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Bible verses about Fear
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 3:4-5

Through distrust, Satan seduced Adam and Eve away from submitting to the most wonderful, lovable, giving, concerned, sensitive, and helpful Personality in all creation—God. Can you imagine that? The Devil convinced them that God could not be trusted!

Distrust is a powerful incentive whose fruit is divorce. Our first parents sinned and division began. The world has not been united since. When there is distrust, faith evaporates. Fear, anxiety, and depression escalate, and the motivation to be personally secure and free from the hassles of coping intensifies. The "fight or flight" mechanism kicks in.

John W. Ritenbaugh
In the Grip of Distrust


 

Genesis 3:17-19

The inclusion of economics in prophecy begins early in Scripture, as early as the third chapter of Genesis. In this case, God curses Adam for his sin in the Garden of Eden, and it has profound consequences on the human condition. The curse dooms sinful mankind to hard labor to produce what he needs to live. He is pitted against nature in a brutal struggle for survival, and in the end, tired and worn by a lifetime of arduous toil, he returns to the earth having lived a futile life and accomplished little or nothing.

This part of the First Prophecy has profound implications on the course of human history. It implies that man's life will be focused on meeting his needs, subduing his environment, and trying to get ahead. He will have little time or energy left for more important pursuits, especially that of seeking God—and besides, as the next verses record, most of humanity would be cut off from God and His way of life. Human life, therefore, would be based in conflict, fear, aggression, and misery, making war, greed, lack, and death the rule, not the exception. As other verses show, this situation will get worse and worse until a time comes when, "unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved" (Matthew 24:22).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Economics in Prophecy


 

Exodus 14:5-10

The Israelites accuse Moses of not dealing with them fairly, murmuring that he should not have led them out of Egypt. This occurs just days after they went out with a high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians, joyful that they were free. How quickly their faith evaporated when fear began closing in on them!

The Egyptians, their horses, their chariots, all the shining army and might of Egypt were represented there. The Israelites' backs were up against the sea, and they could see the death sentence approaching them as fast as a horse could pull a chariot. They thought their lives were hanging in a balance when they saw the army. The end of their lives was quickly coming within view.

Had not God given them enough evidence through all His plagues against Egypt? Had He not given them enough evidence to impact their thinking, clearly dividing the Israelites from the Egyptians, beginning with the fourth plague? All of the plagues fell on Egypt, but none of them after that fell on the Israelites. Had He not impressed their minds enough on Passover when the blood of the Lamb enabled their firstborn to live while the Egyptians' died?

We can learn and grow from this lesson. In principle, we all come to our own personal Red Sea. Every one of us fails repeatedly, just as Israel did when they lost their faith for a while. What we go through when we come up against our personal Red Sea is very similar to what Israel went through.

God rescued and chastened them, but He did not dump them. He shows that He will continue to work patiently with us just as a teacher continues to work with students, even though some fail and rarely do anything well. A teacher is faced with the same principle that we are involved in with God. The teacher does not want to fail students, so he uses all of his time, energy, and efforts to encourage and instruct so that those who are failing will turn around, catch the vision, and begin to apply the right teaching.

God thinks of time in the same way a teacher does: “There is still time to catch this person's interest and turn them around.” Therefore, God gave the Israelites forty years in the wilderness.

Hebrews 11:29 shows that these people did recover their faith in time to go through the Red Sea. The major reason that they turned themselves around may have largely been because of faithful leadership, primarily by Moses and possibly by others as well. They exhibited some measure of faith, and God faithfully and duly records it.

This ought to encourage those of us who fail from time to time. Many times our faith has failed, but God patiently continues to work with us. We cannot become discouraged, but must keep going on, because God will not stop. He will keep working with us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 1)


 

Deuteronomy 20:8

He mentions "the faint heart," "those who are afraid and terrified," and "those given to panic." Every one of them is an invisible, internal force or power that compels a certain kind of conduct in battle. Each is a "spirit" motivated from within. Each one of those is debilitating to the soldier himself and can be communicated to others, seriously damaging the morale or the spirit of fellow soldiers.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 3)


 

Deuteronomy 20:8

In battle there is a kind of "mob psychology." If one man breaks and runs because he is fearful, he is likely to set off a wholescale retreat because everybody else will be frightened by the one who was fearful. So the army is routed and defeated, because the action of one affects the attitude of all.

The opposite works, too—the bravery of one can also inspire all. There are both sides of it.

We must come to understand that, in every situation, we have a responsibility to the whole. We do not stand alone! There is individual responsibility, first, to be obedient to God, and second, to be faithful and loyal to the whole. If we go off and do something on our own, then we will bear the burden of our sin, but it is not going to end there because our sin will affect everybody else unless corrective action occurs.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Every Action Has a Reaction


 

Psalm 34:8-11

The fear of the Lord is not something that comes naturally but that must be learned. It is in fact the essence of true religion. An "essence" is what makes something what it is; it is the real nature of a thing. The fear of the Lord is the real nature of the religion, the way of life, of God.

