Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fear Factor

Fear Factor 
August 1, 2013
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4. The Apostle John wrote this to fellow Christians, calling us by the endearing term of “little children”. He warns against spiritual dangers because the spirit of Antichrist had already started deceiving people when John wrote this letter. We who hold fast to the faith have victory in Christ against that same foe, because Christ overcomes evil. That doesn’t mean Satan is through attacking believers. On the contrary, he is fully intent on crippling us in regards to our walk with Christ. How does he do this? His tactics are legendary. Fear is the key to Satan’s dark and sinister practices which minimizes the effectiveness of many believers on this lost world. Satan’s ways are dark, but Jesus is the Light of the World.

Many people dismiss demons and the powers of darkness as pure myth and they designate anyone a lunatic who believes the demonic forces are real. This is, of course, exactly what Satan wants for now. This dark, evil presence is very real. If it weren’t, why would God warn us about it? Why would we be advised to try the spirits? “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1.God wants us to be aware of the spirit of evil that is in the world, but He also wants us to know how to recognize evil and reject it.

Fear of the supernatural as well as the physical can weaken the resolve of a believer in Christ. We can be overcome with fear and it will freeze us in our steps. Thus fear is one of the enemy’s favorite tools. Darkness instills fear, and the enemy is the lord of darkness. God never glorifies darkness. Why? Because darkness is the realm of the malevolent supernatural. Just contemplating venturing out into the dark night can conjure up images in our minds of all sorts of ghouls and goblins. Ever wonder why it is that as soon as we switch on the light or the sun begins to peak over the horizon we feel relieved? “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” Genesis 1:3-4. God proclaimed the light good. But try as we might we can’t find where God specifically declares the darkness good. Darkness breeds confusion – Satan’s playground where fear becomes embedded and enabled.

It never fails. When we’re faced with the unknown we become uncertain, even disorientated and confused. Often there is fear. Through our words and actions Satan can recognize the symptoms which lead to fear and he capitalizes on that until he’s maximized the fear within us. When fear is enabled, even for a moment, we become disabled. This disability is a stumbling block for us and becomes a stronghold for the enemy. We all know the phrase “paralyzed with fear” and understand that fear can stop us in our tracks. Fear can convince us to change course, take another path, even to persuade us to discontinue certain aspects of our Christian walk. Fear can cause a Christian to be consumed with doubt, doubt that will focus on the denial of what God has promised those who have faith. There is always a dark element surrounding fear. When we allow it to become a factor in our lives the enemy knows he has us. But as born again believers in Christ, God has placed His Holy Spirit in us. So really, what is there to fear? God is greater than any of His foes. His Holy Spirit is not a subset of a greater God, He is God.

A while ago I received an email from one of my readers saying “I have come to believe that Jesus Himself is our armor. He is the Truth – He is our righteousness – He is the Prince of Peace – He is our faith – He is our salvation – and He is the Living Word. I think that is why we are told in Scripture to clothe ourselves with Christ – to put Him on daily”. Amen! No fear factor here…not with the Light of the World being put on daily!

“Fear not” is a phrase which is stated numerous times in Scripture. Yet many of the brethren are still quite fearful. Why? “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31. As believers in Christ we need not be fearful of anything in this world nor should we fear the supernatural (no, we aren’t to embrace it, just don’t let fear paralyze us). Yet I’ve been told by some of the brethren that at times they’ve been too afraid to speak up for Jesus. This fear is one of perception. They fear those who don’t believe and fear being mocked, ridiculed, or shunned.  The best way to overcome this fear is to study God’s word and pray. Confidence in the knowledge of Christ will remove the fear of speaking up for Him. Peter in fear denied Christ prior to the crucifixion, but once he was filled with the Holy Spirit he became quite outspoken and confident when talking about Jesus. Through him many came to a saving knowledge of our Lord.

Satan capitalizes on our fears. Our fears allow him the perfect opportunity to instill doubt in our minds. Fear will dominate the life of a believer when God is ignored or diminished in our daily lives. We can never overcome fear unless we trust God to work through us as His obedient children. How many folks have we allowed to pass by without a word spoken concerning the hope that resides within us? The fear factor can hamper our ability to firmly talk to others about Christ.

