Text: 1 John 4:17-18
"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."
Dr. Charles Stanley, the speaker and founder of In Touch Ministries, describes our society today as one that is dominated by fear. He writes:
We live in an age dominated by fear. Elaborate security systems guard homes, offices, automobiles, and numerous other items. Yet it is the vast array of personal fears deep within the human soul that create the greatest conflict and generate increasing levels of anxiety.
Dr. Stanley is right: We live in an age dominated by fear.
It is true that ours is a society that is trenched in fear. We lock our doors, not only at night, but in broad daylight. We hold to our children tightly in public places, not just for fear of loosing them, but for fear of someone taking them. Playgrounds and neighborhoods have become war zones, with many innocent people and children being killed intentionally or unintentionally from drive-by shootings. We no longer feel safe sending our children off to school, for schools are no longer safe. The work place has become a shooting gallery. We can't even sit down in a restaurant and eat without the fear of someone going berserk and needlessly killing as many people as posible before killing themselves.
The Bible predicts that the last days will be characterized by fear: Jesus says that Men's hearts [would] fail them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. (Luke 21:26)
Fear is defined as:
"A mental disturbance caused by the perception of immediate or future danger."
"A painful emotion or passion excited by the expectation of evil, or the apprehension of impending danger."
One person defined fear as:
...the darkroom where the devil takes you to develop your negatives.
What are some of the things we fear most?
• Public Speaking
• The Unknown
• The Future
TRANSITION: 3 Things about Fear
1. Fear is a necessary human emotion
a) It is God-given
b) It serves a useful purpose (See Below under, How fear is productive)
2. Fear is both productive and counter-productive.
How is fear counter-productive?
- Fear stifles our capacity to think clearly and rationally, thus affecting our behavior.
- Fear leads to indecision. We are afraid to make decisions for ourselves or others. Such indecision creates constant anxiety.
- Fear diminishes our capacity to achieve. We cease trying to accomplish certain goals due to our fears. We become increasingly unproductive as our fears increase.
- Fear can cause panic. We suffer from anxiety attacks and other debilitating emotional upsets. We live in inner turmoil.
- Fear fosters torment. Emotional storms brew within. Peace and joy are seldom experienced.
- Fear damages our relationships with others. We are afraid to be around other people. Perhaps you have been divorced and do not want to be hurt again.
- Fear damages our relationship with God. We feel uncomfortable in God's presence, perhaps sensing that He is displeased with us for yielding so consistently to our fears. We do not enter His presence with thanksgiving and praise. Worship is rarely practiced.
Fear imprisons, faith liberates; fear paralyzes, faith empowers; fear disheartens, faith encourages; fear sickens, faith heals; fear makes useless, faith makes serviceable-and, most of all, fear puts hopelessness at the heart of life, while faith rejoices in its God.
Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969)
How is fear productive?
It is productive in at least two ways: 1) In relation to life, and 2) In relation to God.
In relation to life:
• Fear drives us away from harmful and/or dangerous situations
• Fear (of punishment) discourages us from evil behavior
• Fear develops our sense of respect for others
In relation to God:
• Fear drives us to the Cross
"God uses lust to impel man to marriage, ambition to office, avarice to earning, and fear to faith." -- Martin Luther
• Fear (of judgment) discourages us from sinful behavior
And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may bebefore your faces, that ye sin not.
• Fear develops our sense of respect for God
• Fear defines our rightful position
Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men.
3. Fear can be conquered
Let me give you four words to remember that will help you to conquer your fears:
That God does not want us to fear .
That God enables us to conquer our fears .
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
For God's Protection
The LORD [is] my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.
For God's Power
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:
Deliverance ...from fear
Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me.
For this God [is] our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide [even] unto death.
In the Promises of God
2 Pet. 1:4a
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:
2 Co. 1:20
For all the promises of God in him [are] yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
In the Presence of Christ
[Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for the hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Although God does not want us to live in fear -- fear that debilitates and weakens us -- He does want us to fear Him.
O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!