It is in us to fear instinctively when we are little children. We fear being left alone. We fear falling. We fear sudden noises. We fear the dark and lightning and thunderstorms. We fear many things almost instinctively because our first reaction is always to protect the self. Not all of these fears are wrong or negligible by any means, for they are what cause us to act to preserve our lives.

The fear of God does not come so naturally. We have to begin doing it consciously, and we have to learn to do it and grow in it. The Bible shows that it is not in man to fear God instinctively.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God


 

Psalm 119:165

Human nature is enmity against God, and it rejects God's law (Romans 8:7). The result is continual warfare with God and between men. No one who breaks God's law as a way of life can have peace, at least not the kind of peace God gives. Jesus says in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you."

The world can produce a level of tranquility from time to time, but it is not the peace of God. When a person sins, it seems as though there is a feeling, a natural fear, that wells up. Even before the sin occurs, one invariably seeks to make sure no one else sees it happen. This does not display a mind at peace. Immediately following a sin, the fear of exposure arises, and the sinner begins justifying, at least to himself, why he has done such a thing. If caught, he justifies himself as Adam and Eve did before God.

In simple terms, God is showing us the consequences of breaking His laws. If one were at peace with God, he would have no need to hide himself. With a clear conscience, he need not lie, justifying and shifting the blame on to others. No one who breaks God's laws can have peace. However, one who loves God's law will not only keep the peace he already has but will add to it as its fruit and reward.

Psalm 119:165 promises another wonderful benefit: Nothing causes those who love God's law to stumble. "To stumble" indicates faltering along the path to the Kingdom of God or even to fall completely away from God. This provides great encouragement and assurance regarding security with God, meaning that we will not be turned aside by the difficulties along the way.

Instead of fear of exposure and a guilty conscience, we will be assured because God's Word says so, as I John 3:18-19 confirms: "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him." What a confident life we can live by following God's way!

Another New Testament passage, I John 2:8-11, parallels the psalmist's thought:

Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Consider these verses in relation to the meal offering, representing the devoted keeping of the last six commandments. Hating a brother would be breaking those commandments in relation to him. It might involve murdering him, breaking the marriage bond through adultery, stealing from him, lying to or about him, or lusting after him or his possessions.

Verse 10 parallels Psalm 119:165 exactly when it says, "But he who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him." I John 5:3 defines love: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." The New Testament strongly affirms that loving one's brother is keeping God's commandments in relation to him, and this provides us strong assurance and stability along the way.

I John 2:11 then shows that the blindness of darkness envelops the eyes of one who hates his brother, that is, breaks God's commandments in relation to him. This blindness produces stumbling and fighting, and thus he has no peace.

It is particularly disturbing if the brother spoken of in these verses also happens to be one's spouse, father, or mother. Old people today stand a high chance of being shunted off into a convalescent or old-age home, if only for the convenience of the adult children. Is that honoring a parent, or is it in some way contemptuous? Are the children unwilling to make sacrifices even for those who brought them into the world? Will this course of action produce peace? Will it produce a sense of well-being in either party?

John says, "He who loves his brother abides in the light" (verse 10), implying that love produces its own illumination. Illumination is what enables a person to see in the dark. Light contrasts to the darkness, blindness, and ignorance of verse 11, which result in stumbling. Illumination indicates understanding and the ability to produce solutions to relationship problems. The difficult part is laying ourselves out in sacrifice to express love. If we fail to do this, we may never see solutions to our relationship problems.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Five): The Peace Offering, Sacrifice, and Love


 

Psalm 130:4

Notice the direct connection between being forgiven and fearing Him. We are forgiven so that we might learn to fear Him after experiencing His mercy! Does this not suggest that the fear of God is in some regards different than our normal perception of fear?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sin, Christians, and the Fear of God


 

Proverbs 1:7

The biblical fear of God runs the gamut from a mild respect through a deep, abiding, and reverential awe to sheer terror—a terror that causes the skin to crawl, the hair to stand on end, the throat to release a scream, the bowels to move, or the body to faint or collapse, groveling on the ground in a vain attempt to disappear, as Isaiah did (Isaiah 6:5). Fear can be an extremely effective motivator. Many of us have seen, heard, or experienced something so fearsome that the "fight or flight" response kicked in. The terror moved us to take immediate steps to defend ourselves physically or seek protection by running from the danger.

However, fear can also be a two-edged sword. Though it undoubtedly motivates, it can also paralyze us into doing nothing but rolling ourselves into a fetal position. In relation to God, a most subtle and deceptive problem is that, because we cannot literally see Him, we do not feel that responding to Him is of immediate concern. In this way, fearing God is not like our reaction to a lion suddenly jumping out of the jungle and confronting us on the path.

