Our Greatest Fear
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31
As I see it, fear can be classified into 2 categories; unhealthy and healthy. And, within those categories, 2 types each; spiritual and personal. I will only quickly review three of these because I want to emphasize the one type that concerns us as Christians. If time allows at some point in the future, I will come back to these others, however, I believe a quick look at them will be enough to lay down the foundation for us.
Fear of Evil
This is the basest of all fears. This fear concerns all things Satanic and demonic. As Christians, we’re encouraged in that we do not have a “spirit of fear” and as such, we should have a discernment of spirits, but not a fear of them. The real power in this type of fear is really the attraction to it for many in the world. There is typically an attitude to overlook this as the reason for a lot of horrific crimes that take place. Those who are attracted to this fear leave themselves open for a possession of demonic spirits. When I was living in Charlotte, NC for a time, I recall going down to our local video store looking for a weekend movie to watch. I noticed that over time, the newly released and hot topic sections were literally filled with horror movies of all natures. I used to ask myself, “who could even think of this evil, let alone make it or even worse, watch it.” But, there were many people taking them out. Many who watch horror movies, play gory video games, and see news reports of evil acts are drawn to repeat them, or even outdo them. There’s a story of Smith Wigglesworth when one night while having a restless sleep filled with frightening dreams, he was woken by the feeling of evil in his bedroom. Looking around, it’s reported, he saw Satan himself at the foot of the bed observing him. Wigglesworth eyed him and said, “Oh it’s just you.” and rolled over and went back to sleep. While we’re not to fear evil, we must be aware of it’s presence and our authority over it.
This fear is the kind we associate with sinners. It’s the kind of fear that finds them looking over their shoulder. Guilty as charged; waiting to get caught. Following the lusts of the flesh. If the soul becomes numb to this, it attracts evil spirits and many people fall further into darkness. However, some are deeply affected by this fear and are drawn out and into the Fear of the Lord; the beginning of Healthy Fears. The Proverbs are filled with many lines of wisdom on these fears: “For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” Proverbs 1:29-33
Fear That Leads to Salvation
This fear is one we are all familiar with: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge:” (Proverbs 1:7a). It is the saving fear of the cross. And, as our walk in the Christian life continues, it leads us onwards and upwards. However, some there are who backslide because of the cares of the world, or other such things and are drawn back into unhealthy lifestyles and fears. “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are know of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” Galatians 4:9
Our Greatest Fear as a Christian
So, here we are. Walking the Christian life, free from the cares of the world, not having, “a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and a sound mind.” We go to church on Sunday, read our Bible occasionally, attend conferences, listen to Christian music; we pray sometimes and we’re at peace in our soul. So, what kind of fear could we need that would be so healthy as to keep us going on to perfection? It’s a wonderful fear. It has power. And Satan has made it easy to miss seeing it in our lives and to make it easy to fail because we don’t see this fear at all. And, we believe that since we’re the wonderful children of God that no matter what we might do wrong, everything is okay. We have nothing to fear at all.
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, wrapped up this fear in one sentence, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30. Grieving the Holy Spirit of God – this should be our greatest fear.
We should be afraid of disobeying and grieving our Heavenly Father, his Son and his Holy Spirit with our actions, words, and thoughts. Having laid out instruction on how to live together as a community, Paul reminds the Ephesians that disobedience grieves the Holy Spirit. He tells us simple things; we should put off the old man, refraining from old ways; lying, stealing, anger, evil speaking, becoming kind, tender-hearted, forgiving, edifying one another. These things we see and do.
I have four wonderful children. Well, they’re teens and young adults now. But, when they were very little, it used to grieve me if I said or did anything that even so much as hurt their feelings. When the disobeyed or did something wrong, I always tried to remind them how wonderful they were in the sight of God and myself but what they did was wrong. The focus on the action and not the person. And if I did it wrong, it grieved me to see them cry, to hurt them.
And, this should be our greatest fear; that our actions would grieve the Holy Spirit.
