I have often heard of fear being classified as rational or irrational. Rational fear is defined as being afraid of something that can harm you, like a ferocious animal or some other dangerous situation; and irrational fear is of a more extreme nature where the fear is projected towards something that cannot cause harm, like going outdoors or puppets or using an elevator. If asked the question, “What do you think fear is?” most will answer, “It is an emotion.” However, the Word of God clearly states in 2 Timothy, Ch. 1 v. 7 that fear is a spirit. If you recall, the letters Paul wrote to Timothy were of guidance in leadership and encouragement in the faith. Timothy was a young man, (his actual age, I do not know) but Paul saw it fit to write in 1 Tim. Ch. 4 v. 12, “Let no one look down on your youth.” So I deduce from the preceding, Timothy was probably a bit intimidated by the persons he was trying to encourage to teach no other doctrine but Jesus Christ and Him Crucified; and understandably so, as workers of the Lord were being persecuted left, right and center back then. There was also major opposition from the so-called thinkers/philosophers of the day. Paul was not moved by the persecutions or “…the profane and vain babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Tim. Ch. 6 v. 20). Therefore, in 2 Tim. Ch. 2 vs. 6 -7, reminds Timothy to “stir up the gift of God which is in you…For God has not given us a spirit of fear…”
Believers, fear is not just the most powerful weapon of the enemy, it is of the enemy. In fact, 1 John, Ch. 4 v. 18 says, “…fear involves torment” and fear that torments is rational fear, irrational fear and fear of the unknown. The latter being the one working in tandem with worry and doubt. Many years ago, my house was broken into and the fear I felt then was indeed crippling. For months I could not sleep with the lights off for fear that something bad might happen in the dark; that was worry and torment. For months, I allowed Satan to torment me with fear of the unknown. Someone might be saying, well, that is only natural and you’re only human. Saints, please understand there is nothing natural about God’s people giving into fear and we are not only or merely human; we are spiritual beings, “seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians, Ch.2 v. 6) and in whom the One in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 Jn. Ch. 4 v. 4).
Fear can really cause us to miss out on the promises of God as was the case with the children of Israel. After the exodus from Egypt, Israel was commanded to possess the land of Canaan but the people were afraid to do so. They opted to believe the report of ten of the twelve men who spied out the land and saw themselves as grasshoppers and the inhabitants of the land as giants (Numbers Ch. 13 vs. 31-33). Caleb and Joshua, the other two spies, tried unsuccessfully to motivate the people to obey God and possess the land (Num. Ch. 13 v. 30). God was not impressed by their reaction and said to Moses, “How long will these people reject Me…and not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?” (Num. Ch. 14 v. 11). Fear fueled their disobedience and caused them to doubt the power of Almighty God. Power they had repeatedly witnessed in operation. The result of their action was forty years of wandering in the desert and for the ones who allowed fear to cause them to doubt, they were forbidden to enter the Promised Land. In fact, they died, all the men twenty years and older who showed no faith in God, perished in the desert (Num. Ch. 14 v. 29).
King David knew fear was an enemy and the crippling effect it could have on a person so he refused to give into it as depicted in some of his psalms. The most notable being Psalm Ch. 23 v. 4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.” David trusted and accepted that the Lord was his light, his salvation and his strength. With this knowledge he asks rhetorically, “Whom shall I fear?” (Ps. Ch. 27 v. 1). Seems to me David laughed in the face of fear. Instead of aligning his will to fear he determined to align his will to faith in Almighty God to save him, give him strength, provide for him and direct him among other things, regardless of the situation.
Jesus, continued in the same fashion as David, that is being indifferent to fear, sleeping like a baby in a boat with his disciples when, “Suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves” (Matthew Ch. 8 vs. 23-27). The disciples were scared out of their minds for this storm was no ordinary storm and Jesus would have slept right through it had it not been for his disciples who woke Him saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” The amusing thing about this moment in biblical history is before He even told the winds and the sea to quiet down, He enquired of the disciples, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” I would love to have been there just to see the look on their faces when He asked them that. You know what I am talking about; that look people give you when there is an obvious crisis and one person doesn’t seem to see it (the ‘what, really?’) look. A few things to focus on here, the storm was sudden, Jesus was sleeping through it until awakened by his frightened disciples and when He got up He told the wind and the sea to be still and they were.
As mentioned before this was no ordinary storm. It was of the devil, Jesus knew this. He also knew He had authority over the devil and so instead of pampering them, He admonished them because in time, the same authority He exercised would be given to them to do great things in His Name and fear had no place there. Adverse situations call for faith not fear. Fear dismantles faith, giving way to worry and doubt. The end result of all that is, God cannot move on your behalf. So then, how do we deal with fear? The way we are supposed to deal with every situation in our lives. That is by knowing our authority in Christ Jesus and acting upon that authority with The Word of God. For “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans, Ch. 10 v. 17).
This concludes our study on faith. Next time we will look at what the Bible has to say about wisdom and knowledge. Almighty God bless you all.
By Gail Reid
All scripture taken from the New King James Version (NKJV).