FAITH and FEAR can’t Coexist

We’re living in a time where fear is running rampant. Unseen viruses and their variants are everywhere we turn. Corruption, chaos, and fighting surround us. Fires, floods, and storms are wreaking havoc. All of these and more create an environment rife with fear— but fear does not come from God. 

                There’s much truth in the phrase “Fear is a Liar” as fear comes from the Deceiver (John 8:44, Rev. 12:9, 20:3, 8, 10). God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).  This is where the battle of faith over fear lies—in the mind.  What you focus on is what you’ll see, what you think is what you’ll say or do, and what you say and do is what you’ll feel.  BUILD FAITH, NOT FEAR.  Fear builds up when the mind is set on earthly things and worldly thinking. On the other hand, faith builds up when the mind is turned to and tuned in to God’s Word (Rom. 10:17). That’s why the steps to building faith require hearing and understanding what God has provided for us in His Word:

· Cast down and take captive deceitful thinking

Imaginations, false messages, and arguments that are contrary to the knowledge of God must be cast down. When the focus is put more on the world and its way of thinking, the mind becomes conformed to wrong conclusions. These errors in thought need to be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).

· Put off the old nature

Faith and fear can’t coexist — one or the other must be ‘put off‘ (Gal. 5:17). Ephesians 4:22 tells us where wrong thoughts grow fertile and directs the believer to, “…put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts…” The key word deceitful again emanates from the deceiver, not God. The flesh is the area of darkness that Satan desires to work in and is corrupt in nature (Rom. 6:6, 13:12-14). The flesh is the handicap of the believer until resurrection and so one shouldn’t place any confidence in it (Phil. 3:3). It needs to be ‘put off’, as worry and anxiety thrive in this realm. “Cast all your anxiety upon Him; for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Any (and all) anxious thoughts need to be given to God so His peace can reign and guard one’s heart and mind through Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7).

· Put on the new nature and renew the mind

After the old is put off and the deceitful thinking is taken captive, it can be replaced with something new. The new nature (or new man) that’s created after God in righteousness and true holiness is the perfect replacement. This spiritual attire is needed for the mind to be equipped for continual renewal with the knowledge of God’s truth (Eph. 4:23-24, Col. 3:10, Rom. 12:2, 2 Cor. 4:16). God’s Word is the living and powerful antidote to the false and the only weapon to counteract fearful thoughts (Heb. 4:12, Eph. 6:17, Rom. 12:2). 

· Increase Faith

Proverbs 1:7 says that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This fear (or reverence) toward the Lord is the only type of fear a believer should exhibit.  As holy fear or reverence is given to God (acknowledging Who He is), everything is placed in its proper perspective. The only way to truly know who God is comes from reading His Word, the Bible (Rom. 10:17). So it’s no surprise that fear, not faith, will grow if one isn’t in God’s Word daily. 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear.  God is love and His love was manifested toward us in sending His only begotten Son into the world to be the propitiation for our sins so that we might live through Him (1 John 4:8-10, 18). We can trust a loving, almighty, and infallible God rather than the alternative of fallible men and women. Put on the Armor of Light (which is the Lord Jesus Christ) and there’ll be no vacancy for the flesh to fulfill its lusts (Rom. 13:12-14, Gal. 5:19-21). When there’s no room for the flesh, fear will decrease and faith will have plenty of room to grow as the Spirit reigns and produces its fruit (Gal. 5:22-23).

· Set your mind on things above

To keep one’s mind in faith over fear mode the focus needs to be kept upward where Christ is (sitting at the right hand of God).  The mind should be set on things above (that are eternal), not on earthly things (which are temporary) (Col. 3:1-3, 2 Cor. 4:18).  Stop focusing on all the bad news of the world and instead meditate on the things that are: true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).

