“if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”
2 Timothy 2:13
Fear. This one word controlled my life for many years. So much so, even when things were peaceful, I still had a constant feeling of dread–as if something bad has got to happen to me soon. If I didn’t feel fear, I didn’t feel right, even if I didn’t know what to be fearful of.
There are a lot of contributing factors to this fear-filled mindset I used to have. Even now, with the spiritual skill-set I’ve developed over time, the enemy still tries to sneak angst and anxiety through the back door of my mind. However, the Holy Spirit now points him out. I recognize his tactics and I overcome his attempts to get me to shrink back in worry, distress, and panic by simply reminding myself of the truth.
How have I come to this point? Many reasons, mostly by having my mind renewed by God. But I’d have to say two main factors:
- By coming to know who I am as God’s child.
- By growing in the knowledge of the fact that God lives in me, and will never go away.
Once we can establish a foundation of our identity as heaven-ready people (see Romans 6:6-7, Colossians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 5:17), as well as the truth that God will never leave us, fear stands no chance. However, this confidence has been decades in the making for me and it didn’t happen until I went deeper into knowing God’s grace. For most of my lifetime, I had no defense against the fear in which Satan tormented me within my mind.
My parents fought on a level that no kid should have to deal with. Mom cheated on Dad and was in and out of rehab. Because of Dad’s upbringing, he had no real relationship skills when it came to confrontations except for blowing up on people or ignoring them altogether–something that I’ve had to unlearn myself (and I’m still unlearning it). With the severe stress of having five kids, Mom and Dad couldn’t seem to iron out their problems and eventually both of them lost custody of us after the divorce.
From a very young age, fear was being beat into my thought life with a 20-pound sledgehammer. It’s all I knew. “What’s going to happen to us?” was a regular thought. There was no security or stability in my childhood whatsoever. So I naturally thought something bad was always about to happen, because it usually did.
Eventually my brothers, sister and I were all split up into foster homes and children shelters. The fear you develop as a small child in those places is heart-wrenching. Sleepless nights was a regular thing because of the steady flow of new kids constantly crying in their bunks, begging to go home. The fights in the halls and the bullying from the bigger kids with severe behavioral problems also contributed to the stacking of fear in my young mind. I was scared to even go to the bathroom at night.
But those homes weren’t the only thing which festered fear, I also had the school situation. School is supposed to be an enjoyable and social place to learn and develop lifelong friendships. That doesn’t happen when you are yanked out of a school three or four times a year just to be forced into another one.
Being labeled as “the new foster kid” or “the children’s shelter kid” in the minds of students–while being paraded in front of another new class–fertilized the fear in me on a grand scale. Uncontrollable shaking, sweating, and stammering became something I hated about myself. “Why am I like this?!” Back then I didn’t know. Now I do: Fear.
Eventually, I too developed very bad behavior in class along with a hard-nosed aggressiveness, just to have a defense mechanism. I also became jealous of the kids who had a normal family. I resented those who didn’t have to move all the time or deal with cruel foster parents who only used us for a paycheck.
Let’s fast forward to my late twenties, I’m finally ready to start listening to God’s guidance and live out who I’ve been since I was a little boy–a Christian. I had enough of trying to fix my life by ignoring God, it just wouldn’t work.
Had I died I would have gone to heaven. However, I didn’t know this because of religious fear which was shoved into my mind by pastors who didn’t understand the gospel. Fear has no business in the life of a believer. An unbeliever? Sure, but not us. Fear should never be our motivator. So when “teachers” of the gospel use fear on Christians, it’s way off base. It’s demonic and they don’t even realize it.
To be fair to them, even I had to learn this over time. But the truth is, religious fear ruins more Christian lives than we can possibly imagine. No relationship should be based on fear, especially one with our loving Creator. The Bible says “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom” (see Proverbs 9:10)–not the middle, and not the end. Once we place our faith in Jesus we are at peace with God (see Romans 5:1), so there’s no need to be afraid of Him. If you’ve been taught differently, this will rub you wrong, but in a good way. The truth will make more sense once you realize what Jesus has truly done for you.
Friend, if you have a crippling fear of God as a believer, here are some biblical facts that will help you break free–especially if you’re afraid of losing your salvation:
- God’s love for you is perfect, so you have nothing to fear. In 1 John 4, the Bible says “perfect love casts out all fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” Once you place your faith in Christ as your Savior, you don’t have to be afraid of hell any longer because you are not going there. Jesus was punished for you and paid for your release at the Cross (see John 3:16-18, 2 Corinthians 5:21). When you feel like your salvation is at stake because of mistakes you are making or lack of religious works, don’t believe it. Those lies are coming from old, unrenewed mindsets (see Romans 12:2), or from a demonic force, but not from God. In Revelation 12:10, John labels the devil “the accuser.” So no matter what you do–good or bad–he will attempt to make you think it’s not good enough. Ignore him most of the time, but at other times, tell the moron to shut up because you know the truth.
