While we don’t find the term “ungodly fear” in the Bible, there is a godly fear. There are at least three lessons we can learn about the other kind: the type that is unhealthy, damaging and not part of God’s will for our lives.
The term “fear of the Lord” typifies the idea of holy fear. Proper hermeneutic analysis of passages that use this phrase reveals that it means an attitude and posture of reverence and worship. Fear of the Lord is godly fear and we are not to view it as quaking in our boots about how God is upset and angry with us. He is not angry with us nor does he want to smite us. He loves us, is for us not against us and has a plan for us to prosper. Fear of the Lord is healthy and beneficial.
Ungodly fear is that emotion of dread and that wells up in our soulish realm that invariably leads to bad results. You know the kind; it can vary from a fleeting moment of discomfort to a gut-wrenching, interminable, sweaty-palms-racing-heart dread that sucks the life out of you.
- Bible characters battled fear
Everyone fights fear, and we can take comfort that many of our bible heroes were in the same boat;
- Elijah – after defeating the prophets of Baal, he fled in terror from the perceived wrath of Jezebel.
- Gideon – he hid in the winepress to escape notice of the Midianites (Judges 6). God called him (prophetically) a “mighty man of God”, a term which ignored his fearful demeanor!
- Peter – denied Jesus three times just after his arrest. We should rejoice that one of Jesus’ most beloved, trusted and impacting disciples displayed great cowardice in the face of adversity. If God can use Peter, and help him get past his fear, then there is great hope for us all!
- We are commanded to not be afraid
I’ve heard it said that there are 365 “fear not” exhortations in the Bible.
- To Joshua: “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
- To Abraham: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Genesis 15:1
- “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” Isaiah 41:10
Fear not! Do not be afraid. In every instance, when the first reaction was fear, information and revelation was revealed so that the thoughts of fear could be displaced and then the emotion of fear dissipated.
What we are feeling, our emotions, flows out of our thoughts. That is why there is a significant emphasis in Paul’s writings about proper thinking. We are told to take thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ and think on those things that are pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (2 Corinthians 10:5, Philippians 4:8).
The mind is the battlefield for one aspect of spiritual warfare as the demonic kingdom puts ideas into us to question all that we know about God. When they can get us doubt any measure of God’s perfect love, power and provision for us, then fear overwhelm us.
Understanding and revelation from God’s word, coupled with a proactive application of that truth represents faith in action. The perfect love of the Father drives out fear but that must come from revelation not just head knowledge!
- There are spirits of fear but God has not given them to us!
2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that there are spirits of fear, but God has given us the power, love and sound mind. An important part of Jesus’ earthly ministry was the driving out of demons. He showed the disciples how to do it, gave them power and authority and they went out and delivered people from spirits also (Luke 9:1). He put that same call on the church also, telling us in Mark 16:17 that it was to be one of the signs following believers.
Many people need to deliverance from tormenting spirits of fear (and many others) that are indwelling their soul.
We are also called to resist spirits and they will flee (James 4:7).
Driving out demons and resisting them is part of our spiritual warfare mandate while living on earth. There are not demons behind every problem in a person’s life, but deliverance is the only solution when they are present.
Fear is not part of our inheritance. If you are wrapped in worry, anxiety, insecurities, having panic attacks, saddled with phobic fears, suffering from nightmares or other torment, then fear has a hold on you.
Start meditating and declaring “anti-fear” scriptures (that is, faith-filled) over your life and situations. If necessary, seek pastoral or competent professional Christian Counseling to get to the root. God’s not given you fear and doesn’t want it in your life. You can be free and walk in freedom!