2 Timothy 1:7
I confess to you Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters…
That I have been full of fear lately. The holidays were very stressful due to some new, demanding and difficult circumstances in my life, the onset of menopause (translation: raging hormones, very little sleep, and very low mood and energy), and work demands I simply couldn’t keep up due to said circumstances…but absolutely needed to. And this followed hard on the heels of an incredibly embittered presidential campaign that has left our nation only more divided, and myself reeling from the loss of a dear friend and sister in Christ over differing political views.
Yes, I have felt very afraid and anxious from the thoughts stampeding through my mind: What’s going to happen to my loved ones? What’s going to happen to my business? What’s going to happen to my country? What’s going to happen to me? What will we do? It’s <person’s> fault, it’s my fault, why won’t they, why can’t I, we’re in for it now, if only, serves them right, I don’t understand how, what if….on and on, and especially in the dark, wee sleepless hours of the night.
Friends, I confess to you that I have sinned against God and against you.
Because fear is sin at its root.
“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
This is the truth about who we are and almost everywhere in the New Testament we are exhorted to first trust God with absolutely everything in our lives, and then in trust, obey Him by consciously putting aside our old dead selves and living according to who we really are in Christ. We are powerful, loving and sane and to live any other way, to live in fear, is disobedience and reveals two things in our hearts:
1.) Distrust of God (his heart, his character, his love, whatever)
2.) Self-sufficiency (independence from God, self-life)
These are the foundations of Adam and Eve’s original sin, and the cliff of the Fall. They brought the bondage to death and sin that all men and creation are in. They are the reasons why Jesus had to die on the cross to set us free, to bring us back to life and heal us. All my anxious rantings and yours are really a repetition of that fatal sentence uttered by Satan:
“Did God really say…” Genesis 3:1
Did God really say He would take care of me and provide everything I need?
Did God really say He has a good plan for my life?
Did God really say that I’m precious to Him, that He loves me and rejoices over me?
Did God really say He would protect me?
Did God really say He works everything together for my good?
Did God really say I’m a new creation?
You get the picture. And, we get the fruit too, the fruit of sin and death:
Broken heart and relationships
Depression and anxiety
No joy, purpose or peace
Hatred and anger
Bitterness and resentment
Lack of intimacy with others and God
Condemnation and guilt
Addictions and compulsions
Physical and mental illness
We Have Power, Love, Sanity
Who in their right mind chooses this? No one! And of course, that’s the problem. We are not in our right mind when we are in any other mind but the loving, powerful mind of Christ in us. Notice that all my fears, anxiety and sin flowed from MY beliefs and thoughts, those founded in MY incredibly limited understanding and MY felt needs and desires. I was not trusting and resting in God’s unlimited, powerful and compassionate love nor depending on Him to care for me the way He promised and meet my needs. Instead, I was walking after the flesh, relying on my own strength and understanding to meet them. I was sinning and it came as naturally as my next breath. The battle truly is for our minds and this season I lost. So did everyone in my life.
And like the Apostle Paul, I cry out “What a wretched woman I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). Then, like Paul, I thank God for Jesus, and for the cross that gave me new life. They are my only hope. Because of the cross my sins of fear and anxiety are forgiven and I can try again tomorrow knowing I have new life in Christ and am free from sinning, free from the power of sin, and free from condemnation. I now have a choice. I can choose to walk after my flesh in fear or choose to walk after the Spirit and and trust and rest in God. And on the days when I fail, Papa picks me up, comforts me, and encourages me to try again. He even gives me his own strength and power to succeed. He’s absolutely for me and I don’t have any reason to fear. Not one.
Neither do you.
What Do We Believe?
But the whole walking after the Spirit and resting in God life hinges on one thing: what we believe.
What do we believe about God? What do we believe about ourselves? What do we believe about others and the world we live in?
Here’s why it matters. Our beliefs are the foundation of everything in our lives and we are the product of what we believe. Our thoughts flow from our beliefs, and our emotions, behaviors and choices flow from our thoughts. If we believe God is out to get us and punish us then our relationship with Him will be defensive, distrusting and distant. If we believe we are failures our lives will be characterized by control and striving to prove that we aren’t, or on the other extreme, surrender to failure and self-victimization. If we believe the world and people are dangerous our lives will be defensive and insecure. It’s easy to see in all three of these beliefs how fear results in relational separation to God, ourselves and others. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
See, God knows the DNA of our first natural birth in Adam is fear-based. Adam and Eve fell out of fear (and pride, of course, the two are tightly bound). He knows that even though He’s given us new life and power through His Son (our second spiritual birth), fear could still rule our beliefs and thoughts and bear fruit for death in our lives. Further, He knows fear is a powerful weapon of the enemy against us. So, He gave us a weapon: the Truth.
Believe the Truth
And the Truth is that God unconditionally loves and accepts us in Christ. As a result, we no longer need fear or be anxious for anything. God is our doting Papa, we’re the apples of His eye, and He meets every single physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual need we have. We don’t have to meet our own needs for love, acceptance, significance or security anymore. God is a good Daddy and we can trust Him with everything.
The question is: will we believe the Truth?
Our minds and lives are protected with the Truth. When we wield our weapon of Truth, the enemy flees. His lies are no match for God’s Truth. Most noteworthy, our thoughts, emotions and choices begin to follow our beliefs and manifest in our lives. Instead of fear, we walk in perfect love where we can love and be loved fully and bear fruit for God (Galatians 2:20).
Or will we let our circumstances (holidays, menopause, work, illness, financial problems, marriage problems, etc.) drag us back into fear?
This is the renewing of the mind Paul exhorts us to in Romans 12:2. He commands it because transformation into the image of Christ is the normal Christian life. It is God’s good, perfect and pleasing will to do so and it is accomplished through changing our minds.
Some Tools for You to Renew Your Mind
Pastor Andy Stanley at NorthPoint Community Church has an excellent sermon series call The N Commandments on this very topic and I encourage you to take the time to listen and hear what God has to say to us on this topic.
And now, in obedience let us renew our minds in this vital part of our faith and relationship with God so we can stand victorious in Christ and bring glory to God our wonderful Papa. I’ve created a little booklet for you with some of my favorite verses that I’m memorizing to be armed for my next battle with fear and anxiety. Grab them and memorize them so you can be armed for yours.