Winning the fight against fear


“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to life-long slavery.” So says Hebrews 2:14-15.

The Old Testament presents God as the great hero, the champion who marches out against his enemies to destroy them: “The Lord goes out like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes” (Isaiah 42:13).

Hebrews presents Jesus to us as God himself marching forth to destroy his greatest enemy. That enemy is the devil, and his most powerful weapon is fear.

None of us should be ashamed of admitting that we battle against fear. Fighting fear is fighting Satan, and all of us are in that battle.

What this Scripture shows us is that all the fears we face are rooted in one basic fear, the fear of death. At our desperate and most fearful moments, our heart cries out: “What is going to happen to me?” God answers the question for us: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

God sent Jesus to die on our behalf, to take our punishment on his shoulders, so that we would never be separated from him or from his love. Physical death is nothing more than the doorway to eternal glory. Not one saint who has ever died would ever want to return to this life. They are now part of the heavenly chorus of Revelation 7:9-10, the “great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

The battle we fight every day against fear has in truth already been won. Every fear you have has been faced down at the cross. The devil has only one strategy left: to persuade us that this is not so. To fight this battle, we must ask God to send his Spirit into our hearts to strengthen us.

Some fear is good. For instance, the fear of God is a good thing. It puts a boundary line of protection around our conduct. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7).

But most fear is not like this. Most fear is planted in our lives by the enemy.  There is an interesting difference between godly fear and demonic fear. Godly fear is fear of something very real. If we act foolishly and disobey God, this is what will certainly happen. “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it” (Proverbs 22:3). But demonic fears are often perceived dangers rather than real dangers. The mandate of the enemy is to suggest to us that God will not look after us when in fact he will. So he whispers continually in our ears that we will not be provided for, that we will become sick or die, that we will lose our job and so on.

We will face challenges in life. Yet God promises to keep us in the midst of these. We may get sick, yet God is our Healer. Finances may run short, yet God is our Provider. We may feel alone, yet the Lord is our Shepherd. We will face death, yet Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

He will not abandon us. The bottom line is this: your life is not in the hands of people or of circumstances. It is in the hands of God: “He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

Jesus made this statement: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). Knowing that God will provide for us, that he will do our heavy lifting, we can say goodbye to anxiety. Anxiety deals with tomorrow, not today. It lives in the mind and the emotions. It tries to control the future by thinking and feeling. It never works, because the future is not in our control. Jesus does not say every day will be without trouble. In fact, he reminds us there will always be some difficulty to deal with. But he promises to meet us when that trouble comes.

The antidote to anxiety is its opposite -- faith. What is faith? Faith is the confidence that God will act on your behalf. You can’t think yourself into faith. You can’t feel yourself into faith. But you can ask for it, and it will be given to you.

Faith gives you peace in your heart that God will act on your behalf today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow and the day after that. It cures us of fear by filling the vacuum that fear lives in.

The battle against fear is real. Most of us fight it every day. But let’s remember that Jesus won that battle at the cross, and he is there waiting to apply it in our lives now.