To Fear or Not to Fear: Man or God?

A Person Overcoming Fear

Fear can be powerful. There is a natural fear that produces a ‘fight or flight’ response which can spare us from harm. Finding a rattlesnake in the wild is a legitimate example of using ‘fight or flight’ to our benefit.

We can fight with a rake and machete to protect ourselves from the rattlesnakes’ aggressive behavior. Or we can run the other way, completely avoiding any interaction with the reptile. Or we can become completely paralyzed.

Fear can be paralyzing. We become unmovable. Paralyzation leaves us susceptible to the rattlesnake’s venomous strike. We want to avoid becoming paralyzed by fear. If we understand the different types of fear and how to overcome them, then we can journey forward in freedom.

3 Types of Fear

1) Fear of the Unknown

There are many news items which can tempt us to fear, worry or be anxious about our health, our family or work. Covid-19, the elections, unemployment or other disturbing matters can tempt us to fear. These fears can be overcome by taking our thoughts captive.

2) Fear of Others

Fear of what others think of us can range from us entertaining a few negative thoughts to a paralyzing fear that incapacitates us. Dale Carnegie’s encourages us, “Instead of worrying about what people say of you, why not spend time trying to accomplish something they will admire.”

3) Fear of New Things

The fear of new adventures is a battle we wage in our mind. Henrik Edberg shares a few inspirational quotes:

  • I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear. ~Rosa Parks
  • I learned that courage was not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. ~Nelson Mandela
  • Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic. ~Anonymous
  • Feed your faith – and your fears will starve to death. ~Anonymous
  • Fears are stories we tell ourselves. ~Anonymous
  • Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The best way out is always through. ~Robert Frost

In God’s Word, we learn of God’s love freeing us from unhealthy fears. God’s love is displayed through Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross for our sins. God’s love is manifested through His resurrection power which empowers us to live free in Him. God’s love gives us hope that He can guide us out of crippling fears within us and around us. God’s love ushers us into His marvelous light, freedom and peace. If God’s love can set us free from unhealthy fears, then how do we walk away from our day-to-day struggle with fear?

5 Ways to Overcome Fear

1) Prayer with Thanksgiving = Leads to Peace

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” And, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

We can pray and give thanks to God for who He is – He is Faithful and True. We can thank Him for the many ways He has blessed us. We can thank Him for His peace and allow His peace to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

2) Submission to God = Leads to Comfort and Confidence

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your comforts delight me.” And, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.” And, “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have refuge.” And, “You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is your help and your shield.”

We can give God our cares, troubles and pains. We do not have to carry them. We can receive His comforting arms of love embracing us. We can trust Him.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

3) Taking our Thoughts Captive = Leads to Freedom

“We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ.”

“The fear of man brings a snare, but one who trusts in the Lord will be protected.” And, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” And, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and sound judgement.”

When we take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ Jesus, we refuse every hook, snare or entanglement of the enemy, and we find life, peace, joy and freedom.

4) Renewing our Mind = Leads to Transformation

Dr. Tom Wood shares, “Your courage is not the absence of fear, but applied faith in the power of God in the middle of your fear.”  And, “If you are already a follower of Christ, you already have the Divine Power to deal with your fear because you have the Spirit in you.”

God’s Word reminds us, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!” And, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes out of the mouth of God.” And, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Dr. Wood states, “Our Fight is by Faith – not a matter of renewed will, but renewed faith. Every Christian deals with this issue. It is central to not listen to the lie, but to believe God and His Gospel. ‘He loved me and gave himself for me.’ Love is the antidote to Fear.”

God’s Word encourages us, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” And, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” And, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

5) Gazing on Him who Loves Us = Leads to us Radiating His Love to Others

Jessica Kastner eloquently states, “When faced with even the deepest most crippling of fear, we need to trust God with the confidence a child ascribes to a loving parent. The key is abiding in that love, on a daily-even hourly-basis. It has to be more than a Biblical truth in our lives. We need to experience it continually.”

