Fear is a crippling emotion and there are many ways in which a fear steers, controls and shapes our lives. Yet God’s word to those who trust in Him is ‘Do not be afraid’. Here are six different fears and how the Gospel speaks to each one.
the fear of death
But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” (Luke 8:50)
In this case Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead but through His death and resurrection it is us who will be raised and reunited with our Father. Jesus defeats death.
the fear of being abandoned
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)
Jesus was going to die and leave His disciples. This separation caused an understandable fear, yet Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to dwell with us. This brings peace to troubled and fearful hearts.
The fear of slavery to sin
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Rom 8:15)
Anyone who has considered their own sin knows it has a fearful power and hold over us. Temptation can feel overwhelmingly strong. Yet the Gospel says that through faith in Christ we have been set free. We no longer belong to sin. It is foremost a change of our status from slaves to sons and daughters. As redeemed slaves we do not have to fear a return to our former slave-owner. Our redeemer has broken those chains.
The fear of inadequacy
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2Tim 1:7)
Fear can paralyse you. Often those fears are internal, they are our fears. Private, deep rooted insecurities that grip us and box us in. The gift of the Spirit is utterly different, it enables, empowers and equips. The Spirit of God leads us towards self-mastery. The ability to get out of our own way and do what God has called us to.
The fear of man
So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Heb 13:6)
There are lots of reasons to be afraid of people – humans are often cruel in so many different ways. We are skilled in tearing down and incompetent at building up. Not only that but there is evil in the world. There are people who would gladly arrest you, persecute you, destroy your family, take your possessions, hurt you and kill you for being a Christian. The Christian ultimately can be strangely equanimous in the face of such threats – it’s not that we don’t care, but that we are unafraid. In the face of those who would kill for their God are Christians who are not afraid to die for theirs, because their God was not afraid to die for them.
[Tweet “Before those who would kill for their god, Christians are not afraid to die for theirs. Because their God was not afraid to die for them.”]
the fear of punishment
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (1Jn 4:18)
This fear is no longer as prevalent in many countries but we are poorer for it. We have lost the fear of God who is the judge of every human heart, who is the judge of the living and the dead. Those who see that a holy God will judge and condemn all unrighteousness will have a measure of fear of God. An honest enquiry into your own heart will quickly reveal the unrighteousness that is present and even by our own poor standards we would condemn ourselves.
The wonder of the Gospel is that this condemnation was placed on another who became sin for us. This fear is then replaced by God’s love and removes all fear of punishment. We fear God but we are not afraid of His justice for we have a righteousness that is not our own.