"FAITH IS THE VICTORY!" In Overcoming Fear INTRODUCTION 1. In preparing His disciples for His imminent arrest, trial, and crucifixion, Jesus sought to reassure them by expressing His own confidence: "Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. (Jn 16:32 ) 2. Though troubling days were ahead, Jesus offered them hope that in Him they too could have peace, for He had overcome the world: "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (Jn 16:33 ) 3. Jesus demonstrated through His death and resurrection that He had indeed overcome the world, and now such victory is offered to His disciples... a. To those who believe, their faith can be the victory to overcome the world! - 1 Jn 5:4-5 b. As we have already seen, faith in Jesus helps us in overcoming sin, anxiety, boredom, depression, despair and discontent -- Through His actions, past and present, and through His teachings, Jesus helps those who believe in Him to overcome the world! 4. Such victory also includes overcoming "fear"... a. Whether real or imagined b. Which like some forms of anxiety (e.g., panic disorders), can have a debilitating effect on peoples' lives 5. Not all fear is harmful, however; there is to be a place in the heart of the Christian for the right kind of fear... a. Jesus taught us whom to fear - Mt 10:28 b. Paul wrote of the need for a "fear and trembling" - Ph 2:12 ; cf. 2 Co 7:1 [When we properly understand Whom to fear, and how faith in Jesus dispels the wrong kind of fear, then we can overcome any fear or phobia that would rob us of the peace Jesus offers. With that in mind, let's examine the subject of fear...] I. UNDERSTANDING FEAR A. FEAR DEFINED... 1. According to the American Heritage dictionary: a. A feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger b. Extreme reverence or awe, as toward a supreme power 2. As the above definition suggests, there are two different kinds of fear... a. One is wrong, which we are addressing in this lesson b. The other is necessary, as stressed in the Book of Proverbs 1) The "fear of the Lord" is the beginning of knowledge - Pr 1:7 2) The "fear of the Lord" will cause one to hate evil - Pr 8:13 3) The "fear of the Lord" will prolong life - Pr 10:27 4) The "fear of the Lord" provides strong confidence and is a fountain of life - Pr 14:26-27 5) The "fear of the Lord" prompts one to depart from evil - Pr 16:6 6) The "fear of the Lord" leads to a satisfying life, and spares one from much evil - Pr 19:23 7) The "fear of the Lord" is the way to riches, honor, and life! - Pr 22:4 c. The value of fearing God, as expressed by others: 1) "The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else." (Oswald Chambers) 2) "The right fear is the fear of losing God." (Meister Eckhart) B. THE WRONG KIND OF FEAR... 1. Fear which is groundless a. Many social and specific phobias fall into this category b. Here is a list of the most common fears, and the percentage of people which fear them... Top 12 Fears Scientific Name 1) Speaking before a group (40%) Topophobia 2) Heights (30%) Acrophobia 3) Insects and bugs (20%) Entomophobia 4) Financial problems (20%) Atephobia 5) Deep Water (20%) Bathophobia 6) Disease (20%) Phathophobia 7) Death (20%) Thanatophobia 8) Flying (20%) Aerophobia 9) Loneliness (15%) Monophobia 10) Dogs (10%) Cynophobia 11) Driving/riding in a car (10%) Ochophobia 12) Dark (10%) Nyctophobia -- Charles J. Givens, Super-Self (Simon & Schuster, 1993), p. 288. c. Such fears are often the result of misinformation d. "FEAR is False Education Appearing Real" (Denis Waitley) 2. Fear that makes problems seem greater than they really are a. "Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is." (German proverb) b. "Fear makes man believe the worst" (unknown) c. With exaggerated fears of the problems we face, we think them overwhelming 3. Fear that prevents us from enjoying the blessings we have a. "He who fears death cannot enjoy life." (Spanish proverb) b. "Who lives in fear will never be a free man." (Horace, 65-8 B.C.) c. Certainly one who fears cannot be at peace and know true joy 4. Fear that hinders our ability to be of service to God a. "Fear is the sand in the machinery of life." (E. Stanley Jones) b. Fear of people, fear of failure, often hinder Christians in their service; e.g., personal evangelism 5. Fear that motivates us to disobey God a. Certain fears often prompt us to do things which are displeasing to God b. For example, in a poll of teenagers, among other things they feared: 1) Failing in School - 44% 2) Loneliness - 33% 3) Not Having a Boyfriend/Girlfriend - 30% 4) Rejection - 28% c. Such fears have often led young people to cheat, get in with the wrong crowd, give in to improper sexual advances d. Similar fears have prompted many adults to lie, cheat on the job, commit adultery, enter unscriptural marriages, etc. e. Fear of rejection, fear of persecution, etc., has led some Christians to denounce their faith in God [Unless we can overcome the wrong kind of fear, the devil will have many weapons in his arsenal to use against us. If we are going to be victorious over him and also overcome the world, then we will have to understand how...] II. FAITH IN JESUS HELPS US TO OVERCOME FEAR A. JESUS TAUGHT THAT FEAR IS INDICATIVE OF LITTLE FAITH... 1. When His disciples were fearful of the storm at sea - Mt 8: 23-27 2. When Peter faltered as he went to Jesus walking on the water - Mt 14:25-33 3. As Jesus taught them not to have fearful anxiety concerning the necessities of life - Lk 12:27-32 -- As someone put it: "Fear is simply unbelief parading in disguise." B. JESUS ADDRESSED OUR WORST FEARS... 1. The fear of what we might face in this life a. Jesus promised, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." - Mt 28:20 b. With such a promise, we can take courage, as Joshua was encouraged to do - cf. Josh 1:9 c. With the Lord at our side, what can man do? - cf. He 13:5-6 d. The worst that can happen is death, and Jesus addressed that... 2. The fear of death a. His own victory over death frees us from the fear of death - cf. He 2:14-15 b. Thus Paul could face death with great confidence, even anticipation - Ph 1:21-23 3. The fear of what comes after death a. Jesus comforted His disciples with the promise of lies ahead - cf. Jn 14:1-3 b. Thus Paul could look forward to what he would receive - 2 Ti 4:6-8 (note that it was because he had "kept the faith"!) -- When we've overcome these fears through faith in Jesus, other fears will seem petty! CONCLUSION 1. Where there is faith, fear cannot abide... a. "Feed your faith, and your fears will starve to death." b. "Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there." c. "Fear and faith cannot keep house together; when one enters, the other departs." -- Vern McLellan, The Complete Book of Practical Proverbs and Wacky Wit (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1996) 2. Here is how Harry Emerson Fosdick contrasted fear and faith: "Fear imprisons, faith liberates; fear paralyzes, faith empowers; fear disheartens, faith encourages; fear sickens, faith heals; fear makes useless, faith makes serviceable_and, most of all, fear puts hopelessness at the heart of life, while faith rejoices in its God." 3. If anyone gives us reason to have faith in God, it is Jesus... a. Through His signs and wonders, which God worked in Him b. Through His own resurrection from the dead, proclaiming Him to be the Son of God c. Through the words of His inspired apostles, whose overwhelming testimony gives us reasons to believe in who Jesus was and what Jesus taught So if we wish to overcome fear, faith in Jesus Christ is the victory!