God’s Word proclaims, “God is love.” And, “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”

The song, Here in Your Presence, by Jonathan Egan inspires us to gaze upon Him in all His glory.

The Chorus:

  • Here in Your Presence, we are undone
  • Here in Your Presence, heaven and earth become one
  • Here in Your Presence, all things are new
  • Here in Your Presence, everything bows before You

The Bridge proclaims who He is:

  • Wonderful
  • Beautiful
  • Glorious
  • Matchless in every way

As we overcome our unhealthy fears, we do want to walk in one healthy fear, the Fear of the Lord.

Healthy Fear: The Fear of the Lord

Robert Strimple says, “There is the convergence of awe, reverence, adoration, honor, worship, confidence, thankfulness, love, and, yes, fear.”

C.S. Lewis references the Fear of the Lord in his book, The Problem of Pain. Lewis expresses that it is not the “fear one feels towards a tiger or even a ghost. Rather, the Fear of the Lord is one filled with awe, in which you ‘feel wonder and a certain shrinking’ before Him or ‘a sense of inadequacy to cope with such a visitant.’ It is a fear that comes forth out of love for the Lord.”

The Word of God speaks of Jesus in the book of Isaiah. It says, “And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” Bible love notes states, “A healthy fear of God removes unhealthy fear.”

What is The Fear of the Lord?

The Fear of the Lord is:

  • the beginning of knowledge (Pr. 1:7a)
  • wisdom; beginning of wisdom; good understanding (Job 28:28; Psalms 111:10; Proverbs 2:6, 9:10)
  • an awe producer (Psalms 33:8)
  • a fountain of life; leads to life; prolongs our lives (Proverbs 10:27; 14:27; 19:22)
  • our hatred of evil; helps us turn from evil (Proverbs 8:13, 16:6; Job 28:28)
  • mercy (Luke 1:50)
  • friendship (Psalms 25:4)
  • blessed; it will be well with us (Psalms 112:1, 128:1-4; 1 Samuel 12:14)
  • we are found acceptable (Acts 10:35)
  • our help and our shield (Psalms 115:11)

May we walk in the healthy ‘Fear of the Lord’ and overcome all tempting fears of the unknown, all fear we have of others and the fear of new things. May we overcome each fear through these life-giving actions: prayer with thanksgiving which leads to peace; submission to God which leads to comfort and confidence; taking our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ which leads to freedom; renewing our minds which leads to transformation; and gazing on Him who loves us which leads to us radiating His love to others.

Prayer:

Lord, we ask You to deliver us from the spirit of fear. We ask You to empower us to pray with thanksgiving, to submit to You with all of our hearts, to take our thoughts captive, to renew our minds in Your Word, and to gaze on You in Your loveliness. We desire to radiate You to others, to be transformed into Your image, to receive Your comfort, and to walk in Your confidence, freedom and peace.

Lord, just as You walked in a ‘spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord,’ we desire to walk in the same spirit as You. We desire to walk in awe of You. We desire to walk in wisdom and mercy while turning from evil. We desire to know You as friend, know Your blessing, Your help, and You as our shield. We desire the Fear of the Lord to spring forth as a fountain of life in us that others might drink and be satisfied with You. Amen.

Further Reading Actions:

A great book to read is Barry Black’s book, Nothing to Fear – Principles and Prayers to Help you Thrive in a Threatening World. He is a chaplain in the US Senate and his ‘Fearless Principles’ and ‘Purposeful Prayers’ are life-giving as they point us to God and His Word. It is a great resource and I have enjoyed the audio version of his book.