The result, though, can be just as deadly! The major difference is timing. Because of God's patience, the end comes more slowly if our reaction is not correct and no repentance occurs. Nonetheless, our relationship with God may die because not having the proper fear invites apathy and procrastination. Our fear must have enough of an "edge" that we are motivated to act correctly—but not so much that we are paralyzed into inaction. That "edge" grows as true knowledge of Him increases.

Some may think that God does not require of us this level of fear. However, for "trembles" in Isaiah 66:2, the Septuagint uses a Greek word that means a reverential awe that has an "edge" to it. God will "look on" a person who has this kind of fear. Without the proper fear of God in us, there will be precious little reciprocation of His love shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5).

Romans 12:1 makes it clear that overcoming in this way of life requires sacrifice. We all know how costly sacrifice is sometimes. Our apprehension of making sacrifices required to submit to God's will stops us on occasions, motivating us to draw back from obeying. In this case, the problem is fearing the wrong thing! Sometimes, the degree of the fear of God we need comes close to sheer terror because we are often so difficult to convince!

However, what is necessary as a matter of course is an abiding reverential awe.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part One): Fear


 

Isaiah 6:5

Isaiah, like Moses, became unglued in God's presence. We may conclude from these two examples that we are better off the way things are, that is, unable to see God physically. Being face-to-face in the presence of God should not be something we feel the need to experience. What we have of the revelation of God is sufficient to produce the right mix of fear and devotion—if it is given half a chance.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God


 

Isaiah 8:11-12

Isaiah is talking about fear. The historical background is that Judah felt threatened by the presence of the Assyrian empire. They were sweeping down and conquering all of the nearby nations. Judah was frightened. As the people of God, what should they have done? In deep respect, awe, and faith, they should have cried out to God for His protection. He is the Lord of heaven and earth. He governs it all. He could easily have stopped the Assyrians. However, the people conspired with other nations, saying to them, in effect, "You protect us. We will ally with you. We are afraid of the Assyrians, but if we join together, we will have enough power to fend them off and be safe."

God looked at that as a conspiracy against Him. He was their Lord, their King, their God. He certainly had the power to protect. And thus, His instruction to Isaiah: "Do not enter into that conspiracy with them."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God


 

Daniel 10:7

They did not see what Daniel saw, but the hair on the back of their necks stood up, they felt creepy and crawly all over, and they wanted to get out of there. They did not know why, but something of awesome power was close to them. Maybe the spirit of man within them was aware that something was near them, and they fled.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 1)


 

Daniel 10:7

Only one saw this, and the others fled in terror—but even they were aware of a presence. They knew something was there. Perhaps the hair on the back of their heads stood up on end, and their skin felt creepy. Maybe they had a feeling of dread as though they knew they were in the presence of an awesome power of great magnitude but could not see or feel it. But it was there. A presence frightened them, but they could not clearly identify it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 3)


 

Hosea 3:5

The Hebrew word for "fear" (pahad) in this verse means "to be afraid, tremble, or stand in awe of," even to the point of shaking in fear. Everything God does is good, but His goodness can be overwhelming, especially when it is obviously undeserved. It may appear harsh at times to a carnal human being because it may force a change of thought and action—a total reversal in lifestyle.

Martin G. Collins
Fear the Lord's Goodness!


 

Matthew 8:26

Jesus rebukes His disciples for fearfulness and little faith. They have not lost complete confidence in Christ, but neither have they learned nor fully developed trust in Him. They are at ease only when they hear Him speak and see Him taking care of them. They have so little faith that, when the moment of need comes, it is not enough to give them peace and calm.

The disciples are not totally faithless in this incident, as they called for Christ to save them. They know from what they had seen of His supernatural power that He is able to calm the storm, but they fall short in failing to realize and fully believe that it makes no difference whether Christ is asleep or awake—He is still the Son of God. They should have considered that the Father would not allow His faithful Son to drown in a sinking boat. After all, He is the One who, ages before, had "shut in the sea with doors, . . . [and] said, 'This far you may come but no farther'" (Job 38:8, 11). His followers do not apply their little faith. Faith and fear cannot exist together, for fear paralyzes faith.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Stilling a Storm


 

Matthew 10:27-28

It is not unreasonable that we should fear God. Jesus Christ Himself says that we are to fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. Why? He is the only One who can revoke the judgment of Gehenna fire. The wages of sin is death in Gehenna fire. If we want to escape this punishment, we can see that it is closely connected to whether or not we actually fear God.

Why? What does the fear of God have to do with escaping a judgment that would otherwise take us into the Lake of Fire?

This series of verses in Matthew 10 contains some encouragement, indicating that, if one really fears God, then there is no need to be fearful of others. Proverbs 29:25 plainly tells us, "The fear of man is a snare." This is an attitude in which we do not want to be entrapped. It is obvious, in the context of Matthew 10:27, that He is talking about fear in the sense of "dread." We are not to fear men because the worst that they can do does not even begin to match the worst that God can do! The basis for this is what God is: omnipotent and omniscient, and in Him are the issues of life and death!

