F-Words in the Bible: Fear

Fear is one of the most griping emotions we feel, it can paralyze someone for a moment, or rule a person for a lifetime. However, when dealing with the issue of fear it is important to rightly divide the Word of God when the English word ”fear” is used.

One can separate all scriptures in the Bible concerning fear in to two categories – 1. Holy fear, and 2. Carnal fear. These two types of fear may use the same word but are quite opposite in nature and result.

The fear of the Lord is a necessity for the believer; it places them in the proper place of worship, honor, obedience, and reverence before God. However, fearing God is not being afraid of Him, or being terrified at the thought or mention of his name as many children may be afraid of superstitious characters such as the boogie man. Fearing the Lord can be thought of as respecting the Lord, obeying the Lord, and loving the Lord all combined in to one simple but often misunderstood word – fear.

For more on fearing the Lord check out these verses: Psa. 25:14, 33:8, 34:7-9, 40:3, 56:4, 115:11-13, Pro. 1:7, 3:7, 10:27, 16:6, Jon. 1:9, Mal.3:16, 2Chr 19:9, Act 19:17.

That being said, this article is focusing on the carnal fear that grips ones mind and affects their walk in faith. If you look below you will see a list of major Bible characters that are considered patriarchs and saints but have been personally subject to great fear as all of us have been.

Adam                        Gen 3:10
Abraham                 Gen 15:1, Gen 26:7
Jacob                        Gen 31:31
Joseph’s Brothers  Gen 50:19
Moses                       Exo 3:6
Israelites                 Exo 14:10, 1Sam 17:11
Samuel                    1Sam 3:15
Saul                           1Sam 18:12, 15, 29
David                        1Sam 21:12
Nehemiah               Neh 2:2
Job                            Job 23:15
Daniel                       Dan 4:5
Joseph                     Mat 2:22
Disciples                 Mar 6:9, 10:32, Jhn 6:19,
Pilate                        Jhn 19:6

It may be surprising to see how many famous Bible characters were victims of fear, some of which cases included fear of death by an enemy, others were less serious cases. Let’s build some principles about fear that can be constructed from scriptural and real world effects of fear in our lives.

1. Fear will eventually overpower Faith

Matthew 8:24-26, Luke 8:50

When the storm arose around the disciples boat they grew very scared, not knowing the power of God through their own faith. We can reason that it would be impossible for them to of exercised their faith against the storm while fearing the circumstances at the same time because Jesus said they were men of little faith (but much fear). However if we operate in faith no circumstance, trouble, problem, or catastrophe is too big for us to handle because we realize that God is on our side. And when we have the revelation that God is for us, who or what can be against us (Rom 8:31, Psalm 118:6)?

The second passage in Luke speaks of an event where a wealthy person came desperately to Jesus to ask Him if He would raise her daughter from the dead. Jesus answered the critics of this request by saying “do not be afraid, only believe”. Later when Jesus went to the house he removed everyone from the room because of their disbelief, then the girl was raised from the dead. Again, we can reason from this story as well that those who fear do not have enough faith for the situation. If we want to live a life that overcomes Satan and is successful in this world we must not let fear extinguish our faith in hard times.

Many peoples lives are ruled by fear, fear of many things, even irrational things. This is not how God wants us to live, because “God has not given you a spirit of fear but of power, of love, and of a sound mind” (1Tim 1:7). He wants us to live with a sound mind, loving everyone, and realizing the power that God has given us by Christ’s blood that can overcome anything. If you don’t pull the reigns on your mind your fear will overpower your faith.

2. Fear paralyzes you

Gen 3:10, 2Timothy 1:7

After Adam and Eve had disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit they realized that they were naked and that they had sinned against God. Because of this guilt of sin, they hid from God instead of going to Him and repenting. Fear will paralyze you from moving forward which is God’s perfect will fro you. God wants you to move forward in victory and in repentance to Him when you sin against Him. Fear however will hold you back and can even keep you from growing in Christ!

Hiding from God and being defeated by tough situations is nothing like what God intended our lives to be. We can see God’s ideal blueprint for our lives through various scriptures such as 2Timothy 1:7, Genesis 4:7, and James 4:7-8. We can also see from 1Pet 5:8 that Satan is active in this world (not confined to hell) and that he is looking for those individuals (saved and un

Jesus’ charge for believers in Mark 16 starts with the word “Go” but how can one go out and live for Christ, spread His message, and overcome the enemy if they are scared of the risk, or scared of failure – that is not faith, it’s spiritual paralysis!

3. Fear turns our focus to carnal things

Matthew 6:31-34, Psalm 52:11

As has been previously stated fear extinguishes your faith, so what is left in your mind? Carnal thinking. When you don’t believe God can do it, all that is left is your attempt at fixing it, or your inability to do anything at all, both of which are carnal things. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.” So we can see that fear blinds out spiritual eyes and causes us to think of ourselves, doing so we miss the bigger picture and forget how great our God is. Colossians 3:2 says “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Likewise Philippians 3:20 reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven so we should not become imbalanced by focusing on Earth and our small problems, instead we should focus on how we can grow and have faith in God and that He is big enough to take care of us no matter what.

4. Fear is an open door for Satan

1Pet 5:8, Eph 4:27

Ephesians 4 is talking about the new man which we as Christians are to put on. This “new man” is one that rejects lying, carnal lusts, and corrupt conduct. Verse 27 continues to say that by putting on the new man we should not give place to the devil if we live in this new identity we have in Christ. Likewise if we allow our mind to become infiltrated by fear we are giving a place to the devil because by entertaining fear we lapse back to our old, carnal identity.

Because fear places us in a state of mind that God doesn’t want us in (2Tim 1:7), it allows Satan to work lies in to our minds which then pull us off the path God has for us. Fear opens the door for Satan in to our life. In the New King James translation of the Bible the phrase “Do not fear” is found 51 times while “fear not” is found 10 times. The Bible being God’s love letter to us makes a clear statement that fear is something that can be overcome by the hope and power of Christ, and it is something that we should not give place to in our life if we have surrendered to Christ.

Other scripture on fear:

Luke 8:50 – Fear weakens faith

Luke 12:4 – Fear God not man

Psalm 118:6 – What can man do to me?

Luke 12:32 – Don’t fear, God loves us

Matthew 10:31 – Fear not, God cares for us

2Timothy 1:7 – Spirit of fear

1John 4:18 – Love casts out fear

Fear the Lord – Psalm 31:19, 40:3, 56:4, 115:11

“Do not fear” found 51 times, “fear not” 10 times

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