If you need help taking your thoughts captive, read Lisa’s blog post: Living in God’s Peace (No Matter What!). You can find it here: https://strengthwithdignity.com/living-in-gods-peace-no-matter-what/

Scripture References:

Psalm 23:4, 34:4-5, 27:1, 56:3, 94:19, 115:11; Proverbs 14:26, 23:7a, 29:25; Isaiah 41:10, 43:1; Matthew 4:4; John 14:27; Romans 8:38-39; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:6-7; Hebrews 13:6; 1 John 4:8b

References:

Amplified Bible. © 2015 Copyright by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Black, Barry C. Nothing to Fear – Principles and Prayers to Help you Thrive in a Threatening World. Narrated by Calvin Robinson, Audible, 2017.

Edberg, Henrik. 73 Inspirational Quotes on Fear. Positivityblog.com, January 11, 2021. [Note: Originally posted as 22 Inspirational Quotes on Fear in 2010] Retrieved January 11, 2021, from https://www.positivityblog.com/22-inspirational-quotes-on-fear/

Egan, Jonathan Christian (songwriter). Here in Your Presence. ©Integrity Worship Music, 2006.

English Standard Version. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission.

‘Fear of God’ (Edited on December 31, 2020) Wikipedia. [C.S. Lewis cited from The Problem of Pain. The Centenary Press, 1940.] [Robert B. Strimple cited from The Fear of the Lord, opc.org, 2015] Retrieved January 11, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_of_God

Fear Not, But Fear God. April 2, 2020. Retrieved January 12, 2021. www.mannake.com

Ikpa, Reverend Uche. The Fear of God is the Beginning of Wisdom. Cctvcambridge.org, March 17, 2016. Retrieved January 11, 2021, from https://www.cctvcambridge.org/node/383911

Kastner, Jessica. The Top 5 Scripture that Banish Fear. huffpost.com, August 31, 2015. [Updated: September 1, 2017] Retrieved January 11, 2021, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/top-5-scriptures-that-ban_b_11786842

New American Standard Bible, Copyright ©1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Smith, Stephen. 100 Bible Verses about the Fear of the Lord. Openbible.info, January 13, 2021. Publisher: OpenBible.info. Retrieved January 11, 2021, from https://www.openbible.info/topics/fear_of_the_lord

To Fear or Not to Fear – That is the Question. (Biblical Views) Biblelovenotes.blogpost.com Retrieved January 11, 2021, from https://biblelovenotes.blogspot.com/search?q=to+fear+or+not+to+fear

Wood, Dr. Tom. Second Promise for Fighting Fear. cmmnet.org, June 15, 2020. Retrieved January 11, 2021, from https://cmmnet.org/blog/2020/06/15/second-promise-for-fighting-fear

Wood, Dr. Tom. Third Promise for Fighting Fear. cmmnet.org, July 21, 2020. Retrieved January 11, 2021, from https://cmmnet.org/blog/2020/07/21/third-promise-for-fighting-fear

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16 thoughts on “To Fear or Not to Fear: Man or God?”

  1. I love your list of 5 ways to overcome fear. I’ve applied all of them in various seasons and situations. And what an encouraging collection of quotes! These are my two favorites:
    Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic. ~Anonymous
    Feed your faith – and your fears will starve to death. ~Anonymous

    Thanks for linking up with Grace & Truth, Linda!

  2. I need your 5 ways to conquer fear posted on my refrigerator as a constant reminder! I love the quote, “Feed your faith, and your fears will starve to death.” Thank you for these helpful words from the Lord.

  3. I have to constantly do battle with fear, so I appreciate this post! I also appreciate the book recommendation. I’ve not read that one so I’ll look up Barry Black’s book. Thanks!

  4. Lillian Rountree

    Gazing on Him Who loves us equals radiating His love to others is one of my favorite portions of this writing, Lisa. The joy of Jesus’ presence radiates from another like sunshine warming the skin of our spirit and penetrates through the darkness of our thoughts. Even in quarantine one can experience this radiance through praying along with you or sitting in the stream of scriptures you readily provide. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for your encouraging words, Lillian. May we continue to gaze on Him, be changed into His image, and radiate His love to others by the power of His Holy Spirit.

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