The Toughest Command
Fear not is a command repeatedly mentioned for we need to remember that fear creates a prison around us that not only takes us away from God but also causes unbelief.

The Toughest Command

       God’s commands as contained in the Scripture are to guide and lead us on the path of establishing and maintaining a close relationship with Him. God in His mercy is ever ready to forgive our trespasses but the command to not be afraid, which is repeated more than 360 times, is probably the one all of humanity violates. This is probably central to our life in fellowship with God and violators are even barred from entry into the New Jerusalem.

        Why the emotion of fear is given so much importance in the Scripture? – In creation that was very good, fear was the first expressed emotion by Adam and Eve though this should be more of a feeling of guilt for disobedience (Genesis 3:10). Cain after murdering his brother Abel complained to God about the severity of his punishment while fearing for his life that ‘anyone who finds me will kill me’ (Genesis 4:14). After that Abraham feared for his life and asked Sarah his wife to claim to be his sister so that others do not kill him (Genesis 12:12-13). Moses made various excuses to avoid going back to Egypt from where he had fled after murdering an Egyptian man (Exodus 3:10 – 4:17).

       Hebrew word ‘yare’ is translated as fear, revere, shoot and pour and its source is always external. Fear has two aspects – one is fear in the evil sense and the other is fear as reverence. Psychologists identify two fears one is born with, the fear of falling down and fear of noise and then we develop many more during our lifetime. A psychological survey of 500 people revealed seven thousand types of fears. Fear is a feeling of something unknown and that always takes us away from the source of fear and in our fallen state since we do not know God fully fear leads us away from Him.

      The Holy Bible lists two kinds of fears where one is the commanded fear and in the concluding statement King Solomon said ‘Fear God and keep his commandments, for this man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil’ (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).  Scripture terms it as godly fear (Hebrews 11:7). This fear leads to holiness (2 Corinthians 7:1) and secondly, it helps us in working out our salvation which we received through faith in the Savior Lord (Philippians 2:12) and thirdly, it guides us into obedience to the command of evangelism (2 Corinthians 5:11). The second type of fear is the forbidden fear and it is synonymous with dread; alarm, fright, terror, anxiety and distrust (Psalm 91:5 & Luke 12:32). This fear is condemned or forbidden.

      God desires that we experience His love for ‘There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love’ (1 John 4:18). This type of fear is different from caution due to which we read the prescription slip and the label on the medicine to avoid medicine overdose. The fear of getting run over by a vehicle causes us to look towards both sides of the road before crossing. Similarly, vaccination is due to fear of contacting a disease and these are normal and good fears.                                                                     

     Generally what are we afraid of? – The different types of fears that we are faced with are connected to various aspects of our life. The first is fear of failure and it caused the servant with one talent to do nothing (Matthew 25:25). We fear failure in profession, school, sports or leadership etc but the greatest failure is not about failing after trying to do something but it is in never trying.    

       Second, fear of the unknown future due to which missionaries are not sent to new areas, expanding the existing structure or a program is stopped or avoided. People go to astrologers for future gazing and this is due to our inherent nature to control the events of our lives. King Saul was afraid of the large Philistine army and he sought out a prophetess at Endor to know beforehand the outcome of the battle (1 Samuel 28:5-7).

      Third, fear of truth since the biggest fear is of being found out for our lies and being forced to admit being in the wrong. We are afraid for truth demands change and we do not want to let go. Lord Jesus said, ‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free’ (John 8:32). We are given new birth through the word of truth setting us free from fear (James 1:18).

      Four, fear of responsibility – Moses before the Burning Bush, tried to avoid going to Egypt and even said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt’ (Exodus 3:11). Fear will keep us from being fishers for men or to walk on water and thus reaching up to great heights (Luke 5:10). We are not required to be successful always but to try, not to have all the answers but to sow the seed of care and love.

      Five, men fear old age – Scripture equates old age with glory that ‘Gray hair is a crown of glory, it is gained in a righteous life’ (Proverbs 16:31). Old age is to have and to seek great achievements before one heads home and in any case aging is God created.

      Six, fear of insecurity – This is fear of not having enough but God’s Word assures a believer of enough provisions to meet all needs. As it is written, ‘my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:19).

      Seven, fear of growth – People argue that big church will become unmanageable and we should not take in too many members. But it relates to our love for God and His Word. Growth is inevitable and to resist is to die or stagnate.

     Eight, what others will say or do – Lord Jesus warned us that men would speak against us and to also beware against all men speaking well of us (Luke 6:26).  Apostle Peter denied the Lord thrice yet returned and was forgiven (Matthew 26:69-75). People use various substances and sex to boost their self image.

      Nine, fear of death – Lord Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection and through that victory over death was to free us from the ‘fear of death’ (Hebrews 2:14-15). He has assured us of a place in His Father’s house in heaven and promised to ‘come back and take you with Me that you may also be where I am’ (John 14:1-3).

      Hebrew word ‘yare’ is translated as fear, reverence, shoot or pour out where fear of God is reverence of God but we are cautioned about the immobilizing fears. God the Father desires that we develop a close relationship with Him while the devil’s sole aim is to keep mankind under his control and away from God. He shoots or pours out his lies on us and though he cannot read our thoughts but our spoken words and expressions reveal our mental state providing him a key to attack. The devil then repeatedly pours out his thoughts into us to make us terrified of small insignificant things and keep us away from our prayer and worship. A disciple in Delhi is bombarded with whispering voices telling him that prayers are of no use and he and his family will suffer miseries always and this is despite God blessing the family abundantly and repeatedly.

