Several weeks before COVID-19 appeared, God challenged me to write down things that are fear-based, yet generally aren’t identified as fear. I made that list (though I’m sure there’s more), and with fear plaguing our world more the corona virus, I see why God had me study it out! He doesn’t want fear in any area of our lives!
I order from Amazon on a regular basis. A month never goes by without several brown boxes arriving at my door. Though I might receive a package from a relative or some other company now and then, I can easily identify my Amazon orders. Why? Because of the tape sealing the package bearing its name. Based on that tape and the return address, I can receive and open the box with confidence.
Some packages that are sent to you are not quite as easy to identify. They don’t come by way of a UPS truck bearing a box with a giant logo or an obvious return address. They’re spiritual and come in the form of thoughts and temptations. It’s up to you to determine who sent the packages, and whether you should accept or reject them.
You do this by comparing them to the Bible’s description of God, the devil, and their natures. If the thought package is pure and good, it’s from God the Father (1 John 1:5). But if it’s negative and evil, it comes straight from Satan (John 10:10). The problem is that you may not always accurately identify the package because your mind has not been renewed by God’s Word enough to know the difference between the two. You have been wired to think certain thoughts are normal because they are so common.
One of those packages is fear. From God’s Word, you can know that the fear package is not from 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).
You may be faced with different forms of fear every day. The fear of evil is easily identified because it’s so common and has obvious symptoms. It may include the fear of violence, severe weather, or disease. But there are other forms of fear that are not so easy to detect and that you may have come to tolerate. Let’s look at a few:
- Worry—anxiety and uncertainty about potential or current problems (i.e. financial lack, health issues, troubled relationships, or even incomplete to-do lists).
- Indecisiveness—difficulty in making decisions because you fear making the wrong decision.
- Nervousness—anxiety over the possibility of someone or something not going or performing well (i.e. singing or speaking in front of others, taking an academic test, having an interview, trying something new, etc.).
- Shyness—timidity around people and an uncertainty that you’ll receive their approval.
- Insecurities—lack of confidence in an area (i.e. not being a good enough person or not being good enough at a skill).
- Phobias—irrational aversion to something while imagining that it will bring harm (i.e. fear of germs, heights, tight spaces, water etc.).
Notice that all these result in stress, the fear that something isn’t going to turn out in your favor. But stress of any kind does not come from God. He is a God of peace and doesn’t want your peace controlled or destroyed by any of these. They harm you emotionally, physically, and spiritually. They intimidate and hinder you from influencing people for good and doing God’s will on the earth. This is the whole point of fear. The devil doesn’t want you to enjoy life and to be at peace; but he especially doesn’t want you to advance the Kingdom of God. If you were unshackled from all fear, you would be unstoppable.
So, when you have a negative, fearful thought of any kind come to mind, ask yourself the following questions and compare it to these Scripture verses:
- Is it negative? Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things (Philippians 4:8).
- Does it bring torment? There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment… (1 John 4:18a)
- Does it violate the plan of God for your life? For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
- Does it inspire you to commit the sin of worry? “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing” (Matthew 6:25).
If you can say “yes” to any of these, you can determine that these thoughts and feelings are not from God. From there you have two choices. You can either accept the package and sign for it by letting it stay and fester; or you can reject it and send it back where it came from.
If left unchecked, the thoughts will eventually lodge in your mind and heart. From there they will control your life. When that happens, it’s much harder to dispose of them in the future. They will rule out the truth of God’s Word because it’s what you’ve come to believe. But if you refuse to tolerate them for even a moment, the devil loses his chance to torment and control you. Like any temptation to sin, God’s solution is to take control of the thoughts and to cast them out:
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).
Once the thoughts have been rejected, you must replace them with the purity of God’s Word—thoughts that line up with Philippians 4:8. Oh, the devil will try to send more packages. But if your mind is full of the truth of God’s fearless promises, there will be no room for the evil, fear-filled packages he may send. You then remain free and at peace, more alert to accurately identify the source of every package that comes your way!