5: Faith in Fear
Posted: Thursday, May 29th, 2014Print
About Faith Is Series
We must understand the power of faith, because what we believe is what blooms in our lives. This 12-part series lays bare the operational law of faith and how it affects us every day.
Faith is rest and peace. Faith knows Who GOD is. “I know WHOM I have believed” (2 Tim. 1:12). Faith has its reverse…
Unbelief is a hidden skepticism of the heart,
but its enactment is fear.
Fear is the outward symptom that doubt is ruling within…and does not know HIM. Fear is faith in reverse. Confidence that He won’t come – belief that He isn’t telling the truth, at least “not to me.” And so fear reigns. Dread of His failure, certainty of His indifference. These are the secret faiths that spawn fear.
Nice words excuse fear and make us less guilty of it as a heinous sin. “It’s not really fear; it’s only worry.” “We should worry about what’s important, shouldn’t we?” No, anxiety is simply unbelief, and stress, an invented word that hides terror and elevates it to the understandable. The pitiable.
Fear is sin. Human foible, yes. Normal to us, yes. But fear in His disciples drew an uncommon anger from the long-suffering Jesus. He who was patient unendingly, who endured their scheming ambition, and gave kindness to His own murderer, had no tolerance for their fear.
The storm at sea was the exposure of their basic doubt. A real-life test of their comprehension of Him. “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40) We fear what is under His thumb’s dominion. And we don’t fear Him who sits as king of the entire universe and rules to the smallest raindrop. To fear the storm is to believe in the storm’s power to kill me and to negate His strength to save me. It is betrayal. It is a blind cowardice for which He has no patience.
At Jesus’ power over the storm, their fear turned from the squall to the One who ruled it so easily and their natural terror changed to a horrified awe of Him. “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!” (Mark 4:41) And that is the right fear. The legitimate terror.
Fear of anything, of anyone, is the exposure of not only our lack of faith in God, but it reveals the place where we deposit our confidence. The revealing of what…and who we do believe. What you fear unfolds your secret idol, the one whose power you exalt. Name your fear and you have named your god. What you fear, you serve. What you serve, you die for. (To give up your “self” is to die. To surrender your freedom willingly is to die.) What you give your life to…is your god.
What you fear IS what you believe in. It is what you believe holds power over you and in that place you build a willing altar and a self-made prison. So fear is the basis and center of worship. That’s why we dare not fear even the one who can kill the body, Fear is reserved only for Him who “can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
Worship rises from fear
and fear is worship.
The secret core of all dread is this: the chilling fear of death. That innate fight for life, the fierce motive of self-preservation – this is the hidden root of fear, its power to smell danger and scramble to survive even if it means surrender of the soul’s freedom. Survival is all.
So powerful is that fear of death in any form, at any level, that we will compromise, acquiesce, even abandon GOD…anything to be safe. The man who buried his talent used fear as his excuse for being blatantly disobedient. He had the audacity to justify his fear by accusing God of being the terror that had paralyzed him, and assuming the Master would so sympathetically understand that He would waive any penalty!
This is not just a parable; it is a portrait of human nature, drawing in vivid color our self-pitying belief in our unfounded fears. We have all done it: supporting our fright by reproaching God because life is hard.
The Master’s reply astonishes. He proves He is hard. Merely over a talent, a single talent, He condemns to a form of hell! “Outer darkness of weeping and gnashing of teeth,” just over a small understandable fear (Matt. 25:30)!
That fear for which we hold so much sympathy. That fear of loss and failure imposed by life’s unfairness! That fear is named by its real identity, exposed by the One Who Reads Hearts, and Who Knows ALL secret thoughts. It isn’t fear at all…it’s “wicked and lazy.” Hard words for poor humans.
What are we to do? Fear is evil, not just “human.” Fear is wicked because at bottom it is an accusation of God, a slam at His character. A rejection of His goodness. An insult to His power. Anybody can fear. That’s easy. Just sit down. All of us can make up terror and stop there… “A lion is in the road!” It is work, hard work, to gain the courage to venture out and multiply (Prov. 22:13).
To sow, you have to believe in sowing. To risk, you must be assured of safety. And to believe, you must fight. You must work. It’s not hard to believe. It is hard to refute doubt against the remembered proofs that lie inside your soul. The fight is to find His view and hold to that view against your reasoning self.
To fight fear is to fight what appears so solid and obvious, to refute the beclouded ideas of your own mindset. The enemy of your soul uses fear to capture you and hold you. If you can be made afraid, you will stay as a volunteer, confined in a cell with no bars.
And the power of all threats is merely this – a lie. Nothing has power over you. Only God. Nothing can touch you without your consent!
“…do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.
The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
He is the one you are to fear, He is the one you are to dread.”
Isaiah 8:12b-13 NIV
All other fears are forbidden because they are not valid. Fear is reserved toward God alone because He reigns over life and death, heaven…and hell.
Copyright © 1999 Martha Blaney Kilpatrick, Faith Is