What are we afraid of?
That’s the question ringing in my head today.
Right now, in this season of your life, what is it you fear?
I could rattle off several pervading fears threatening my peace and joy and very Life right now. And I imagine you could do the same.
Fear is paralyzingly, no? Debilitating, no? It shuts us down, slows us down, messes with our minds, hinders our forward progress, steals our potential, peace, and perhaps, even our very destiny from us. It steals, kills, and destroys God’s truth within us.
Fear is an ugly evil, common to mankind. To all people of all places of all periods of time.
But really, what are we afraid of?
In fact, let me throw this thought out there: there is no place for fear in the life of a Christian.
Let’s talk about this idea for a minute.
WHO ARE YOU?
“Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:3-4NASB
These verses from Romans 6 are essential identity truths every believer needs to know and understand about what has happened to her or him in Christ at the cross.
The truth is, if you’ve come to believe that Jesus’ death on the cross has rescued you from being counted not-a-people, nobodies, hated, conspired against, and marked out for destruction by our unseen enemy, then Jesus has sent His Holy Spirit to mark (seal) you as God’s own people/nation/kingdom, to fill you full of the glory of God, and to supersede and take victory over our enemy in the flesh. The “baptism” mentioned in Romans 6 above is speaking of the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5) all believers receive the moment of faith in Jesus. That is, when the Holy Spirit comes to live inside a believer in Jesus. And this baptism results in all the things (and more) just mentioned.
Paul says “do you not know…” You and I must know that, because of the Spirit in us, the death of Jesus’ body works to affect the death of our own bodies–that is, the death of the enemy who is lord over them. Therefore, when you walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, the enemy in your flesh bows to the Spirit of God in you. If Christ’s flesh died, then, through the Spirit in us, ours did too! And a dead enemy means freedom from his enslaving, annihilating power.
If we’ve died with Christ to our enemy, then the curse on Adam doesn’t have to affect us, and we can live from the glory and freedom and Life of God Himself.
Friends, this is WHO we are now. We are no longer connected to Adam and his slavery and death sentence, but connected to Jesus and His freedom and Life. We no longer need live from our flesh, that is our own efforts and strength inherently subject to the devil. We can live from the Spirit of God who gives us Jesus’ own strength and power which are free and victorious in God.
WHO OUR ENEMY IS AND ISN’T
You and I need to know that our enemy is the devil (not God), and the devil works in our lives from our flesh–our physical human body. This means that our flesh is our enemy, and our flesh is God’s enemy.
Why do I make the distinction that God is not our enemy? While many may agree with this, many of us have been taught a contradictory idea that the cross was about God’s anger toward us and our punishment, and that essentially Jesus was God’s whipping boy to take his anger out on instead of on us. This view holds that because God punished (took all His anger out on) Jesus, His anger toward us is “satisfied”. This view, then, makes us and God enemies.
Now listen, we ARE enemies of God by default (Rom. 5:9-10)… but we must understand the real, un-twisted, meaning of this!!
As mentioned, our enemy is the devil, and the devil is slave-master over our flesh. Therefore, our flesh is our own enemy. And in this, we come to understand the true meaning of being God’s enemy. It is our flesh–the bodies we live in–that God is against, and not our inner man. God is FOR our inner man (who we really are), and came for the very purpose of setting us free from the captivity of the flesh. Thus, in short, God is opposed to our enemy, our flesh, and not opposed to the essence of who we are in spirit and soul.
This is the reason Romans 8 reads:
“for if [you] live according to flesh, [you] are about to die; but if, by the Spirit, [you] put to death the deeds of the body, [you] shall live… for the [creation] has been made subject to vanity… in hope that the [creation] itself also shall be set free from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God… And not only that, but even we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, we also ourselves groan in ourselves, awaiting adoption, that is the redemption of our body.” Romans 8:13-14, 20-21, 23 DARBY
It’s like a gemstone hidden in a rock. The gemstone is both imprisoned and enslaved to the rock. Can the gemstone sparkle for the eye to see? No. Can it be used for all a gemstone’s normal varying uses? No. However, if the gemstone is set free, or released from the rock (via all kinds of tools/instruments), it is able to function in all its glory. But until it’s set free, the rock is the enemy of the gemstone, acting to keep the gemstone hidden and inoperable. Your flesh and mine is like the rock covering the gem. The enemy at work in our flesh acts to keep our inward, connected-to-God person hidden and inoperable.