The Christian life is our calling; this is our only chance for salvation. We have been personally chosen by God. The elect are an insignificant number, and we are even more insignificant personally. Yet, He has given us this calling. The world population is somewhere in the vicinity of six billion people, and out of this huge number are a miniscule few who are truly converted and have been given the Spirit of God. This is not something that we want to pass up! The fear of God is crucial to our salvation!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God


 

Matthew 14:22-33

Christ's miracle of walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:15-21) took place soon after feeding the 5,000. The next day He preached a sermon in the synagogue that turned their rejoicing into near total rejection—almost all but the twelve disciples left Him. A representative of God must not trust in human praise nor withhold the truth to try to please people. Instead, as a true witness, he must preach God's truth regardless of the world's disapproval.

Later, Jesus told His disciples to set out in their boat for the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. At three hours after midnight, straining at the oars against the storm, they were still only halfway across the lake. In a contrary wind and tossed by the waves, the disciples did not realize that Jesus was fully aware of their difficulty. They were about to learn of His sympathy and willingness to come to their aid. He approached the distressed disciples in an entirely unexpected way, by walking on the turbulent sea as if it were stable as rock.

Clearly, He had been praying for and watching out for them while on the mountain, but when He passed near them, they did not recognize their Savior. The night was extremely black in the storm, and their nerves were on edge with fear. Under these conditions, they thought He was a spirit, an ominous apparition of some kind. But He encouraged them immediately with familiar reassurance: "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." Later in their lives during times of anxiety, this moment probably came to mind as a lesson deeply received and continually comforting.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Walking on the Water (Part One)


 

Matthew 16:21-23

Poor Peter was looking though a glass very darkly and suffering from the common human malady of selective hearing and understanding. All he seemed to hear and understand were those horrifying words about the suffering, the rejection, and the killing. Did he not hear Jesus telling them that His resurrection from the dead—one of the greatest turning points in all eternity—was soon to occur?

Peter had the powerful Satan whispering words of fear into his mind: fear for Jesus, fear of persecution, fear of his own death. Would any of us have fared any better than Peter? Satan, up to his old tricks, knew that one of history's most pivotal days was approaching and what the glorious outcome of Jesus' suffering and death would be. He wanted to make a concerted, eleventh-hour effort to prevent it from happening. How? By using human fear and reason—by frightening and tempting Peter into trying to talk his beloved friend Jesus out of even mentioning these two events: the greatest sacrifice and the greatest miracle in human history.

Jesus was no coward, of course, but He certainly did not look forward to the impending physical torture that He knew He must endure. He had the ability—if just through Scripture alone—to foresee it all in detail. Paul suggests that, even before His incarnation, Christ frequently pondered what He would have to experience: "He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once in the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26).

Staff
Death of a Lamb


 

Matthew 25:16-18

Since the servants did not know how long their master would be gone, they began trading without delay. The one with five talents increased his by 100%, as did the servant with two talents. In each case, their original assets were doubled. If the servant with one talent had just worked by trading with it, his reward would have been the same.

The motivation for service and producing good fruit should be love for the Master, a virtue the servant with one talent lacked. Sadly, he failed to trade with his talent and multiply it. Fearing his master's severity, he wrapped his lord's asset in a handkerchief and hid it in a hole in the earth. Fear is a sad thing when a person dreads losing something valuable so much that he hoards it instead of putting it to good use. So it is with a spiritual gift also.

While his fellow-servants were actively trading their talents, the third servant was idle. He was neither actively obedient nor disobedient, but passively disobedient. He did not intend to hurt his master's property; he simply failed to improve it. Similar to the foolish virgins suffering because they neglected to prepare, the third servant in this parable suffers because he did nothing with his talent. We must not hide our light under a basket (Matthew 5:14-16). Spiritual talents must be used in service to Christ for the glory of God - for the joy and honor of Him who is the Giver of every good gift (I Corinthians 10:31; James 1:17).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Talents (Part Two)


 

Matthew 25:24-27

The tragedy of the story and the focus of the parable is the man who hid his talent. From him we probably learn the most. First, the talent was not his in the first place; it was on loan. Second, Christ shows that people bury their gifts primarily out of fear. Third, the whole parable illustrates that regarding spiritual gifts, one never loses what he uses. That is a powerful lesson: If we use the gifts that God gives us, we cannot lose! The one who was punished never even tried, so God called him wicked and lazy. His passivity regarding spiritual things doomed him.

Comparing this parable to the Parable of the Ten Virgins, we see a few interesting contrasts. The five foolish virgins suffered because they let what they had run out. This servant with one talent apparently never even used what he had. The virgins failed because they thought their job was too easy, while this servant failed because he thought it was too hard. On many fronts they seem to be opposites.

The servant's true character comes out in his defense before the master and in the master's condemnation. In verse 24 he claims, "Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed." That is a lie! Not having this belief, the other two servants immediately go to work, never suggesting that they think their master is harsh and greedy.