As we draw nearer to the Rapture and the Tribulation, Satan and his dark evil minions know their time is short. Hatred towards Jesus is growing. This hate is first and foremost aimed at our Savior, but will certainly come upon those who follow Him “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you… Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord.” John 15:18, 20a. Perplexity, then hate, then attack by people who don’t understand the Lord. During the early days of Christ’s Ekklesia, a young man named Saul hated and persecuted Christians, who fearfully fled from Jerusalem. As Saul traveled to Damascus to seek out and destroy Christians Jesus met him. Saul (later known as Paul) heard a voice say “…Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Acts 9:4. Saul thought he was persecuting people, but Jesus knew the dark power behind his actions and that the persecution was really against Jesus. Just as hate is a natural outcropping of perplexity, fear is the reaction to all the hate aimed at Christians. The poisonous darts of the enemy will increase in the last days. Fear in the “in Christ” believer will only serve the enemy. When God says “fear not” He’s telling us we have nothing to fear as we walk in His precepts. We are His children and therefore He delights in lighting our paths as He guides us through the darkness.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…” Psalm 23:4. Who can forget the 23rd Psalm? Most of us have it memorized. It is comforting to repeat it, even more so in the face of adversity. We need fear no evil. Why? Because thou art with us, O God. The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted. Psalm 18:46. Jesus is the rock and shield for all those who follow Him. When we are compassed about by the enemy and his minions of the supernatural darkness that he controls, God and His holy angels are there as well, but in numbers of such magnitude that the enemy doesn’t stand a chance. If we recognize and call upon the Holy Spirit within us the enemy cowers and makes a speedy retreat. God will never walk away from a fight; certainly if we give it some thought we can come to the conclusion that God has already won every skirmish. Moreover God’s children are His possession, thus His protection is always available to us, protection against both the physical and supernatural dangers. When we allow doubt to creep in through fear, the enemy finds an easy target to destroy. While filling the children of God with fear, Satan boosts his own efforts to convince a huge portion of humanity to follow him straight into Hell while hindering the Great Commission given by our Lord to all those who follow Him to spread the Gospel.

We who follow Jesus with all our heart are His emissaries. As such we carry a message from God to be delivered to anyone who God chooses to place in our path. That message is a message of hope, but fear will stop us from sharing the Gospel. No matter how tough it gets while we sojourn this world we mustn’t allow fear to dominate us or we will be consumed with doubt. We are told to hold fast to the faith “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” Hebrews 10:23.

Jesus unabashedly told His disciples that fear is a lack of faith. “And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” Mark 4:40. They had been in a boat when a windstorm arose, the waves were buffeting them, and the boat was taking on water. In fear they woke the sleeping Jesus and thought He didn’t care that they were sinking. They showed no faith by their actions as they allowed the fear of perishing to consume them. Jesus rebuked the storm then confronted their lack of faith. At this point His disciples still hadn’t recognized Jesus as Messiah, but today we should know exactly who He is. Thus fear should not be a part of our vocabulary, and doubt should be nonexistent in our lives.

King David is another example of relying upon God without fear. “Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear:” Psalm 27:3. Many times David was surrounded by his enemies, yet we see he was a man who was fully reliant upon God for his strength. David was fearless as he stood up for God. How can we be any less fearless as we stand up for Christ? After all, are we not children of the Most High God? The armies we have coming after us are in battle with the Lord of all creation, not with us. Although they pursue us with an unholy determination to destroy us the battle belongs to the Lord. All the evil that Satan throws at us can’t create fear in any of us unless we allow it to happen. Fear is of the enemy, and he thoroughly enjoys establishing a colossal amount of fear for us to wade through.

Let us look at fear for what it really is. Words that mean the same thing are terror, horror, fright, dread, panic, alarm, apprehension. Are any of those words a part of your life? If so they can all be overcome. Jesus can overcome anything that hinders us in our walk with Him. All we have to do is take it to Him in prayer. We’re told to take very thought captive. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. When the enemy attacks, Jesus is our strength because carnal weapons will do us no good.

There is no room for the fear factor in the believer’s life – fear only leads to an unfulfilled life in Christ. “Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not.”Lamentations 3:57. Come out of the darkness and trust in the Light of the World…Jesus the Christ. Fear not.

God bless you all,

Ron Graham

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