Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin
Tree of Life
Principles in The Doctrine of Fear.
We noted that fear is used in at least three ways in the Bible.
- Fear is used for a mental attitude sin, characterized by panic when in a dangerous situation as well as intimidation.
- Fear is also a painful emotional distress aroused by impending pain, danger, disaster, evil or by illusions regarding the same.
- The third way that fear is used in the Bible is for reverence, respect, or awe.
Our Lord deal with this in MAT 10:28-31, “And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore, do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Legitimate Fear and Illegitimate Fear.
The legitimate fears are described for us in different ways in the Bible as a type of fear used as a red-alert system to warn us that some type of danger is on its way. Illegitimate fear is the result of Satan’s deceptions and his lies.
As we continue with the coronavirus special, I was looking for passages where fear and being afraid was the major problem. And so I remember something that Jacob did to his brother Esau and how Jacob’s fear figured into the problem with his brother Esau only to find out something we all have gone through at times and that is unfounded fear in our imagination.
As we begin this passage, Jacob is now on the way back home to his promise land of Canaan. He will bump into Esau, who has an army of 400 men and has been very successful in robbing people. Apparently these two brothers saw things totally different even though they were twins. Jacob, the believer, was living in fear of his brother Esau coming for him because he was getting even with him for stealing his birthright. Which he stole from Esau by deceiving his father Isaac into thinking that he was Esau and not Jacob.
GEN 32:1-4, Now as Jacob went on his way, the angels of God met him. And Jacob said when he saw them [that is the angels], “This is God’s camp or army.” So, he named that place Mahanaim. Then Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. He also commanded them (his messengers) saying, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: ‘Thus says your servant Jacob,” I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed until now.
Notice in verse 4, Jacob sent servants and instructs them, saying, “When you get to Esau my brother, say to him, “Thus you shall call him my lord Esau and say I am his servant Jacob,” Apparently, our LORD had to warn the disciples of this beginning in LUK 21:23 “Woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land, and wrath to this people,
LUK 21:24-25, and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, we are told men and women will be fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
GEN 32:5, Jacob tells his servants to make sure that they tell his brother Esau that Jacob has oxen and donkeys and flocks and male and female servants; and that he has sent them to tell his brother Esau so that he may find favor in his sight.”
Notice the report; GEN 32:6, And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and furthermore he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” The messengers returned with terrible news according to Jacob’s human viewpoint thinking with fear.
So, in GEN 32:7 we read: Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. This is Jacob’s main problem now which is fear, a mental attitude sin, characterized by panic especially when you are in a dangerous situation. Every time fear comes into your life; you know you are not living the Christian way of life.
So, in GEN 32:7, Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; If you have personal love for GOD the Father you will understand HIS character and integrity. And if you love GOD, that means that you know God.
1JO 4:16-17, And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this love [impersonal unconditional virtue love] is perfected or matured with us,
Now there is a purpose in all of this, and the purpose is given next.
1JO 4:17…that we may have confidence in the day of judgment.
This is what separates the winner believer from the loser believer, which is the fact that the winner believer knows how to handle unjust, unfair treatment when it comes our way. The verb translated confidence is translated is in the subjunctive mood of the word confidence which says maybe you will have confidence, maybe you will not.
1JO 4:17, By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment or evaluation, because as He is, so also are we in this world. Now, in verse 18, we see the antithesis of impersonal unconditional love which is fear. What is the antithesis or the opposite of GOD’s love? It is fear!
1JO 4:18, There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
The nominative singular noun phobos can refer to many types of fears. This of course we get the various phobias from. Claustrophobia is a fear of being confined in a room or a small space.
Acrophobia is a dread of high places.
Zoophobia is the fear of animals.
Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders.
Astraphobia is an abnormal fear of lightning and thunder.
Xenophobia which every politician accuses the other politician of being, is a fear of foreigners or strangers.
Apiphobia = fear of bees.
Hydrophobia = fear of water.
Dronophobia = fear of driving on freeways.
Now, the Bible says there is no fear when you understand GOD’s love. Fear ranges from uneasiness to a total insecurity about life. Fear is found in all areas of life by focusing in on the effects that fear can have in all areas of life because most people have somethings or someone in life that frightens them. Especially, those fears that one cannot see because they are invisible to us.
2CO 4:7-18, But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
So, death works in us, but life in you. But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “ I believed, therefore I spoke, “we also believe, therefore also we speak. Knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Many people live in fear because they subject themselves to the idiotic media that always anticipate the worst. Be careful what kind of information you allow to take root in your house.
Look how clear this is; PSA 101:3-104, I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will know no evil. Like perversions of thoughts. Bible doctrine will keep you straight on all of this nonsense. Certainly, there are always going to be future disasters just as there have been past historical disasters, but the amazing thing is that a believer with doctrine is a survivor! That’s what most of you are, by the way, you are a survivor by very fact that you are even listening to the word of GOD. If you have no confidence in GOD you will constantly have certain fears which verse 18 says “involves punishment” which means that it torments you! And that’s what it does to Jacob in GEN 32 – fear tormented him.
