The subject of fear is one of the most awesome studies found in God’s Word. There are constructive and destructive fears. Some fears are so evil that one can be momentarily paralyzed by them. One can become physically ill through fear. Therefore, it is so important that we give ourselves over to the Lord as we study this important subject. All of the spiritual qualifications and tools necessary to combat the evil fears that may come upon us are found in the Word of God. We can overcome bad fears, be victorious, live happy and joyful Christian lives, and be of greater service and value to our Master.
The following are fears that can keep us from knowing the Lord and doing His will, and that may condemn some to eternal hell:
1) The fear that you will fail;
2) The fear that you can’t live up to God’s standards;
3) The fear that you can’t obey God’s Word.
Forms of the words fear and afraid are found over seven hundred times in the Bible; this should cause us to realize the importance of fear in our lives. Over eighty times we have the words, “Do not fear,” or “Fear not.”
27-1 Fear, Constructive and Destructive
Jesus said to His fearful disciples, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (v. 28). This is destructive fear. Jesus warned them that they would be persecuted for preaching the gospel, and would have no physical defense. He said, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves” (vv. 16-23). The apostles suffered severe persecution; indeed, nearly all the apostles were put to death. They could have denied their faith and lived—but they refused.
Consider these five great biblical saints who trusted God and overcame fear, even in the face of death:
1) Moses chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin… By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king” (Hebrews 11:25-27).
2) The three Hebrew children, because of their faith, were unafraid of Nebuchadnezzar and his fiery furnace (Daniel 3:16-18).
3) Daniel was not afraid of the decree of King Darius and the den of lions. By faith he defied the king’s command, knowing that he would be cast into a den of hungry lions. Like his three Hebrew friends, he was courageous (Daniel 6:1-28).
4) Stephen, one of the first deacons, “full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8). He was the first Christian to suffer a martyr’s death for exalting Christ. Stephen died on his knees, stoned by the enemies of Jesus. Unafraid, he prayed, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin” (Acts 7:54-60).
5) Paul wrote to young Timothy from Rome about his own coming death: For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:6, 7). In his letter to the church at Philippi, he said, “For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). By faith Paul was not afraid of death; to him it would be eternal gain.
There are two elements that will deliver you from destructive fear, whether fear of death or life, fear of failure or loss, fear of people or position, or fear of rank or power. These elements are:
1) Faith. You cannot trust God and be fearful at the same time. The psalmist said, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56: 3-4). Sudden fear gripped the psalmist for a moment, then he cried, “Whenever I am afraid…” At the moment fear grips you, turn to God in faith. The psalmist went on to say, “I will trust in You.” When faith came to him, he was able to say, “I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” You cannot truly trust God and worry.
Paul tells us to take “the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:16), and that ability is there the moment you lift up the shield. Fear is one of Satan’s fiery darts. The shield of faith will extinguish it.
2) Love. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). There is but one perfect love—the love of God. Let the Holy Spirit fill your heart with God’s perfect love and there will be no room for destructive fear (Romans 5:5).
With your faith in God and your heart filled with His love, you are equipped with the two elements necessary to give you victory over all destructive fear.
Now let us examine constructive or reverential fear. “But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (v. 28). Some believe Jesus. is telling us here to fear Satan, but Satan does not have this kind of power. Only God has the power and right to cast both soul and body into hell. Satan is a defeated foe. James urges us to “submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). When our lives are committed to God, we can resist Satan by faith, actually causing him to flee from us. We are to fear our holy God with a reverential fear—fear that bows in awe as we worship and praise Him. Remember, “There is no [destructive] fear in love” (1 John 4:18). Perfect love produces reverential fear. We are to worship, praise, and exalt God in holy fear.
27-2 Fear, Godly
“Let all the earth fear the Lord” (v. 8). All the earth will fear the Lord in His coming kingdom. Till then we thank God for those who fear Him in this sin-sick world (Romans 3:18). Let us remember:
1) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 15:33).
2) The fear of the Lord is godly fear (Hebrews 12:28).
3) The fear of the Lord is righteous fear, “He loves righteousness” (Psalm 33:5).
4) The fear of the Lord is holy fear (2 Corinthians 7:1).
5) The fear of the Lord is reverential fear (Hebrews 12:28).