                Sounds simple? Well it’s not. Keeping the faith is a fight. One doesn’t truly realize where they stand in faith until it’s tested. It’s only in the midst of trials that the believer’s dependence on the Invisible becomes apparent. It was by faith alone that those listed in Hebrews chapter 11 could endure all the physical things they did. The apostle Paul used military terms when he wrote his second letter to Timothy, “…you therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:3-4)As a soldier who wrestles against evil spiritual entities (rather than the flesh), the fight of faith requires God’s spiritual armor (2 Cor. 10:3-4, Eph. 6:12-13). This is the only effective attire that will equip one to stand against the wiles of the devil and quench all the fiery darts he throws (Eph. 6:11, 17). As the apostle Paul could rightly say in his last days, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

                Before freaking out when all hell seems to be breaking lose and fear tries to slip in—stop and BE STILL (desist; cease your efforts, knowing God is Almighty) (Ps. 46:10). BE PRESENT to God’s presence. He’s a present God that IS with us. Listen for His direction through His Word and prayer (Prov. 3:5-6, Phil. 2:13). BELIEVE (even when you cannot see) that God is working (in diverse ways that we cannot always understand) (Isaiah 55:8-11, 2 Cor. 5:7, Heb. 11:1, 3, Phil. 4:19-20). Memorize and repeat this truth, “God IS our refuge and strength, A very PRESENT help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear” (Ps. 46:1-3).

                                “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21). 

Laura                    

AFRAID OF SCARY THINGS IN THE DARK?

fear-not-armor-of-god
Fear Not: Armor of God by Laura Kestly

If we really believe in just what we see in our world today, we can be filled with fear.

One only has to look at the events going on in the news every night (not to mention the Presidential election) to realize we live in frightening times.

                The truth is that we do wrestle against some pretty scary things–things that we don’t actually see but are pretty mighty like: “principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age–spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). The enemy or bad guy in our scary movie, the devil, is a wily one with ‘tricks’ that may appear as ‘treats’ as his mode of operation (Matt. 13:39, Eph. 4:14, Gen. 3). The fact is that he was a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies (John 8:44). This prince of demons (Matt. 12:24) wants us to believe that it’s “flesh & blood” (the physical human person) that we wrestle with, instead of the very real, dark spiritual forces behind it. Satan is an incredible illusionist– a master of disguises. He is able to deceive many when he transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). That’s why God has provided us with a costume of sorts for our protection—it’s called the armor of God (aka the Lord Jesus Christ). When one chooses to put on this protection, they will become ‘hid in Him’ and able to stand in strength & mighty power against the devil’s tricks (Col. 3:3, Eph. 6:13-17).

Believers can take comfort that greater is He who is in their inner man than he who is in the world (1 Jn. 4:4, Eph. 3:16). When we ‘put on’ the Lord Jesus Christ, we also put on love (Col. 3:14, 1 John 4:7-12). God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. The one who fears has not been made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).

                When we’re fearful we rely on our own fallible understanding & ways rather than trust in an almighty infallible God, Who moves in mysterious ways that we do not always understand. It’s helpful to be constantly mindful that God’s purpose is never the same as man’s purpose (Isa. 55:8-9). A Christian believer is someone who trusts in the knowledge & the wisdom of God, not in his own abilities or in man’s wisdom (1 Cor. 1:20-21, 2:5, 3:19; 2 Cor. 1:12). If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the calm, relaxed pace which should be characteristic of a child of God.

                Who hasn’t given their all physically at a time or two (or three…) and become exhausted? But when one gives of themselves spiritually (relying on an almighty, powerful source) their strength is enhanced, not depleted (Isa. 40:29; Eph. 3:16 6:10). Fear & worry steal the strength that God freely has available for us to be utilizing each moment of our day.  

                As we look to the Author & Finisher of our faith, we can be motivated to move in love, not fear (Heb. 12:2).

I find it helpful to consistently ask myself, “Are my words and actions motivated by love or by fear?” If I find they are motivated by fear, I pray to cast down this false thinking & renew my mind in the right spirit (2 Cor. 10:3-5, Eph. 4:23, Rom. 12:2).   There is some truth in what the character Yoda, in the movie Star Wars said,

“Fear is the path to the dark side,

Fear leads to anger,

Anger leads to hate,

Hate leads to suffering.”

The suffering referred to is not the suffering that is patiently endured in the Christian faith (Col. 1:24, Phil. 3:10, 2 Tim. 1:8), rather it’s the suffering that’s rooted in fear and doesn’t lead to a peaceful resting in God.

                So let’s pursue love, not fear and cast off the works of the dark side, and put on the armor of light–the Lord Jesus Christ–making sure there’s not any room for the flesh (or fear) (Rom. 13:12, 14).                     Laura