Monday, July 4, 2017
My youngest sister I were being disciplined by our father. I was 7 and she was almost 5. Our bedrooms were upstairs and to the right was a small door leading to a storage room. The light switch to that room was on the bedroom side. Dad put both of us in there, closed the door, and turned out the light. Immediately my sister began crying. I told her there was nothing to fear. My assurance wasn’t accepted. She continued. The total darkness and her wailing turned my assurance into doubt and I joined her. Dad finally turned on the light and opened the door. The punishment was over. The crying stopped. I remember the punishment, not the crime!
Fear is a necessary friend under certain conditions. It is good to be afraid to enter a fenced-in yard with a snarling dog mimicking a crazed, mad one. Fear of being burned keeps our hand out of the flames. Fear of heights keeps us sane so we don’t strap on a parachute and purposely step out the door at 3,000 feet! Fear keeps us from doing things that may put us in harm’s way.
The expression “fear not” or “not fear” is found seventeen times in the New Testament. Six of those are from Jesus. In one, he told his disciples, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” (Matthew 10:28). Despite those seventeen admonitions, we end up surrendering to doubt and allowing fear to own us.
Chris Tomlin sings, “Whom Shall I Fear?” Some of the words are,
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I fear?
I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side.
When Jesus said, “Fear not,” he wasn’t giving a guarantee that if we are conquerors, we will have smooth sailing. The same one who said, “Fear not,” also warned, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” (Matthew 5:11). He also stated, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” (Matthew 24:9).
What he was saying is that we can put our trust in him and he will make us victorious. Don’t be afraid. If you are “in” Jesus, you are safe. You are saved. You are the beneficiary of “all spiritual blessings” (Ephesians 1:3). Paul asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35). So rejoice. Fear not!
“When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun! . . . For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s goodness into us!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21).
“And so, dear brothers, now we may walk right into the very Holy of Holies, where God is, because of the blood of Jesus. This is the fresh, new, life-giving way that Christ has opened up for us by tearing the curtain—his human body—to let us into the holy presence of God. And since this great High Priest of ours rules over God’s household, let us go right in to God himself, with true hearts fully trusting him to receive us because we have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean and because our bodies have been washed with pure water. Now we can look forward to the salvation God has promised us. There is no longer any room for doubt, and we can tell others that salvation is ours, for there is no question that he will do what he says.” (Hebrews 10:19-23).
For the saint, there is no future punishment. There will be no darkness. There is life now and in eternity (John 10:10)! Fear not!