Fear Can Cripple Your Christian Walk
By Andy Geesey
May 1, 2011
And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. (John 6:18-19)
The Life Application Study Bible Notes offers the following comments, The Sea of Galilee is 650 feet below sea level, 150 feet deep, and surrounded by hills. These physical features make it subject to sudden windstorms that would cause extremely high waves. Such storms were expected on this lake, but they were nevertheless frightening. When Jesus came to the disciples during a storm, walking on the water (three and a half miles from shore), he told them not to be afraid.
We often face spiritual and emotional storms, feeling tossed about like small boats on the ocean. Despite terrifying conditions, when we trust Christ, he gives peace in the storm. The terrified disciples probably thought they saw a ghost. (Mark 6:49) Alarmed, they didn't expect Jesus to come, and weren't prepared for his help. But if they remembered all they'd seen Jesus do, they might've accepted this miracle.
Faith is an attitude of expectation for God to act. When we rest in faith, crippling fears are calmed.
What is fear? The Encarta Dictionary (North America) describes Fear in four ways:
- A feeling of anxiety an unpleasant feeling of anxiety or apprehension caused by the presence or anticipation of danger.
- Frightening thought an idea, thought, or other entity that causes feelings of fear
- Reverence respect or awe for somebody or something
- Worry a concern about something that threatens to bring bad news or results
These fears often present themselves in mixed packages similar to the disciples in our story. They expected danger, had terrifying thoughts, and worried.
When we're absorbed by unhealthy earthly emotions, fear takes over, crippling our trust in God or his Spirit to lead us through dreaded circumstances. In 2 Timothy 1:7 we read, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. A fear-filled heart disables us and blocks God from working through us. His will for you and me is to be filled with power, love, and a sound mind.
Deuteronomy 1:22 says, And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.
The spies were sent into the land to determine not whether they should enter, but where they enter. Upon returning, most of the spies concluded that the land was not worth the obstacles. God would give the Israelites power to conquer the land but, they were afraid of the risk and chose not to enter. God gives us power to overcome our obstacles but, like the fear-filled Israelites, we often let difficulties overcome our lives.
How does earthly fear show itself? When faith departs, the mind sees the worst in others, communication ruptures, and the power of sin regains its grip; people separate, gossip sets in, and lies, manipulation, and unhealthy control soon shows its ugly face. I've witnessed entire churches divide due to a fear-controlled grip. At this point there's little yearning for Truth.
1 Cor 13:6 teaches, Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.
A person who refuses to hear or seek Truth is delighting in deceit - sin. A fearful spirit drives away people from Truth and prevents them from communicating in love.
Many people dread dying, living, learning, hurting, moving, starting, stopping, working, loosing finances, and weather. They fear what could happen. Most of these things are beyond our control. Earthly fear is one of Satan's crippling and most used weapons.
Romans 8:15 says, For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear.
Walking in earthly fear, we live in bondage but, Christ sets faith-filled believers free. Why yield to captivity when you can enjoy liberty?
Around 303 AD, the Roman actor Genesius performed a farce before Emperor Diocletian. Genesius learned about Christian baptism, not because he was a Christian but, to mock Christianity before the emperor, whose persecution was the most severe and claimed many Christian lives.
Given the emperor's hatred of Christians, Genesius lay down on the stage as if sick and confined to bed, crying out for baptism. Genesius said he felt a great weight he wanted removed. Two other actors, dressed as a priest and exorcist, came in to pour water over his head in fake baptism. But Genesius saw angels and Holy fear - reverence and awe - of the Lord came upon him. He was obedient to real baptism onstage and, with his newfound faith, proclaimed to Diocletian, "There is no other king than Jesus Christ, and even if you could kill me a thousand times you could not take Him from my lips nor tear Him from my heart." Furious, Diocletian ordered him tortured and beheaded on the spot.
A godly fear is a proper fear. It is complete submission to His rulership and control; rejecting other gods, and serving the only true God with all our heart and soul. When we have a holy fear of the Lord, we follow Him despite earthly fears. Sir Henry Havelock, British soldier and one of the heroes of the Indian Mutiny, has this epitaph, He feared man so little, because he feared God so much.
Do you have crippling earthly fear or faith and holy fear that sets you free?
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