FEAR - What are you afraid of?

THE PROBLEM

What are you afraid of?

Every single man struggles with the emotion of fear.  Fear of failure, rejection, sudden disaster, other men - fears of all sorts.  And while fear itself is not sinful, if it leads to not believing God, it can become sinful.

Many think; “I don’t have any problem with eternal life and salvation and all of that – it’s these next twenty-four hours that’s I’m worried about!”

Fear and Courage are Opposite

Courage is the state of mind that allows one to face hardship or disaster with confidence and resolution.

Fear is the agitated state of mind that cripples us from looking any farther than the hardship itself.

 

WHY AM I AFRAID

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” – 1Peter 5:7

There are many places in Scripture where we are instructed not to be afraid.  To be afraid is to not fully trust God.  So, if we are to understand why we DO fear, we need to understand why we DON’T trust God.

I’ve Been Lied to All My Life

We’re all liars, aren’t we?  You are a liar.  I am a liar.  My wife is a liar.  My parents lie.  My colleagues lie.  My children lie.  All our lives we have been lied to.

One researcher found that when two strangers engage in conversation, 60% of his participants lied, on average three times in 10 minutes.  Another source found that adults admit to telling thirteen white lies each week.

Since we have been lied to all our lives by everyone we know, should we be surprised that when we read the Bible, we can hardly believe it’s true?

There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

The Bible promises that if we trust God with our lives, He will meet all our needs and direct all our paths.  Most men find this hard to believe because it sounds like a “free lunch.”  God doesn’t offer us a “free lunch.”  It was paid for by someone else.

We Really Are Guilty

“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:7-8

Our moral guilt is what convicts us that we are sinners.  We really are guilty, and we know it. 

We really should be afraid of God, who has the power to give us what we justly deserve.  But in God’s hard-to-fathom love, He has withheld His punishment from us and brought it on the Lord Jesus instead.   You may find trusting God difficult because you know you really are guilty, and you simply can’t believe that God would be so gracious that He would forgive you and remove the guilt you feel for your sin.  Yet, that is exactly what He does.

THE CYCLE OF FEAR

Read Matthew 14:22-31

FROM CLIFF TO CLIFF

“… You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?” – Matthew 14:31

Bridge of Faith

Cliffs of Courage

Cliffs of Fear

What Is Faith?

“Now faith, is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1

We don’t need courage to face what we already know. It is an uncertain future that gives birth to doubt and fears.  Faith is always oriented toward the future.  We don’t know what the future holds but we know who holds the future.

“Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, …” – Hebrews 12:2

Faith is like a muscle.  The more you exercise it, the more it grows.

 

GODLY FEAR VERSUS SECULAR FEAR

One of the most misunderstood principles of the Bible is the fear of God.  Proverbs 8:13 reads, “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; …” 

We fear men for a very practical reason: Men have the power to give us what we don’t deserve or withhold from us what we do deserve.  Men have the capacity to do the wrong thing.

We should fear God for an equally practical reason: God has the power to give us what we do deserve.  God has genuine power.  He has the power of life and death.  He has the power to judge our sins.  He is just, unlike men, and He demands that evil be punished.  But thank God, He developed a plan for us to escape His wrath – Jesus Christ.  And because of our faith in Christ, we now deserve eternal life, which God has freely given us.

God does not have the capacity to do the wrong thing. 

“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.” – Romans 8:28

 

WAS JESUS EVER AFRAID

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.  An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.  And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” – Luke 22:42-44

God promises us the same help He gave Jesus when we are tempted by sin, doubt or fear.

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.   And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Unbundling Our Emotions

It will be helpful for us to unbundle our emotions and differentiate between fear, anxiety and dread.

The Bible describes Jesus’ condition as one of “agonia”, which translates as “agony” or “anguish.”  This is the only time “agonia” is used in the Bible.  Jesus underwent a terrifying temptation, yet He neither feared nor sinned by not believing or trusting His Father.

Since Jesus had been strengthened, he was standing on the Cliff of Courage.  His circumstances did not change but His attitude did.  God did not remove the source of agony, but He did strengthen Jesus so that he did not become afraid.

Agony yes – fear no; that’s our hope.

 

FOUR STEPS TO OVERCOME FEAR

1.       Restrict emotions to agony and aguish

2.       Exercise faith in the sovereignty of God

3.       Submit our circumstances and attitude to God

4.       Wait patiently for God to act

 

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

·       Why is it so hard to have faith, to not be afraid and to trust God?

·       What are you currently struggling with that has you afraid?  How can you overcome that fear?

·       Describe the difference between secular fear and godly fear.

·       When you have done everything you can do, and things still don’t seem to be working out, how are you to respond?

·       How does one restrict his emotions to agony and anguish?

 

Kenneth Gregson