Putting fear to death – A Discipleship skill

Every disciple will acknowledge that to disobey a clear command from the Scriptures is an act of sin. All disobedience is sin. Thus, when the word of God commands us, “to be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6) and we are, nevertheless, anxious and fearful, we are guilty of sin. That statement is not intended to oversimplify fear inside the human breast, but it is intended to identify fear for what it is – sin. “Through the Law comes the knowledge if sin (Romans 3:20),” and when the Lord Jesus Himself and His apostles and the LORD and His prophets in the Old Testament all repeatedly command followers of the Lord not to fear, we must confess our fear as disobedience to the clear commands of Scripture, which is sin.

Fear is sin! This necessary confession orients us rightly to our fear. Our fear is sin, and fear not only disobeys the Lord’s commands, but it also reveals distrust of the Lord, which further calls into question His power and His ability to keep His promises to His children. All fear is sin and is the result of sin and will lead to further sin if not confessed and repented of.

What I want to do with this article is to offer thoughts and Scripture verses to provide the disciple of Jesus with weapons to fight against fear and to put fear to death.

First, then, much of our fear is the product of not taking every thought captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) and instead allowing our thoughts to go where bad habits of thought take them. This leads the mind into places that remind us of past failures and that produce anger and regret and frustration and worry in our mind. The prowling enemy (1 Peter 5:8) finds us as an easy target, because we are already moving toward the pit. What to do? Arrest the trajectory of your thinking! Immediately interrupt your thought pattern and instead drive your mind into a place of biblical obedience. When thoughts head down toward the abyss, have a ready command of Scripture to obey. The Bible is full of commands to obey and it is the disciple’s responsibility to have several paths of obedience to walk to arrest poor thinking. As one simple example, immediately meditate on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “rejoice always! Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.” Force your mind and your will into these three simple steps of obedience. “Rejoice always.” Consider all the places in the Scripture that call us to rejoice. Lift up your voice and cry out with joy to the Lord. “Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 12:6).” “Pray without ceasing.” Focus on praying – NOW! Force out all distractions and pray for the souls of those lost people that you know. Pray for your pastor. Pray for your local church. Pray that God will make you more useful to Him and to others. Pray that God would teach you humility or generosity. Pray that God would vanquish your pride. “In everything give thanks.” Spend time thanking God for all that He has given you that you did not deserve and certainly did not earn by your own efforts. List as many things as you can think of for which to thank the Lord, then spend time thinking Him for these. The point is that the mind must be controlled and the thoughts captured so that energy and thought are directed into obedient channels and prevented from going into dead ends and into an abyss of uselessness.

Second, confess your fear as sin and REPENT! This combination of confession and repentance is a powerful tool in the disciple’s arsenal. CONFESS fear as sin and agree with the Lord that fear is so. Explicitly confess fear as sin. “I have done what the Lord specifically commands me not to do; that is sin!” Agree with the Lord about your sin. You have violated His law and you again need the cleansing of the Savior. Now REPENT of the sin. Turn away from this sin and resolve to not repeat it. Create a strategy for future obedience and then carry out the strategy. Discipline yourself for godliness.

Third, meditate on Scripture and immerse your mind with the word of God. Fill your thoughts so full of the Bible that no stray and vicious thought can insinuate itself into your head and drag you into the abyss or into despair. Have ready at hand the sharpest arrows of the word of God that you know. When the enemy pulls you down or when circumstances threaten to overwhelm and to cause pangs of fear, “Cry aloud with your voice to the LORD; Make supplication with your voice to the LORD (Psalm 142:1).” Bring your favorite passages from the Word to bear on the fear and watch the fear fade and melt away. Indeed, the Word is like a fire and like a hammer that shatters a rock (Jeremiah 23:29). Take the sword of the Spirit out of its sheath and wield it as a potent weapon and you will prevail.

Fourth, I offer a “shotgun” of different ideas that will hopefully take you away from the place of anxiety and worry and fear.

  • Are there places you will not allow your mind to go because those thoughts take you into depression? (2 Corinthians 10:3-6) Put up guardrails and stop signs for your thoughts and then obey all traffic laws! When you are going in that direction, do you actively STOP and then replace unhelpful thoughts with positive and obedient and helpful?
  • Meditate on Psalm 131 and realize that there are many things that are “great matters” and “things too difficult for me.” Since that is the case, be ready to acknowledge the Lord’s power and allow His might and power to descend upon you as a source of peace and comfort. Pride leads to pressure, but resting in the Lord leads to peace.
  • Remember the Bible’s commands and then hunger for righteousness and obedience. Romans 8:28-30; 8:31-39; Phil. 4:6-7; Matthew 6:25-34; Psalm 34:4-6; Isaiah 41:10; 43:1-7.
  • Are you actively praying against all your fears? The Lord has promised to vanquish our enemies and to bring us to heaven. Are you living in that light? When you sense that you are growing fearful and you are feeling the tightness in your gut, are you actively and consciously and reflexively beginning to pray to the Lord?

I think that, if you will continually do these simple things, your fears will be driven away.

SDG       rmb       4/18/2018

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