And yet, I’m seeing more and more of it, especially in the area of prayer. Because, with answered prayer comes God’s blessing, fruit, and the opportunity to glorify Him. In America, Satan has caused Christians to fear corporate public prayer because they might be sued or arrested. And yet, children are being shot in schools. Rape, murders, and other unspeakable things are happening all across the country while we sit idle. The most powerful nation in the world is not the United States. It is not Russia. It is the Christian nation of God. And we have lost our power because we have become soft with our authority and it has grieved God.
We have to ask, what is prayer? It’s nothing other than talking to your Heavenly Father. It’s no different than talking to your earthly father. But, talking to God scares Satan so much that he’s used the world system to denounce it. Knowing that you have reasons to cry out to the one true God and that you do not, grieves the Holy Spirit.
What do the Scriptures say? “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 If we as Christians, which are sealed by the name of Jesus, will humble ourselves, and PRAY, and seek His face, and turn from fear of men, then He will hear from heaven and forgive our disobedience and will heal our land.
How did Peter and John reply under persecution? “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” Acts 4:19.
And what do the Scriptures say about answered prayer? God knows what you need even before you ask Him. And yet, I see people treat answers to prayer as if they were gifts from Santa Clause which can be accepted if we like them enough, rejected them, or set upon a shelf to be repackaged and regifted or returned from where they came from. You wouldn’t ask Satan for anything, but he would gladly give you whatever you wanted if you would disobey God and worship him (Matthew 4:8-9). And you would reject it if he gave it to you. But why do you reject the gift of God?
Let me tell you. Whatever God gives you is meant for three things: to bless you, to bear fruit and to give Glory to God! And when you reject them, you disobey God and grieve His Holy Spirit.
Let’s say that you pray for that lovely cardigan you saw in the shop window. And, someone gifts you that ugly Christmas sweater that you wouldn’t get caught dead in. So, you groan inside and say to yourself, “God must not have heard me right. I’m not going to wear this. I don’t want to hurt the giver’s feelings so I’ll put it on the shelf this year and regift it next year and pray again to God that He will give me the sweater that I really wanted.” Let me tell you, God heard you. You should have worn that sweater. God gave it to you for a reason. It would have born fruit and someone would have glorified God because of it.
Once, I was a student at MorningStar’s School of Ministry. During that time, I had a job that took me to the panhandle of Texas for a few weeks. While there, I had a long weekend and decided to drive down to Waco to visit a relative. One evening, we went to dinner with some friends to a Barbeque restaurant. I bought a T-shirt that had the restaurant logo on the front and a slogan on the back that I thought was funny. It read something like, “I didn’t climb to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables.” One Saturday morning after I got home, I took my youngest son to his soccer game. It was early Spring and the weather was very cold. The ground was covered in frost so much that the grass crackled as you walked on it. All I’d worn that day was a hooded sweatshirt over that T-shirt. As the first half wore on, I started feeling warm. But from the inside. I knew that something was happening. At one point, I was so warm, I took off my sweatshirt and walked around in that T-shirt only. I noticed an older woman, a grandmother from a boy on the opposing team, watching me pace the sideline. She was watching me more than the game. At half-time, she came to me and asked me where I’d gotten the shirt from. She said something to the effect that her husband was in early stages of Alzheimer’s and that the shirt came from a restaurant back in his hometown. She thought that if she bought him one, it would help his memory and that perhaps I could tell her the address of the restaurant. I knew this opportunity was a gift from God. I was being used to bear fruit and give Him glory. I pulled off the shirt and gave it to her. I told her that as cold as it was, I had been getting warmed inside to the point I needed to take off my sweatshirt. I said that God had me wear that shirt that day just for her and it was God’s chance to bless her and that I wanted her to have that shirt. It was a gift and I knew that God would touch her husband through it. But, I told her with a laugh that she was going to have to wash it. She was obviously touched and cried and smiled.
Fruit and Glory.
