Summary: Fear has a paralyzing effect on churches and individual Christians. God wants us to move from fear to faith.
THE EFFECTS OF FEAR
A. What are you AFRAID of?
1. If you have ever taken a Psychology course in high school or college, you studied a section on PHOBIAS.
a. There are all kinds. Some we’re very familiar with:
-CLAUSTROPHOBIA- “fear of enclosed places”
-ARACHNOPHOBIA- “fear of spiders”
-ECCLESIOPHOBIA- “fear of church”
b. We can’t even begin to LIST the thousands of PHOBIAS.
2. Some FEARS are important, and they serve useful FUNCTIONS in our lives.
a. Having a healthy FEAR of FIRE will deter one from playing with MATCHES.
b. Being AFRAID of POISON may keep a child from DRINKING it.
So certain kinds of FEARS are ESSENTIAL, even if they don’t always come to FRUITION. A function of FEAR is to lead us away from possible HARM.
3. A HEALTHY FEAR of God serves to lead us away from EVIL and ultimately spiritual death.
a. Proverbs 14:26-27- “He who FEARS (reveres) the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.”
b. I Timothy 5:20- “Those who sin (referring to elders) are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.” (To be fearful of sinning.)
4. The Bible also teaches us not to FEAR.
a. II Timothy 1:7- “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (fearfulness), but a spirit of power,
of love, and of self-discipline.”
b. Revelation 21:8- The “FEARFUL” along with others, “will have their part in the fiery lake of
burning sulfur; that is the second death.”
B. It’s this FEAR that I want to FOCUS on this morning.
1. FEAR instead of COURAGE . . .FEAR that WEAKENS our FAITH . . .FEAR that makes us INEFFECTIVE and UNPRODUCTIVE in the Kingdom of God is the FEAR that God CONDEMNS.
2. Paul told Timothy, “God does not give us FEAR, because FEAR makes us INEFFECTIVE.”
FEAR is a tool of the DEVIL. If Satan can cause CHRISTIANS and CHURCHES to be FEARFUL, then he knows they will accomplish very little for God. Satan wants more than anything to PARALYZE churches with FEAR. Let’s take a look at the EFFECTS that FEAR has on Christians and the CHURCH.
I. FEAR PREVENTS A PERFECTED LOVE FOR GOD- I John 4:16-19 (READ)
A. Herein lies the difficulty many have in trying to reconcile both LOVE and FEAR for God.
1. We read passages that tell us to “FEAR God,” and here John makes it clear that FEAR inhibits a
“perfected love for God.”
a. Which is it? Are to FEAR God or LOVE God?
The answer is both. However, a child of God should not have a CRINGING, TERRIFYING FEAR of God. LOVE leads to a HEALTHY REVERENCE for God, not a CRINGING FEAR. Our heavenly Father wants our REVERENCE, our RESPECT that prompts our OBEDIENCE.
But He doesn’t want us to be FRIGHTENED of Him.
Some years ago a nine-year-old boy from a small town in South Oklahoma called the police and told them that he had shot and killed his father. When the police arrived they found the man’s body in a tool shed still holding an ax handle that he used to BEAT the boy and his six-year-old sister. When questioned why he killed his father the boy cried, “I was TIRED of being AFRAID!”
b. Undoubtedly there are many fathers who even their own children have difficulty LOVING.
Fathers who are ABUSIVE, UNCARING, UNLOVING. Fathers who demand RESPECT and OBEDIENCE from their children by using SCARE TACTICS instead of showing LOVE.
2. The sad thing is, there are those who have difficulty LOVING God because they VIEW Him the same way.
a. To many, including Christians, God is nothing more than JUDGE, JURY, and EXECUTIONER. They think He delights in PUNISHING people.
b. I would have difficulty LOVING a God like that too.
B. God’s LOVE for us is not contingent upon our LOVING Him.
1. I John 4:10 (READ and COMMENT)
In other words, God did not send Jesus to the CROSS because we LOVED Him, but because He LOVED us! Our GOODNESS had nothing to with it. It was God’s GOODNESS, His COMPASSION, His LOVE for people hopelessly lost in sin that prompted Him to send Jesus.
2. I John 4:19- “We love (God) because He first loved us.” It’s not the other way around!
a. Those who SERVE and OBEY God strictly out of a CRINGING FEAR of Him will never experience true JOY and PEACE that God so desperately wants us to have through His Son.
b. LOVE, not FEAR, is the greatest MOTIVATION that one can have.
Why do we LOVE God? Because He first LOVED us. Why do we REPENT of our SINS? Because He first LOVED us. Why do we endeavor to SERVE God and OBEY Him? Because