Fear: Master It or Be Mastered By It

There’s this old story about a notorious criminal who is finally captured. He appears before the king to be brought to justice and the king presents him with two options, the man could either be hung by the gallows or choose what was behind an imposing, iron-clad door nearby. The criminal chooses the gallows, fearing that much worse must lay in wait behind the door. With the decision made, the sentence is pronounced and then the criminal asks the king what lay behind the door. “Freedom,” the king replies.

Fear

Often, fear of the unknown can be more debilitating than the actual threats that face us. We, like the criminal, can fall prey to the power of fear that binds up lives, rendering us immobile. I recently heard that fear, frequently described as anxiety in modern speak, is one of the primary reasons that people seek counseling, medication and all manner of help. I don’t blame them. It can be fearful when we feel that the future holds uncertain outcomes beyond our power to influence change.

The first usage of the word fear in scripture is actually a positive one. This surprised me.

So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.[a] 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. (Gen. 9:1, 2)

After God reaffirms the mandate to humanity to be fruitful and fill the earth, He tells them that they were to be a source of fear to all the beasts and birds and fish etc. More importantly, the Lord affirms to Noah and his sons that they were to be the masters over the created order. Their dominion, their sphere of authority, would produce fear in these beasts. Fear was to follow authority.

Fear in connected to authority. When one is under authority, like the beasts under Noah, there is a healthy fear that is established. Not all fear is bad. For instance, scripture speaks often of the fear of the Lord. But that subject is beyond the length of this article.

However, the root of fear may be bound up in this issue of authority. Check out what Paul says in Romans chapter 8:

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 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.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Rom. 8:14-16)

Our starting place is this, “the spirit of bondage to fear.” “Fallen humanity begins with fear; it’s our natural state. The starting line for every person is bondage to fear. Why? Because we are not under the authority of God, we are under the authority of sin and death, we are serving a false god, therefore we are riddled with fear.

That’s both saddening and encouraging. It is encouraging to me because it means that I am not alone in my fear; I’m not the foregone basket case of despairing anxiety, and neither are you. The unredeemed are holed up with all the rest sailing on a ship named fear. Thankfully, that spirit of bondage is exactly what Christ has delivered us from. He has the power, and has exerted that power, to break us from the chains of fear delivering us into His glorious family. Through Christ our spirit of fear is exchanged for the Spirit of Adoption – here, we gain a new father, we gain a new master: Abba. We have a new identity and a new name. No longer under the authority of fear, we as children of God are under the authority of the Father.

Ok, so the reality is established that believers are not under the authority of fear, but of the Father. But why do I still struggle with feelings of fear?

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 Jn. 4:18)

John gives us insight into the quelling of fears. He notes that fear involves torment. To unlock a heart from fear requires perfect love. Note the quality here. Perfect love. This isn’t just any old love. It’s certainly not power or control or anything else. It’s only the love the Father can give. He is the source of this perfect, fear-obliterating love. We also see that there is a process involved to overcoming fear. It doesn’t happen immediately like the old advice tells us, “Just face your fears.”

Fear is rebutted as the believer gains confidence in their Father. Our source of authority is changed from bondage to the Father; from fear to freedom. As we believe that the Father is ourWinter Dawning Inspirations Snow Sunlight Wintr Sky Wallpaper Pictures Free life-giver our fear of death subsides. As we believe that our Father is our provider the fears of lack subside. As we believe that the Father is our judge our fear of condemnation flees. The quality of the love that the Father currently bestows upon is perfect; we still battle fear because we see and experience that love imperfectly.

A key to overcoming fear is to experience the Father in a deeper way. As we grow in the knowledge of God the grip of fear begins to loosen its hold upon our lives. Walking in freedom from fear is available for everyone in Christ. May the Lord grant us revelation of who He is and who we are in Him.

Slaves to Joy

Emotions are from God. God is deeply emotional, and deeply invested in His creation. He is not however unstable. His emotions are subject to His nature – one of love and goodness. He is moved by His emotions, much like we are.

Emotions are powerful. It’s not easy to “talk” yourself out of them. Your emotions are subject to your nature. Out of the heart the mouth speaks. Out of human nature emotions spring. These emotions are both positive and negative.

Our culture tells us to disconnect from our emotions. Don’t cry. Don’t giggle. Suck it up. Get the job done without whining and don’t get too happy when it is.

Our emotions need to get saved. They lie, they cheat, they interrupt. They need to be plumb-lined to truth. Though God rejoices over us our emotions will tell us He’s angry. Though God is a good Father our emotions will tell us that we’re orphans. Though God is near our emotions will tell us that He’s distant. Though God says that He’s made us clean our emotions will tell us we’re dirty.

It’s time to put the smack down.

Look at what David says in Psalm 4: “You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.”

This means that David was glad even when the grain and wine were absent. His gladness wasn’t intrinsically knit to outward success. His emotions weren’t always based in the present circumstance. There was gladness in his heart before the increase of grain and before the increase of wine.

We don’t have to be slaves to our emotions. We are not slaves but sons. We are not orphans we are children. We are not condemned we are forgiven.

Today, let the gladness of a glad Father fill your heart!

Christ Revealed the Father – Jn. 15:9-11

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you, abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” Jn 15:9-11

I want to take a brief look at 3 points on what Christ revealed about the Father from this passage.

1.) Christ revealed the Father’s love by loving His disciples the way that the Father loved Him.

When the Word became flesh and dwelt among humanity He was commissioned by the Father to reveal all that He desired humanity to know about Himself. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. His character, thoughts, words and deeds show the exact nature of the Father. The Father has deep and profound love for the Son; they share a relationship that would have otherwise been unknown to mankind. Yet, Christ came and invited humanity into the Triune expression of love and affection. This “same” love that the Father has and expresses towards the Son is the “same” love with which Christ has loved us. God wanted us to know how He loved us by loving us through His Son. He also wanted us to know how much He loved His Son by expressing that love through His Son to us.

2.) To experience this love, Jesus tells us that we must keep His commandments.

Love for God is expressed through the guarding of the commands of the Lord. Keeping His word will cause us to “abide” in the love of God. The commandments of the Lord are unto love not duty. For example, the man that loves his wife earnestly upholds the covenant of marriage that he made with her. Upholding the covenant doesn’t diminish love in dullness (religion) but rather inflames love causing it to grow.

The love of God is freely given, it is a tower of refuge; there is no lock on the door and anyone can come in, but to REMAIN inside of that tower, to truly dwell in that tower, we must keep His commands. Anyone can make a covenant of marriage in declaration of love, but to remain in the covenant of marriage the man (or woman) works to not break that covenant.

Grace is given to keep His commands when we understand the Father’s love and affection through revelation. If we don’t understand the war that rages outside the dwelling of the Lord’s love, we will not understand the nature of abiding in God’s love and treat it cheaply. Cheap love leads to weak faith, which ultimately ends in no love. Weak faith puts us outside of the tower of Christ’s affection and makes us subject to the fiery darts of the evil one.

3.) The full expression of joy and enduring pleasure in this life comes from keeping God’s commandments.

God wants us to experience pleasure, yet He wants us to do it in a way that honors Him, ourselves and others. There is a God-intended way to experience pleasure – the greatest pleasure is the affection of His heart. It the the pleasure that God has within the God-head. Father, Son and Holy Spirit share inexpressible joy in and of themselves. We experience that pleasure by living in their love, and we remain in that love through keeping God’s commands. The most exhilarating experience that humanity can have on this side of eternity is an ongoing reception of the love of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

May you be blessed and enriched by the power of the Holy Spirit.