Monday, March 23, 2015

Spirit of Fear

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).

The online dictionary defines fear as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.” Some Bible translations also use a closely related word—“timidity”—the feeling or showing a lack of courage, confidence, boldness or determination. Fear can be caused by something known, unknown, or simply not knowing what to do.

In this article, we will look at fearful situations and events in the Bible that were conquered by faith and courage. This is an important subject, therefore we deemed it important to expound on the Scriptures.

Vision of Having Faith Against Fear

A few weeks ago, on February 16, 2015, we wrote an article on the “Fear of Death”. In a short vision yesterday morning (March 22, 2015), the Lord gave me this week’s message. In the vision, I saw a note with the words “Spirit of Fear” written on it. Along with the note I was shown a terrifying demon, and I knew that the Lord was telling me not to be fearful of this creature in spite of its morbid and frightening appearance.

Additionally, I was shown another vision on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. In this vision, I saw myself visiting a town that I've never been to before, where violence and bloodshed was the order of the day. Everywhere I looked, I saw people fighting and killing one another. As I walked, a man spotted me and fear suddenly gripped my heart. I immediately started to run for my life as the man started chasing me. I was given the ability to run in the clouds as he pursued me. As I ran in the clouds, I yelled “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! If I have been forgiven, why should I fear?” I then felt a mighty wind blowing, with the Lord appearing in white and disappearing again. As the wind blew, I stopped running and stood firmly, facing my pursuer (enemy). As he got closer to me, he disappeared and then appeared briefly before finally vanishing. I was left crying with the joy of overcoming my fear. In this simple vision, the Lord is encouraging us, telling us that we should never run in fear from the enemy when we have received His forgiveness (Romans 8:1). We must face all the struggles and storms of life with faith, because He is standing ready to rescue us (Hebrews 13:5).

Naturally, we face a variety of dangers daily and most of us use survival skills that we have learned to cope or overcome some of those dangers. Often, people resort to lying, cheating and applying other deceitful or malicious ways to survive some of these human threats. Consider this example: when you are regularly late for work or school, do you not resort to fabricated excuses to make up for your delay? Or do you simply say, “Sorry I’m late again!”, without giving a valid excuse? Would such an answer not provoke immediate action against us?

Whom Should We Fear?

The Bible admonishes us not to fear man—fear that people will hurt, insult, embarrass/humiliate, ridicule/mock or reject us, or the craving to please others or receive their acceptance, validation and praise:
  • “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).
  • "I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies And of the son of man who is made like grass, ...” (Isaiah 51:12).
  • “You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s...” (Deuteronomy 1:17).
  • “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.” (Luke 12:4)
However, in Scripture—both the Old and New Testaments—we are repeatedly encouraged to fear God alone, that is have reverence for Him, respect Him, honour Him, obey Him, submit to His authority and discipline, and worship Him. We should not fear anything or anyone one else!
  • "You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name” (Deuteronomy 6:13).
  • “You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name” (Deuteronomy 10:20).
  • “... learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, ...that their children ... may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live ...” (Deuteronomy 31:12-13).
  • “... that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever” (Joshua 4:24).
  • “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!” (Joshua 24:14).
  • “Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24).
  • “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him have no lack!” (Psalm 34:7-9 ESV).
  • “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
  • But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! (Luke 12:5).
  • “...Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water” (Revelation 14:7).
Why is it important to fear God? Because the fear of the Lord equips us with knowledge, instruction and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 15:33); this not only helps us to overcome the schemes of the enemy in these last days and have a close relationship with God, but it also prepares us for heaven.

Biblical Examples of Overcoming Fear

Fear often leads us to willful sinning (Genesis 18:15), the denial of our faith in Jesus Christ or not testifying of our faith especially when under pressure (John 9:22; John 12:42). Even Peter and Barnabas fell to fear when they began to withdraw from the Gentiles for fear of the Jews (Galatians 2:12-13), but Paul powerfully rebuked and corrected him (Galatians 2:14-21).

Our Lord Jesus, knowing that death was fast approaching, wept before our Heavenly Father vehemently, resisting the spirit of fear of death and not allowing it to overwhelm Him. Remember, the Lord was tempted just as we are, and He set an example for us not to give in to fear (Matthew 26:38-45; Hebrews 4:15).

Let us recall, Moses the man of God fled Egypt to Midian because of his fear of Pharaoh after he killed an Egyptian man (Exodus 2:14-15). After being convinced by God’s power, Moses put his faith in God and obediently returned to Egypt (Exodus 3:7-17; 4:1-21). Moses’ fear of man disappeared and his faith rested in God’s power (Exodus 20:20).

Furthermore, when Paul faced trials and persecutions, he consciously set aside the fear of man and boldly stated, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13 HCSB). His faith was unshaken in the midst of death and rejection.

Similarly, we are also encouraged by the boldness of Peter and John after fleeing when the Lord was arrested; they stood their ground and declared the faith of their conviction in the resurrection and life giving sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 14:50; Acts 3:12-16). The gospel of salvation gave them boldness and hope, delivering them from the fear of man and the sting of death (1 Corinthians 15:55).

In like manner, Stephen bravely endured martyrdom, praising the Lord while being stoned, and even forgiving and pleading for those who hated his faith in Christ as he defied death (Acts 7:51-60). This priceless and precious gospel came about by the BLOOD of the Lamb of God and the victory of our faith is eternal life (1 Peter 1:9; 1 John 2:25).

