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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Fear Not

One of the most frequently repeated commands in the scriptures is, "Fear not."  

In the world, anxiety, which is a kind of fear, drives much of what we do. We worry because we fear. Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount to "seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness" as opposed to worrying about money, clothing, or food. Even the fear of God is a fear that leads to reverence and ultimate tranquility of the soul. 

Don't get me wrong, everyone should be afraid of getting on God's "bad side," but for those who are in Christ, they are forever on his good side, as long as they persevere in faith. And as long as we are on God's good side, the fear of God becomes a foundation for peace instead of anxiety.

Lately I've struggled with a lot of fear: fear of retribution for sins, fear of financial and professional failure, fear of debt and poverty, and fear of loneliness. The one good fear I've had has been the fear of losing my grip on the love of Jesus Christ, which is the only thing that's kept me sane. In the midst of all my anxieties, I've experienced peace when I've meditated on the love of God for me. Over the last few weeks, and through consistent fellowship with him, I've begun to see many of my fears begin to ebb away. The reason is that the flip side of fear is distrust, and as I've experienced the truth of who God is, I've begun to trust him more consistently, thereby dispelling fear more consistently.

The world fears everything I've feared and more. People will sin in part to maintain their illusion of control, their belief in autonomy and immortality. In fact, the fear of death is king over all our anxieties; it touches all hearts, though most avoid thinking about death until it's come upon them. The fear of death encompasses within itself the fear of financial, relational, psychological, and biological loss. Everything fails at death. 

As Christians, we see that our God has conquered death, the humans' greatest fear, but our hearts hardly believe it. We are persecuted and mistreated; subject to the death of our children and other loved ones; suffering diseases and disasters; struggling with our sins; despairing in the face of unfulfilled dreams, and understandably so. But as we grow in our fellowship with the One who is our only hope, it's possible to gain more confidence in the face of all these horrors and begin to trust. 

It's easy to read how "nothing can separate us from the love of Christ," but until we begin to seek out this love, ask for it, meditate on it, experience it in the midst of suffering, and believe it in our hearts, we will still be subject to fear. He doesn't promise us freedom from evil and suffering; in some ways, in fact, he guarantees that they will happen. What he does promise, however, is that despite the evil that happens in our lives, he will never leave us or forsake us. 

"I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world." - John 16:33
 


6 comments:

  1. Dear Dandler,

    I see what your saying here and its comforting, but..

    On Fear Not, I find myself contemplating the following- But be careful, for those who continue to sin should not to rest upon or take for granted the comfort in believing that all will be forgiven if you follow the word and admit your sin.

    If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, Hebrews 10:26

    I believe the best way to Fear Not is through Truth: The Truth Shall Set You Free. I mean what is the meaning behind the whole Truth Shall Set You Free? Is it the belief we’re forgiven when one sins but follows and believes or is it resting everything you know as real and true that he who has created everything is Truth and if he is the truth and all we know is real: shouldn’t we all know than that we cannot continue as our own flesh.

    You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? James 2:20

    Thank you again : )

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  2. Thanks for your comment. Let me clarify and say once more. Those who are outside of Christ should fear God's wrath, but those who are in Christ no longer need fear God's wrath, unless they are in deliberate rebellion to him. After all, in Hebrews its written that those who willfully or deliberately sin are those who are in trouble, NOT those who continue to sin. There's a difference.

    The Hebrews 10:26 scripture has a context and has to be understood in light of the rest of the book and also the whole gospel, which clearly states that (in books such as the book of 1 John) if we sin, He is faithful to forgive us of our sins. It's interesting to note that the Greek found in Hebrews 10:26 ACTUALLY states "If we keep on sinning after we have received knowledge" not "if we DELIBERATELY keep on sinning" (the word "deliberately" has been added in by translators). But why did scholars add that in?

    Does that mean that the writer of Hebrews is saying if we sin at all after receiving Christ, we're doomed? After all, that's what it says at face value. Of course not. Therefore, Hebrews can't mean simply that if one sins, one is now outside of Christ and subject to God's wrath, since other scriptures clearly say otherwise.

    Many scholars make the connection between Hebrews 10 and Hebrews 6, when the writer makes a similar pronouncement: "It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened . . . and who have fallen away to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace."

    Therefore, those same scholars have added "deliberately" to some translations in order to show unrepentant willful sinning. Since the word "to sin" has to connotate a continual, unremitting sin or else the verse is contradicting the rest of the scriptures, they have added in the extra description to make it clear.

    All that being said, if a Christian is deliberately sinning, willfully and has no care for Jesus or the gospel (is unrepentant) then that person SHOULD be afraid and fear God and God's wrath. They are coming ever closer to the one sin that can never be forgiven: disowning Christ. They may not have done it, but eventually, their hearts will become harder, their faith that they once had colder, and they will walk away from Christ and outside the love of God. The command to "fear not" is surely meant for those who are IN God's love, not outside of it.

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  3. Also, your reply regarding the truth setting you free was a bit unclear and hard for me to follow. If you'd like to clarify, please do so, but my thoughts on that are that Jesus precisely came to set us free "from the works of the Devil" which include sin and fear and death. He said, "Who the son of man has set free, he shall be free indeed." The tenses are interesting - it's past tense and future tense. If you have come to faith in Jesus, you have been set free, but that freedom must be worked out throughout your life. You have to walk out your freedom and take care not to enslave yourself once again to the world and the Devil. The truth shall, indeed, set you free. Jesus is the Truth. Knowing Him and trusting in Him guarantees you freedom. You should only begin to fear if, as you have written, you find yourself living in rebellion to Him, willfully sinning, or you find your faith beginning to grow cold. If that happens, you have to "check yourself' and do what you need to do to come back to the Truth (i.e. Jesus) and find your confidence again.

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  4. A quick addendum to all that: a spiritual director of mine once said wisely that "if you're worried about the sin in your life" it shows that you are not, in fact, in deliberate rebellion. As long as you "care" about the fact of sin in your life, it shows the life of God is in you, and you haven't committed the unpardonable sin. If you had committed it, you wouldn't even be worried.

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  5. Dear Dandler,

    On The comment to "fear not" is surely meant for those who are IN God's love, not outside of it.

    God’s Love and Ours- Being in God

    7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

    13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

    God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

    19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. John 4:7-21

    For sure one who sins and may know they do it, does not mean they don’t Love?

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    Replies
    1. For sure. people can be in the love of God and still sin. But one who sins and is unrepentent about his sin and keeps on sinning does not love and is in danger of not being found in the love of god.

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