Posted by: Nito | June 19, 2017

Mathematics of Faith – Part 3 (The Force of Fear)

Fear is counterfeit to Faith. Faith is a belief that something positive, which hasn’t yet come to pass, would happen. Similarly, fear is a belief that something negative, which hasn’t yet come to pass, would happen. Fear operates opposite to Faith and reduces its effectiveness.

When mankind fell, fear came in. Adam’s response to God was “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10, NKJV, emphasis mine). Fear feeds on man’s inabilities and imperfections and uses them to project negative outcomes.

But, man’s imperfections could also motivate him to try to become better. In that sense fear could be a motivator, a trigger for us to improve in order to avoid negative outcomes projected by our fears.

Bible says that “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7), but this fear of the Lord is misunderstood today. People think it means fearing God’s punishment due to our bad behaviour, but that’s not the case. Such thinking is rooted in the view of an angry and wrathful God as painted by the Old Testament.

But the first coming of Jesus forever changed the way God relates to the mankind. Bible says that, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19, NKJV). So, it was God who came down, suffered and was crucified for us. God is a good Father—the Bible is His love letter to us.

So, the fear of the Lord can’t be about His wrath and punishment, but rather about something else. The fear of the Lord is like a tender fear of the first love where, in the early stages of every first love relationship, both lovers are afraid that their beloved would find out something negative about them and leave. Due to this they either try to hide their imperfections or seriously try to change for better.

Similarly, those who are in love with God actually have a tender fear that their love is not good enough. Because God knows everything, there is no purpose in trying to hide something from Him, so the fear of the Lord causes us to constantly try to improve ourselves and improve our loving.

In this way those who love God “fear” Him. They aren’t wise in their own eyes (Proverbs 3:7), but gladly receive instruction (Proverbs 1:7) in order to change for better. They love knowing Him (Proverbs 1:29) and hate anything that would separate them from Him (Proverbs 8:13).

That is the real meaning of the fear of the Lord. The church of Ephesus had laboured earnestly and patiently for God’s Kingdom. Their works were good; they hated evil and they knew how to recognize false teachers. They didn’t become weary in their labours, but Jesus still had something against them. They left their first love (see Revelation 2:4) and forgot to work on improving themselves; they didn’t change for better, motivated by a tender fear that comes when we are deeply fallen into love.

Fear of God, a tender fear of the first love, is also referred to in the Bible as a “reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28) and sorrow that leads to repentance—a godly sorrow, as explained by Paul in his second letter to Corinthians. This kind of sorrow is not to be regretted, because it produces diligence, defence (clearing) of oneself, righteous indignation (righteous anger), godly fear, desire to change, zeal to do it and finally vindication / justification (see 2 Corinthians 7:8-11).

I believe this is the reason why God made us even capable of feeling the emotions of anger and fear. In their pure, righteous, forms these two are motivators for change and fuel for the zeal that would provide enough energy to fully execute those desired changes. As such they are mighty tools in the capable hands of the kings and queens, the rules of the earth.

But with the fall of men these two forces became twisted and corrupted. Devil is exaggerating them, blowing them out of proportions, and using them against the humanity. Paul exhorted Timothy not to be intimidated by fear, because “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

The expression “Do not fear”, “Don’t be afraid”, “Fear not” and similar are used many times in the Bible; in the New King James Version they are used 111 times. Jesus said it 17 times. This is because the negative force of fear, which is opposite to the positive fear of the Lord, can paralyse, incapacitate and neutralize our faith.

For example, Deuteronomy 20:3 says, “Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified.” Fainting is defined as feeling weak and dizzy and close to losing consciousness. Trembling is shaking involuntarily, typically as a result of anxiety, excitement, or frailty and the synonym for ‘terrified’ is ‘scared stiff’—not being able to move due to an extreme fear.

Hence, we see that the negative force of fear could paralyse us and stop us in our tracks. Joshua 8:1 says, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed” (see also Deuteronomy 31:8, and 1 Chronicles 22:13). Being dismayed equates to feeling a sudden or total loss of courage. If we don’t have courage we give up, which means we stop resisting the devil and stop doing godly works. That’s why David is encouraging his son Solomon not to be afraid and not to stop (due to being dismayed) until he would finish all the work (see 1 Chronicles 28:20).