The wicked servant justifies his lack of growth by blaming it on God. "It was too hard, Lord." He accuses God of an insensitive and demanding evaluation. That is why Christ calls him wicked. He calls God a liar and accuses the master of exploitation and avarice. If he did work, he says, he would see little or none of the profit, and if he failed, he would get nothing but the master's wrath.

The master then asks, "Why didn't you at least invest my money so that I could receive interest?" The servant, in his justification and fear, overlooks his responsibility to discharge his duty in even the smallest areas. Blaming his master and excusing himself, this servant with one talent fell to the temptations of resentment and fear. Together, the two are a deadly combination.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism


 

Mark 10:17-22

It is not hard to determine that he feared the loss of his wealth, for that is where his security was. However, it kept him from loving Christ. Covetousness and idolatry reared their ugly heads and stopped him cold in his tracks because he feared the loss of what he already had, and he would not venture forth to lay hold on what Christ offered.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love's Greatest Challenges


 

Luke 16:28

The man, in great fear, was trying to save his brothers. He wanted somebody sent to them so that they would not meet the same fate as he had.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace and Law (Part 16)


 

John 17:11

We become caught in and must endure this world's wars, economic swings, prejudices, social unrest, natural disasters, and accidents. We are exposed to the same diseases as everybody else. All these can and do strike us with fear and trouble our hearts, destroying peace. In this world it is very easy to anticipate that a disaster can occur at any moment.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Peace


 

John 19:38-40

Joseph was a believer, but in secret! Why was he afraid of the Jews? For the same reason Peter denied Christ—for fear that they too would be killed. More than that, Joseph was a respected pillar of the community, a man who had worked a lifetime to achieve what he had. To come out publicly as a disciple would have meant the destruction of the life he and his family enjoyed.

John says Joseph "took the body of Jesus." Taking a lifeless body down from a stake is no one-man task. Nicodemus, another secret disciple, also a member of the Sanhedrin, helped him. This is the same Nicodemus who came to Jesus "by night" to ask Him some pointed questions and received some pointed answers (John 3:1-21).

Mike Ford
Joseph of Arimathea


 

Romans 3:18

The fear needed is not a servile, cringing, and enslaving terror, but a mixture of love, admiration, and respect for what He is. He is a Father who pities His children; a Ruler who looks on the one who is poor and of a contrite heart; a Physician who heals the body, cleanses the spirit, mercifully forgives, and gives sound counsel so that His children can work out their salvation with fear and trembling.

When the fear of God enters a man's evil heart, godly knowledge, understanding, and wisdom can begin to grow. Why? Because in making better choices, the person begins to break his enslavement to his own evil heart, from which comes all the defiling corruption that leads to death, as Jesus shows in Matthew 15:18-20:

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.

By nature, man is focused on his sense of self-importance, so pride dominates his attitudes and therefore his choices. The corrective is something that will humble, and it begins with him being able to compare himself appropriately with the greatness of God. Man will live either to serve himself or to seek to serve and please God. It will be one or the other because no man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).

When Moses goes before Pharaoh in Exodus 5:2, he says, "Let my people go." What is Pharaoh's defiant response? "Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go." That was his problem, and it remains a major hurdle for us too. We must come to know the Lord. From this, a simple truth arises: Not knowing God promotes irreverence of God, as Pharaoh clearly shows. Thus, not knowing God promotes disobedience. Knowing God, on the other hand, promotes the fear of God and humility before Him and thus obedience.

Knowing God in His sovereignty works to remove every ground for man to rely on himself and boast. Salvation is of the Lord; it is by His grace through faith. Man wants to think that he is contributing greatly to his redemption and salvation, but John tells us we are born, not of the will of the flesh, but of God (John 1:13). If we understand God's sovereignty, it leads us to praise Him for the glory of what He is: He is our salvation! In addition, we desire salvation for the very purpose of humbling ourselves before Him that we might glorify Him. This means that we can wisely turn only one way: We must choose to submit to His will.

The exercise, the actual use, of humility in daily life is a choice. Each time we submit to God's instruction, we are humbling ourselves before Him. Once we know what God's will is, we must still deal with choosing to use humility by submitting to it. Is that not what God says in Deuteronomy 30:19, that we must choose life rather than death? "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live." Fully accepting God's sovereignty provides us the proper comparisons so that we can wisely make right choices.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty, Part Three: The Fruits


 

2 Corinthians 13:5

God, through Paul, commands us to examine our faith and to test ourselves. How can we know the strength of our faith—our belief in the words of God? One of the ways is to examine our fears and worries.

Nehemiah writes, "For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me" (Nehemiah 6:13). Why did Nehemiah call being afraid a sin? Because fear and worry call God a liar, insinuating that His words about His sovereignty, love, power, and faithfulness are not to be trusted. Fear and worry mirror the attitudes of a faithless Satan who believes God exists but does not believe what He says.

