At the root of worry, anxiousness and unfounded fear we see the sin of doubt or as it is sometimes said, lack of faith. Our Old Testament heroes dealt with fear, worry and anxiety too. Scripture teaches us from their examples how they sometimes handled it well (biblically) and other times they blew it badly (Romans 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11).
Our sinful problems began with our sister, Eve. The serpent messed with Eve’s thinking by planting the seeds of doubt. When he asked, “Did God really say…” he implied that God was not really good and was withholding something good from her. She worried she was missing out! After Adam and Eve partook of that fruit (Gen. 3:8-10) we see Adam displaying a new kind of fear.
They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” Genesis 3:8- 10
Adam and Eve became afraid when they knew good and evil. When their eyes were opened and they understood things they were not intended to understand. They became afraid of discovery, afraid of punishment, afraid of God.
What about Abraham? His relationship with God was a bit different than ours-he had direct communication with God, imagine that! We see in Scripture that there were times Abraham showed incredible faith-leaving Ur, sacrificing Isaac, the rescue of Lot’s people and so on. Yet, Abraham feared for his life before Pharaoh and asked his wife to lie about who she was so that she could be turned over to a harem! Once was bad, twice was worse! It boggles my mind that after God brought them through that situation unharmed, and the humiliation Abraham suffered as a result of his lack of faith he actually committed the same sin, and demonstrated the same lack of faith a second time (Genesis 12). Again God rescued them, and that is a great illustration of how all of us can be incredibly self-centered depending on the situation.
Have you ever been so fearful and worried about how a situation would turn out that you lied in an attempt to orchestrate the results?
And how about Abraham’s lovely Sarah (Gen. 16: 1-15). She certainly had fears of her own. Despite the promise (the promise!) that God gave to Abraham that he would be the father of many generations she could see as the years went by that God had closed her womb and she desperately wanted to give Abraham a son. She wanted to “help” God fulfill His promise! So, she took matters into her own hands and had her husband sleep with her maid to give her a child, and Hagar became a surrogate mother. We cannot determine if it was impatience as the main factor or if it was fear or worry that God would not follow through with his promise that drove her to make this tragic decision but the result was she doubted God’s Word.
Have you ever thought you needed to “help” God fulfill His promises? Many people do just that as they attempt to add to the payment of Christ for their sins by living a good life, obeying the Ten Commandments and so on. God has promised us that Christ is enough, and paid more than enough to assure our ransom.
And then there is Peter, who loved Jesus so deeply yet after his bold protestations of being willing to die for Christ he found a great fear of man when and in the end he denied Christ three times (John 13:36-38).
Have you been in such a situation? Perhaps with your unsaved family at a gathering where someone begins to mock Christianity and deny the reality of God or the authenticity of the Bible? You know the right thing is to respond for Jesus and yet the fear of man is so great you stay silent and slink out of the room. That is a terrible feeling and I can only imagine Peter’s grief and sorrow at his display of cowardous.
Timothy, Paul's young protege, also struggled with fear. Paul exhorted him by saying, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). He was afraid because he was young and the older men of the church would not respect him. He was also afraid due to the political climate in which he was ministering.
If you live in fear of a condemning, judgmental God something to ask yourself is if you have a real reason to be afraid. Any fear that continues beyond actual danger is an indication of a lack of faith. Is it possible you are laboring under a false salvation? Because, the greatest fear of an unbeliever should be death and judgment.
It is possible to have an understanding of your sinful condition and still be in stubborn rebellion before God. It is possible to have head knowledge of salvation, know the right words to say, what you are supposed to believe and still be unregenerate! Once you place your faith and trust in Christ that fear will dissipate.
What about participating in some known sin? It is a nervous person indeed who is willfully involved in sin and is unrepentant about it. When you are convicted it is wrong, the course of action is to stop it because you know sin does not glorify God. Then repent of the sin and be actively involved in the renewing of your mind.
Thankfully, a believer in Christ we have no reason to fear God in that way. Scripture has no references to any sort of punishment from God for a born again believer in Christ. Scripture teaches us that all our sin- past, present, future was paid for on the cross. Romans 8:1 tells us there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! When God looks at the blood bought saint, all He sees is Christ. If there was something for God to punish us for, then it would mean that Christ’s sacrifice and His redemption of our souls was incomplete.
There is no punishment for our sin coming from God. Do we experience consequences for our sin? Yes, of course we do and sometimes it feels like punishment but it is not. God will never punish His own children for that would make a mockery of the death of Christ and His full payment for our sin.