The Origin Of Fear
Do you know the origin of fear? Are you afraid of death? Have you become a victim of your negative past experiences?
Let's explore this topic together in today's devotional:
"So he said, 'I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself."
Imagine a world without fear. Wouldn’t it be awesome! There would be no cowards, no timidity, no running away from difficult situations, and no overlooking opportunities. At first, it seems ideal. But in such a world, we’d also soon discover the downsides: there would be no wisdom, no staying away from things we can not handle, and no guardrail to keep us safe from life’s many storms. In reality, a world without fear would actually be a dangerous and chaotic world…unless, of course, there was no sin. Life without fear would only work if we were all perfect, which of course is impossible on this side of glory.
Fear is a direct consequence of sin. Its origin is found at the very conception of sin. Without sin, there is no fear. As we all know, God created man in His image and likeness: sinless and fearless. But after man sinned, God had to introduce a signal that would warn man when he is about to do something dangerous or harmful to himself. Fear came into human existing as a tool to protect rather than prevent. That means that true “Godly Fear” is a powerful signal to seek wisdom in the face of danger.
“Fear is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” - Proverbs 9:10 (NLV)
Unfortunately, like most things, we have allowed fear to be used in a negative way, to keep us from realizing our fullest potential. The devil has perfected it and given it spiritual powers. Godly fear was never designed to keep us timid or anxious, rather, to make us bold and wise in all that we do.
According to the groundbreaking study from Rutgers University, scientists have found a new clue about the roots of fear. They determined that mice with a gene called “stathmin” exhibited the symptoms of fear, while those without this gene did not. Though they have not tested humans, the scientists are hypothesizing that fear is, in fact, genetic. Of course, we Christians are not surprised by this discovery, as it appears to reinforce the fact that fear is rooted in our very DNA due to the original sin of our ancestors all the way back to Adam and Eve.
So does this mean that we are all helpless to succumb to the fears of our forefathers? Not necessarily. Other studies have demonstrated that although there is a genetic nature of fear (such as the fear of predators, which tends to be innate), knowledge and training can (and does), influence how we handle our fears. This is good news! This means that despite our genetic predisposition, fear can be removed, or at least reduced, through wise knowledge and training. With this insight, we can also conclude that even the lack of knowledge itself can make us fearful.
There is however one type of fear we must address that is trickier to overcome than all others. Yes, I’m referring of course to the “fear of death.” Many people struggle with this genuine fear. It may take root from past experiences, grief or even a near-death experience, and it is powered by the loss of control. Simply put, we do not want to die! With this fear, we may project an image of negative past experiences into the future, which causes us to be afraid of something that is not real! Our brain concludes that just because it happened before, it will happen again. What a lie!
Remember what God told Adam would happen if He sinned?
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” - Genesis 2:17 (ESV)
But we forget that God has also defeated death in His Son Jesus Christ.
“‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” - 1 Corinthians 15:55 -57 (ESV)
The concept of remembering past experiences can actually be very helpful when put in the right context. It can either prevent us from harm or make us prisoners of the past. Thankfully, unlike animals who are completely at the mercy of their instincts, God has created us with the ability to be led by His Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables us to have a divine revelation and equips us with the wisdom to discern real from perceived dangers. We are also empowered with the gift of free will, which helps us to break away from pre-programmed instinctive behaviors. But it is this same free will, of course, that gives us the ability to sin.
Ultimately, this means that we have a choice in what we do with our fears. God has granted us the choice to live with worldly fears, timidity, and suffering, or to embrace a Godly Fear which leads to courage, wisdom, and joy everlasting.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” - 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)
So yes, God has not given us the “spirit of fear” in the worldly sense, but He has put the emotion of fear in our DNA as a consequence of sin for our benefit. And, like all emotions such as love, anger, jealousy,, and so many others, fear is our subject--not the other way around. We are not subject to it–nor are we at its mercy.
C.S. Lewis captures the heart of “Godly Fear” in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” when a child asks (about the “King”) “Is he safe?” To which one replies: “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
May you walk in boldness and wisdom as Godly Fear guides you to discern real danger from the lies of the enemy.
My prayer for you today is that God will grant you the grace to remember that He has defeated death once and for all; there is nothing to fear!
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