Fear is Not Your Friend
Some years ago, a local newspaper in Southern California reported a tragic occurrence. A freight train was passing through a nearby city in the middle of the night. The train engineers saw what they believed to be an oncoming train approaching on their track. One of them became so gripped with fear that he jumped from the train to his death. The other engineer soon discovered that the oncoming train was traveling on a parallel train track and the two trains passed safely by one another. Fear led to a 35-year-old man’s premature death.
The word FEAR has been aptly described with this acronym:
F – False
E - Expectations
A - Appearing
R - Real
In the case of the train engineer, a false expectation (that an oncoming train would cause a head-on collision) which appeared very real, pushed him to make a deadly decision.
This true story provides us with a vivid picture of how the spirit of fear operates. However, it is first necessary to understand that the Bible teaches that fear is a “spirit” not an emotion as so many people are taught from childhood. Fear certainly applies pressure to your emotions - but “it” is not an emotion but actually an evil spirit. Second Timothy 1:7 identifies fear as a “spirit” when it says: God has not given us a spirit of fear… The commonly held misperception that fear is a natural emotion actually helps the spirit of fear do his “dirty work” without any resistance.
Let’s look at the strategies of the spirit of fear:
STRATEGY #1: To get you to agree that fear is reasonable, logical, natural, normal and even healthy. Have you ever heard the expression “healthy fear?” As school children many people were taught to have a “healthy fear” of strangers, snakes, cars and other things. This subtle strategy of the spirit of fear is very effective. If you embrace something as “healthy” or “normal” you certainly won’t resist it. The truth of the matter is that God wants us to use wisdom not fear when it comes to strangers, snakes and the like. We are not to embrace fear as if it were a necessary friend that will protect us from harm. Fear will never protect you, but it will deceive you and harm you as we saw in the case of the train engineer. You must actively renounce your agreement with fear as natural and normal and accept God’s word that identifies fear as a spirit that did not come from God. It is through agreement with its lies that the spirit of fear gains a foothold in people’s lives.
STRATEGY #2: To get you to allow it to paint a picture on the canvas of your imagination of impending trouble, difficulty, loss, hardship, failure, disappointment or tragedy. When you allow fear to dictate your thoughts, you are in danger. Fear painted a gruesome picture of a horrible train wreck on the imagination of that train engineer. Had he resisted the thoughts presented to his mind by the spirit of fear, he could have avoided the tragedy of his own needless death. The moment you allow fear to speak to you and to describe the upcoming trouble on its terms, you have opened the door to that spirit to have some authority to operate in your life. First John 4:18 tells us: ...fear involves torment. If you meditate upon the suggestions of the spirit of fear you will be tormented by them. You probably know people who are tormented by fear. You can be certain that this strategy has been working against them. They constantly see themselves being kidnapped, assaulted, robbed or their children dying in a car accident because they have allowed the suggestions of the spirit of fear to have a place in their imagination. We have the God-given ability to “...cast down imaginations…” and to “...take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” according to 2 Corinthians 10:5. We must guard our thought-life vigilantly in order to be victorious over this strategy of the spirit of fear.
STRATEGY #3: To get you to agree that what it is saying to you is truer than God’s Word. Fear will speak lies to your mind and they will sound very plausible for the purpose of gaining your agreement. For example:
You are going to die young and leave your children fatherless/motherless….
You are going to die a tragic death…
You are going to lose everything and your children will starve….
The spirit of fear always speaks things that are directly opposed to what the Bible says. The Word of God says: ...with a long life will I satisfy him…(Psalm 91:16) ...there shall no evil befall you…(Psalm 91:10) I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. (Psalm 37:25) The strategy of the spirit of fear is to get you to believe and then to agree that its lies are truer than God’s promises. If you come into agreement with any lie that the spirit of fear whispers to your mind, you are giving it the legal right to bring it to pass in your life and you step outside the realm of God’s promise of protection.
STRATEGY #4: To get you to say with your mouth what fear is saying to your mind. Satan understands the “power of the tongue” according to Proverbs 18:21. Since God created human beings with the capacity to speak “life or death” with their words, we have the responsibility to use that authority the way God intended for it to be used. However, since so many people are oblivious to this Biblical principle, they are easily “snared with the words of their mouth” (Proverbs 6:2). The spirit of fear attempts to get people to speak out the fearful thoughts that they are being assaulted with in their minds. People will say things that are essentially repeating the words coming from the spirit of fear. God wants us to “repeat after Him” and speak out what God’s Word says. When you are pressed with fearful thoughts and tempted to speak them out, say what God’s Word says! The Lord is on my side, I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6 NKJV) The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1 KJV) God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. (Psalm 46:1 NLT)
STRATEGY #5: To get you to take its counsel. General George Patton was a famous World War II American military leader known for his courage and bravery in battle. In his autobiography, Patton made this revealing statement, “I learned very early in my life never to take the counsel of my fears.” Fear will counsel you to take certain courses of action in life and to refrain from taking other actions. If you accept its counsel, you will end up doing things you should not do and you will avoid doing things that you should do. In the case of the train engineer, fear’s counsel was to jump from the train to avoid death in a train wreck. As the story revealed, fear’s counsel brought destruction to that man’s life.
Fear’s counsel will always bring destruction or loss. Fear will try to counsel you to avoid certain courses of action and by doing so, you will be robbed of God’s best for your life. Years ago, I met a Christian man in his mid-50’s who worked in a government job. He shared with me that when he was a young man, he felt God calling him to enter the ministry and become a pastor. But he was very fearful of public speaking. That spirit of fear kept painting a picture in his mind of being a failure in preaching. It counseled him to avoid the inevitable pain of failure by simply avoiding the pursuit of his calling. So, he got a college degree and took a job with the government in which he was unfulfilled and frustrated for over thirty years. The counsel of fear resulted in that man experiencing the loss of God’s best for his life.
Fear is not your friend. It will never help you or protect you. Fear is a mammoth bolder in the road of your destiny trying to prevent you from fulfilling God’s purpose for your life. But we have power and authority from Christ to deal with all “devices” of the enemy including the spirit of fear. But first you must acknowledge that fear is a spirit. Then you must renounce any agreement that you have with fear and its lies. You also must confess to God the sin of agreeing with the spirit of fear instead of agreeing with the truth of God’s Word. Then take the authority you have been given in the name of Jesus and rebuke that spirit of fear every time it tries to harass you. You can have victory over fear!