I Was Afraid
There seems to be an epidemic of fear in the body of Christ, and it’s paralyzing the faith of believers. Christians are living their lives in various degrees of fear—hours of anxiety, days of dread, long-term torment. For some, it’s fear of Satan and his demons, for others it’s a fear of death and dying. Some are afraid of financial failure while others are scared of being persecuted or ridiculed for their Christianity. Where did all of this fear come from?
Fear From The Fall
“And he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Gen. 3:10).
Adam was responding to the LORD God who was calling, “Where art thou?” He knew exactly where Adam was and what he and Eve had done. God had seen them take the fruit from the tree in the midst of the garden, the one He had commanded them not to touch or take from lest they die.
And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? (Gen. 3:13).
My husband says that God’s two questions, “Where are you?” and “What is this that you have done?” comprise the problem of humanity.
Before Adam’s fall, the voice of the Lord had been a welcomed sound, one that man moved toward. Now it was the very opposite—a sound that sparked fear in Adam’s heart. God’s voice had not changed, but he had.
That’s why Adam’s response to God was not truthful. He wasn’t afraid because he was naked, he was afraid because he was experiencing effects from his fall, and one of the first to pass through his consciousness was cold fear—fear that sprang up from the guilt of sin and gripped Adam’s mind and heart. In fear, he heard God’s voice in a warped, wrong way, and man hid from his Creator.
Fear Of The Dark
“And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” (Acts 19:15).
For some reason, believers have high interest in demonic activity these days. No doubt the hellish story lines and images streaming through television and movies, which, unfortunately, many Christians feed on, attribute to their interest in how Satan operates. (I wish to God they would spend more time reading the Bible, and focusing their energies on how to live for God.)
We’ve had people to call in or write, afraid that demons are roaming loose in their houses, causing sickness in their bodies, or possessing their children.
The devil and his demons are real, but the person who walks with Jesus has nothing to fear from them.
Remember what John wrote: “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I Jn. 4:4).
And in Mark 16:17 Jesus said, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils.” The criteria, my husband notes on this verse, is believing. Sadly, most Christians do not believe. The greatest oxymoron of all is believers who don’t believe. It is regrettable that the modern church has turned into a giant referral system. It refers the alcoholic to Alcoholics Anonymous and drug addicts to psychological therapy. But only Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, can set the captive free from domination of evil spirits (Lk. 4:18).
My husband tells of a dream that he had in the early days of this ministry. In the dream, he was in the front room of an unfamiliar, empty house with no windows, only a front door. A terrible fear came over him, and as he was trying to leave this place, he was suddenly aware of a hideous beast lunging toward him. This thing had the body of a bear and the face of a man, and he knew it was a powerful demon spirit; its eyes burned with evil. In the dream, my husband was gripped with such fear that his legs gave out, and he fell to the floor; he couldn’t stand. As this beast drew closer, he shouted as loud as he could, but it came out as a whisper, “In the name of Jesus.” Even so, the mention of that name caused the beast to reel back, clutch its head, and scream. Gathering more strength, my husband said again, this time with more power, “In the name of Jesus.” The staggering beast, still holding its head, fell to the floor, writhing and screaming in pain. Now standing on his feet, my husband, in a loud voice that reverberated off the walls shouted, “In the name of Jesus!” Suddenly he heard the sound of a mighty rushing wind—the Holy Spirit—enter the room, knock that thing out the front door, and carry it away like a leaf in the wind. The initial strength of that evil spirit was nothing compared to the mighty power of the Holy Spirit.
“Remember this,” my husband said, “the name of Jesus, which has tremendous power in the spirit world, is all made possible by the cross of Christ—that’s what gives us the authority to use His name. Incidentally, spiritual authority is never over other human beings—never. It’s always authority over the powers of darkness, even over Satan himself.”
Fear Of Death
“As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe” (Mark 5:36).
Earlier in this chapter, we learn that Jairus’ little daughter was at the point of death, a condition scholars describe as “dying; in the last agonies; about to take the last breath.” If you have been by the side of a loved one in this condition, you might relate to what Jairus was feeling—helpless, desperate, and definitely afraid. But this ruler of the synagogue was hanging on to a sliver of hope: he had found Christ, fell at his feet, and begged Him to help. The shadow of death was closing in on his baby girl, but if he could just get Jesus to follow him home—now—everything might be alright. The Bible says, “And Jesus went with him,” a fact that surely made this ruler heave a sigh of relief as they started toward his house together.
Then, an interruption. A woman in the press reaches out in faith, touches the hem of Christ’s garment, and is instantly healed. Her faith literally stops Jesus en route, and the delay interrupts the plan that Jairus had for Jesus: come, lay thy hands on my daughter, heal her, and she shall live. Jesus was still speaking to this woman when Jairus receives word from his house: “Thy daughter is dead, why troublest thou the master any further?”
Fear of death is probably the most common prayer request we receive here at the ministry. Christians are afraid of death—they get fearful seeing loved ones at the point of death; in the shadow of death, they seem to hear God’s voice in a warped way. Instead of welcoming His presence—wherein is peace, comfort, and rest—they hide from Him in the garden.
When the terminal diagnosis is pronounced, when the car accident is reported, when the house forecloses, most Christians react like Jairus—they go find Jesus and tell Him what to do and how to do it. Trouble is, their faith slows and stops at the point of death.
That’s why the Lord told Jairus, “Be not afraid, only believe.” In effect, my husband notes, Jesus was saying to him, “Stop fearing,” and “be believing,” which means “continue believing,” even in the presence of death.
Thankfully, our God is a God of preparation. Jesus told His disciples plainly of His own impending death: “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matt. 16:21). Yet after Christ rose from the dead and appeared to His disciples, Thomas, who was not with them, refused to believe that Jesus had risen. Scholar Charles Ellicott said, “The determination is expressed in its strongest form by the double Greek negative, “I will by no means believe.” Afterward, when Jesus appeared again to the disciples, He told Thomas, “Be not faithless, but believing.”
Clearly faith in the Lord Jesus Christ overcomes fear, even fear of death.
The Antidote For Fear
At times, fear can be a symptom of a love problem—a lack of love for God—and it yields faithlessness. The Bible says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (I Jn. 4:18).
The type of fear mentioned in this verse, my husband notes, is not a godly fear or a filial reverence, but rather the fear of a criminal who is about to be sentenced by a judge. God has a perfect love for us, and if we have a perfect love for Him, then we know He is going to sustain us, so there is nothing to fear. It is guilt (from sin) that makes men fear what is to come, which goes back to the cross of Christ: if we do not properly understand the cross, then we are not made perfect in love.
John said, “Perfect love casteth out fear” yet, how many believers can claim perfect love? In the Greek, the word perfect is teleios, and it means “that which is complete or mature.” If we are mature in the Lord, then our love for Him should also be mature. We should know and understand that He loves us dearly, in fact, far more than we could ever begin to grasp or understand. He has nothing but good for us. That means every single thing He does for us or with us is for our betterment and our spiritual growth. Understanding that, we know that He is never going to do anything to us, or allow anything to happen to us, but that, in some way, it is for our good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
I often think of that night so long ago, when the Lord Jesus Christ was alone, praying in the garden of Gethsemane. The Bible says in John 18:4, “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth.” He knew everything that He was about to endure—the pain, the suffering, and death—but still he went forth. How? I believe the love that the Lord Jesus Christ had for the Father, and the love that He had for you and for me was and is perfect love and it cast out any fear that Satan tried to put on Him. Jesus Christ had the peace of God, which passes all understanding—something He offers to every born-again believer: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn. 14:27).