Fear constantly manufactures the most awful self-torture or self-induced misery in this life. Awful because most of the things people fear never happen but they go through these things as though they did happen. Fear is nothing more or less than a system of self-torture and frightened people are constantly torturing themselves. So, you need to ask yourself questions that only you can answer!
“Do you entertain a lot of fear in your life?” “Do you entertain a little fear?” “Are you frightened by what the future holds?”
Everywhere we turn today fear is prevalent! And, it is a marvelous device by that creature genius Satan to confuse and distract the human race from reality. As far as the Christian way of life is concerned there is really no excuse for being frightened about anything. In fact, when Jacob starts to come back into the land and bumps into Esau’s army, he falls back on human viewpoint and tries to use his smarts or deceptions again. However, If he had learned to wait upon the Lord a divine solution would have become manifested again and he would not have had to use human viewpoint and carnal thinking as the solution to solve his problems. For as ISA 40:31 says Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. The issue is do we believe this principle or not!
Now what does the Bible say about fear?
- Fear is described in the Bible as a mental attitude sin, 1SA 17:21-26, ROM 14:23.
1SA 17:21-26, And Israel and the Philistines drew up in battle array, army against army. Then David left his baggage in the care of the baggage keeper, and ran to the battle line and entered in order to greet his brothers. As he was talking with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these same words; and David heard them.
When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid. And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who is coming up? Surely, he is coming up to defy Israel. And it will be that the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”
1SA 18:12, Now Saul was afraid of David, for the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul.
1SA 21:12, And David took these words to heart, and greatly feared Achish king of Gath.
- Fear can also produce sickness and depression, in GEN 21:17, And God heard the lad crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.
- Fear can produce suicide, in 1Ki 19:4, Elijah was so afraid of the threat of a woman that he wanted to die.
- In NEH 2:2, Nehemiah’s countenance was sad and sick because of fear. So, fear can affect your countenance! Everyone has certain fears in certain areas, but when fear controls you that is when it becomes a sin. As far as the Christian way of life is concerned there is really no excuse for being frightened about anything.
Some causes of fear according to the Bible are as follows.
- Rejection of Bible doctrine; PSA 53:5, “The fool rejects doctrine and is in great fear where there is no fear.”
- Worrying about the details of life, MAT 10:29-31, “Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
- A breakdown in the mentality of the soul over the pressures of life, LUK 21:26, “Men will be fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken,” So, we have “fear” because of a breakdown in the mentality of the soul!
- The fear of witnessing for Christ, fearing what others might say or do when you mention the Gospel of Christ. JOH 7:13, “No one was speaking openly of Him [TLJC] for fear of the Jews.”
- A major fear in the human race is the fear of death, Satan uses this fear to keep people in bondage all their lifetime, HEB 2:15, “And might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
- Another fear which many face is the fear of rejection, GAL 2:12, For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he [Peter] used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.
Peter feared what the Jews might say so he separated from the Gentiles! He forsook his brethren because of fear of what others might say!
- Then there are the fears of old age or getting old, in ECC 12:1-8. In that passage, fears and phobias haunt the elderly because they have reached old age without memories of their creator!
- A ninth cause of fear is fearing the floods of ungodly men or fearing what the ungodly or the wicked might do, PSA 18:4, “The cords of death encompassed me, and the violence of ungodliness terrified me.”
- Another cause of fear is when the body is weak and weary and cannot think properly, 2SA 17:2.
- Words can cause people to live in fear, in ISA 37:6 the Lord said, “Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard.”
- Sin and Guilt, GEN 3:10, “And he said, I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”
So, these are some of the causes for fear. Now where does fear come from? We know that fear is not a part of GOD’s plan.
In EXO 14:13-14, Moses said to believers who were freaking out under pressure, “Fear not, be still and see the deliverance of the Lord, the Lord will fight for you and you shall hold your peace”
DEU 31:8 also tells us that fear is not a part of GOD’s plan, “And the Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed.”
In ISA 41:10, the LORD said through the prophet Isaiah, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
So, how do you know if you are living in fear? Fear will manifest itself by worry, anxiety, insecurity, and nervousness. Fear destroys the believer’s ability to think, to reason, to apply doctrine under the pressure, and to advance in the circumstances of life. Fear then, is total disorientation to the plan of GOD. Fear destroys any personal sense of destiny.
A lack of fear is a part of the relaxed mental attitude that believers with doctrine enjoy. For instance, we are told about Moses in HEB 11:27, By means of doctrine resident in the soul, Moses left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. Moses knew the principle of HEB 13:6, “the Lord is my helper and I will not fear what man may do to me.”
Courage then, or lack of fear, is a sign of spiritual growth.
PSA 56:3-4, “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee “In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid, what can mere man do to me?”
Promise after promise. Line upon line. Precept upon precept. All designed to give the believer confidence toward God, and therefore freedom from fear!