“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” – Proverbs 29:25
There are many fears, but the fear of man, is one in which everyone has to do battle with on some level. Fear is a spirit and one of its key elements is distrust. Fear seeks to sow seeds of distrust into your heart. These seeds, when they are allowed to grow, form into a fruit known as the fear of man.
When we read the Book of Acts, one of the things that strikes me the most is that the disciples prayed for boldness constantly. They even prayed for boldness immediately after showing great amounts of boldness by preaching in a certain place and getting arrested. In Acts 4, we read about the arrest of Peter and John after preaching with boldness in Solomon’s Portico. The inspiring part of this story is that while they showed great amounts of boldness in front of the Sadducees, the first thing they did when they got released was to pray for more boldness.
“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” – Acts 4:29. The disciples knew that boldness was something that ebbed and flowed. It is a constant battle to fight against fear. The fear of man seeks to silence you. We know this to be incredibly dangerous because this is one area in which the gospel is spread. We spread the gospel by speaking it, by preaching it, by teaching it and by singing it.
As we look across our culture today, the fear of man permeates everything. We have cancel culture, we have people who are being deplatformed and we have people who are simply ostracized for speaking an opposing point of view. And while most of this in the US is centered around politics, it has certainly affected the mindset of all people and kept them from sharing their opinions openly.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” 2nd Timothy 1:7
We are certainly living in interesting times. All around we are faced with new things to worry and fret over. Whether it be viruses or economic difficulties or even the future. There are plenty of thoughts that can capture us in fear.
For the longest time, I thought the way to overcome fear was to just be bolder. You know, the old pull yourself up by the bootstraps mentality. I can be like that from time to time. Just man up and face those fears!
But as I was reading through 2nd Timothy recently, I was struck by this verse in a way that it hadn’t struck me before. Fear is a spirit. And the answer to spiritual attacks is never just “stop being scared” or “be bolder.”
When you find yourself in a spiritual attack, the first thing you should do is pray. As Christians, we need to be people of prayer. When we pray, we are reminded as to who is in charge and it most certainly isn’t the spirit of fear. God is in charge! And our first response should always be to turn to Him.
I know this isn’t always easy to do. When you find yourself surrounded by fear, typically the first thing we do is retreat. We look to run and hide. I know people who are “doing church at home” because they are full of fear. Most of them do not even see it. These same people go to work and visit stores and even go out to eat, but they won’t attend church. Many Christians do not really believe that to live is Christ and to die is gain!
We need to be reminded that it is God who is in control. He holds our lives in His hands. We don’t control life or death, He does! When we pray, we gain perspective. We humble ourselves and lift Him up. It’s a two-part process. We realize that we are low and that He is mighty!
The next thing we should realize is that we are commanded by Paul in his treatise on spiritual warfare in 2nd Corinthians 10:5 to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” This isn’t an option! It’s a command. Paul is trying to help us fight spiritual battles. There are two things I want you to notice in this:
1. We need to take our thoughts captive. This means we capture our thoughts. We don’t let them run free. They aren’t free to just run us over. They are put into bondage. We bind them.
2. Paul says every thought. That means that not one thought should be rebelling against Christ’s authority. Your thoughts…your mind…your very being are all subject to God and his sovereignty. He owns them. Every one of them.
Paul is right. It’s easy to let our thoughts run away with us. Our thoughts typically take us captive! Isn’t that how you feel when you are facing a fearful situation? Like you are being held prisoner by your fears? That’s because you aren’t seeing this as a spiritual battle! Take your thoughts captive man or woman of God!
The last thought I want to leave you with is probably the most important — The Bible is not silent on how we are to deal with the spirit of fear. The Bible tells us exactly how to get rid of it! The Apostle John in his first letter tells us that we are not to “believe every spirit, but test the spirits…” (1st John 4:1). John is telling us that spirits will lie to us. And most of the time, that is exactly how the spirit of fear attacks us…with lies! The second thing it tells is that we are to test the spirits to see if it is from God or not. Not everything spiritual is from God and that’s John’s point. John goes on though and addresses fear head on and he tells exactly how to get rid of fear. It’s driven away by perfect love!
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1st John 4:18
Perfect love is what drives out fear. What is perfect love? It’s the love of God. You loving God and God loving you is what drives out fear. Why? Because inside of God’s love is the fullness of peace. Inside of His grace there is no room for fear. God’s love for you is perfect and in it is freedom from judgment and death.
So the question I have for you is this…are you abiding in His perfect love today?