Philippians 4:6 tells us, "Be anxious for nothing." In other words, we are commanded, "Don't worry about anything," another of God's absolutes. To have fear, worry, anxiety, or forebodings question God's goodness and care. They display a lack of faith in His promises of wise and gracious providence and cast doubts on the depth of the love God and Christ have for us. If we cannot trust God, how can He ever trust us? Why would Christ marry forever someone who doubts His love?

Rather than give in to fear and worry, we can choose—an action—to believe God and His love. If we believe in the depth of the love God (John 17:23) and Christ (John 15:13) have for us, believing those words, faith in that perfect love will cast out fear (I John 4:18) so that we can say as David did: "I will fear no evil; for You are with me" (Psalm 23:4).

In Psalm 78:22 (New Living Translation—NLT), David succinctly cuts to the heart of Israel's problem, and by extension, ours: ". . . for they did not believe God or trust him to care for them." Doubting God's love for us is at the core of the sin of faithlessness. This doubt was a major characteristic of our ancestors, ancient Israel. ". . . because the people of Israel argued with Moses and tested the Lord by saying, 'Is the Lord going to take care of us or not?'" [Exodus 17:7 (NLT)] They never overcame this sin of faithlessness. We must. The stakes are so much higher.

It is sobering to consider the fate of the fearful and unbelieving and the rank they are given in the list found in Revelation 21:8: "But the cowardly [fearful, KJV], unbelieving [faithless, RSV], abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

God tested the faith of Adam and Eve and of Abraham. The former failed, the latter succeeded. Eventually, God will put every human being to the same test.

As we cope with these tests we need to stir up (II Timothy 1:6) and exercise that gift of faith God gave us at the beginning, to get back to that first love and dedication to the words and promises God has given us.

We have the same choice as Adam and Eve, ancient Israel, and Abraham had. It is our decision to make: to believe God or to believe what we see—the visible circumstances we face. Faith is life (Habakkuk 2:4), and faithlessness is sin (Romans 14:23) and therefore death (Romans 6:23). God entreats us to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Pat Higgins
Faith—What Is It?


 

Ephesians 4:14

To get the upper hand, men use trickery, cunning, and deceit to fool others into moving in the direction that they want them to go. Employing crafty and calculating "skills," they deceive and misdirect the unaware down a path that they never intended to go. They may speak smooth words—what they propose sounds great—but the consequences are destructive. Not all is as it seems.

Appearances can be very deceiving. A piece of fruit may look delicious on the outside, but the inside may be rotten. Consider a lake, for instance, which can seem calm and peaceful from the solidity of the shore, but from a boat on the water, a person feels the power of the currents and the violence of the wind that seems to blow almost a gale. A sea may be tranquil, with gentle breezes and water as smooth as glass, yet suddenly, it can be whipped into a dangerous and violent storm.

Matthew 8:23-27 contains the story of Jesus and His disciples weathering such a storm on the Sea of Galilee:

Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"

What did Jesus do while the small fishing boat pitched in the midst of a roaring storm? The winds whipped and churned the sea, and the waves crashed over the ship, creating intense fear in all aboard—except in Him. He was at peace—sleeping!—and His mind was at ease. Jesus' faith was mature and strong, not able to be "tossed to and fro." He knew how safe it was to be in God's protective hands.

When He was awakened, He reprimanded the disciples by saying, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" They had allowed themselves to see only the terror of the storm, forgetting that their Creator—One who had power over all nature—was lying contentedly asleep. They did not reckon that God would not allow His Son to perish like this, since that would ruin His plan. All they saw was the storm. They could not see the malevolent spirit behind the storm and that the storm was intended to blow them off course, to weaken their faith, and to divert them from their planned destination.

What about us? Do we allow the fierce winds that blow around us to toss us violently about, as if we were sitting in a dinghy on a stormy ocean, bobbing on the waves like a cork? Just remember that, when sail is put to the wind, even a dinghy can be successfully steered to its intended destination.

Gary Montgomery
Prevailing Winds


 

Philippians 4:6-9

We need to pay careful attention to this sequence of instructions because it contains much that can help us attain both good spiritual and physical health. In the past fifty years, men have come to understand how deteriorating and destructive stress is to life. Paul's counsel, written nearly two thousand years ago, tells us not to be driven by anxiety or fearfulness about life. Even earlier, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus admonishes us to "take no anxious thought." The stress of anxiety is wearying, setting us up for multiple afflictions. If we really "see" God, we should know that He is with us. Should we not feel great assurance in His promise never to allow us to be tempted above what we can bear? Faith is a prime solution for anxiety.

Paul continues, urging us to let God know our needs in every matter of life. As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, He already knows our needs, but He wants us to recognize, evaluate, and communicate them to Him, accompanied by thoughtful expressions of thanksgiving for what He has already given, as well as His promises of blessings in the future. Do we see what this process achieves? It disciplines us to think within certain well-defined parameters that have Him and His way at the center of our life.

