Second Promise for Fighting Fear

In my previous article, First Promise for Fighting Fear, I mentioned that Christianity has a lot to say about fear. Most people live enslaved by their fear of death. In fact, one of the reasons Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection happened was to bring freedom to those enslaved in the fear of death. One promise we have to fight fear in life is God’s Presence. This is found in the words—I am with you. God’s love is the antidote to your fear. He is with you.

Today I want you to notice another Promise for fighting fear: God’s promised Power.

In the latter half of the 1st Century, Paul reminded the Christians that were scattered around the abusive and hate filled Roman Empire, “Since [humans] have flesh and blood, he (Jesus Christ) shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death…and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14, 15).

Paul, the church planting missionary, lived in a world with constant political, racial, and spiritual injustice. The rulers, both civil and spiritual, hated him. He lived in constant fear for his life. The message of God’s good saving rule through a resurrected and ascended King, who was creator of all things, posed a great threat to the economic, political, and spiritual power structures in Corinth, Thessalonica, and Ephesus. And there were huge riots in many cities over that message (Acts 17-19).

I do not want to over-spiritualized the past 3 or 4 months of raging fear in our country (the Covid-monster that was going to kill most of us, the injustices by the forces of “justice” federally, locally, and systemically, the riots in our streets, and a daily dose of economic devastation), but there is an Evil One who wants us to live in constant turmoil, fear, and distrust so that we lose hope in God.

There is a god of this age. “Satan's power is over all the nations of the earth. That could be very frightening when we realize he can influence men in such a way that they are not even aware that they are being influenced toward evil. His power is so extensive that he is over all the nations of the earth. Jesus calls him the ruler of this world (Jn. 14:30). He affects people's attitudes by moving our reasoning processes toward satisfaction of the self. He gives disinformation and stirs up our spirit” (John Ritenbaugh). We are not to fear him because Jesus said He’s greater than the god of this world order.

In Hebrews, Paul had been “in danger” by being in prison, beaten, being thrown into the sea, bandits, rioters, disease, hunger and thirst, and here is what wrote about his time in Asia (trips through Corinth, Thessalonica and Ephesus), “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers” (emphasis mine).

Now remember, prior to his conversion, Paul was a Pharisee. His identity was being a pure, righteous Religious leader. His glory was in his moral record. His power was in himself. His record. Pedigree. He was from the tribe of Benjamin, he was Hebrew of Hebrews, a legal scholar, a Pharisee, zealous for traditions of the fathers, and faultless when it came to living by the law. He advanced in Judaism beyond others his age. He had religious and political power, and even to unjustly arrest people. But he lost it when he became a Christ follower.

One night in Corinth, Jesus met Paul in a vision. I don't know how afraid you have to be to have Jesus show up in a vision, but he was that afraid. He was so afraid, a nice plaque with a verse from the Psalms wasn't enough. He needed Jesus.  And the Lord said to him, “Do not be afraid…I am with you, no one is going to harm you...(Acts 18:9-10).

So what gave him power now? It wasn’t his power; wasn’t strength of his courage, but the ONE he relied. “All this happened that we might rely on God who raises the dead.”

Jesus says, when fear’s blowing hard on soul, I have the power over death. He says, my power is perfected when you are weak with fear.
 
Listen, fear might be a constant companion all of your life. Your courage is not the absence of fear, but applied faith in the power of God in the middle of your fear. This is a direct blow to your false hope in creating your own security. Not self-reliance or confidence. At some point, you will have to deal with your fear (of loss-money, reputation, even your kids’ health). But, if you are already a follower Christ, you already have the Divine Power to deal with your fear because you have the Spirit in you.

How does supernatural power, the Holy Spirit, work in us?

The first step is to turn away from trusting in your own security—that I may not rely on myself.
How did Paul go from fear to having a courage that astonished even the natural-materialists who hated Christians and God? Despite his fear, God’s power was made perfect in the saving many of the Corinthians. A new church was planted. God’s love is the antidote to fear.
Second step is to live by faith in Jesus Christ who laid down his rightful power in the Universe.  Gospel Story is about what God, who made you, did to rescue you. His Gospel says God loves you and He did certain things and continues to do things for you.

Jesus gave up his place of power and took the shame with that. He laid aside His reputation. He became weak so you could be saved through his weakness. Jesus faced not just the “fear of death”, but real Death. He was crushed for your rebellion. Jesus took the only disease, injustice and rejection that can kill you, faced the greatest nightmare, absorbing your shame, paying the price for your selfish autonomous life.

And the Father raised Him up alive. God gave Jesus the Name that changes everyone who believes that what he did, he did to redeem, restore, and renew—save completely. The Gospel is power of God to save—to change you and others.
 
Our fight is by Faith , and not a matter of renewed will but renewed faith. Every Christian deals with the same issue. This is central — do NOT listen to the lie, but believe God & His Gospel. He loved me and gave himself for me. Love is the antidote to Fear.

The next time I write, we’ll talk about the third step in fighting fear — Purpose.

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