Most of us have experienced the debilitating effects of fear at some point in our life. For some however, fear has become a way of life. Mental disorders are on the rise. Medicines and herbal remedies are commonly prescribed by professionals and friends alike in hopes to alleviate daily anxieties. It has become our norm, even as Christians, and yet the Lord tells us clearly…”Fear not.” Would He ask us to do something impossible? Doesn’t He understand the uncertainties of our times and that fear is inevitable?
I would say that Jesus always asks us to do the impossible…what’s impossible in our own strength anyway…
We have to understand that we are not called to do our best. We are called to let Jesus live through us. Our best will always fall short of the glory of God because it is impossible for man to live up to the covenant agreement that we have entered into with the Lord. The entirety of the Old Testament is proof of that fact. Blessing and cursing all hinged on man being able to respond in obedience to God’s righteous decrees. But because of man’s inability to meet God’s just requirements, the Father sent His Son to die in our place so that His precious blood would atone for our sin. Now we can enter into the covenant blessing knowing that the Lord did not save us because of any righteousness within us, but rather out of His great mercy.
What does that have to do with overcoming fear, you ask? Everything…because fear as a Christian is fueled by something…fear is fueled by a deep desire not to displease the Lord. I believe we can all agree that the fear of God is being eradicated in our American culture, even in the church, and worldliness is its result. But there is another extreme that I have come to experience that keeps Christians in bondage to fear. Some of us have a deeply sensitive conscience. It is a blessing in the fact that it makes us sensitive to the Holy Spirit and we want to serve Him with all of our hearts. But if we do not understand how to live in the love of the Father, we are given to tormenting fear fueled by the enemy of our soul. We fear the punishment due to us as a result of the awareness of sin within our flesh which opens us up to a tormenting spirit to keep that fear alive. May I say to you dear Christian, that is not a true fear of the Lord…that is you trying to live this Christian life in your own strength. The one who fears has not been made perfect (mature) in that area of their lives and as a result, they are afraid of the Father’s rejection instead of living in His mercy and grace.
Now I understand that many today see the grace of God as a license to live their lives for themselves. But the flip side to that is that we do not fully enter into that grace so that the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit can have its rightful place and instead we try to perfect ourselves in the flesh. Neither extreme brings about freedom. If we sow to the flesh, we will reap the flesh. There is only one path to allowing Jesus to live the abundant life through us…its death. The flesh has to die so that we might truly live for Christ. Because the Lord has called us to proclaim the truth of His love in this hateful world, He will take those who are truly committed to Him and put them in the fire so that through their submission, they give the good testimony of faith through their very lives. This in fact is the process in which the Lord puts our flesh to death. But know this, dear Christian, death has been swallowed up. When we find ourselves in fiery trials that seem impossible to overcome, we do not need to fear that the Lord will not deliver us. The trial is the deliverance. Deliverance from what you ask?…deliverance from whatever has you bound in fear. When we live in that kind of tormenting fear, we allow the devil to create scenarios in our minds that are not real…they are our fears…we need the Lord to break the bondage of that kind of tormenting fear so that we can truly experience the light of His love.
So how does He do that? In Acts 5:17-32, we see the Lord’s apostles in a rather fearful situation. They have been involved in a great demonstration of the Kingdom and because of the extreme jealousy of the Pharisees and Sadducees, they have been arrested and put in a public prison…they are not tucked away in a corner…their incarceration was for everyone to see. Now it would have been easy for them to be fearful of those who sought to put them to death because of the message they proclaimed, but when the angel of the Lord releases them from their chains, He tells them, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” The scripture says they went at daybreak and began to teach. They did not hide out. They obeyed in clear sight.
They were again brought before the council and it is here that Peter answers his accusers with the words, “We must obey God rather than men.” But lets go back a minute and look at what their directive from the Lord was…they were to speak all the words of “this Life.” We see what the High Priest was so enraged about because he states, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” The apostles did not cower in fear, instead they continued to preach the need for one thing…repentance. Peter goes on to say, “The God of our Father’s raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted Him at His right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”
Do you know what you are really called to proclaim with your words and with your life as a believer in Christ? The need for repentance. Repentance is not a one time occurrence to enter into our salvation experience while we attempt from that point on to perfect ourselves in the flesh. Our lives are to bring glory to God through a lifetime of walking in active repentance…allowing the Lord greater access to the deep recesses of our souls in ever increasing measure.
Do you want to overcome that tormenting fear that you do not measure up in a certain area of your life? Then stop trying to defend your flesh and repent…find the cleansing that is readily available to you and walk in the experiential knowledge of the Father’s love…Get rid of your fear of man…even if the Lord has to put you in a public prison to do so…and give the good testimony like Peter…”We must obey God rather than man.” Do you know that the Lord’s death is vindicated every time He is allowed to have greater access into our souls? This is the life the Lord speaks of…abundant life as we die to ourselves so that we might live for Christ. There is no fear that cannot be overcome when we understand that death and repentance are the believer’s victory!