Negative and fearful thoughts are not ours; they are part of devil’s warfare against us. We are commanded to pull down strongholds, cast down anything that goes against the knowledge of God, “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).

When David issued an order to number the people of Israel, the Bible says he was moved by Satan to do so (see 1 Chronicles 21:1). How did Satan move David? Did he show up and scare David into submission, or did he simply plant a “nice” idea into David’s mind? It was the latter, and David admitted he had done very foolishly (see 1 Chronicles 21:8).

Devil doesn’t have any authority or power over us, except when we yield to him. Father God made man to rule over the earth, so when Adam and Eve fell, they’ve submitted to the devil and passed on the rulership over the earth to him. That’s why Bible says devil is “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4), but Jesus overcame the devil and took back all the authority (Matthew 28:18) and has subsequently given it to his disciples (Luke 10:19).

Hence devil cannot simply do things without people’s cooperation. To get something done he needs man’s approval. Obviously, nobody in their right mind would do that, so devil is using deception to either entice or scare people into submission. He does two things:

  • Paralyse people with fear so they don’t resist and hence are removed from the equation, or
  • Implant people with fear so they start confessing evil and negative thoughts over themselves and others, and are thus incapacitated and neutralized.

When people agree with devil’s loathsome schemes and declare over them his evil plans, they are shooting themselves in the foot. Satan uses fear to project negative outcomes into people’s minds and if they start confessing and speaking them out, they would be speaking death and destruction into their own lives.

The Bible warns us, “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21) and this is the real reason why Job experienced a difficult time in his life. He said, “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me” (Job 3:25) and also, “Teach me, and I will hold my tongue; cause me to understand wherein I have erred” (Job 6:24). This shows us that it was Job who created the environment for the devil to move in by professing calamity over his household and himself with his own tongue. Once he has done that, God couldn’t stop the devil, as that would be interfering with Job’s free will.

Therefore, the theology that God allowed the devil to somehow “test” Job is wrong, or the theology that portrays the devil as God’s “messenger boy”, the guy who does “dirty jobs” for the Boss, is totally insane. The Bible is very clear about it, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:13-15).

So, I hope you see that devil is using our authority against us. As explained above, he is using the negative force of fear to prompt us to speak destruction and evil into our own lives. The perfect antidote to fear is love, because “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). As Father has shown us that He loves us by sending His Son Jesus to die instead of us (1 John 4:9-11), we can be sure that fear cannot stay with us, as God’s perfect love is already with us.

Now, let’s revisit the mathematical equation introduced in part 1 and express with formula the interaction between faith and fear. They are the opposite forces and they reduce each other.

Apart from the scriptures already mentioned, let’s see what Jesus said on this topic. In Mark 4 Jesus rebuked the wind and sea and then said to the disciples, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40, NKJV, underlining mine). In the same account in Luke 8, Jesus asked them, “where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25). We can see that the fear of the disciples neutralized their faith.

In another episode, while Jesus was on his way to heal Jairus’ daughter he was interrupted as he healed the woman with the issue of blood. She also needed to overcome fear in order to receive her healing and as she trembled, Jesus encouraged her and said, “Your faith has made you well. Go in peace” (Luke 8:48). While he was speaking to her, some people came with the news that Jairus’ daughter had just died. But as soon as Jesus heard that he counteracted Jairus’ fear by saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well” (Luke 8:50, NKJV, underlining mine). So, again, we can conclude that the negative force of fear does neutralize our faith.

Apart from fear, doubt is another force that reduces the effectiveness of our faith. The Bible says that double-minded man will not get anything: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8, NKJV, underlining mine).

If we include fear and doubt into the expression for the work of faith we would get the following:

And if we compare it with the original formula:

We can see that we simply replaced ‘unbelief’ with ‘fear + doubt.’ These two represent the four sources of man’s unbelief as described in part 2 of this series. Those four areas are: 1) Lack of knowledge, 2) Carnality, 3) Wrong knowledge and 4) Fear of men. So, ‘fear’ in the equation obviously represents the fourth source of unbelief, while ‘doubt’ represents the first three.

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Responses

  1. […] part 3 we identified fear and doubt as the forces that cause […]

  2. […] Sow fear and doubt into the person’s mind and deceive, confuse, persecute, entice and make the person busy with worldly things (see part 2 and part 3), […]


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