In his lifetime, King David confronted many enemies, both from within and without. He addressed fear in some of his Psalms, such as: "The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1). His answer: No one, but only the Lord! David expressed confidence in the Lord to overcome fear and gain courage and victory over his circumstances, and this encouraging message applies to us as well: "Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!" (Psalm 27:14).

Fear of Satan and Demons

Christ came to BREAK the spirit of fear and to give us a new freedom; that of truth leading to salvation: ”... He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15). Furthermore, Jesus asserted that when we know the truth, the truth makes us free (John 8:32), and when He makes us free, we are free indeed (John 8:36).

Before Christ’s death and resurrection, Satan exercised his power over humanity through the fear of death (Hebrews 2:15). However, after the Lord Jesus Christ was manifested, He destroyed the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). He stripped the devil and his demons, and freed humanity from every power of the enemy: “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15). What they were left with was just to induce guilt, fear and terror- causing “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword” (Romans 8:35-36) or to “throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation..”( Revelations 2:10). “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). And the Lord Jesus Christ encourages us not to be afraid, but to “...Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

The Lord, knowing that the devil would use fear to control and subdue the human soul, gave us faith and power over all the works of the enemy (Luke 10:19), without which we have to endure the torment of fear (1 John 4:18). That is why today and in some centuries past, those who don’t know or have Christ use death to control and demand obedience – indeed some religious sects today still threaten to (and in fact do) kill those who accept, believe and follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. This very same enemy, fear of death, was challenged and overcome by true soldiers of faith and followers of Christ (Daniel 3:16; Hebrews 11:35-40).

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do not be deceived! As we wrote in the “Discerning of Spirits” article last week, we need discernment through the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. There are some believers who are busy battling demons day and night, without much rest, in the name of spiritual warfare, using all kinds of strange powers and “supernatural” weapons that the Bible doesn't mention. The Bible encourages us to magnify and exalt the Lord (Psalm 34:3; Psalm 18:46; Psalm 97:9). Being involved in these kinds of beliefs where Satan and demons are magnified causes one to be in a state of constant fear, both in the real world, during prayers, at night when sleeping, and even in dreams.

The Bible says that Jesus has “delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). The Lord has given us “authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy...” (Luke 10:19). Instead of fearing Satan, we should “submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

Fear of Others

The Bible sheds light on instances where people sinned as a result of fearing man. For example, King Saul disobeyed God’s command sparing the king of the Amalekites. Saul’s excuse was that he “feared the people and listened to their voice” (1 Samuel 15:24). The Prophet Jeremiah also gave King Zedekiah sound advice (Jeremiah 38:17-18), but King Zedekiah’s fear of the Jews (Jeremiah 38:19) eventually led him to disobey the prophet’s words and rebel against King Nebuchadnezzar. He was subsequently captured, tortured, and died in prison (Jeremiah 52:8-11).

This message comes as an encouragement to many Christians who live in fear of man. When referring to fear of man, we are certainly not encouraging lawlessness or disrespectful behavior. The values of decency and respect that we learn from the Scriptures restrain us from wicked manners (1 Peter 2:17) (see also our article on Good Manners). What we are referring to is our fear of being rejected, ridiculed and insulted by others because we are ashamed of ourselves, the way we look, and/or the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In reality, this fear or phobia has driven many Christians underground. They only resurface when they hear the voices of the fearless believers combating the spirits of doubt and faithlessness. I know countless Christians who are ashamed of the gospel. They are ashamed because they fear what others might think and say when they find out their association with Christ, as if the Lord has done something sheepishly shameful. Brethren, let me encourage you: the noble act of sacrificing His life and leaving His glory in order to grant us eternal destiny is worth celebrating and shouting Hallelujah! for the whole universe to hear and to participate (Revelations 5:9-13).

Encouragement to Overcome Fear

"You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4 NKJV). I boldly declare, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, let all Christians resist the tormenting spirit of fear and pick up the shield of faith to destroy the insults, shame and arrows of doubt that Satan uses to stifle the spread of the gospel (Ephesians 6:16).

In various messages to brethren in this ministry and around the world, the Lord has encouraged many brethren not to fear any human being, the devil or any circumstances. In some instances, I have witnessed how fear has led people to make desperate decisions, resulting in some losing their jobs, houses, children and spouses. These brethren acted on a false faith. Let me counsel you: if your faith is motivated by fear, love is absent and so is God. That move you take will fail, for faith is pure and guilt-free, and to know if it is real we must experience joy and peace and NOT FEAR (1 John 4:18; Philippians 4:7). The will of God is not burdensome; it relieves the yoke! (Matthew 11:26; 1 John 5:3)

So, why are you allowing fear and anxiety to yoke you? Shake it off and walk in your Heavenly victory! (Ephesians 2:6). Remember: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). The Lord God is your comforter, so don’t be afraid of man, who perishes (Isaiah 51:12), but fear God alone, who says to you:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ...For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:10; 13).
Finally, please heed the wisdom of this warning: But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death (Revelation 21:8); also, "Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and shun evil" (Proverbs 3:7).

If you would like to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and be freed from fear, please get started by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. As always, for any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Blessed grace and a fearless heart to you in Christ’s peace,

Brother Glenn and Preparing for the Kingdom Ministry Team.