6) To fear the Lord is to stand in awe of Him. “Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him” (Psalm 33:8).
7) To fear the Lord is to worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24).
8) To fear the Lord is to “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28).
Godly fear brings joy. The psalmist said, “Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous!…Praise the Lord with the harp…Sing to Him a new song” (Psalm 33:1-3). Speaking of joy, the apostle John said, “These things we write to you that your joy may be full. This is the message…that God is light” (1 John 1:4, 5).
Is there godly fear in your heart? To be sure that you have godly fear, examine the following verses in 1 John 1:6-10:
1) “If we [who say we are believers] say that we have fellowship with Him [the Lord Jesus Christ], and walk in darkness [live in known, unconfessed sin], we lie, and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6; cf. Acts 5:1-4).
2) “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another [we have fellowship with God because we are in His light—His righteousness], and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7; cf. Revelation 1:5). Godly fear can be known only by those who have been cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
3) “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8; cf. Galatians 6:7, 8).
4) “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. (1 John 1:9). To be cleansed by the blood brings the lost or unsaved into a relationship with God the Father. To be cleansed from sins which you commit after you are born into the family of God, you must confess them to our Lord, calling each known sin by name. Godly fear will cause you to search your heart every time you go to God in prayer; and if you find any unconfessed sin in your heart, however small, judge it, confess it, and forsake it. Practice 1 John 1:9 every day, and thus stay in fellowship with the Lord.
5) “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). Godly fear will not let you say, “I have no sin,” or “I cannot sin in the flesh,” or “I have not sinned since the Lord saved me.” Yet godly fear can also help you to resist temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).
27-3 Fear Not: God Is Your Protector
“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision” (v. 1). This was the fifth time the Lord manifested Himself to Abram—later named Abraham (Genesis 17:5).
1) The first manifestation was in Ur of the Chaldeans (Genesis 11:31; cf. Acts 7:1-4).
2) The second manifestation was in Haran where the Lord reaffirmed His call and promise to Abram (Genesis 12:1-4).
3) The third manifestation was in Canaan, the promised land (Genesis 12:7).
4) The fourth manifestation was in Canaan, after Lot was separated from him (Genesis 13:14, 15).
5) The fifth manifestation was in Hebron. After Lot was separated from Abram, the latter moved his herd and all his servants away to Hebron, which became home to this pilgrim. Because this great man of faith was now experiencing fear, the Lord appeared to Abram, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward” (v. 1). Why was Abram afraid? What did he fear? Abram was the friend of God. He talked with God person-to- person, as the Lord manifested Himself to him, but he still was afraid. He is the only man in the Bible called God’s friend, yet he was afraid.
We must go back to chapter 14, to understand Abram’s fear. Chedorlaomer was king of Elam, a country east of Babylon. He was allied with three other ruthless kings. Five other kings of the Jordan valley, including the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, had paid tribute to Chedorlaomer for twelve years. In the thirteenth year they rebelled (Genesis 14:1-4). In the fourteenth year these four kings, with their armies, invaded the Jordan valley, sacked Sodom and Gomorrah, defeated their armies, took all their wealth, and captured women and men, including Abram’s nephew Lot. When the news reached Abram, he armed his 318 servants and pursued the numerically superior army into Dan. By night he divided his 318 men, then attacked the army while they were sleeping and defeated them. The Word of God tells us that when he returned from the slaughter, he brought back the captives and all the wealth they had taken.
Now we can answer the question, “What did Abram fear?” Most likely he feared reprisal. He had defeated an army; he had humiliated them with 318 servants—perhaps men without experience in battle. He feared that these four vanquished kings would return and invade Hebron. He was afraid, and rightly so, from the human standpoint. But God appeared to him and said, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield.” In effect, God was saying, “I am your protector. Abram, you don’t have to fear those barbarians, those wicked, ruthless kings. I am God Almighty; I will shield you; I will keep My promises and make you a great nation; I will give this land to your descendants. Abram, don’t fear!”