Paul then asserts that one benefit of this is tranquility of mind, respite from the restlessness so common to the carnal mind, which is constantly searching for new stimulation to satisfy its insatiable longings. This peace of God will stand guard over our minds like a sentinel, allowing us to meet and cope with the problems of life.

Verse 8 begins with the word "finally." While not technically wrong, it does not adequately convey Paul's intent. We can understand it better as "in this connection" or "in this regard as I close this letter." In relation to anxiety, the peace of God, and coping with the problems of life, our minds should be occupied with things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy. Through this discipline, we program our minds with the right things; what goes into the mind determines what comes out in words, actions, and attitudes.

This is a biblical version of the "garbage in, garbage out; wholesome in, wholesome out" cliché. It specifically expands on Jesus' statement, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). We could take this further and say that out of the abundance of the heart the mind thinks and feels, and the body acts.

In verse 9, Paul defines what is wholesome specifically as what they had learned, received, heard, and seen in him. He is indirectly telling them to eat Jesus Christ because he, Paul, as His apostle to the Gentiles, was His agent to them and their teacher of His way of life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Five)


 

2 Timothy 1:7

Receiving the Holy Spirit does not instantaneously make one courageous and full of love. One has to grow in these qualities by yielding to God and using His Spirit.

Staff
Standing Up for God


 

2 Timothy 1:7

Love, power, soundmindedness—these qualities of God's Spirit. Love's greatest challenges are to overcome laziness and fear. There is no way around them; they must be met and conquered. God has given us the Spirit to enable us, but we have to be willing to put ourselves on the line, to stir ourselves up, and risk losing some part of this human nature. We must quit protecting it.

Hebrews 13:5 tells us that God will never leave us, never forsake us, that He is always our Helper. We are admonished, then, to be content. Contentment has its foundation in knowing God. We can never reach that point unless we put ourselves out to love Him and challenge this fear, to overcome the inertia and entropy that is working in everybody's life. That is where the hard work comes in, challenging the fear and the laziness.

If we are willing to do this on a day-to-day basis and put aside our fears and make the effort, our confidence in Him will grow. The fear will dissolve, diligence will cause discipline to appear, and we will meet our responsibilities in loving God and loving men.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love's Greatest Challenges


 

Hebrews 10:35-39

This is not the first time faith or its opposite, unbelief, is mentioned in Hebrews. The very purpose of the entire epistle is to recapture, build, and sustain in its recipients their faith in the superiority of Jesus Christ Himself and in His message, the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Notice the strong, earlier statements Paul makes regarding unbelief:

» Hebrews 3:12, 19: Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. . . . So we see that [the Israelites in the wilderness] could not enter in[to the Promised Land] because of unbelief.

» Hebrews 4:2: For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.

These are weighty statements. The Israelites failed to accomplish their responsibility of walking from Egypt to the Promised Land primarily because of one weak element in their character. They did not believe God or His messenger Moses. They did not listen thoughtfully or yieldingly.

Because of the warning contained within Hebrews 10:35-39, chapter 11 places the virtue of faith in direct contrast to the sin of unbelief by exposing what unbelief caused to occur. The Israelites drew back in fear rather than trusting God and boldly going forward. Thus, the main point of the epistle of Hebrews is that they will be destroyed who, by failing to put their trust in the living God, shrink back from this Christian war we have been called to fight, whereas those who believe will be saved.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Three)


 

Hebrews 10:37-39

Israel feared the warfare that they knew would confront them when they stepped over the border—and they drew back. Their drawing back in fear was a serious sin, as Numbers 14:9 shows. Drawing back in fear or failing to enter the fray is on a par with rebellion because it is a rejection of God's Word, a despising of His promise.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part One)


 

Hebrews 11:7

Noah was motivated by a deep and abiding respect for the divine warning about the impending crisis. He surely formed a strong mental picture of what was coming. Have we not been warned through biblical prophecy of the holocaust coming upon the whole world? Have we not formed a mental picture that gives us a kind of vision of its horror? Some, because of their experience in warfare, ought to have a clearer picture than others do, but we all have seen movies and read of the horrors of war, famine, and disease epidemics.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Two): Vision


 

Hebrews 13:5-6

Fear, when not controlled, gives evidence that a person does not believe that God is telling the truth and that He cannot be trusted to have one's best interests at heart. This rejects Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." To leave no doubt, God reassures us that He wants the best for us, peace and a future with Him forever.

No matter what problems we face, God has a glorious end-game in mind for us. Christ points to it in Luke 12:32 as a reason not to fear: "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." The end-game for this physical life is only the beginning of the next—eternal life. Our God, with all the power at His command, is committed to getting us there, as I Thessalonians 5:23-24 reveals: "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it" (emphasis ours).

Our God is not passive in His love for us but is actively looking for opportunities to do us good, assuring us in II Chronicles 16:9, "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." Not only is it God's will to be a present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1), this verse in II Chronicles also reveals that He takes it much further. God is with great effort, illustrated by running to and fro, actively looking for opportunities to help us. Kiel and Delitzsch says of this verse, "[He] looks forth over all the earth, uses every opportunity wonderfully to succour those who are piously devoted to Him."