God is opposed to our “old man”, our flesh. And in this way, before we believe God’s work in Jesus—receiving our justification which makes us His people/race/nation/kingdom—we who walk in the flesh as soldiers under the command of the devil, are God’s enemies.
But that’s not who we are. Our flesh needed to be destroyed, not because we needed punishment for being bad, but so we could be set free from that which holds us captive. God’s wrath is toward His enemy, the devil, not toward us, His beloved children (Acts 17:28-29).
If a precious citizen of our country (whichever country you, Reader, may live in) is held by an opposing country as a P.O.W. in enemy territory, our nation, our commander-in-chief, will fight against the enemy, on behalf of the prisoner of war, to release her or him and bring him or her to safely and freedom and life. Likewise, God is opposed to, and has wrath toward not humanity, but that which holds humanity captive and enslaves and tortures her: the devil and the flesh, which is the enemy territory we live in!
HOW DOES ALL THIS RELATE TO FEAR?
All this said, the Scriptures tell us God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)!
As we already examined, the Christian has the Spirit of God, which places us IN the resurrected, glorified, free, living Christ (as His descendent, His race). Because of who we now are in Chris via God’s own Spirit in us, we’re no longer P.O.W.’s! We must understand this, or we’ll keep living like one!! We’ll keep living terrified of what the enemy will do to us, and in this way, we’ll keep bending to his rule.
Friends, this is
No. Way. To. Live.
In fact, this is not even life. It is death. It’s living dead.
“Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10 NKJV
You guys, if we knew what in the world we had by way of God’s eternal LIFE in us–the height and depth and breadth and length of its power, love, and wisdom–we would never stop shy in our search for it! We’d seek and pray and seek and pray until we understood and personally, intimately drank from and survived solely on the vast well of it! Which provides for every need, defeats every enemy, overcomes every weakness, calms every fear.
THIS is what the Holy Spirit places in us at the moment of faith in Jesus (Rom. 6:23). This is the glorious Spirit we’ve been given.
And God’s Spirit is FOR us, not against us.
He’s on our side in this long battle over planet earth!
For this reason, God’s Spirit does not fear.
Because God has no fear.
Because He is good only.
And His good always wins.
His good always overcomes evil.
His good HAS ALREADY defeated the one who conspired against us.
And His good LIFE takes victory over every lasting minion who hasn’t gotten that memo yet.
OUR POWER, LOVE, AND SOUND MIND
And this eternal LIFE in us (via the Spirit in us) is the reason we need fear absolutely
What did you identify as your fear(s), earlier in this post?
Christian, do you have God’s Spirit in you? Your answer is an emphatic YES. Then whatever you face today–WHATEVER you face today–you have everything you need (Jesus) and you are not alone.
Hear Paul’s testimony to this very truth:
“Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?… a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” II Corinthians 11:23-29, 12:7-10 NKJV
LEARNING HOW TO LIVE
Your and my most basic responsibility as believers in Jesus is to learn HOW to live from the eternal Life of the resurrected Christ Himself.
We have no need to live like an imprisoned gemstone or a prisoner of war in enemy territory! In Christ, the rocky shell of our flesh, covering our new-creation inner-selves, can come to function as a window and not a prison cell. When we abide in Christ, the bodies we live in come under the authority of Christ’s Spirit in us. They do as He commands. His commands are only love. And as these bodies begin to function under the loving power of God’s Life within, they become expressions to the imprisoned world of who God is and how Jesus can free them too. They become transparent windows to God.
Now this is Life! This is how I long to live! I want to live fearless, dauntless, worry-less, courageous, powerful, love-infused in all things, in every day, come what may. How about you?
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:35-37 NKJV
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” II Timothy 1:7 NKJV