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                    

WHERE DO WARS AND FIGHTS COME FROM?

What stirs up strife, hatred, anger, wrath, and pride? (Prov. 10:12, 15:18, 28:25, 29:22, James 4:1-2, 4)               

GOD: THE LAWMAKER AND LAW ENFORCER

                God has provided an orderly world. (Gen. 1:14, Eccl. 1:4-7, 3:11, Job 38:31-33, Isa. 40:12). His creation has been designed and executed perfectly—displaying His power, holiness, and righteousness (Ps. 18:30, Ps. 19:7, Rom. 1:19-20).  “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1). The universe obeys certain laws. These laws (ordinances of heaven and earth, Jer. 33:25) are precise and many of them are mathematical in nature (laws of physics, i.e. law of gravity…).  Natural laws are hierarchical in nature. Secondary laws of nature are based on primary laws of nature, which have to be just right in order for our universe to be possible. Laws are nothing in themselves. In all the works of God we find not only what we call “Law” and a “Law maker”, but we also discover a “Law enforcer”.  The most fundamental laws of nature exist only because God wills them to. He upholds and sustains them in the universe He’s created (Col. 1:17, Heb. 1:2-3). God created man and woman in His own image to have dominion over all the living creatures that He had created. God also allowed man and woman to have free will.

INSURRECTION IN THE GARDEN 

Anarchist: a person who rebels against any authority, established order, or ruling power.

                God placed man and woman in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it (Gen. 1:26-28). He had commanded them of which tree not to eat of, and told them what would happen if they did (Gen. 2:15-17). We’re not told how or when the anarchist got into the garden, but we do know a bit about his background.  He had previously challenged and revolted against God’s authority long before he ‘slithered’ into Eden.  He is known by different names: Lucifer, the Devil, Satan, and the great Dragon (Rev. 12:9). His past position was as God’s anointed cherub, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  His performance was first-rate in the role God placed him in from the day he was created until iniquity (perversity) was found in him. His heart grew prideful due to his beauty and so his wisdom became corrupted.  Lucifer wasn’t content with the high ranking post that God had given him. He wanted to be like God, the Most High. Instead God removed him from his position and cast him to the ground (and the angels that followed him) (Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:13-18, Rev. 12:9). 

                We find him next persuading Eve in the garden to question what God had said. It didn’t take long to deceive her into breaking God’s command and convincing Adam to as well (Gen. 3:1-6). They were reprimanded and given the penalty for their disobedience and cast out of the garden. The chaos and calamities that befall mankind are a direct consequence of Adam and Eve’s rebellion from divine law and affect not only mankind but all of creation (Gen. 3:16-19, 23-24, Rom. 5:12, 8:20-22). 

KNOW JESUS. KNOW PEACE. 

There is one Lawgiver, Who is able to save and to destroy (James 4:12).

                The great pronouncement and prophecy in Genesis 3:15 that God gave to the serpent provided mankind with a glimmer of hope, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” See also 1 John 3:8. God, in His superior wisdom and foreknowledge had a plan already in motion. Due to His enormous mercy, He would send in an army of One Who would pay the ultimate price so that mankind could have access to eternal life as well as a new way to live in peace (in the midst of a fallen, chaotic world) (Rom. 5:12, 19, 2 Cor. 5:21, Gal. 1:4, Eph. 1:7, 2:8-9, Col. 1:4).

THE UNSEEN WAR

                “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war… Friendship with the world is enmity with God” (James 4:1-2, 4).

                Even though the Christian’s eternal position in Christ is secure today, in order to walk in victory through the dark times on earth, a Christian must stay ‘hid in Christ’ where the enemy will have no power to tempt his flesh (Col. 3:3, Rom. 13:12, Eph. 6:10-13, 4:23-24). It’s an imperative to stay in God’s Word in order to wield His spiritual sword with discernment effectively (and not succumb to the wiles of the devil) (Heb. 4:12, 1 Cor. 2:12-14, 2 Cor. 2:11, Eph. 6:11, 17).                 

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh” (2 Cor. 10:3).

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood…” (Eph. 6:12).

The truth is we war against spiritual, unseen entities that are principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness of the age; spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places (Eph. 6:11).  As tempting as it is today to get caught up in worldly debates, remember that a Christian’s true citizenship is in heaven, not on earth (1 John 5:19, Phil. 3:20, Col. 3:1-2). Satan is an adversary, who waits around like a lion seeking who he can devour (1 Pet. 5:8). He’s a liar and deception is his mode of operating (John 8:44, Gen. 3:13, 2 Cor. 11:3, 14, 1 Tim. 2:14, Rev. 20:10).  His realm is in the corrupt fleshly nature, which all (believer or not) carry. That’s why for the believer (who has another option) is told to put off the old nature and put on the new. The old is the area that Satan has an opportunity to agitate and rile up emotions that generate envy, self-seeking, and prideful hearts. This often leads to anger, strife, and hatred, causing one to war against another. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there (Gal. 5:19-21, Eph. 4:22-27, 5:11, 2:2, Rom. 6:6, James 3:14-16). 

NO JESUS. NO PEACE.

                God is not the author of confusion, but of peace (1 Cor. 14:33).  God cannot lie, it’s not in His nature (Titus 1:2, Num. 23:19). His wisdom is from above and is peaceful, gentle, full of mercy, without partiality and without hypocrisy (James 3:17-18). God’s Spirit bears fruit (Gal. 5:22-23, Eph. 5:9). “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

                We shouldn’t turn our backs when injustices arise and we can be righteously angry. Our anger shouldn’t lead us to sin as this gives the devil an opportunity (Eph. 4:26-27). The way we conduct ourselves does matter. Our actions should be in love, as children of light, and with wisdom—redeeming the time because the days are evil (Eph. 5:2, 8, 15-16).

                Martin Luther King Jr., in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech said this, “…In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high place of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

STAY THE COURSE

                As the Bible tells us, the good guys win in the end (Rev. 20:10, 21:4, 22:3, 1 Cor. 15:26, 28, 1 John 3:8, 5:4-5). Be strong in God’s grace. It is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9, 2 Tim. 2:1). Don’t get caught up in the world’s ways and teachings that are ever changing, remembering they generate from the present ruler of the power of the air and demons (1 Tim. 4:1, 2 Tim. 2:4, Eph. 4:14). Speak the truth in love and preach God’s truth steadfastly and patiently (Eph. 4:15, 2 Tim. 4:2). Stay the course by fighting the good fight, keeping the faith and finishing the race (2 Tim. 4:7).

Laura