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Bible verses about Sin of Fear
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 14:25-31

We see that doubt causes fear, but we also see a hint of how we can combat that fear and get it under control. As long as Peter kept his focus on Christ, he could do the impossible, but once he began walking by sight, fear gripped him. Under its control, he was no longer able to do the impossible. Even though fear is a natural human emotion, do we control it or does it control us (see Genesis 4:7)?

Hebrews 3:12 warns, "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God." We need to be on guard against unbelief. The author conjures up a picture of an enemy ready to pounce, advising us that we always need to be at the ready for its attack. We must face it and overcome it.

This verse is not talking about the normal unbelief and its fruit of fear that all people have, for fearfulness is a common human condition. As our Creator, God understands that doubts will creep in now and again. Rather, it speaks of a heart controlled by doubt, by unbelief, leading to fear that can cause us to cut and run from the living God. That kind of heart will drag a person down just as Peter's doubt dragged him down into the waters of Galilee.

The central peril of unbelief is that it breaks the trust that is the basis of our relationship with God. We can see how this worked in Satan. God created him perfect (Ezekiel 28:15), yet somewhere along the line he no longer believed that God was good and doubted that God had his best interests at heart. This doubt about God's love led to the fear that he would not get what he deserved. That fear, born of his unbelief and doubt, led to his rebellion and the most glaring example yet of departing from the living God.

Does God have our best interests at heart? Jeremiah 29:11 says, Yes! "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." As the old saying goes, this is straight from the horse's mouth—from the highest Authority in the universe. The only question is do we believe it with every fiber of our beings?

Pat Higgins
The Sin of Fear (Part One)


 

Luke 12:4-5

While Revelation 21:8 says that the fearful have their part in the lake of fire, it is a paradox that a Christian must have fear. It just has to be the right kind of fear, as Christ teaches here. While the wrong kind of fear can lead to eternal death, the right kind of fear leads to eternal life: "Fear of the LORD is a life-giving fountain; it offers escape from the snares of death" (Proverbs 14:27, New Living Translation, NLT).

The benefits of the right kind of fear are not limited to the distant future and the promise of eternal life, but it also has great benefits for the here and now for us and even our children after us, as the following scriptures indicate:

» For the reverence and fear of God are basic to all wisdom. Knowing God results in every other kind of understanding. (Proverbs 9:10, The Living Bible)

» The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. (Psalm 25:14, Revised Standard Version)

» And Moses said to the people, "Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin." (Exodus 20:20)

» Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. (Psalm 34:9)

» He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. (Psalm 145:19)

» By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life. (Proverbs 22:4)

» For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him. . . . As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him. (Psalm 103:11, 13)

» In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. (Proverbs 14:26)

» They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. (Jeremiah 32:38-40)

Pat Higgins
The Sin of Fear (Part Two)


 

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)


 

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)


 

Revelation 21:8

What causes the sin of fear? The second item listed in Revelation 21:8 points to the answer—unbelief. Psalm 78:13-16 gives an example of how this works:

For he divided the sea before them and led them through! The water stood up like walls beside them! In the daytime he led them by a cloud, and at night by a pillar of fire. He split open the rocks in the wilderness to give them plenty of water, as from a gushing spring. He made streams pour from the rock, making the waters flow down like a river! (New Living Translation [NLT])

Listed are miracles God performed to provide for the needs of His people. Continuing in Psalm 78:17-21, we see Israel's response to God's clear display of His love and care for them:

Yet they kept on with their sin, rebelling against the Most High in the desert. They willfully tested God in their hearts, demanding the foods they craved. They even spoke against God himself, saying, "God can't give us food in the desert. Yes, he can strike a rock so water gushes out, but he can't give his people bread and meat." When the Lord heard them, he was angry. The fire of his wrath burned against Jacob. Yes, his anger rose against Israel. . . . (NLT)

Even though God had provided water in abundance, they were afraid that He would not provide bread and meat. What was the basis, the cause, for this fear? The answer follows in Psalm 78:22 (NLT): ". . . for they did not believe God or trust him to care for them." Amazing! After all God did for them, they still could not muster the necessary faith and trust in God and His love for them (Hebrews 4:2). When push comes to shove, do we believe God's promises? Do we trust in the extent of His care and love for us (John 17:23) and that He will come to our aid (Psalm 34:19)?

What was God's response to the Israelites' display of fear? "The fire of his wrath burned against Jacob" (Psalm 78:21, NLT), foreshadowing Revelation 21:8. Fire is the response to fear from the God who does not change (Malachi 3:6).

Fear, then, is the result of a lack of faith, not believing in God's power and especially His love and willingness to act on our behalf. The fearful are that way because they lack faith. Christ reveals this connection in Mark 4:40: "But He said to them, 'Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?'"

When Christ saw fear, His immediate response was to question that person's faith. Fear is a very human reaction. As Christ indicates, how we respond depends on our degree of faith. When faith is weak or non-existent, fear becomes the controlling factor rather than faith. We begin to live by sight and not by faith (II Corinthians 5:7), and without faith, we cannot be saved: "And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 3:18-19).

Our rest is God's Kingdom. Just as a lack of faith—unbelief—barred ancient Israel from entering their rest, a lack of faith can bar us from entering ours, keeping us out of the Family of God. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). We are seeing that sin is not the result of weakness as we normally think of it, as in we are "weak in the flesh." Yes, there is weakness, but what is the root of sin—its cause? When looked at closely, the root of sin is "unbelief," as Israel's example illustrates. Unbelief—a lack of faith—causes and leads to producing sin in our lives, pointing to our real foundational weakness: a lack of faith. This is Paul's message in Romans 14:23: " . . . for whatever is not from faith is sin."

Pat Higgins
The Sin of Fear (Part One)


 

 




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