Fighting Fear With Truth
Editor's Note: Today we conclude a series of articles on overcoming fear, worry, and anxiety. The first dealt with uncovering our fears. The second article contrasted godly and ungodly fears. The third article defined and described four types of fears. The final two articles focus on a biblical response to fear by examining how you can fight fear with fear and how you can fight fear with truth.
Most of our fears are born out of a legitimate concern, except for maybe my escalator fear. (Although I’m pretty sure I could get sucked into those moving steps!) Here’s what happens: lies produced in our own hearts and fanned into flame by our innate sinfulness or the Enemy hijack our legitimate concern. So, instead of being concerned about providing for my family, I become convinced that unless I work 12 hours a day 7 days a week my family will be impoverished. Instead of being concerned about having good friends I become convinced that everyone must love and accept me or my value will be worthless. Can you see how this works? Take any legitimate concern you have, pour the fuel of doubt about God and lies about reality onto it and, voila! You have created a fear, worry, or anxiety that will dominate your life.
I’m convinced that the way to attack the fears that plague us is with Truth. We tend to “pitch our tent” over the lies that pop into our minds rather than going to war against them—taking them captive, and making them obedient to Christ.
Ungodly fear is never from God. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control [sound mind].” The battle against fear is fought between our ears...in our thought life. So, in this last post I’m going to lay out several truths that we can use to combat fear.
The truth is...
Walking in fear = walking in sin because walking in fear = walking in unbelief.
Hear me now: I’m not talking about momentary fears that flit in and out of our minds, the temptation to fear, or even the feelings of fear. I’m talking about the fears that have taken root in our hearts and are ruling our lives. We need to confess these fears as sin. They’re sinful because they’ve convinced us that God is not enough for us; that He doesn’t really care; that He’s not in control; that He’s powerless to help; that He’s punishing us. Walking in fear causes us to think wrong, sinful thoughts about God; and thinking wrong, sinful thoughts about God causes us to walk in fear. That may sound harsh, but wouldn’t you rather be told that you have a disease and that it can be treated instead of being told that you’re just “normal” and continue to suffer? Our loving Father is waiting with open arms for His fearful prodigals to “come to our senses” and run back into His forgiving, merciful arms. Repent and return to the Father and begin to walk in truth.
Our identity is found in Christ, not in other people’s opinions of us, or even in our own opinions of ourselves (Ephesians 1 & 2; Jude 1).
In Christ, we have been blessed, chosen, raised up, made alive, adopted, forgiven, given an inheritance that will never fade, redeemed, sealed with the Holy Spirit, seated with Christ...saved! Jude 1 adds that we have been called, loved by the Father, and kept by Jesus Christ. And all of this was completely undeserved and unearned. It’s all of GRACE. God’s love for us is based on Jesus Christ...not our performance. The same love that He has for the Son, He has for us. Arm yourself with these truths when the fear about what others think of you creeps in. Arm yourself with these truths when you feel the need to earn the favor of God or others. Arm yourself with these truths when you feel crushed by the unrealistic expectations you’ve set for yourself. These truths believed, meditated on, and applied will demolish the fear of man and the fear of failure.
Timothy Keller writes, “Without the gospel we hate ourselves instead of our sin. Without the gospel, we’re motivated through all sorts of awful fear and pride to change and it doesn’t really change our hearts; it just restrains our hearts.”
I love this passage from Henri Nouwen’s book, Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith:
Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, “Prove that you are a good person.” Another voice says, “You’d better be ashamed of yourself.” There is also a voice that says, ‘Nobody really cares about you,” and one that says, “Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful.” But underneath all these often very noisy voices is a still, small voice that says, “You are My beloved, My favor rests on you.”
Our God is strong enough, wise enough, and loving enough to help us (Psalm 147:5; Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 5:5-8, 8:35, 37-39, 11:33-36).
The Enemy wants us to doubt every truth we know about God. We need to fight back with the truth about God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture. Look for the lies about God that have invaded your thoughts and go to His Word to replace them with truth.
In Christ we are fully and completely forgiven (Hebrews 7:24-27, 9:23-28; 1 Peter 1:18-21; Psalm 103).
For some of us, fear has deep roots in our past and present sins. We doubt that God could really forgive us. But the truth is, there’s nothing more that needs to be done. We can rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross. No more blood needs to be spilled. No amount of penance could ever “make up” for our sins. If there was something that we could do to save ourselves, then Christ would never have had to die. The cross truly was enough!
We need a community of believers to help us fight fear (Galatians 6:2; Proverbs 27:17).
As I write this post, Doug has been preaching about the importance of relationship. We need to have brothers and sisters in Christ surrounding us and helping us in this battle against fear. Just like soldiers, we should never go into battle alone! We need a “band of brothers” around us to speak to us and remind us of truth when our own minds are so clouded with doubt and fear. Open up about your struggles with others and I know you’ll find fellow strugglers to go into battle with you.
Wow! We’ve been on quite a journey together. We’ve discussed four different types of fear, we’ve worked to identify our fears, we’ve talked about fighting fear by developing a reverential awe for God and trust in Him, and we’ve talked about fighting fear with truth from God’s Word. And I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface!
Two Simple Thoughts:
There’s so much more that we could talk about regarding fear, worry, and anxiety, but I want to leave you with two simple thoughts that I believe are of most importance:
1. Come to know your Savior more and more deeply.
He’s revealed Himself on every page of Scripture, so soak in His Word as much as you can. Look for Him every time you read. See His love for you, His power and majesty, His sovereignty, His mercy and grace and let your heart be warmed with love for Him and increased trust in Him. The more you see His beauty the less your fears will grip your heart.
2. Combat the lies you believe with Truth.
Our hearts are filled with fear primarily because we are believing lies about God and lies about our circumstances. Learn to identity those lies and go to Scripture to find truth. If you don’t know where to begin to find truth, ask a friend to help you and go together to God’s Word to find the truths that will set you free from the bondage of your fears.
Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock eternal.”
The peace that we’re craving, that freedom from fear, is only found when we fix our minds firmly on the Lord. When our minds are steadfastly fixed on Him our trust in Him will increase and our doubt and fear will decrease. He will be the Watchman over us, protecting us with His perfect peace.