Then the Lord said, “[I am] your exceedingly great reward.” Abram, returning from the battle, was approached by the king of Sodom, who came out and told Abram to keep all the wealth that he had recovered—leaving him only with the people he had rescued. Abram replied that he would not take even a shoelace “lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’ ” (Genesis 14:23). Abram would not give anyone the opportunity to take credit for the way in which God had blessed him. God had blessed Abram and made him one of the richest men of all times. Abram honored God and sought only His glory. For Abram’s faithfulness God rewarded him with heaven’s highest honor: “I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
27-4 Fear Not: God Is Your Power
(2 Kings 6:16)
“Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (v. 16). Elisha was a prophet with great faith. By that faith he knew that the Lord’s army was encamped around Dothan, not to save the city but to deliver Elisha from the hands of Ben-Hadad, king of Syria. The king had sent his army to capture Elisha because the Lord had revealed to the prophet all of Ben-Hadad’s military plans. Elisha, in turn, revealed those plans to Ben-Hadad’s enemy, Jehoram, king of Israel, thus guaranteeing Ben¬Hadad’s defeat. So Ben-Hadad sent spies to locate Elisha. When Elisha was found, the king sent horses, chariots, and a great army, just to capture one unarmed prophet! But they were not enough (v. 14). They reached Dothan in darkness and surrounded the city. When Elisha’s servant went about his morning duties, he saw the Syrian army and rushed in to Elisha, overcome by fear and crying, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” (v. 15).
1) Elisha taught the young man faith and the fear of the Lord. Elisha prayed that the Lord would open the young man’s eyes so that he might see the unseen (v. 17; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:18). Only by faith can we see the invisible host of heaven and “not fear.” The Lord opened the young man’s spiritual eyes, and he saw God’s army ready to protect His servant.
2) Every servant of God has the edge over the enemies of righteousness. The psalmist said, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6). The believer has these armaments in his fight against fear:
a) God’s Word. “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ so we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’ ” (Hebrews 13:5, 6; cf. Deuteronomy 31:12, 13).
b) God’s power. “This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them” (Psalm 34:6, 7).
c) God’s Holy Spirit. “My Spirit remains among you; do not fear fear!” (Haggai 2:5). “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper [the Holy Spirit], that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16).
d) God’s protection. Isaiah said, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you” (Isaiah 35:4). Isaiah 35 is a promise and a prophecy. “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance.” The promise is that the Messiah will come to establish God’s kingdom on earth (Revelation 19:11-16). The prophecy is that He will come with vengeance—at Armageddon (Revelation 19:17-21).
3) While we wait for His second coming we are to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” How? “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10, 11). Without God’s armor, we fight a losing battle. God’s armor consists of the following:
a) The belt of truth. “Having girded your waist with truth” (Ephesians 6:14). This belt of truth is embodied in Christ. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32). Again He said, “I am…the truth” (John 14:6). Every believer must bear witness to the truth (John 5:33).
b) The breastplate of righteousness. “Having put on the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14). This breastplate is the righteousness of the lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10:1-4, 10). It must be reflected in our daily lives.
c) The gospel shoes. “Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel [good news] of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Christ is our peace, and without His gospel the sinner can never be at peace with God (Romans 5:1). It is our duty to go with the gospel to tell those who do not know it.
d) The shield of faith. “Above all, taking the shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:16). Christ is our shield of faith. God said to Abram, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield” (Genesis 15:1). “The just shall live by faith” (Hebrews 10:38). The shield of faith will quench all the fiery darts of the satanic kingdom.
e) The helmet of salvation. “Take the helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:17). Christ is our deliverance (Luke 4:16-18).
f) The sword of the Spirit. “The sword of the Spirit [Holy Spirit], which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Christ also is the sword, the living Word (John 1:1, 14). Let us exalt this Word in all that we do or say, and let us use it, our only offensive weapon.
g) Prayer. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 6:18). The armor is God’s, and as good soldiers of the cross we need to keep it polished with prayer. It is our “secret defense”!
“Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance” (Isaiah 35:4). Until then, put on the whole armor of God and do not fear, because “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
27-5 Fear: Its Objects
The following are some of the objects of fear:
1) Manifestations of Deity. When John was exiled to the island of Patmos, he was visited by the risen, glorified Christ (Revelation 1:12-17). John records that “I fell at His feet as dead,” but Jesus reassured him, saying, “Do not be afraid.” See Daniel 8:15-17 for a similar visitation of the Lord.