So knowing that God is looking for every opportunity to help us, we should be able to relate to Psalm 121:

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.

With all these promises, why do we have fear? We will fear if we do not make God's promises part of our thinking or lack the faith to believe them.

Pat Higgins
The Sin of Fear (Part Two)


 

1 Peter 5:8-9

This verse indicates that there is little room for carelessness. We are being called upon to be thoroughly self-controlled and to be alert. Why? Because Satan aims to undermine our confidence, to sow discord, and to get us to stop believing and revert to carnality. These are the directions in which he will try to push us.

Notice Peter writes, "Whom he may devour." "May" indicates permission is given. He has the ability to devour us spiritually, but it does not have to happen. Putting the advice in verse 8 into more common language, instead of saying. "Be sober," we might say, "Keep cool," "Keep your head screwed on right," "Don't lose your presence of mind," "Try to keep calm about this," "Don't be fearful," or "Don't lose your temper."

He also says to "Be vigilant," which means "to watch." This same phraseology is used in reference to prayer. It is part of our responsibility to pray that we not enter into temptation. It is part of being vigilant.

All of these things—the roaring lion, the resisting, the afflictions, suffering, persecution, perfection, and strength—are related as parts of operations that fulfill God's purpose for us. We have to begin by understanding that Satan—despite his incredible intelligence, cleverness, and power—is still yet an unwitting dupe in God's hand to bring about His purpose. God is far more powerful than Satan. As great as is Satan's power over us, God's is far greater over Satan.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 5)


 

1 John 2:1-6

Eternal life is to know God (John 17:3). Do we want to know God and do His will at the same time? Keep His commandments. Do not sin. Overcome and grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:18). To do this, we have to desire to live the eternal life given us by the Father through Jesus Christ. This does not come easily. Our Savior describes this way as difficult and narrow, for human nature stands ever ready to throw stumbling blocks in our path.

Sin destroys ideals. As we sin, the high standards of eternal life are gradually eroded away, and we become willing to accept just about anything. Sin destroys innocence, and in the process creates fear, cynicism, guilt, and restlessness. Sin destroys the will, gradually removing the barriers to sin more and the incentive to do well.

Sin produces more sin, sickness, pain, slavery, and finally, death. This cycle will never change unless each person, as God summons him, takes it upon himself to allow himself to be motivated to use the gifts God gives. It takes a great deal of effort to do this. Jesus warns it will be difficult.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Six): Eternal Life


 

1 John 2:15-17

Love of the world is forbidden by God, and conforming to it shows that a person loves it (Romans 12:2) and therefore hates God. Much of the time, the world equates lust with love, but nothing could be further from the truth. Lust is self-centered and destructive. The person who has God's love perfected in him cannot fear because he has no dread of punishment and no torment from sin.

Martin G. Collins
Love


 

1 John 4:18

In some ways, love and fear are opposites, enemies. Love's closest companion and ally is confidence. When we are completely confident, we do not fear that we can do what is required of us. Our problem is that we have not perfected love in us, and so, we fear.

Staff
Standing Up for God


 

Revelation 21:8

Because we live in times that are increasingly uncertain and perilous, fear is a reality all will face at some time. A sobering consideration is that fear appears in a list in Revelation 21:8 describing those who will be cast into the Lake of Fire: "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (emphasis ours throughout).

As bad as murderers, the sexually immoral, and sorcerers are, note that God puts first, at the head of the line, the cowardly and unbelieving. The Bible in Basic English renders these first few words as, "But those who are full of fear and without faith. . . ." Why are fear and lack of faith such preeminent sins in God's eyes?

Before answering that question, let us first establish that fear and a lack of faith are sins. Notice Nehemiah 6:10-14:

Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, "Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you." And I said, "Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!" Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me. My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.

Nehemiah labels fear as sin. Romans 14:23 says the same of unbelief: "But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin." A lack of faith is also sin.

So, why are they at the beginning of the list in Revelation 21:8? And, of the two, why is fear first? The New Living Translation provides an answer to that question by rendering the verse's opening words as, "But cowards who turn away from me. . . ." In fear, cowards run from the battle, showing disloyalty to their sovereign. In the spiritual realm, they put their self-interest above everything, including God. Fear violates the first commandment by not giving God the preeminence it demands. It is not surprising, then, that the first sin listed is the one that so directly violates that first great commandment (Matthew 22:36-38).

In his commentary on Revelation 21:8, James Burton Coffman notes, "But it is not of natural fear and timidity that John speaks; it is that cowardice which in the last resort chooses self and safety before Christ." He nails the core problem of fear—at the end, it can cause us to reject God in favor of self.

Pat Higgins
The Sin of Fear (Part One)


 

Find more Bible verses about Fear:
Fear {Nave's}
 




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