"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control."
- 2 Timothy 1:7 AMP
When I earnestly sought the Lord recently about a recurrent illness that I was suffering with, He began dealing with me about my fears. At first, I thought I was getting the wrong message from the Spirit of God, but then He confirmed to me that my fears were actually contributing to my sickness, and hindering my healing. Then He brought to my remembrance some words that I heard a godly man speak many years ago. This minister was talking about the danger of fear, especially where serious illness was concerned. He used cancer as an example, and he said, "The fear alone can kill you!" Suddenly, I felt convicted, and I knew in my spirit that I truly had been hindering my own deliverance and healing.
It's been said that the Bible contains 365 "fear nots." If God has commanded us to avoid something that many times, shouldn't we heed His warning? One reason why the Lord wants us to resist fear is that He knows it is satanic in origin. Satan himself is often referred to as the "Author of Fear." What we must keep in mind is that as faith opens the door to God and His good plans for us, fear can open the door to the forces of darkness and their evil plans for us.
Maybe you're thinking to yourself, "I would certainly resist fear if I had the power to do it!" The truth is that you do--not in your own strength, but through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in every believer. God is a just God. He would never ask us to do something that we weren't capable of doing. And Jesus gave us strict orders to resist fear every time. He said: "Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]" (John 14:27 AMP) With the Lord's help, we can choose not to "allow" or "permit" fear to bully us.
When fear first comes against us, our first response should be to pray. We can say, "Lord, I confess that I'm struggling with fear right now, and I'm asking You to help me to resist it by the power of Your Spirit in me." Then we should claim God's promises of deliverance. Scripture says: "I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears." (Psalm 34:4 NIV) I like to use this verse as my declaration of faith when I'm being attacked by fear. I'm letting the devil and his evil cohorts know that I'm taking my stand against fear, and I'm giving them no place in my life or circumstances. Jesus used the Word of God to combat Satan when he tempted the Savior in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11), and we should follow His example so that we, too, can have the victory.
Once we take our stand against fear, it's important that we give "legs" to our faith by doing what we feel the Lord is telling us to do in our situation. If we allow fear to stop us from obeying God, we give our fears control over us, and they make us more and more powerless to act. Fear paralyzes, but faith empowers. If you asked me what has helped me more than anything to overcome my fears in a scary situation, I would have to say that it's praise and thanksgiving. King David is considered by many to be the most victorious warrior of all time. He knew how to fight his physical and spiritual enemies effectively, and to emerge victorious repeatedly. I believe that he reveals one of his secrets to success in Psalm 18, when he declares: "I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies." (Psalm 18:3 NKJV) When we thank and praise God--in word or in song--we are engaging in spiritual warfare, and we are giving ourselves a powerful edge over our enemies. If you doubt it, try it the next time you are facing a scary situation. Lift your hands to heaven, and begin thanking the Lord for who He is, what He has done, and what He will do in the days to come. Then watch God work mightily on your behalf!
Prayer: Lord, the next time that fear comes against me, remind me that I have the power to resist it because of You. Teach me how to fight against fear with prayer, praise, and the Word of God. May I always be able to declare with confidence: "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid"! (Hebrews 13:6 NIV)
- J. M. Farro