Darkness everywhere. Vision severely obscured, feelings of dread and terror seemed to choke the life out of every living thing within the area. Joel didn’t know where he was going, only that he must remove himself as far as possible from this situation. He clawed through the dark masses of something. A warm stick substance trickled down his face, causing him to quickly wipe his hand across his brow. It was blood. More dread came upon him as this realization occurred to him. What if he lost so much blood that he fainted and died in this unknown territory? Nonetheless, he pressed on. Still uncertain of what chased him.
He screamed as he fell. Something seemed to grasp his legs as he tripped. This was the end of him! No, only his shoe came untied. In his haste, this escaped his notice. He quickly tied it, listening intently for any noises that might give his pursuer away. Nothing. Of course, such a demon would not be so easy to detect. He must run on!
What is Fear?
Fear doesn’t always manifest itself in ways we recognize. It sometimes hides so well that we don’t even know it is there, yet we run madly away from it. We are all familiar with that sensation of a knot in our stomach when things seem to be going wrong. For some of us, anxiety makes us physically ill and it becomes impossible to do our work. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines fear as:
1a: an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger
b(1): an instance of this emotion
(2): a state marked by this emotion
2: anxious concern
3: profound reverence and awe especially toward God
4: reason for alarm
1: to be afraid of: expect with alarm fear the worst
2: to have a reverential awe of fear God
The Bible’s view of fear also consists of this in some areas, such as expressed in many of Psalms. Throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament, we find people riddled with doubts and anxieties. Humans naturally feel fear.
On the other hand, another Biblical definition of fear exists; a fear consisting of respect and honor towards God. In Proverbs 1:7, we see that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…” Without properly respecting God, we remain in our sinful and rather stupid mentality. Also, fear of the LORD requires obedience, as one might obey his or her father. In Isaiah 63:17 it says “ O LORD, why have You made is stray from Your ways, and hardened our heart from Your fear?” Fear of the Lord therefore must be a blessing, keeping us on the path of righteousness, as also seen in 2 Corinthians 5:9-11 and Hebrews 12:28.
Sometimes We Don’t Notice It
Fear can sneak up on us without us recognizing it right away. It might be a simple “What if…” creeping into our thoughts or it may manifest itself so greatly that severe stress and physical ailments take over. It can lead to a depressed state of mind, as exhaustion from overworking our minds takes over. We get less quality sleep, maybe eat more or less than the healthy requirements, perhaps some of us become so nervous that holding still proves to be a challenge. Other times less obvious symptoms of fear arise. Anger and irritability over petty things, because things don’t go one’s own way, may actually demonstrate fear, as one might feel overwhelmed with the other problems in his or her life that he or she cannot handle any more issues. The need to control everyone and everything also demonstrates fear, as constant mistrust causes one to doubt the intentions and ability of those around him or her.
Another obvious way fear shows itself is in those with dependency disorders. The constant need for attention and affection from others to soothe away their anxieties becomes irritating as it might be seen as merely a way to obtain attention.
A lesser understood outward expression of fear may be observed as arrogance in some cases. A person who feels disliked and insignificant may put on a façade of extreme self-confidence in order to cope with near self-hatred and doubt that consumes his or her being. A false sense of self- sufficiency hides their insecurities and might be just another coping method. Clearly, this is not always true, but in some cases it is. This goes right along with pride, which clearly remains sinful.
Over and over and over in Scripture, God gives us the command to not fear the things of this world. In Joshua 1:9 it says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” The verse directly before it we also should pay close attention to. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” In order to not fear, we must fear God and live in obedience to His Word.
Psalm 112 demonstrates the strength of a godly man. In verse 6-8 it declares “Surely he will never be shaken; the righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established; he will not be afraid, until he sees his desire upon his enemies.”
Many more areas in Scripture give commands to not fear the world, but to live in fear of God alone. Without godly fear, we ought to be afraid of the world because we then would have nothing to hope in or trust. Living in sin equates to living under Satan and not Christ. Fear is binary; either fear God or fear the world. Either live for God or live in slavery to sin. 1 John 4:18 declares “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.” Verse 20-21 tells us that this love from God must be demonstrated by actions toward others. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” Loving God is directly tied to action and fear of God.
In essence, if one truly wishes to live at peace without fear, then one must live in obedience to God. If one refuses to submit to God, then the natural state of being becomes fear of the world. One also must remember the characteristics of God’s kindness and mercy. If a sinner earnestly seeks God, repents and turns from his or her sins, God will listen to those pleas. He washes us in the blood of Christ that we may be made clean and gives us the strength to overcome sin.