       Lord Jesus’ message to the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3 is to exhort them to overcome and this is not only about temptations but also about fears that restrain us. A very short book by C.S.Lewis ‘The Screwtape Letters’ is a classic example of how the demonic forces attempt to affect our thinking process. This book contains letters to and from a trainee demon to his controller about an individual that he is assigned to corrupt and control.

       How does fear affect our lives? – God promises that ‘I will move ahead of you and straighten the crooked paths, I will break open the doors of brass and break the bars of iron’ (Isaiah 45:2). In this the paths being straightened and the doors being opened are about obstacles in the way but the bars of iron are the self created prisons that stop us from moving forward out of fear. God promises to break those bars or chains also to set us free. Fear causes undue stress which is the root cause of most of the diseases affecting our bodies. The disciples faced a severe storm while the Lord was sleeping in the boat and they woke Him up and said, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ (Mark 4:36-41).

       Fear makes us suspect God also that He has turned against us and affects our overall personality. Fear causes torment and prevents us from doing God’s will (1 John 4:18). God desires us to overcome evil while seeking forgiveness through confession of sins but in fear forming friendships and relationships gets prevented. Fear makes us useless for God – Gideon told to send back those who are fearful and afraid (Judges 7:3). Fear brings defeat – Apostle Peter walked on water but looking at the storm he was afraid and started sinking (Matthew 14:30). In fact what we fear we attract and it comes about in our lives. Fear spreads and is contagious – God commanded, let the fearful return home lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart (Deuteronomy 20:8). The 12 spies returned and except Joshua and Caleb the other ten said ‘we are not able to go up against the people for they are stronger than we’ (numbers 13-14 & 31&14:4). Fear can make a church and its congregation ineffective stopping it from doing good work for God’s kingdom. Fear kills and destroys and many commit suicide – Judas Iscariot felt remorseful, returned the money to the Chief Priests in the temple and committed suicide (Matthew 27:3-5). Fear causes a person to be lost – the greatest fear that we face is about others knowing about our faith and condemnation by them or loss of property etc and many though fully aware of the truth of the Gospel fail to accept and thus perish.

      Fear affects our spiritual growth also – Often we do not pray for others that God would not answer and people will insult me for enacting a façade. Fear restrains us from asking questions from others to learn about the Scripture. Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews or a member of the Sanhedrin, came to Lord Jesus at night for fear of losing his position (John 3:1-2). God assured Joshua of success everywhere, ‘no one will be able to stand before you’ but you just be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid was told three times by God and twice by the people for probably Joshua’s fear was visible and could have stopped him from receiving his due in the history of the Israelites (Joshua 1:3,5,6-7). Probably that is the reason of Lord Jesus’ command to the Seven Churches and even later, ‘he who overcomes shall inherit all things and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly (and other sinners) shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death’ (Revelation 21:7-8). Fear would deny us any part with God and His kingdom causing eternal damnation and separation from God. It is better to fail and not succeed rather than not attempting and missing the chance. I would better ask, seek and knock on the door rather than repenting later at not having tried for most of us have such regrets, ‘if only I had done that’.

      How to overcome fear – Most of us live in constant fear of something or the other, fear of loss of job, family member, health issues, natural disasters or terror attacks and even that ‘God may want me to go through poverty or other types of suffering’. Father of the deaf and mute boy first said to the Lord, ‘if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us’ but later cried out ‘Lord, I believe, help my unbelief’ (Mark 9:23-25). First and foremost is to recognize my fears and bring everything to Lord in prayer. Our LORD God assures us that ‘all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing… you shall seek them and not find them..those who war against you shall be as nothing, as a nonexistent thing. I the LORD your God will hold your right hand… fear not, I will help you (Isaiah 41:11-13). When God is assuring that our enemies will be as nothing, nonexistent, why should I fear.

      The enemy wants to destroy our faith but God is telling otherwise. I must read, meditate upon and understand the Scripture and use it as ‘Sword of the Spirit’ a weapon of God to slay the lies of Satan (Ephesians 6:13–18). I pray for and receive the weapons of God to fight not only what is external but also the internal, my fears, my unholy desires and expectations. Prayer and seek the Lord to cast your burdens on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved (Psalm 3:4; 55:16,17 &22). Lord Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. He prayed in the Gethsemane Park and rather our Lord prayed before and after every important event (Luke 6:12). In like manner the disciples were joined together in fasting and prayer before being filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:13-14). Rid ourselves of sin for sin and fear are inseparable – Adam and Eve hid from God after their disobedience (Genesis 3:6 &10). ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us’ (1 John 1:9-10). Satan’s control over mankind is only because of the open door of sins that we have not confessed and have not been forgiven. Confession closes that door and we are freed from the devil’s hold.

      Live in the present – ‘Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble’ (Matthew 6:34). Apostle Paul is clear on this, ‘one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead’ (Philippians 3:13). God revealed His name to Moses ‘I AM WHO I AM’; not I was or I will be. God is of the present before whom past and future are also revealed and we also are to live in the present, a day at a time (Exodus 3:14). Fill our heart with love – first feel and realize God’s love for me and then filled with that reach out to others in that same love for ‘There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear’ ((– 1 John 4:18). God promises not to leave nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6) and again that ‘I am with you to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20). God promises that ‘I will not leave you orphans’ (John 14:18) and ‘if God is for us who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:31).

       God will make my enemy as nothing and non-existent (Isaiah 41:12-13) and  I will not fear for I worship and serve a God ‘who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us’ (Ephesians 3:20). When I believe in His promises I will then feel His presence and fear will flee for His Holy Spirit is with me and in me. I am assured of my place with God eternally, provided I do not succumb to fear and I must remember this. The power of the Holy Spirit works in us and the command to overcome is from One who has and knows that we can. To Him be glory now and forever!

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