How does the Bible address fear?

There are at least two kinds of fear mentioned in the Bible. The first kind of fear is the fear of the Lord, which is healthy and to be encouraged. The second kind of fear the Bible talks about is a "spirit of fear" (see 2 Timothy 1:7), which is a hindrance to our life and walk with God.

What does it mean to fear the Lord? Proverbs 8:13 says, "The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate." In other words, fearing God does not mean being afraid of something, but being for what God is for and against what He is against. It is having an attitude of respect and awe for all God is, which includes His unfailing love, mercy, power, and glory, and also characteristics like His righteous anger and wrath. Fear of the Lord contains many blessings and benefits. It leads to wisdom and understanding (Psalm 111:10). Also, with the fear of the Lord is life and true rest (Proverbs 14:27; 19:23).

While fear of the Lord is a gift from God that greatly benefits us in life, the other kind of fear mentioned in the Bible is of no benefit at all. Second Timothy 1:7 tells us, "for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." Fear then, is not from God, and also is not something we have to simply "put up with." In reality, fear is a tool that our enemy the devil uses to hinder us in any way he can from all that God has for us.

Everyone has or will experience fear in their lives. Sometimes it's subtle and we don't realize that's what it is. We make other excuses for why we're not moving forward in areas of our life when the root is really fear. This is not what God wants for us. Overcoming fear is rooted in trusting God and receiving His love. First John 4:18 tells us, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." Satan will do all he can to get us to doubt the love of God, often by using fear. Fear of the future, what people think of us, failure, you name it—when we believe lies of fear, it gets in the way of experiencing and living out of the freedom of God's perfect love.

The good news is, when we experience fear, we don't have to stay there. "I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears" (Psalm 34:4). We must take our fears to God. This verse reminds us that He hears us and He is the one who delivers us from fear; we can't do it by ourselves. Confessing our fears to God takes the power out of its control over us and allows God to cleanse us from it (see 1 John 1:9). This is simply an active way we can trust God completely. The more we learn to trust Him and His love for us, the more we experience His peace (Philippians 4:7), and the less fear has any place in our lives.

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