“I’m afraid I have bad news….” It was my mom calling. My initial response was to tell her I didn’t want to hear it. A deep fear of what she was about to say sent me straight into denial, which is an unhealthy coping mechanism. Overcoming a spirit of fear in our lives is possible when we understand its causes, recognize its presence, and learn positive ways to overcome fear as a Christian.
Spiritual Stronghold of Fear
Everyone has concerns. They are things that matter to us personally or affect our well-being. A step further from concern is worry. This happens when we allow our mind to dwell on our concern. Sometimes worries turn into a spirit of fear, which can interfere with living the life God planned for you.
We can’t escape fear- we all experience it. It is a common and natural emotion.
Fear can be a good thing- it helps keep us safe when we are in genuine danger. Our bodies respond to fear by releasing hormones that increase our blood pressure and heart rate. Blood flow to our arms and legs increases to help us run away or fight off danger.
All this works out in our favor if our house is on fire, or if a dangerous person/animal comes across our path. But when we let fear be the background of our lives, those same hormones and body changes can wreak havoc on our bodies and mental wellbeing.
Our immune and digestive systems can weaken. Parts of our brain shut down and make it difficult to reason and think clearly. The ability to regulate our emotions and make decisions is affected.₁
Remember my unhealthy denial in dealing with fear? Fear can also lead us to use unhealthy coping mechanisms such as thinking of worse case scenarios, or take up unhealthy behaviors (isolation, procrastination, excessive focus on our problem, shutting down, etc.)
No one wants the spirit of fear taking control and impacting our mental and physical health in these negative ways. But even though this is a powerful emotion, we can keep fear in check for the times we really need it.
What is Fear in the Bible?
The meaning of fear in the Bible is two fold. Exodus 20:20 is a wonderful example of the different meanings. Moses had just come from meeting with God on the mountain and had read the 10 commandments to the Israelites. God’s presence filled the mountain as visible smoke, lightning, and the sound of thunder. The people were trembling in fear.
“Speak to us yourself and we will listen,” they said to Moses. “But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” V19.
They wanted Moses to be their “go-between.” The voice and presence of God brought fear into their hearts. They were well aware they had fallen short and feared His reaction.
“Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’” V20.
“Afraid” used here meant fearful, dreadful, a terrible thing or act. It’s the fear we feel when in danger or when we perceive a threat. Apparently, the Israelites didn’t have the best coping mechanisms either- they shrunk away from God; not wanting to even hear His voice.
The “fear of God” in the latter part of the verse, however, was a completely different meaning. It meant reverence and honor, which Moses hoped would lead the Israelites to respect and obey God.
Spirit of Fear in the Bible
The phrase “spirit of fear” comes from 2 Timothy 1:7. Paul is encouraging Timothy to be bold and strong in his ministry. Timothy had come up against substantial opposition to his message and himself. Many were trying to intimidate him, which made him fearful of what he said and did.
God had given Timothy wonderful gifts, but Paul saw Timothy’s timidity and fear to use them. Even though this verse was for Timothy, we can apply it to our lives as well.
God wants us to be bold and courageous, not fearful. We, like Timothy, can learn to move past our fear and be bold and courageous because:
“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV.
What Causes the Spirit of Fear?
We have the Holy Spirit alive inside us and He is never fearful! But just like Timothy, we can be strong believers and still fight this internal struggle of fear.
The causes of fear for us are many- loss, suffering, abuse, relationship or financial issues, illness, loneliness, the state of our world… the list is endless.
Many times, our fears are even based on the unknown, or assumptions of what may happen.
There is an acronym for this kind of fear: False Evidence Appearing Real.
Fear can also sneak in when a) Situations arise that we’ve never dealt with before, b) We’re unsure of outcomes or which road to take, or c) You’re dealing with a chronic problem and can’t feel His presence or guidance or find the answers you seek.
Fear is Not of God
God doesn’t want us living with fear as a constant companion. He envisions a life for us that enjoys the security of His love and protection. No wonder God instructs us to “Fear not” so many times in the Bible! (Some estimate that phrase is found hundreds of times.)
He wants us to know that no situation is too hard for Him. Whatever we fear is already in His capable and trustworthy hands.
