How to Overcome Fear

“Just tell yourself not to fear.”

This is not biblical advice. The Scriptures do not teach us to eliminate fear by refusing to think about it. Faith is not a denial of the truth. Faith does not require me to lie to myself or others.

Person of FearThere is no incantation to speak over fear that will magically banish it away.

Let’s ask the Scriptures about conditions for not fearing.

God’s Presence is stronger than fear.

Psalm 23 is a favorite. “I won’t fear because You are with me” seems to indicate that God’s presence in our lives can be stronger than the source of fear. In Psalm 23, the source of fear is walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

In Deuteronomy 31, God’s character is emphasized in Moses’ prophetic instruction to Joshua.  “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” In the face of conflict or threat, the presence of God is stronger than fear or dismay.

Abide in the presence of God whenever you find yourself temporarily in the presence of something fearful. God’s presence is greater than anything that causes fear.

God holds us in His righteousness.

A good memory verse (and a great song from Seeds Family Worship) is Isaiah 41:10. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” This message to Israel teaches about the righteous character of God. God holds us in His righteousness.

The righteous find a safe place in God.

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.a)Proverbs 18:10

The righteous possess boldness.

The wicked flee though no one pursues,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.b)Proverbs 28:1

God is with us. God is with us in times of fear and weakness. Our contact with God is in His righteousness. We ought to wonder what happens to us when we reject righteousness and choose selfishness.

Redemption is a strong factor in conquering fear.

But now thus says the LORD,  he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.'” Isaiah 43:1 indicates that fearlessness is one of the benefits included in redemption.

FAITH | FEAR
or
FAITH | UNBELIEF ?

I propose that fear is not the exact opposite of faith. The antithesis of faith is unbelief.

Antonyms for fear include: assurance, confidence, courage, fearlessness, trust, boldness.

Faith conquers fear by persuading us to fear the right stuff… particularly to properly fear the Lord.

I have a fear of flying. I think it is more of a fear of heights or a fear of falling from a height. I never had it when I was young. I first noticed it in my thirties. It isn’t a mild anxiety. I have physical responses like increased pulse, vertigo, and probably an increase in adrenaline and cortisol.

ANXIOUS FLYER

Telling myself to mentally not think about it doesn’t work. Faith does not require me to lie to myself.

Faith controls my behavior.

I do not want fear to control me, but I cannot overcome my fear by a mental denial or renouncement of my emotional state. My fear comes from being very high up in the air. I can overcome my fear by including information that is strong enough to overrule the fear. I think of the safety protocols that govern the maintenance and operation of the plane. I think of the benefit of arriving at my destination in hours instead of days. I give myself a greater purpose that keeps my fear from controlling my behavior.

Faith acknowledges the truth.

True faith is not a denial of the truth. True faith must surely involve knowing the right thing to fear and not fearing the wrong stuff.

One must stand in awe of anyone that has the power and authority to kill him. One must not fear/awe/respect anyone who attempts to manipulate him. One must not be afraid to do what God wants him to do.

Knowledge without fear does nothing.

c)FOTU: The fear of the unknown may be the fundamental foundation of all other fears.

True faith must result in obedience to God or it is no more than lip-service, taking the name of Christ while rejecting his authority over your life. A faith-filled person must also be a faithful person.

Faithfulness requires the fear of the Lord. Therefore, I propose that the antithesis of worldly fear is the fear of the Lord.

Psalm 111:10. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…d)New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ps 111:10.

Proverbs 1:7. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.e)New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Pr 1:7.

Ecclesiastes 8:12-13. Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly.
But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.f)New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ec 8:12–13.

Ecclesiastes 3:14. I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him.g)New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ec 3:14.

yare˒ (יָרֵא, 3372), “to be afraid, stand in awe, fear.”  …Basically, this verb connotes the psychological reaction of “fear.”h)W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 79.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.
For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.i)New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ec 12:13–14.

A young man may know his father’s rules, but will disregard them because he does not respect his father. Is it better to obey the Lord or to disobey the Lord? The right-minded person will say it is better to obey than to disobey. However, a lot of people do not obey the Lord even though they know what is right and believe that it is better to do what is right. The knowledge of right doesn’t result in obedience without the fear of God.

Isaiah 50:10. Who is among you that fears the LORD,
That obeys the voice of His servant,
That walks in darkness and has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.j)New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Is 50:10.

 

References   [ + ]

a. Proverbs 18:10
b. Proverbs 28:1
c. FOTU: The fear of the unknown may be the fundamental foundation of all other fears.
d. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ps 111:10.
e. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Pr 1:7.
f. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ec 8:12–13.
g. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ec 3:14.
h. W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 79.
i. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ec 12:13–14.
j. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Is 50:10.