IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: FEAR IS A REALITY WITHOUT GOD.
Rev. Innocent Peace-Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
“In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.” — Proverbs 14: 26.
FEAR AND DISMAY,
A VERY COMMON DISEASE OF GOOD MEN
This disease of fear came into man’s heart with sin. Adam never was afraid of his God till he had broken his commands. When the Lord God walked in the garden in the cool of day, and Adam heard the Almighty’s foot-fall, he hastened to commune with God as a dear child talks with a loving father. But the moment he had touched the fruit that was forbidden, he ran away and hid himself, and when God said, “Where art thou, Adam?” Adam came cringing and trembling, for he was afraid of God. It is sin, consciousness of sin, that “makes cowards of us all.” Though he who made us is a consuming fire, and we should always have a holy awe of him, yet the fear that gendereth bondage would never have come into our spirit if we had not first of all transgressed his law. Sin is the mother of the fear which hath torment.
And, brethren, fear continues in good men because sin continues in them. If they had attained to perfect love it would cast out fear, for fear hath torment; but, since the flesh is still in them and the lusts thereof still strive for the mastery, even the holiest of God’s people are sometimes afflicted with the mockings of the child of the bondwoman. O that he were cast out, for he can never be heir with the free-born nature! As grace grows and increases in power, fear declines; and, when sin is cut up root and branch, then no doubt or fear will ever vex us again.
In Mark 4, Jesus taught crowds of people principles of the Kingdom of God. When evening came, He told the disciples, “Let us go to the other side” (v. 35). But as Jesus and His disciples made their way across the water, a fierce storm rose up (v. 37) and caused the disciples to feel very afraid. These were fishermen! They had experience being out on the waters. They surely had experienced a storm before, but this storm was different. It apparently was violent enough to cause the disciples to doubt that they would make it out alive.
Like the storm that the disciples faced, life’s storms often come out of nowhere and bring with them difficulty, discouragement and doubt that we will remain intact. The current life storms surrounding the global pandemic, have impacted everyone in some way. It has affected health, finances, community and so much more. It can be tempting to think that if hard times come in life that we did something to cause it or that we are at fault in some way, but the disciples were in the will of God! They were with Jesus going with Him to the place He had indicated He wanted to go.
It is possible to be in the will of God and still find yourself in the middle of a storm just like it’s possible to be a good student and still have to take tests. If we can understand why all students (good and bad students) are tested, we can perhaps then understand why all people (people inside or outside the will of God) can be tested too!
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God:”
The overcoming of fear—that is what we are proclaiming here. The Bible, the gospel, Christ, the church, the faith—all are one great battle cry against fear in the lives of human beings. Fear is, somehow or other, the archenemy itself. It crouches in people’s hearts. It hollows out their insides, until their resistance and strength are spent and they suddenly break down. Fear secretly gnaws and eats away at all the ties that bind a person to God and to others, and when in a time of need that person reaches for those ties and clings to them, they break and the individual sinks back into himself or herself, helpless and despairing, while hell rejoices.
Now fear leers that person in the face, saying: Here we are all by ourselves, you and I, now I’m showing you my true face. And anyone who has seen naked fear revealed, who has been its victim in terrifying loneliness— fear of an important decision; fear of a heavy stroke of fate, losing one’s job, an illness; fear of a vice that one can no longer resist, to which one is enslaved; fear of disgrace; fear of another person; fear of dying—that person knows that fear is only one of the faces of evil itself, one form by which the world, at enmity with God, grasps for someone. Nothing can make a human being so conscious of the reality of powers opposed to God in our lives as this loneliness, this helplessness, this fog spreading over everything, this sense that there is no way out, and this raving impulse to get oneself out of this hell of hopelessness.
Have you ever seen someone in the grip of fear? It’s dreadful in a child, but even more dreadful in an adult: the staring eyes, the shivering like an animal, the pleading attempt to defend oneself. Fear takes away a person’s humanity. This is not what the creature made by God looks like—this person belongs to the devil, this enslaved, broken-down, sick creature.
But the human being doesn’t have to be afraid; we should not be afraid! That is what makes humans different from all other creatures. In the midst of every situation where there is no way out, where nothing is clear, where it is our fault, we know that there is hope, and this hope is called: Thy will be done, yes, thy will is being done. “This world must fall, God stands above all, his thoughts unswayed, his Word unstayed, his will forever our ground and hope.” Do you ask: How do you know? Then we name the name of the One who makes the evil inside us recoil, who makes fear and anxiety themselves tremble with fear and puts them to flight. We name the One who overcame fear and led it captive in the victory procession, who nailed it to the cross and committed it to oblivion; we name the One who is the shout of victory of humankind redeemed from the fear of death—Jesus Christ, the Crucified and Living One. He alone is Lord over fear; it knows him as its master; it gives way to him alone. So look to Christ when you are afraid, think of Christ, keep him before your eyes, call upon Christ and pray to him, believe that he is with you now, helping you . . . Then fear will grow pale and fade away, and you will be free, through your faith in our strong and living Savior, Jesus Christ.
HAVING THE FEAR OF THE LORD
WHAT IS THIS FEAR OF THE LORD? The expression is used in Scripture for all true godliness. It is constantly the short way of expressing real faith, hope, love, holiness of living, and every grace which makes up true godliness. But why was fear selected? Why did not it say, “Trust in God is strong confidence”? Has not religion been commonly described by faith rather than by fear? In legal indictments it is said sometimes of a man that he, “not having the fear of God before his eyes,” did so and so.
Why is the fear of God selected? One would say that, according to the general theology of this period, we ought to have selected faith. But the Spirit of God has not given us the phrase — faith in God. He puts fear, because, after all, there is a something more tender, more touching, more real about fear than there is about some people’s faith, which faith may very readily verge upon presumption. But in speaking of fear we must always discriminate. There is a fear with which a Christian has nothing to do. The fear of the slave who dreads a task-master we have now escaped from. At least we ought to be free from such bondage, for we are not under the law, which is the task-master, but we are under grace, which is a paternal spirit, and has given us the liberty of sons. Brethren, if you labour under any dread of God which amounts to a slavish fear of him, do not cultivate it. But ask God to give you that perfect love of which John tells us that it casteth out fear, because fear hath torment.
Fearing the Lord means to be in reverent awe of His holiness, to give Him complete reverence and to honor Him as the God of great glory, majesty, purity and power. For example, when God revealed Himself to the Israelites at Mount Sinai through “thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast,” they all “trembled” in fear (Ex 19:16) because of His great power. They even begged Moses to deliver God’s message to them so they would not have to encounter God Himself (Ex 20:18-19; Dt 5:22-27). Also, when the psalm writer reflects on God as Creator, he says: “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere Him. For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm” (Ps 33:8-9).
The cross is the sign that stands in judgment on all the false security in our lives and restores faith in God alone. Be of good courage, be valiant, be confident, be certain—that is what it says. Yes, but everything depends here on making sure that one last, terrible misunderstanding does not arise. There is such a thing as false courage, false confidence . . . and this false confidence is itself only the most subtle form in which fear disguises itself.
If you are a Christian I challenge you to make this resolve: That if you are a Christian, you demonstrate that you know something of the glory, the judgment, and the love of God, so that whenever you speak the name of God, or Jesus, or Christ, you speak his name in a way that shows that you know him, you fear him, and you love him.
Will you make that resolve as part of your Christian testimony?
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