The enemy, however, is doing all he can to make sure we stay fearful. Satan uses fear to weaken our faith. He wants us to question and doubt what we know about God and the truths about His character to keep us in a state of fear.
Overcoming the Spirit of Fear
Our good Father understands every one of our fears and knows we need help and guidance to conquer them.
No matter what circumstances or thoughts bring fear, we can overcome it. The spirit of fear has no place in our lives.
Faith over Fear
We can learn to recognize fear and take steps to cast it out.
Let’s begin with this truth:
The opposite of fear is our faith in God- who He is, what He has done, and what He can do in our lives if we let Him.
A spirit of fear invades when we fall into patterns of fearful thinking instead of putting our complete trust in Him.
Fear keeps us stuck in our problem or circumstance while faith lifts us up and out- into His peace and comfort. Responding to fear with faith means keeping our eyes on Him and running to Him; clinging tightly to His promises.
Life is hard! But we have to remember that God is in control. He loves us immeasurably, and His plan for us is always good.
Choosing Faith over Fear
Jesus spoke courage into the disciples’ fear when they faced a fierce storm on the Sea of Galilee:
“Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid!” Matthew 14:27.
Take comfort in these words and apply them to your own life. When you feel fear creeping in or rearing its ugly head, choose faith over fear. Speak these words of Jesus aloud to yourself. They are a promise to you, and He always keeps His promises.
No matter what the source of your fear, He is the solution and is ready to help.
Scriptures for Overcoming Fear
Fear Not For I Am With You Bible Verse
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.
This is not only a promise, but a command. God is in control of your life. He chose you as His own and loves you more than you can imagine. No matter what you are going through, He is with you. You are never alone. Not only can He help and strengthen us, but He will also do it!
I Will Not Fear Bible Verse
“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in you… In God I have put my trust; I will not fear.” Psalm 56:3-4 NKJV.
This is King David speaking of his fear- the same guy who killed lions, bears, and a giant! This great man of courage admits he still has fears and then gives us the antidote- surrender your fear to God.
Do Not Be Afraid Bible Verse
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27.
Jesus wants to calm your troubled heart. To accomplish this, He offers us His true peace. It was what carried Him through the days to come after He spoke these words of comfort to His disciples.
His true peace is not the absence of troubles or an escape, but complete inner rest of our spirit; a calm confidence in God.
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4.
These are David’s words again. God promises deliverance from fear and one way we can take part in that blessing is to seek Him out- pray to Him with a loving trust that He hears each prayer and will act in our best interest.
Do Not Be Anxious Bible Verse
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.
These are Paul’s words instructing us to use prayer to thwart fear. Present your fears to Him and leave them in His capable Hands. Our circumstance may not change, but our perspective can. Turning our burdens over to Him gives us a calming peace that brings relief from fear.
Which one of these verses spoke to you? I’ve put some of them in Scripture Card form. “Write them on your heart”, memorize them, print them out and keep them nearby to remind you of truth when fear tries to grip your heart and mind.
Prayer for Fear
Prayer releases God’s power over your situation. Don’t live with fear-pray instead.
Dear God, I confess I let fear steal my peace, rest, and sleep. My situation seems overwhelming and scary. I know that fear is not from you, but from the enemy. Help me be bold, brave, and courageous as I surrender my fear to you. You have promised to be with me always, even in these frightening and uncertain places. Take my hand and quiet my heart and mind. Remind me of your love and truth from your Word. There is nothing too hard for you, Lord, and what I am facing is no match for your capable and trustworthy hands. Give me your spirit of power and self-control so that I can experience your peace and comfort. I ask all this in the precious name of Jesus, my Savior. Amen.
Conquer Your Fears
We do not have to live in fear. When troubles come, we never have to be afraid. Does this seem impossible to you? This is a truth that is backed by His character, promises, and His word.
We can depend on God to deliver us from all our fears. When we fully rely on His ability and willingness to do this, we receive His peace. Our complete trust in God (even in difficult times) is a powerful weapon and keeps fear at bay.
Recognize fear when it begins to creep in. Lean on the truth found in His Word and His promises to give you strength and courage to push past your fear into rest.
All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
Photo Credit: Canva