Anxiety is born of fear. We are subject to three kinds of fear.
1. Fear of God
2. Fear of Man
3. Fear of the Unknown
1. Fear of God
The fear of God which the Bible speaks of is not just with respect to incurring his anger if we disobey him but a reverence of God for the life he has given us and the eternal life he offers us through his attributes of love and mercy. It is his capacity for mercy on the disobedient which makes the fear of him beneficial.
Psalms 130:4 But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.
The knowledge that when we have sinned, we can repent and be forgiven and make a fresh start makes the fear of him worthwhile.
Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.
Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
We all sin in the sight of God and are sentenced to die because of it. We cannot help ourselves. God provided his son who gave his life for us to take away our sin.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
To avail ourselves of forgiveness of sin and eternal life in the kingdom of God, God requires us to believe the gospel, be baptised and live our lives by his commandments.
Mark 16:15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved;
Those who believe and are baptised become children of God.
John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
As children and heirs of the kingdom of God we have three assurances.
(1) Angels are assigned to minister to us.
Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
(2) Everything that happens to us in this life whether good or bad will work for our eternal benefit.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
(3) Nothing that happens to us can separate us from the love of God.
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In Christ we have a special relationship with God and Paul encourages us to perfect our holiness in his fear.
2 Corinthians 6:16... For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." 17 Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." 18 "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty."
2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
2. Fear of Man
If we have a right relationship with God, fear of man can be viewed in its proper perspective. We are to love our fellow
man - even our enemies.
Matthew 5:44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
And treat them as we would like to be treated.
Matthew 7:12 "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
We should obey Government and the law where it does not conflict with God’s law and pay our debts promptly.
Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. 8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
We should avoid retaliation.
Matthew 5:39 "But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 "If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 "And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 "Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
Vengeance belongs to God.
Romans 12:19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
This Godly approach to our fellow man should remove most of the fear. The fear that remains should be put into the hands of God.
Psalms 56:11 In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
Psalms 118:6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
Hebrews 13:6 So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
3. Fear of the Unknown
In this I include the fears of tomorrow – food, clothing, housing, employment, illness, what will happen to the world and death. All the things over which we often have little or no control. If we have obeyed the gospel and becomes children of God we have the assurance that God will ensure that we have the basic necessities of life.
Matthew 6:25 "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? 26 "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 "and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
We will encounter problems in life which are trials to test our faith. Patient endurance in illness and adversity is what God requires of us. We are to remember that Jesus endured the cross and take him as our example.
Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives." 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.
The evils in the life of Job are recorded so that we might take heart both in family tragedy and painful personal illness.
James 5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
We need not fear what will happen to this world. God is in control and will not allow man to destroy it. Paul explains what will happen in the future.
1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
This will be the fulfilment of God’s purpose.
Numbers 14:21 "but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD—
Death is a fear we must all face. For those who are in Christ death is but a sleep until Christ returns to restore us to life. God has designed us to sleep each night so that we might experience the reality of death and resurrection on a daily basis. When we fall asleep we lie unconscious as the hours pass until we awaken again to life and consciousness. This is how death will be. If we recognise death as a temporary sleep the fear recedes.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
We will all die if Christ delays his return and we should take Job’s words to heart.
Job 13:15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
There is one other fear which I have not listed. This is the irrational fear which has its roots in anxiety and depression. My own personal experience and advice is that this is an illness as real as any other and can be treated medically with varying degrees of success. It should be seen as an illness rather than a lack of faith and treatment sought accordingly.
There is one other thing that I should mention. Christian Churches are astray from the Bible and teach for doctrines many things that are not true. One of the most pernicious is the idea that when we die a conscious part of us lives on and goes either to heaven and eternal bliss or to hell and eternal fiery torment. The fear of the latter plays a large part in the lives of some. Hell in the Bible is simply the grave and at death we cease to exist because we are mortal. Immortality is something we are promised not something we already possess. It logically follows that if we are not immortal we cannot be eternally tormented and such a fear is without foundation.
It is not an accident that the words ‘fear not’ recur throughout scripture when God, his angels and Christ speak to men.
I hope you have found this helpful.