How many times have you heard it preached that faith and fear are opposites? Probably quite a few times. I know I have.
Having struggled with crippling fear and panic attacks for most of my life, these “faith versus fear” sermons would cause me to sit up and listen intently. I was hoping for a nugget of truth that would set me free from the torment of fear that plagued my life. But too often, these messages left me discouraged and frustrated.
Maybe faith and fear aren’t quite opposites. Maybe they are more like twin sisters. Think about it: faith and fear can both be defined as “believing in something you can’t see.” But, faith is the substance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1), while fear is the substance of things not hoped for. Sisters, but with different motivations.
For the longest time, I believed that more faith was the key to overcoming fear. But the harder I tried, the more fearful I became. I tried building up my faith through prayer, fasting, and spending time with God. I read books, attended conferences, and went through deliverance sessions, but nothing seemed to work. Not until I realized that the opposite of fear is love.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).
God’s perfect love is the answer to fear, because “fear involves torment.” When you truly understand that all wrath, punishment and torment was finished at the Cross, and that there is none left for you, then you will experience incredible peace and rest.
When you work to please God in your own strength and effort, it creates fear because you’ll always fall short. Always. Nothing you do can please God. There’s only one thing you can “do” to please God: believe in the one that he sent (John 6:28-29).
What I thought was faith was really my attempt to please God through my own efforts, in hopes that he would set me free. I didn’t realize that I was already set free 2,000 years ago when Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). I was trusting in my faith, not in God’s finished work. My faith had become a work to me.
Today, I am free from the crippling fear that controlled my life for so long. I no longer experience panic attacks, and I’m experiencing a depth of rest that is amazing. I overcame fear by understanding how much God loves me and learning how to rest in that.
If you’re experiencing any degree of fear in your life, keep these things in mind:
1. You can be free from fear.
I want to shout it as loud as I can: YOU CAN BE FREE FROM FEAR! I really believe that. I have experienced freedom from fear in my own life. I’ve also talked with thousands of others through the Season of Peace blog who have also experienced freedom. Don’t believe the lie that you’ll never be free from fear. In Christ, you are already free!
2. God’s love is the answer.
When I experienced this revelation of God’s unconditional love for me, fear lost its grip. It no longer had a hold on me. I finally understood how his perfect love casts out all fear. I would encourage you to pray for a revelation of God’s love, and take time to “listen” with your heart. Let him whisper to your heart just how much he loves you. It’ll destroy fear.
3. Stop striving to please God.
This was key for me. Early in my Christian walk, I tried so hard to please God. I didn’t understand the depth of his grace, and how I was already pleasing to him in Christ. But, the more I learned about the finished work of Christ, and how pleasing I am to God right now, the more I could rest and experience his peace. My striving to please God was feeding the fear, not overcoming it.
Whether it’s a small fear or crippling panic attacks, I believe with all of my heart that you can be free. God’s perfect love casts out all fear!