give us insight as to what we should NOT fear. What are they?
Matt 10:28; Prov 29:25 (Man)
Prov 28:1 (Imagined enemies)
Num 14:9 (Enemies of the Lord)
Isa. 8:12-13 (Conspiracy)
4. These next set of verses describe what comes upon us when we have ungodly fear. What are they?
Prov 10:24 (What they fear actually comes upon them)
Isa 66:4 (God closes His ear to their cries)
Ex 23:27 (Causes them to run in fear)
1 Sam 15:24 (Causes people to sin)
Jn 9:20-22 (Caused them to back down in their witness to the Lord; not give God the credit)
Lk 21:25-26 (Men fainting from fear)
Job 15:20-25 (You hear & see things that aren’t really there; it overpowers you)
Ps 73:19 (Destroyed in a moment, consumed)
Lev 26:36 (They flee at the sound of a leaf blowing in the wind)
Isa 33:14, 18 (Trembling, continual burning, meditate on terror; questions of fear flood the mind)
Lev 26:14-17 (Sudden terror, consumption, dark circles under the eyes, soul pines away, futile work, fear of enemies will eat you up, flee when no one is pursuing)
Deut 28:65-67 (Trembling heart, failing eyes, despairing soul, life hangs in doubt, no assurance of life)
Prov 1:27-33 (Dread comes like a storm/whirlwind, can’t find God, their own devices will flood upon them, even the naïve & complacent will destroy them)
Ps 55:4-7 (Anguish in the heart, terror of death, fear/trembling/horror overwhelms them)
Isa. 2:19 (Hiding in caves & holes in the ground)
1 Sam 28:5-7, 20 (Heart trembles greatly, seek out a medium for the future, faint)
Insight: Fear has a tendency to immobilize us and seriously affect our activity. Panic is the overwhelming characteristic of those who live in fear. It causes us to further forsake our faith in God and even leads to further sin. Unwarranted fear derails our efforts in serving God. Such fear is harmful...it makes it’s victims a slave to terror and dread. So often it does not lead to repentance. The normal action is a feeble attempt to hide from God and deny His existence. If a man harbors any sort of fear, it percolates through all his thinking, damages his personality, makes him a slave to the Devil. Fear robs you of the power to overcome difficult circumstances by putting the focus on the problem rather than on the possible solutions. Man is not destroyed by events; he is destroyed by his view of them. Fear breads irrationality. Fear blocks us from seeing the compassionate concern of a loving God. When we approach the circumstances of our lives with fear instead of faith, we make ourselves feeble, and thus vulnerable to failure. Whatever you fear will have mastery over you. Is that how a child of God should live?
Insight: But fear has a constructive role in enabling man to realize both the degeneracy of our souls and our need of divine forgiveness. Fear is naturally the logical consequence of sin.
Passages as Resources to Help Believers Overcome Fear
1. How do the following verses encourage you in overcoming fear?
Prov 1:33 (Listen to the still, quiet voice of God, not the voices of your fears)
Ps. 27:1-14 (The Lord is the source of our salvation, whom then shall I fear?)
Jn 14:1, 27 (Jesus comes to offer peace, not fear)
Rom 8:15-16 (We have received the Holy Spirit that sets us free from the spirit of fear and bondage)
1 Jn 4:18 (As we let the love of God permeate our soul, it casts out all fear)
Rom 8:31 (If God is on our side, who can be against us?)
1 Pet. 5:7 (God invites us to cast all our anxiety upon Him – He truly cares)
Isa 26:3 (Keep your mind stayed on God and He will keep you in perfect peace)
Ps. 37:1-10 (Do no fret of evil doers, they will quickly fade away)
Ps. 46:1-5 (God is our refuge & strength, present in trouble)
Ps 112:5-8 (The one who looks to the Lord will not be shaken, his heart is upheld)
Heb 13:6 (The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid of what man will do to me)
Heb. 2:14-15 (Jesus rendered death powerless to free us from fear of death)
2 Tim 1:6-7 (God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love & sound mind)
Josh 1:7-9 (Be strong & courageous, the Lord is with you wherever you go)
Ezek 2:6 (Do no fear men’s words or presence)
Insight: Ungodly fear has no place in the child of God. Yet it seems to creep its way into our lives. All the above admonitions quite distinctly show us that God expects us to cast away our fears upon Him and enter His rest and bathe in His peace. When those fearful times come upon us, we need to practice His presence. Jesus Christ, by His atoning death, resurrection and intercession on our behalf is our liberator from fear! In the dark night of our fear, He has put His Spirit within us so that we might cry out “Abba (Daddy!) Father!” and He will come running to our aid.
”O friend, never strike sail to a fear! Come into port greatly, or sail with God the seas.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Healthy Kind of Fear
1. We need to completely switch our hats and think differently about this next kind of fear. The fear revealed in these next passages will actually draw us closer to God. As your read them, explain how the passage reveals this.
2 Cor 7:1 (Put away the flesh and put on the holy fear of God)
Ps 2:11 (Holy fear is actually a source of worship and joy)
Prov 14:27 (Fear of the Lord is a veritable fountain of life)
Prov 15:16 (Fear of the Lord is more valuable than great riches)
Ps 147:11 (God favors those who fear Him)
Insight: Healthy fear produces reverence and awe towards God. It produces a respect that needs to stay in tact all our life. Genuine faith actually expresses itself in fear of God. The ungodly don’t understand this…they don’t understand why we should fear God if He is so loving as He says He is. That’s because a reverential awe permeates the heart of the believer. Unless there is a personal awareness of the awesome and majestic sovereignty of God, it is impossible to have a meaningful faith existing in your heart.