Enemy of Faith: Fear
We must know our enemies in order to defend ourselves against them. The Bible warns about a fear that can cripple our faith and thwart our Christian growth.
Why are you fearful?
“Now when [Jesus] got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ But He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’ Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm” (Matthew 8:23-26, emphasis added throughout).
According to The American Heritage Dictionary, fear is “a very unpleasant or disturbing feeling caused by the presence or imminence of danger” or “extreme reverence or awe, as toward a deity.”
The second definition is used throughout the Bible to tell us we must have appropriate respect for God. This proper fear of God actually strengthens faith.
However, the first definition describes an enemy of faith.
Fear, a faith killer
It isn’t difficult to understand how fear could be a faith killer. Those who have extreme fear about anything will naturally focus on themselves and the problems they are facing, not on God and His willingness to help them in their time of need.
In the letter that Christ sent to the church in Smyrna, He gave some encouragement for those facing scary times. “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
If God wants us to be in His Kingdom, and He most certainly does, then He is quite capable of dealing with anything that would hinder us from attaining that goal. Therefore we can—and should—grow to have complete faith in Him. That means that we should seek His help to overcome debilitating fear.
Nothing to fear?
During the dark days of the Great Depression, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt made a famous statement that is often remembered as, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” That’s catchy, but is it really true in our dangerous world—without God’s protection?
The Bible says it in a much more solid and reassuring way: “So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6).
Obviously, we have nothing to fear as long as we are obeying the Almighty God.
“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).
Let’s remember these enemies of faith and strive to keep them out of our lives. We can always go to God in prayer, asking for His divine guidance, and be assured that He is always ready to help us deal with any situation.
Read more about living faith in the section on “Faith: Believing and Pleasing God.”