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Fear! It is something all of us deal with at some point or another in our lives. For some of us, fear can become a constant companion. We can seem to live with a spirit of fear that appears to feed upon itself, growing stronger with time. Overcoming the spirit of fear first involves facing your fears, which is never an easy thing for us to do!
A trip to the dentist is always a good example!
Fear of the Dentist
I climbed up into the dentist’s chair and the hygienist placed that ridiculous blue bib around my neck. I could see it move up and down with each beat of my heart! Each beat a silent plea to get up out of that chair and run, run for the hills.
But no, I sat.
The comprehensive torture exam took about an hour and a half.
Now, I thought it was about as bad as it could get, with all the poking and prodding (who was the first person who thought it was a good idea to stick a hook in someone’s mouth??), but then I found out I needed FIVE, yes five, fillings and one root canal!
Sedation dentistry, party of one?
Overcoming the Spirit of Fear – Why Am I So Fearful?
I booked my appointments and ran; ran as fast as I could before someone chased me down to tell me they forgot something!!
So why, you ask, would I need five fillings (4 for cavities and one for a chipped tooth) and a root canal? I actually DO take really good care of my teeth.
I’ll tell you why. It is because I had not stepped foot into a dentist’s office in FIVE years!
Yep, five years. Now, I am fortunate. Since I DO take such good care of my teeth they won’t need to be scraped to eternity and beyond when they are cleaned. My hygienist was at least happy to see they were nice and clean.
So why five years if I take such good care of my teeth, well, except for the apparent sweet tooth (hence the cavities)? I had neglected overcoming the spirit of fear in my life where this was concerned. Not just this, but many other fears! Fear kept me from going to the dentist to take care of smaller issues and that fear created larger ones.
Overcoming the Spirit of Fear – Recognizing Irrational Fear
An unrealistic, paranoid type of fear that makes ZERO sense when you think about it.
I have never, in all the years I have been to the dentist, had pain during a visit. And I have had a root canal!!
I don’t fear the after-pain which comes with having a tooth pulled or anything like that. I fear pain during the process. And it has never happened.
This fear of the dentist is irrational for me. It is not something I have always experienced. It has only been recently in the past 10 years or so. But it has kept me from going to take care of my teeth the way I should.
A lot of our fears are irrational and make no sense. They are meant to cripple us and keep us from doing the things we need to do.
After a while, we begin to avoid those things in order to not have to face the fear, which then only makes the fear loom larger because we usually end up having a worse situation to face when we finally HAVE to do it (like me at the dentist).
The longer I avoided the dentist’s chair the more I feared going.
What Causes the Spirit of Fear?
Most of our fears do just that; avoidance of what we fear makes the fear greater because our imagination kicks in and shows us ALL the things that COULD happen.
Then what happens? Instead of going to the dentist and caring for my teeth the way I should, I now have to have LOTS of dental work that needs to be done.
Makes no sense does it?
If I want to avoid the dental work I am so afraid of, why not take care of the teeth by going to the……oh you get it!
But that is what fear does! It cripples us in the here and now! Overcoming the spirit of fear seems out of our grasp! It feels too large a battle for us.
It is all a lie! It’s a lie designed to cause us to be inactive and inefficient.
What if people laugh at me?
What if it hurts?
Maybe they won’t like me?
What if I don’t succeed?
I might lose church members?
What if God can’t use me?
This starts this barrage of lies the enemy plants in us to make us inactive and ineffective! It comes from him.
Once we start allowing these lies to permeate our mind, they begin to loom larger and larger. He uses avoidance to make those fears grow because the longer we avoid those things, the more we begin to fear them because his lies replace the truth of what we know of the situation.
What is the Spirit of Fear?
This does not come from God. The Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (NKJV)
Fear is not of God. Fear is a tactic of the enemy to keep us inactive!
It puts us in a stance of avoidance, which only makes the situation worse or only causes us to fear it more!
It makes us ineffective and there is nothing more the enemy loves than an ineffective church!
What’s worse is it is all worldly, fleshly fear! We worry about being liked, being accepted, not being ridiculed, not experiencing pain!
It’s all about ME!
Overcoming the Spirit of Fear in a Church Paralyzed by Society
The church today in America is, in a lot of ways, paralyzed by society.
We fear speaking out in truth because we don’t want to face the pain of being labeled.
We remain silent because of the backlash! The church fears society will call us bigots, intolerant, judgmental. We fear sharing our faith with friends and family because they may distance themselves from us.
So, we remain silent. We let fear cripple us!
Or worse, we compromise!
We begin to make excuses for it!
Some re-interpret scripture to make it fit society’s views rather than God’s views out of fear of pushing people away!
We FEAR being labeled so we preach a feel-good Gospel that EVERYONE will want to hear, meanwhile souls are lost because they think salvation is all about being your best YOU, rather than surrendering all of YOU to HIM! Churches worry more about packing pews than speaking truth!
We fear spreading the Word out of fear of being called a “Bible Thumper”!
There’s a fear of speaking truth for fear of being called an intolerant Christian!
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” Matthew 23:27 (ESV)
Not exactly the most “PC” of comments huh?
The Heart of What Causes the Spirit of Fear is Lack of Trust
I fear going to the dentist because I don’t trust him enough to not hurt me.
I fear telling a friend about my faith because I don’t trust them to love me even if they don’t agree with me.
There is fear about posting about my faith on social media because I don’t trust people enough to not label me.
Fear of posting a convicting blog post because I don’t trust people want truth!
I worry about my problems and I fear the outcomes because I don’t trust God will answer my prayers!
FEAR is not of God!
Overcoming the spirit of fear means we need to do it afraid!
We need to realize it is just a FEELING and FEELINGS can and do lie!
We need to realize fear is distrust disguised!
Do we care about our feelings or do we care about what is right?
Overcoming the Spirit of Fear – Do it Afraid!
I need to go to the dentist even if I am afraid, or else my teeth are going to rot out of my mouth!!
And as I go, and as I realize it is not all that bad, I will go more often, and my overall experience will get better because I won’t need all that work.
And as we as a church become bolder and do it afraid, we will realize God can and will give us the added measure of confidence and faith to go even further and stand for His truth!
Overcoming the spirit of fear means not fearing backlash! Not fearing worldly opinions! Forgetting about fearing labels! Not fearing empty pews! Just truth!!
As we trust God more and step out in faith rather than fear, if we trust He DOES answer our prayers according to His will and has our best interest at heart and doesn’t desire to cause us pain, we defeat the enemy more and more with each step!
What ways has scripture helped you deal with fear and face it head on? Share in the comments!
10 Verses for Overcoming the Spirit of Fear
Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.” NKJV
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. NKJV
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. ESV
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. ESV
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. ESV
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. NIV
The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? NIV
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. NIV
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? NIV
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints… NKJV
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™