I recently taught a bible study lesson on conquering fear. Fear is a common part of the human experience. Depending on the translation, it’s mentioned over 250 times in the Bible, which leads me to believe that God wants us to be mindful of this issue and to address it. Due to the lengthy content of my study, I decided to break it up into two parts. Part One takes a look at what fear is and how it affects God’s people. Part Two is a deeper dive into what God’s word says about fear, and how to get the victory over it. I pray this blesses and encourages!
What is fear?
Basically, the textbook definition of fear is “an emotional response to a perceived threat to your security or general welfare.” Fear may be brought on by either a real or an imagined threat. For example, one kind of fear is a normal response to a real danger. So the natural response to this type of fear would be to behave cautiously in order to avoid said danger. The type of fear that I’d like to discuss here is not that type of normal, cautious fear. I’d like to explore the other kind of fear – the emotionally destructive kind of fear.
Here are a few common, destructive, emotional fears: fear of lack, loneliness, commitment, failure, rejection, being laughed at…and the list goes on…I’m sure you get where I’m going here. The bottom line is, these are emotional fears, and they reside only in our minds. These fears are often based on perception, or in anticipation of something that hasn’t actually happened yet. In short, these fears are not based in reality. They are grounded in our past, or future, anticipated, unseen and unlived experiences. Years ago I heard a preacher use this acronym for FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real…oh, how true!
So how does the enemy use fear against God’s people? Well that job is easy. We all experience family problems, job stress, financial strain, etc., and Satan loves to capitalize on these issues. Normally, we are able to keep these issues in check. We juggle. We stretch. We don’t allow these issues to dominate our lives. However in times of personal crisis, these typically normal concerns seem more burdensome, even overwhelming. This is when the enemy tries to take your mind off track and fill your heart with fear.
It’s easy for fear to slip up on you without warning. In the midst of a major difficulty in your life, the enemy swoops right in to help you analyze every possible detail of the situation. The enemy uses our everyday life struggles to weaken our normal defenses against fear to the point that rational thinking goes out the window. Then fear takes control. If you listen to the lies – remember, Satan is the father of lies – you begin to believe the Lord won’t or can’t intervene on your behalf. But the fact is, there is nothing too big for God!
And the enemy doesn’t just stop there. You see, fear is a trigger for other feelings and actions. Fear can suddenly overwhelm you or gradually paralyze you. It gives birth to anxiety and worry. It drains your spiritual strength and it weakens you for the everyday battle we face in this faith walk.
It’s important to identify fear at its root, and pluck it out. Here are 7 fundamental truths about fear to be mindful of.
7 Fundamental Truths About Fear
- Worry implies the absence of trust in God. While anxiety is often based on unconscious feelings, worry is a conscious act. It’s a choice. When you worry, you are choosing an ineffective method of coping with life.
- Fear and worry go hand in hand. We worry about things that we are afraid of happening and then we become more afraid in the process. For many people fear and worry have become a way of life.
- It’s a tactic that the enemy uses to get us to step outside of God’s will. Fear disrupts our lives and holds us back from accomplishing our goals and the things that God purposed for us. For example, when your judgment is clouded by fear, it’s easy to act in haste and make decisions based on emotion or false perceptions instead of by God’s lead. Or perhaps your fears lead to procrastination and an all-out avoidance of an issue or situation. This is a compounding problem, which can lead to missed opportunities and ends up fostering anxiety for later. In short, fear can stop you from coming under the leadership of the true Master, Jesus.
- Fear robs us of experiences and a joy-filled life. Fear is a thief, it steals God’s peace. The more you feed fear, the more it grows. It can turn you into someone you don’t want to be. Uncontrolled fear can lead to broken relationships, missed opportunities, illness, guilt, depression and many other forms of bondage the enemy attempts to use to chain, rule and control God’s people.
- Fear takes a toll on your health. Ever hear the expression “I’m worried sick”, or “I’m stressed out”? Fear is at the root. There are many physical manifestations of fear, including panic attacks, headache, chest pounding and pain, upset stomach, insomnia, loss of appetite…to name a few.
- Fear makes us doubt God’s promises and disbelieve His love. We don’t believe we can rely on God for whatever it is we need. You end up trying to trust your own resources or abilities or those of someone else rather than trusting in God’s power and willingness to help you.
- Fear paralyzes us from stepping out in faith. When God is moving, you can’t be afraid to move with Him. When God is bringing you to a new area or bigger commitment, the devil will try to use fear to stop you. If you’re sure God told you to do it, put your trust in Him and go forward.
Check out “Breaking the Chains of Fear – Part Two” where I explore what God’s word says about conquering fear.
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