“The fear of the Lord is the beginning (not the middle, or the end) of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One (Jesus) is understanding.”
Proverbs 9:10 (my notes added)
The Bible says that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (see 2 Timothy 1:7). That Spirit which He has given us is Christ Himself in our bodies (see 1 Corinthians 3:16). As Christians, Jesus is infused with our spirits once we believe He has forgiven us of our sins. The devil, however, has been using the incorrect notion of, “Be very afraid of God!” to torment us for centuries. He does this in our minds.
He tries to get us to believe God is not happy with us, that He is disappointed in us, and even that He doesn’t really love us. Satan wants us to think God’s love is conditional, based on our lack of bad behavior combined with our overabundance of good works. Wrong.
Our enemy and his demonic forces try to trick us into believing we must keep doing religious stuff in order to make sure God doesn’t get mad at us. Friend, God is not mad at you! You are no surprise to Him! He knew what He was getting when He decided to create you!
But these dark forces from hell will attempt to keep you afraid and frustrated. They will place thoughts in your mind of fear and self-righteousness, as if you’re making deposits into God’s bank account by way of what you do for Him and one day He’ll cash you out. It doesn’t work that way.
Even the Parable of the Talents has been twisted into “I do this, God owes me that,” which is incorrect. That parable is about using our gifts and talents to spread the gospel, not about doing stuff to put God in debt to us. The lazy guy who was thrown out into the darkness obviously wasn’t a believer because God doesn’t do that to His children (see Matthew 25:14-30).
We do not have to be afraid of God! Before we became His children? Heck yes! But not now! God did not give you a spirit of fear! That fear is coming from hell!
To counteract this demonic cycle of lies, all we need to do is go to God’s Word and see what He says about His love for us. His love through Christ is unconditional! It’s unlike anything we can imagine in our finite brains! Is His love based on anything we do? No! Is your love for your children based on anything they do? I would hope not! So if we, as flawed parents, would never base our love for our children on their behavior, what makes us believe that God, a perfect Father, would?
The Bible says, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” and that, “this is how He demonstrated His love” (see Romans 5:8). Therefore, if the Father loved me before I even placed my faith in Jesus, what would cause me to think that anything I do or don’t do afterwards would make Him love me more? Do you see it? We don’t need to be afraid of God–ever!
Since we’re talking about not being afraid of God, what does love have to do with that? John, the self-proclaimed, “disciple whom Jesus loved” (see John 13:23), asserts that “God’s love for us is perfect,” “there is no fear in His love,” and His “perfect love casts out all fear because fear has to do with punishment” (see 1 John 4). John’s last statement, “fear has to do with punishment,” ties this all together!
Because of our faith in Jesus we are no longer going to be eternally punished by God–for anything! The Cross was a huge success for both sins of commission and omission. Why? Because Jesus was already punished in full for every single sin for all of humanity! All we must do is believe we need this forgiveness, accept it as the truth, and we get it! (See Romans 3:21-31, 5:1, 2 Corinthians 5:21).
However, the devil, also known as “the accuser,” (see Revelation 12:10), doesn’t want you to believe this gospel. He knows if he can get you to become petrified of God, even as a believer, (and he does this by accusing you in your mind, all day long, of lies), he will be able to accomplish one of two things in your life:
1. Because you are so afraid of God, you’ll work harder and harder to do religious stuff and “behave” in order to make sure God isn’t mad at you. You will constantly be trying to tip the scale over into your favor through church works, begging for forgiveness, trying to keep track of all your sins so you can be sure to ask for forgiveness of each one and repent–and, you’ll constantly be judging yourself on how well you’re doing at this (and you’ll also keep track of how well others are doing compared to you). But deep down, you know that nothing you’re doing—or not doing—can possibly make God happy. This fear of God is based on what you do, not on what Jesus has done for you.
2. Because you are so afraid of God, you’ll begin to ignore Him and eventually you’ll give up on knowing Him deeper because you’ve tried so hard to “be good” and you couldn’t seem to pull it off. Plus, the hyper-critical Christians always point out what all is wrong with you, rather than who is right in you–your spirit and Jesus! Instead of bringing their incorrect opinion of you to God, so you can get His opinion, you just believe them. You can never live up to your own expectations or theirs. Deep down, you know that nothing you’re doing—or not doing—can possibly make God happy. This fear of God is based on what you do, not on what Jesus has done for you.
Both ways of fear eventually create depression, anxiety, and then lastly, anger. For #1, anger toward those who aren’t “good like you.” For #2, anger toward those who “think they’re holier than you.”
There is a better way! A way of living a fearless life! A life based on courage and confidence in knowing who you really are at your spiritual core! This courage and confidence comes from Christ in us coming out of us, strengthening us day by day! (See Philippians 1:6, 4:13).
So today, my friends, know this: If you’re looking for rest from fear, please begin to recognize that Jesus is your rest. It was Jesus who satisfied the wrath of the Father over sin once and for all time at the Cross! (See Hebrews 10:10, Romans 5:9). Jesus finished everything required by God for you for free! Enjoy it, live Him out, and don’t be afraid! (See John 19:30, 1 Peter 2:24, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 3:13, Hebrews 4:11).
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, thank you for being a good dad. Thank you for loving me, disciplining me, guiding me, protecting me, and for showing me that I don’t ever have to be afraid of you. I’m grateful! Help me to be a good father, just like you. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For those who have been lied to and taught wrongly about you; for those who think they must constantly hold their heads low, be meek, or think twice about asking you for anything—REJUVENATE THEM WITH YOUR LOVE! Make them brave! Make them confident! Show them they can approach you BOLDLY because of Jesus! If you can do this for me, you can do this for anyone. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 2. Get your copy here!