Maybe, you pray for something warm to wear and someone gifts you a beautiful cardigan sweater. You think, “I’m not pretty enough to wear something as beautiful as that.” And just when you’re ready to put it on the shelf to regift next year, a small voice of God inside says, “Wear that today.” Off to work you go and you’re feeling embarrassed and awkward as others around you tell you how beautiful that sweater is. But you notice one person, in particular, looking at you more than others. And the Holy Spirit says, “Go and talk to them.” You learn that they had been gifted a sweater that was plain when what they wanted was the same one you were wearing. They tell you that they wore it anyway and that someone was touched by the sweater they had received. They hadn’t recognized at first the true gift of that ugly sweater until they gave it away to someone who they accidentally bumped into. What if they didn’t know Jesus? What an opportunity to share the Gospel (bear fruit) and glorify God together. A Devine appointment orchestrated by God.
Fruit and Glory.
Consider Ananias of Damascus and Saul of Tarsus:
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.” Acts:1-2
Now the disciples in Damascus certainly must have heard that Saul was coming to the city to persecute them. And, Ananias must have been a very prayerful man. He would have prayed that the Lord deliver the Christians from the hands of Saul and save them. And his prayers were heard.
First, the Lord meets Saul on the way:
“And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Acts 9:5-6
So, Jesus could have sent him back to Jerusalem. He could have killed him there on the highway, or any number of other things, BUT, what an amazing and glorious series of events come forward from here!
The Lord blinds Saul and he’s led into Damascus. It doesn’t tell us about who Judas is at whose house he is led, but he is to wait there until he is told what to do.
Now, the Lord came to Ananias in a vision and sent him to the house of Judas in search of Saul of Tarsus. To which Ananias replies, “Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints in Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.” Acts 9:13-14
And, Jesus’ response is just not dismissive or angered, but demonstrates the depth of repentance and forgiveness, fruit and glory:
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: Acts 9:15
FRUIT AND GLORY! Thanks be to God!
What fruit would Paul have produced had Ananias not put his full trust in Jesus and doing what he was told? But, the fruit that Paul produced was counted to Ananias also. I bet that the two of them became lifelong friends after that. And we know what fruit the man now called Paul produced and the glory of the name of Jesus spread.
Fruit and Glory of God.
What happens when we disobey?
Consider Moses! The savior of Israel. The prophet of God to Israel and Egypt.
Through him, God parted seas, fed a nation from Heaven, and Moses even intervened and kept God from wiping out the entire nation; and yet for one act, one time that did not glorify God, he was kept from entering the Promised Land. There was a penalty for disobedience. Of all people, it was Moses that should have entered into the land.
Was there fruit? Yes. Was there glory? Overall a resounding yes and amen. But, what of Moses? There was a penalty.
Consider Zacharias. Father of John the Baptist.
While serving in the Temple, an angel of the Lord appears to him:
And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.
And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. Luke 1:12-16
From Zacharias and Elisabeth (in answer to prayer), would come one who would bear fruit and glorify God and usher in the Saviour. Talk about an answer to prayer!
And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well stricken in years.
And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
And behold, thou shall be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. Luke 1:18-20
Disbelief. What if Zacharias had decided not to accept the word of the angel as many Christians today do not accept the answer to their prayers? He was punished, albeit temporarily because the answer to his prayer was great and the fruit and glory brought forth by him would be amazing.
Was there fruit? Yes. Was there glory? Overall a resounding yes and amen. But, what of Zacharias? There was a penalty.
These are special days.
The Lord is answering prayers in amazing ways. But, Christians are not responding in ways that bear Fruit and Glorify God. Their disobedience will have penalties.
I have seen first-hand AMAZING things. Devine relationships meant for these times. Opportunities for healing, miracles, and more all missed for one reason or another. And the Holy Spirit grieved of it all. Don’t believe that God will let this go. I’ve seen Him, first hand, take His mighty hand off of lives who have grieved Him.