- You only get saved once, not multiple times. Hebrews 10:10, 1 Peter 3:18, and Romans 6:10 are very clear about this. Each verse says once. Salvation is a one-time event because your old spirit dies once, gets buried once, and resurrected as a new, perfect spirit which is connected to Christ once (see Romans 6:6-7, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 2:20). Further, the New Covenant is not an agreement between us and God, but between the Father and Son (see Hebrews 8:12-13, 6:16-19). We are simply the beneficiaries to their contract. We didn’t create it, we can’t make it better by adding to it, and we definitely can’t sustain it. So what sustains it? Jesus’ life! The only way we can lose our salvation is if Jesus dies again, and that will never happen! (See Hebrews 7:25).
- Grace-confused Christians will take Scripture out of context to create fear, even after we are saved. There are many believers who don’t truly understand what Jesus has done for them. Because of their lack of graceful knowledge they place their identity in how much they do “for” God, how “little” they sin, as well as their “high level” of behavior and attitude repentance. None of this stuff saved them or keeps them saved. They are focused on the wrong things because of self-centered teaching. Only supernatural death and rebirth saves us and that’s because we literally get new spiritual identities (see John 3:7, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:18). Sadly, they don’t believe Jesus finished everything for us, as if we have a part in keeping ourselves remade. They’ll twist Scripture by mixing in Old Covenant with the New, but don’t fall for it. Show them grace.
- No part of the New Testament says a Christian can lose their salvation. This is the wonderful news which sets people free! However, the grace-confused Christians won’t teach this because they think everyone will go buck-wild in sin. Truth be told, the opposite actually happens! When we finally realize we’re spiritually perfect then our attitudes and actions can catch up! They’ve got it backwards! Our minds are constantly expanding into heavenly truths and we’ll grow good spiritual fruit! (See Romans 12:2, Galatians 5:22-23). But first we have to realize that no part of the New Testament says we can lose our salvation. Not a single verse.
- Here’s some examples of taken-out-of-context Scripture, which, when read in light of the truth, are not scary at all. Hebrews 10:26 says, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,” and this is true, but only for non-believers. The author of Hebrews was writing this passage to the unbelieving Jews not to Christians. All you have to do is keep reading down to verse 31 and you’ll see that they rejected Jesus as the Messiah and wanted to continue living by Mosaic Law. They wanted to keep getting forgiveness through animal blood at the Day of Atonement each year which no longer worked because Jesus was the final blood sacrifice. Another often-twisted verse for those who like to have their ears tickled by pastors who say their behavior is better than others, is Revelation 3:5. They’ll say our names can be “blotted out of the book of life.” But if you actually read the whole verse, it says Jesus–who is victorious–will never blot out our name. This is a comforting verse not a scary one! There are more, such as Revelation 3:16 which says God wants us to be hot or cold. But the self-centered people won’t admit that because they want us to be motivated by fear. God is saying, “Do something, do anything. Be a hot drink on a cold day, or a cold drink on a hot day, but don’t just do nothing.” Yet still, they’ll bark, “He’ll spit you out of His mouth!” but that’s just stupid. God isn’t spitting Christians out of His mouth. This is symbolism about us needing to be active as saints. We’re not in His mouth, we’re in Him! (See Colossians 3:3). We’re at complete peace with Him because of Jesus! (See Romans 5:1). But even if He did spit us out, because of Jesus, He’d slurp us right back up! Let’s do one more. In Matthew 7:23 Jesus said He will turn people away at heaven’s door because He never knew them. Jesus is not talking about believers, He’s talking about selfish legalists who think that all of their amazing religious deeds have earned their spot with God. Simply read the two verses before verse 23 and you’ll see that. He’s talking to those whom He never knew–those who only knew religion with the name “Jesus” tacked on to the bottom. But as for you, believer, He knows you! You and Jesus are one, forever! Don’t be afraid, be confident! (See John 10:14, 1 Corinthians 6:19, Ephesians 1:13, 1 John 4:18, Hebrews 10:35).
A prayer for you: Father, today I want to thank you for the boldness I have in speaking the truth about what Jesus has done for me. It’s taken me a long time to get here, but I’m so happy you’ve helped me understand what really happened at the Cross! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For the Christians who are extremely fearful of you, as well as fearful of losing their salvation, reveal your unconditional love. Reveal their true identity. Reveal that you live in them! Help them to grow in the knowledge of your grace! Teach them the truth of the gospel and fill them up with confidence! Let them know they have nothing to fear! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 2. Get your copy here!