by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: I John 4:17-21
I. Fear is an instinctive emotion
A. It arises from a need to preserve ourselves, to keep us protected.
1. Fears of job loss, serious illness, difficult problems may each cause us to fear.
2. We don’t fear when we don’t perceive a danger
II. Fear of the Unknown
A. It gets out of hand when we don’t know exactly what we fear because we don’t know what we need to take action against - Proverbs 28:1
B. So often it is the future which makes us afraid because there is so little of the future that we truly know - Proverbs 27:1
C. Paul Meyer told this story in Vanguard, 1981:
Several generations ago, during one of the most turbulent of the desert wars in the Middle East, a spy was captured and sentenced to death by a general of the Persian army. The general, a man of intelligence and compassion, had adopted a strange and unusual custom in such cases. He permitted the condemned person to make a choice. The prisoner could either face the firing squad or pass through the Black Door.
As the moment of the execution drew near, the general ordered the spy to be brought before him for a short, final interview, the primary purpose of which was to receive the answer of the doomed man to the query: “What shall it be – the firing squad or the Black Door?” This was not an easy decision and the prisoner hesitated, but soon made it known that he much preferred the firing squad to the unknown horrors that might await him behind the ominous and mysterious door.
Not long after, a volley of shots announced that the grim sentence had been fulfilled. The general, staring at his boots, said to his aide, “You see how it is with men; they will always prefer the known way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined. Yet I gave him his choice.”
“What lies behind the Black Door?” asked the aide. “Freedom,” replied the general, “and I’ve known only a few brave enough to take it.”
D. We see this fear in Saul who went to a witch because God would not answer him when he wanted to know what the future held - I Samuel 28:4-7
E. We do not know what will happen tomorrow - James 4:14
III. Comfort in the Known
A. When David was captured by the Philistines, he wrote a song - Psalm 56:1-4
1. David did not know what the future held. Fear began to rise from within.
2. But in his fear, he turned to the one constant in his life – His God.
B. God is a solid fortress - Psalm 61:1-4
C. Love the Lord your God - Mark 12:30
1. A complete confidence and trust in our God
2. We love God because He loved us - I John 4:19
D. God has not given us fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind - II Timothy 1:7
E. Thus, mature love drives out fear - I John 4:18
F. Thus we can say - Hebrews 13:5-6
IV. Fear of Failure
A. Repeatedly I talk with people who are afraid they won’t make it to heaven.
1. At times they have a reason. There is some sin that they have not yet let go - Matthew 10:28
2. But too often it is a fear that God won’t really forgive their particular sins.
3. Though God said - I John 1:9
4. They can’t bring themselves to truly trust God will do this for them. They fear that they are too far gone.
5. They lack faith - Hebrews 11:6
B. Fear is overcome when we love God and trust God
C. God is able to strengthen me - Philippians 4:13
V. Do not fear the light
A. Plato once said, “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
B. Recall the parable of the talents and the man with just one? - Matthew 25:24-30
1. The man feared failing and allowed that fear to keep him from doing
2. For that he was called wicked and lazy.
C. Who can harm a follower of righteousness? - I Peter 3:13-14
D. Put God first and don’t worry - Matthew 6:33-34
E. Trust in God - Proverbs 3:5-6
F. In Jesus there is life - John 11:25