2) Manifestations of angels.
a) The aged priest Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth had no children (Elizabeth was barren), but longed and prayed for a child. One day, as Zacharias was burning incense in the temple, an angel of the Lord appeared to him. When he saw the angel, Zacharias was gripped by fear (Luke 1:5-25).
b) When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks: “And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid” (Luke 2:9).
c) As the Roman soldiers guarded the tomb of Jesus, “an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it…And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men” (Matthew 28:1-4). They were momentarily petrified with fear.
3) Fear of meeting God in our sins. The first mention of fear in the Bible is in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. The Word says, “The eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). As we commonly do when we sin, they tried to deceive God. They made coverings for their nakedness out of fig leaves, and when they heard the voice of God they tried to hide. When God called out, “Where are you?” Adam finally appeared and made a fourfold confession (Genesis 3:9, 10):
a) “I heard your voice.”
b) “I was afraid.” Adam and Eve had never known fear before. Now that they had sinned, they experienced guilt and fear.
c) “I was naked.” Before they sinned, they had been clothed in innocence, free from guild and the fear of judgment; but now as sinners they feared their Creator, who made them, love them, and provided for them.
d) “I hid myself” God knew where they were, but Adam thought that they were well concealed. He soon learned that you cannot hide from our omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God!
At the first mention of fear, God was gracious and merciful. He provided a covering of animal skins for Adam and Eve before He removed them from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:21). He gave them the promise of a Redeemer, who would come and shed His blood and cover their sins.
The last mention of fear in the Bible is in Revelation 21:8. There we come to the end of all the dispensations of mankind, from Adam to the new heaven and the new earth. And the Lord says, But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
4) Fear of serving God in fleshly wisdom. The apostle Paul journeyed to Corinth and preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Later he wrote back to the church at Corinth, “I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.” Paul was saying, in effect, “When I preached the gospel to you in Corinth, I feared lest I should do it in fleshly wisdom”; therefore, “my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). Fear of serving God in the energy of the flesh is a good fear. We should strive to “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).
5) Fear of the end times. At the end of the dispensation of the church age, and at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, “they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). The “times of the Gentiles” will end with the Tribulation.
6) Fear of death. The Lord Jesus Christ came to earth to die on Calvary, where He conquered death. To the believer, there need be no fear of death. Death has been conquered; death has been defeated. Through death Jesus destroyed “him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” He defeated Satan and death, delivering “those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 2:14, 15). It is sad to see many who profess to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, yet live in the dread of physical death. When Jesus returns to this earth, He will raise the bodies of all the saints who have experienced physical death. The Word of God tells us, “There shall be no more death” (Revelation 21:4). This will be the end of death and fear for all eternity.
Master Outline 27 – Fear
 What two (2) types of fear are in the Bible?
 Can one become physically sick through fear? YES or NO. Explain.
 What three (3) fears can keep us from knowing the Lord and doing His will?
 How many times are the words “FEAR” or “AFRAID” used in the Bible?
 How many times are the words “DO NOT FEAR” or “FEAR NOT” used in the Bible?
 Who did Jesus tell his disciples they should fear?
 Did the Apostles suffer persecutions? YES or NO. Explain.
 What two (2) elements will deliver you from destructive fear?
 With your ________________________ in God and your _____________________ filled
with His _____________________, you are equipped with the two elements necessary to give
you _____________________ over all destructive fears.
 Describe reverential fear?
 List right (8) things the fear of the Lord is.
 Godly ______________________ can only be known by those who have been cleansed by
the precious ______________________ of Jesus.
 As a born again believer, if we find sin in our heart what three (3) things are we to do?
 List the five (5) manifestations of the Lord to Abram.
 What did Abraham fear when he won the battle with 318 men?
 What did God tell Abram about his fear?
 What did the Lord mean when He said, “I am your exceedingly great reward?”
 Elisha was a prophet with great _______________________________.
 What did Ben-Hadad send to capture an unarmed prophet?
 How is it we can see the invisible host of heaven and “not fear?”
 What four (4) armaments does the servant of God have available?
 What seven (7) pieces of armor have we been granted?
 What three (3) groups of people were confronted by angels in the New Testament and became gripped with fear?
 What was Adam’s four-fold confession in Genesis 3:9-10?
 What are six (6) areas of fear that has been manifested in people’s lives?