Victory Over Fear
Basket of Figs, July, 1990
I. Fear has Torment. Will I lose my job? Is my child using drugs? Is my mate faithful to me? Do I have a disease? These and ten thousand other questions torment the modern man. There are so many pressures, so many contingencies, that people are often overwhelmed by life.
Teenagers are also afraid. Will I find the right person to marry? Am I doing well enough in school? What will I do with my life?
Fears drive people to irrational actions. Fears make people insecure with their loved ones, and they often try to control them in terms of their fears. Manipulative people are often very fearful people, and they manipulate people because of those fears. Fear destroys confidence and joy.
It is interesting that the word translated “torment” is the same word used in Matthew 25:26 for eternal “punishment.” It is true that those who are overcome with fears may think of themselves as under the wrath of God and suffering a foretaste of hell itself. There is perhaps no earthly agony similar to being overcome with fears. They eat away at the heart, destroy the will, and render a man empty and impotent.
II. Fear is Bondage. Innumerable fears drive the actions of people every day. Hebrews 2:14,15 says that the devil holds people in bondage all their lives because of the fear of death. The fear of witchcraft and evil spirits, of the evil eye and the power of evil spells hold many in bondage, especially in those lands where the gospel has not gone. The rise of the occult in our day will bring ten-thousand fears to America.
But even in America fears hold men in bondage. The fear of what people will say controls the actions of many. Young people get into drugs or abuse alcohol because they fear the opinions of their peers. Men fear their wives; wives fear their husbands; children fear their parents; parents fear their children; workers fear their bosses; bosses fear their workers. Often fear is the most powerful driving force of a person's life. The fear of poverty drives many a workaholic; the fear of rejection is the soil of much grief and heartache. Mate abuse and child abuse is often driven by fears.
Fear enslaves men to empty religious ceremonies and rituals. The fear of hell has been a powerful force that has enriched the temples of the world and transferred great wealth to priests of every kind. Men give their bodies to be afflicted and starved, beaten and abused, because they fear the punishment of the gods.
True Love is the Remedy for Fear
“Perfect love casts out fear” [I John 4:18]
The key is “perfect” love. The Greek word translated “perfect” means “come to maturity,” “brought to fulfillment,” “having reached its end.”
It is interesting that the true and lasting remedy is not in removing the objects of fear, but in changing the person who views those objects. The problem is in the person, not in his environment. Several things need to be said:
A. True Love is the work of God in the heart. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given us” (Romans 5:5). The root of this love is justification by faith (Romans 5:1). When I see that God has given His son to die on the cross for me to deliver me from sin, my whole perspective on life is changed. If God has given me the greatest blessing of all, then why should I fear that He will withhold lesser things (Romans 8:31-33)? It is this faith, working by love, that drives fear from the heart.
B. True Love seeks to please God. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:2). This love delivers us from the fear of man, for we esteem the favor of God more than the favor of men. This is the reason that Jesus could call his disciples to forsake their mothers, fathers, children, even their own lives (Luke 14:26,27,33). The first consideration of perfect love is the favor of God, not the favor of men.
C. This love is an echo to God's love to us. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us… (I John 4:10). The more we feel that God loves us, the less we will fear. “All things work together for good to them that love God...” (Romans 8:28). “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39).
D. Without this delivering love everything is empty. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (I Corinthians 13:1-3).