II Timothy 1:7, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
As a pastor, I have many different responsibilities. One of the responsibilities I have is in the area of counseling. Every week without fail, I will be asked by one of our members for a bit of advice. Sometimes, it is through a text or a quick phone call. Other times, it is a scheduled appointment in the church office. Sometimes, it is something simple that the member is just seeking assurance by seeing what I think. Other times, it is sitting across from a fellow Christian and helping him through a crisis hour. In my counseling, I seek to comfort, to give confidence, and to give direction by pointing to the Word of God. There are several verses of Scripture that I find myself quoting often in these circumstances.
A verse of Scripture that I probably quote more often than any other is II Timothy 1:7. I mention this to remind us that as people, we all have emotions, anxieties, and weaknesses. Fear is one of those emotions that we share. Let us notice several things about fear and what the Bible says about dealing with it.In II Timothy 1:7, God tells us that He has not given us the spirit of fear. He does not say we should never fear. Fear is a natural response that we have. It is the way we are made. It is normal to be afraid of sickness and disease. It is normal to be afraid of the words, “You have cancer.” It is natural for us to have fears concerning finances and our livelihood. Fear is not only natural but also a defense mechanism for self-preservation. It is our fear that keeps us out of unsafe circumstances. Fear keeps us from dangerous situations. However, while it is true fear is a natural response as a Christian, we should not live in a spirit of fear.
Let me say it like this: Having fear is not a sin, but I believe living in the spirit of fear is a sin. Let me explain. It is not fear that limits us. It is the spirit of fear that limits us. It is not the fact that we have fear that hinders us in our Christian lives, it is living in the spirit of fear that hinders us. Fear does not make poor decisions. The spirit of fear does. The Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy while under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, did not tell Timothy he should never be afraid. He warned him against living in the spirit of fear, of living afraid. There is a difference. As Christians, we are never told from God’s Word to not have fear.
So, if we have fears today, relax. That is normal but pay close attention. We are admonished against the spirit of fear. Living in the spirit of fear is NOT having fears; it is allowing our fears to make our decisions for us. Let us look at several truths that will help us deal with a spirit of fear.
The spirit of fear comes from a lack of faith.
Faith looks to God. Fear looks to circumstances. Fear is focusing on the problem greater than us. Faith is focusing on God Who is greater than our problem. Fear should not be the decision-maker in our lives. When we trust our fears more than God’s promises, presence, and power, we are living in a spirit of fear and revealing our lack of faith.
The spirit of fear is exploited by the enemy.
I Peter 5:8 reminds us, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: We all have an enemy. The fallen angel, Satan is real, and we are reminded that he is seeking whom he may destroy. This verse of Scripture is very revealing in how our enemy uses the spirit of fear against us. Notice the Bible says he is a roaring lion. The roar of a lion is meant to intimidate and to make afraid. A child of God has a promise that if we resist, the Devil will flee. We have the promise of God’s protection, so the strategy of the enemy is to use our fear to his advantage. When we live in a spirit of fear, we tend to make decisions that are not good for us spiritually.
The spirit of fear is overcome by the Word of God.
Romans 10:17 tells us, So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Faith comes from the Word of God. It is really quite simple. No Bible equals no faith. Before we can depend on the promises of God, we must KNOW the promises of God. This truth proves why those who spend little to no time in the Bible are more likely to live in a spirit of fear. So, how can we overcome a spirit of fear? We must know more of God’s Word. Christian, spend time in the Word of God daily. Attend a Bible-preaching church. Attend the midweek Bible studies and Sunday School. The Word of God increases our faith. We cannot buy an antidote to fear. God has given us the solution in His Word.
The spirit of fear is to be replaced by the spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind.
The spirit of power in II Timothy 1:7 is speaking of a spiritual power not merely will power. Living in the flesh (or in our own ability) is to live in the spirit of fear. Living in the Spirit (or in the ability of the Holy Spirit) allows us to overcome the fear. Living in the spirit of fear is carnal. Living in the spirit of power is spiritual. We are also admonished to have the spirit of love. It is important to understand this is speaking of the love of Christ. This is a deep abiding love, not a superficial love. Perhaps one is wondering how a love of Christ replaces a spirit of fear. A love of Christ brings boldness. Let me use as an example of those who were martyred for the faith. Refusal to recant their faith in Christ led to their hanging, beheading, burning, or some other means of execution. Did they face their demise with no fear? No, their deep love of Christ had replaced a spirit of fear.
Finally, we are to replace a spirit of fear with a spirit of a sound mind.
The spirit of fear does not come from God. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;… God wants us to depend on Him in spite of our fear. There is peace of mind when we simply decide to trust Him in spite of our fears.
The uncertainty of life brings many fears. Perhaps one who reads this is afraid of what is taking place in our world—the fear of disease and sickness, the fear of financial hardship. It is okay, and it is normal to be afraid. Remember though, we are admonished by Scripture to not live afraid because we know God is in control. Friend, if God notices when a sparrow falls, He is very aware of our plight. Let me summarize in this way, “Do not trust your fear. Trust God.”
Pastor Neal, through his preaching and his counseling, displays the compassionate heart of a pastor, follows the true leading of the Holy Spirit, and expresses a fervent desire to see lost souls come to know Christ. It is his ultimate desire to see the greater Jacksonville area reached for the cause of Christ and for revival to come to Northeast Florida.