Church columnist: Great themes of the Bible — Fear not

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 21, 2015

The first time fear is mentioned in the Bible it is in direct connection with sin (Gen. 3:10). Prior to that sin they were innocent and knew no fear. They didn’t know what fear was or what it meant to be afraid.

So, the presence of fear in the human condition is the direct result of the fall in the garden. Fear exists now because we live in a sin sick world.

The remedy to the fear of sin and death (Rom. 5:12; 8:2; 1 Cor. 15:56), began to be revealed immediately after sin entered the world (Gen. 3:15). From that time forth, throughout the remainder of Scripture, there is the exhortation to “fear not” because God has provided a way to be saved from sin and death.

The very next time fear is mentioned in the Bible it is in the exhortation to Abram to “be not afraid” (Gen. 15:1). God had made a covenant with Abram (Gen. 12:1-3), that He would make Abram a great nation and that in him all the nations of the earth would be blessed.

Because of his covenant relationship with God, Abram had no reason to fear anything. God was his “shield” and his “exceedingly great reward.”

Jehovah repeated this exhortation of “fear not” to Isaac in Genesis 26:23 and then again to Jacob in Genesis 46:3. God would keep His covenant with Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, so they could be without fear knowing that they were under the shield and reward of their covenant keeping God, the Almighty Jehovah. God would continue to remind His faithful servants that, as long as they remained in a faithful covenant relationship with Him, they would have nothing to fear from any enemy.

Moses told the children of Israel, “Do not be afraid,” when they were caught between the army of Egypt and the Red Sea (Ex. 14:13). He said, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today.”

How could anyone be afraid if they truly believed Moses when he said, “The Lord will fight for you” (Ex. 14:14)?

Jehovah had made a covenant with Abraham and that covenant promise would be fulfilled through the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel). God opened up the waters of the Red Sea and they walked right across on dry ground.

Without them having to lift a single sword in their own defense, God destroyed the pursuing army by dropping the Red Sea on them. With faithfulness to such a mighty Defender, what reason could there be to fear anything?

As Moses was preparing the people to go in and take the promised land he reminded them to “fear not,” saying, “You must not fear them, for the Lord your God Himself fights for you” (Deut. 3:21). He says again, toward the end of Deuteronomy, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6).

What a powerful thought, to know that in faithful service to God, Jehovah Himself fights for us and will never leave us nor forsake us! (cf. Josh. 1:9; Psalm 23:4; 27:1 Heb. 13:5).

The apostle Paul brings the biblical exhortations to “fear not” together, powerfully, in Romans chapter eight. Beginning with words of blessed assurance, he says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1).

If there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus then there is nothing to fear in Him! The Christian life is a fearless life. Paul continues through this chapter to emphasize the point of fearless Christian living over and over again.

Christians have the spirit – character – of Christ (Rom. 8:9-11), Christians are children of God (Rom. 8:12-15), with the witness of the Spirit that they are children of God (Rom. 8:16). Christians, as children of God, are joint heirs with Jesus Christ Himself (Rom. 8:17).

The Christian life is a fearless life because they look forward to an inheritance so far greater than any persecution this world could inflict on them that it is not even worthy of compare (Rom. 8:18-25). With all of these blessings, and more, in mind, the apostle Paul says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).

He says that Christians are “more than conquerors” in Christ (Rom. 8:37). Romans 8, among other places, shows so powerfully that all of the “fear not” statements in the Bible find their ultimate fulfillment in Christ.

Are you in a covenant relationship with Christ? Have you believed the word of God and repented of your sins (Rom. 10:17; Acts 8:12; 17:30, 31)? And, having repented of your sins, have you confessed your faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9, 10)? Having made that confession of faith, have you been baptized into Christ to have your sins washed away by His blood (Acts 22:16; Rev. 1:5; 1 Pet. 3:21)?

This is the witness of the Spirit about being a child of God (Gal. 3:26, 27). Having done that, are you continuing faithfully in His covenant (Col. 1:23; Heb. 9:15)? The perfect love of Christ casts out all fear (1 Jn. 4:18). You can “fear not” through obedience to the gospel of Christ!

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