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On "Fear"

I’ve heard many Christians talk about fear during this pandemic. They say, “We cannot live in fear.” They are right. There is much biblical support for this idea. Jesus says in Mark 5:36, “Do not fear.” 1 John 4:18 reads, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” And 2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear.” As these and other passages demonstrate, this type of fear should have no place in our lives.

In other passages of Scripture, however, we are instructed to fear. The Proverbs say that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning knowledge” (Prov 1:7) and the “fear of the Lord is a fountain of life” (Prov 14:27). Ecclesiastes 12:13 reads, “Fear God and keep his commandments.” Paul says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). As these and other passages maintain, there is a type of fear that we should have.

Some passages teach us to not fear; others teach us to fear. One passage specifically, Exodus 20:20, highlights these two realities. Moses says this to Israel: “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” In the same passage Moses tells the Israelites to not fear (“Do not fear”) and to fear (“that the fear of him may be before you”).

How does all this fit together? The Bible teaches a balanced approach to fear. We are supposed to not fear some things and to fear other things. Specifically, we should not fear our circumstances—COVID-19, death, financial distress, suffering, loneliness, despair. If we are secure in Christ, none of these difficulties can truly harm us. They will soon pass. God remains the constant. Therefore, we should fear—revere, admire, obey—Him above all else. He is the matchless ruler of the universe.

Our response to this biblical teaching is very simple—live fearlessly by fearing God chiefly.

Chance Sumner

Senior Pastor

Community Bible Church

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