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FEAR ITSELF: Satan's Most Powerful Weapon Against Christians

FEAR ITSELF: Satan's Most Powerful Weapon Against Christians

By Bruce Atkinson PhD
March 9, 2021

For Christians, the old saying by Franklin D. Roosevelt is true, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

The Old Testament made clear that God's people have only one thing to fear, and that is not a thing at all but the divine Person of God Almighty. Because human beings have been (since the Fall) sinners at heart, they needed the fear of God's wrath and punishing consequences in order to behave. Nothing else would do because they were unable to truly love and trust God. They were far too selfish and self-centered for that to be possible for more than a few days at a time. Hence the Mosaic Law, which made clear in some detail what misbehaving looked like from God's perspective. An early painful death was always a potential threat as a consequence for sins.

But the Old Covenant Law (with its promised punishments) was intended to be only a temporary expedient until the time was right for the Messiah's advent in the Incarnation of Christ. Once the Kingdom of God and repentance was preached by both John the Baptist and Jesus, the gospel message became the Answer... and faith in Jesus Christ was endued with great power as God started spreading His Holy Spirit to the disciples of Jesus. Paul explained: "Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith" (Galatians 3:23-26).

This became even more evident after the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus... with the event of Pentecost. Now the Holy Spirit came to abide in the believer, each of whom was born-again from above and whose heart was changed. The believers' bodies became temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19) and the Spirit dwelled within (Romans 8:1-2, 11, etc.). Now it became possible for a person to truly love and trust God... which had always been God's plan. No longer would we obey God out of fear but out of a true desire to please Him. Fear was no longer necessary.

In the New Testament, it is therefore not strange that we hear no more the emphasis on fearing God but now we have an emphasis on trusting His love and grace. We are now to refuse to worry (as Jesus preached in Matthew 6) and to be "anxious for nothing" (Philippians 4:6). I like to say that God had now provided us with the 11th Commandment... "Thou shalt not worry." Read Romans 8 for some great and comforting teaching that reminds us of God's love for the believer and His power to protect and transform us.

In fact, since our enemy Satan uses fear against God's people (especially fear of death-- usually our biggest fear), it is vitally important that Christians refuse to fear anything or anyone who is less than God. Death should hold no fear for those who are in Christ. The scriptures make this point far better than I can: "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-- that is, the devil--and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death" (Hebrews 2:14-15).

We must always keep in mind that physical death is not really true death, it is only a doorway to either heaven or hell. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22). Jesus promised resurrection for all, but we have a choice. One way leads to eternal life with Him, but the other leads to eternal damnation. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). "O death where is your victory, O death where is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55)

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).

Jesus comforts: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:1-3, KJV).

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world"(John 16:33).

So anything that motivates us to fearful worry... is not from God. Fearful thoughts are instruments of the devil and we must fight them off with the "sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God" (Eph 6) using positive and comforting truths. For example, in Romans 8 we hear: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death" (verses 1-2). "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good" (verse 28). "What then shall we say to these things?

If God is for us, who can be[i] against us?" (Verse 31).

Dr. Bruce Atkinson is a practicing psychologist and Christian counselor in the Atlanta area. He earned a PhD in clinical psychology and MA in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary; he also received an MS in research psychology from Illinois State University and a BA from Beloit College, WI. He is a USAF Veteran (medic) who served in Vietnam. He is also a member of the Anglican Church in North America and is Moderator and a frequent contributor to VirtueOnline.org .

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