The Spirit Of Fear- Part I
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” — II Timothy 1:7
In Paul’s second (and last) letter to Timothy, the Holy Spirit through the apostle tells us a great deal in just a few words. For example, the term “the spirit of fear” is used here, and I believe this refers to an actual conscious being—a personality, a demon power—that concentrates its attention in this particular area.
Sometime ago, a brother made the statement that this couldn’t be a specific spirit of fear because if it were, then terms in this same verse—power, love, and a sound mind—would also have to be spirits.
I think he was right and wrong at the same time. He was wrong when he said the phrase “spirit of fear” is just a term and not a reference to a specific personality. But he was right when he said that power, love, and a sound mind also have to be of a spirit. These, in fact, emanate from the Holy Spirit. The power, the love, and the sound mind proceed forth from the Holy Spirit. The spirit of fear proceeds from Satan.
In I Kings 22:21-22, we are told of a demon spirit who appeared before the Lord and offered to serve as a “lying spirit.” Yes, there are demon spirits in heaven, but they will soon be expelled (Rev. 12:7-9).
In I Samuel 28:7, we find mention of a “familiar spirit,” which is a spirit that knows hidden things about people and tells them to the medium with whom it works.
Paul mentions seducing spirits in I Timothy 4:1, and Jesus spoke of unclean spirits many times.
So, there is a sound basis for believing that there is, in fact, a spirit of fear. It is a diabolical, demonic spirit that is charged by Lucifer and is causing havoc, trouble, heartache, and physical illness. It even causes death in the lives of countless people—even Christians.
If we are to understand fear as an entity, we must first understand that there are several different ways in which the word fear may be defined or understood. The spirit of fear has already been mentioned briefly. However, the word fear in the context of respect is something completely different from fear when viewed within the meaning of panic, anxiety, depression, and worry.
Fear in the context of respect is a normal, helpful, and God-given emotion. If God in His wisdom hadn’t seen fit to equip us with the ability to feel fear, then none of us would probably live beyond our fifth or sixth birthday. In the normal meaning of the word, fear (respect) protects us from involving ourselves in activities that could be dangerous to us. As such, fear is really one of the most valuable of the many emotions given to us by God.
A child soon learns that if he puts his finger to the fire, he will be burned. After this, he doesn’t really fear the fire, but he does respect it. Likewise, children learn that they can’t play on the highway where they might be run over by a truck or a car. This is a normal, healthy awareness of a situation that holds danger when dealt with foolishly. As such, fear is an invaluable tool in protecting us from dangers that should be avoided by a prudent individual.
It is often said that people who demonstrate unusual amounts of courage don’t know the meaning of the word fear. If someone didn’t know the meaning of the word fear, he would be mentally deranged and a great threat to himself (and probably to society in general). If this phrase were true, all it would imply is that the person in question didn’t have sense enough to recognize danger well enough to protect himself.
We are told any number of places in the Word of God to fear God. In Joshua 24:14 we are told, “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth.”
Does this mean that we should approach our Lord and our God cringing and cowering like a stray dog? Hardly. This simply means that we should respect God. We are to be well aware that He is all-powerful, but at the same time, we should realize that He is also all-loving.
When Joshua delivered these words, he was in no way setting up a contradiction between this statement and the one in I John 4:18, where it states, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.”
John is talking about the spirit of fear. Joshua, on the other hand, is referring to the beneficial, rational realization that God has the potential power to deal with us severely if we fail to deal with Him properly. As such, it is only intelligent to fear God—to recognize His capabilities that are unending and respect Him for these capabilities.
An important point to be made is this: There is no contradiction between these two statements. One refers to the normal, healthy, and helpful emotion given to us by God to help us through life. The other refers to a malignant, corrosive, and completely harmful process that is not God-given, but is fathered by the ultimate author of harm and hate for mankind—Satan himself.
Fear is perhaps the most destructive force at work in the world today. Is that statement overdrawn? Yes. The atomic bomb represents fantastic destructive potential, but it is potential. Fear, on the other hand, is being utilized daily by its author, who is Satan. As such, fear is an actual working force that is destroying lives by the untold thousands at this very moment. It is this destructive fear—the one represented by the spirit of fear—that I want to deal with.
The mind of man is the gateway to the spirit of man. When the Bible uses the term heart, it’s not speaking of the physical organ beating in our chests; it’s speaking of the spirit and the soul of man. The spirit and the soul are the real you, but the mind is the gateway to the spirit. In other words, this is where Satan first plants his thoughts—the mind.
Before sin is carried out, it is conceived in the mind. It is so easy to look at circumstances, problems, and difficulties and allow our minds to become seized by the disposition of helplessness or even hopelessness—fear—which then pulls the trigger of oppression. If this happens, then we know that God is not doing it, but our own minds that are not properly settled in Christ. In such a climate, there is plenty of room for one’s mind to imagine all sorts of things, hence, fear is a disposition of the mind.
THE CROSS OF CHRIST
First of all, I’m going to take you to the cross. The believer must understand and accept at face value that what Jesus did at the cross answers every question, addresses every problem, and shows us the solution to every difficulty. What Jesus did at the cross is the answer, and the only answer, to man’s dilemma.
Most Christians have a working knowledge of the cross of Christ as it refers to our salvation. “Jesus died for me” is perhaps the greatest statement that any human being could ever begin to make, but that’s as far as it goes with most. They don’t understand the part the cross plays as it regards our sanctification—how we live for God on a daily basis, how we grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord, and how we have victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil.
This article continues in the next issue of The Evangelist.
This article is reprinted from the book, God’s Answer To Fear, Depression, And Discouragement, (09-133) by Jimmy Swaggart.