“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:
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:
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!