I personally know of two people who God had tried to bring together to produce fruit for His glory. Not just once, BUT TWICE- TWENTY YEARS APART! Through dreams and visions and prophetic words, God gave wonderful proofs and showed what Fruit and Glory they would bring. Both of them had been praying for the same thing and twice God brought them together. In fact, in the course of that time, God put them in the same place at the same time as a sign. So, at least three times they came together, twice in answer to prayer. But one of them hesitated and did not trust God. It was grievous to witness. The gift was laid down like fruit on a counter. God kept saying, “Take and eat.” to no avail. And what happens to fruit left out. Over the course of a year, Satan breathed on the gift in this relationship, evil spirits gathered like fruit flies and what was meant for greatness became spoiled. I had the chance to witness this twice with the same two people. And in the end, God had me deliver a difficult message to them. I was torn; it was the hardest thing I have ever done. It was not God’s desire; it was not mine. It was agonizing. I knew that delivering the message would mean that I might never hear from them again, but not delivering it would have meant I grieved God.
Was there to be fruit? Yes. Was there to be glory? Overall a resounding yes and amen. But, what of them? Unless there is repentance a penalty is waiting.
If all we are going to do is obey God when he gives us the beautiful cardigan we want and not when he gives us an ugly sweater, who are we to him? Jesus was obedient unto death. And that death bore the Fruit that saves us and Glorifies God.
I delivered the message and have not heard from them again. It truly grieves me harshly and I pray fervently for them all day, every day. I have seen the goodness of God in their lives and I pray that they might repent and be healed, and bear the Fruit and Glorify God as they were meant to.
The scriptures say:
Jesus said, “But whosoever shall deny me before men (do not those things that glorify God), him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 10:33
“Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.” (Matthew 7:19) EMPHASIS ON EVERY!
“Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if though continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” (Romans 11:22)
Mark Chapter 3 recounts the time that Jesus entered the synagogue and there was a man there with a withered hand. All the religious leaders, who should have known that God was working through Jesus were waiting to see what he would do. It says, “And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts…” (Mark 3:5a). Here he was, about to do a miracle (bear fruit) that should have caused them to glorify God and their hearts were hardened.
Read the parable regarding the servant who was given just two talents in Matthew 25. He was unprofitable (produced no fruit) which did not bring glory to the master and he was cast into outer darkness. (25:30)
Every time that you don’t do God’s will, you grieve His Holy Spirit. Some things are small; worth 2 talents. And some, like Ananias and Zacharias, are worth much more. Did you walk past that homeless person and not give them that $10 note you had. Even though the thought came to you? Repent the next time you see them and give them $20.
Again I say, these are special times. Know that God loves you and wants to bless you above what you ask for and His GIFTS to you ARE PERFECT. But you have to take what He gives you. Right away. You can’t say to yourself, “Well, I’ll put it over here and think and pray about it.” You’ve already done that and He’s given it to you. What happens to fruit that’s put on the counter? I like bananas. Put one on the counter and it turns brown. The meat inside bruises. Fruit flies gather around it and in time it spoils and is thrown away. Don’t think that if you put a true gift from God aside that Satan isn’t going to spoil it.
Read the Gospels again. Look at the acts of Jesus. What does it say? People marveled at the fruit (healings and miracles and words) and glorified God. It says that Jesus fame went all around the area. Read what Jesus said to God. He had come to glorify Him. When we accept God’s goodness in our lives, it gives us cause to tell every one of His loving kindness. To glorify HIM. And that is what he wants and demands of us. God is looking for us to accept all that He gives us. The gifts, the work, the fruit, and the glory.
Should you fear God?
You should fear God knowing that your immobility grieves him and pray that it causes you to leap into action.
I say to you; if you have done wrong and grieved the Holy Spirit. REPENT. If you were meant to give your coat, go give your coat and your scarf also. If you were to walk one mile, go two. If you were to give $100, give $200. If you were to accept love, ask for forgiveness, accept it and give love back overflowing.
Then God will say unto you, “Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10