One of Scripture’s most poignant statements is: “fear hath torment (1 Jn. 4:18).” Fear is perhaps the most visceral sensation we humans experience. It chokes us with its force in the dark of midnight. It freezes us with its presence in the midst of hardships. It paralyzes us with its threats when surrounded by the might of wicked men.
John insists that fear is the portion of slaves. It belongs to slaves to have fear as their constant companion. Fear of God’s just wrath. Fear of past failures being found out or future failures bringing embarrassment. Fear of fiends real & imagined. Fear of loss, shame, guilt, sickness, or sorrow. But it is for slaves to live in the grip of fear.
Those born of God, on the other hand, are promised boldness (1 Jn. 4:17). Those born of God are those who believe that Jesus is the Christ. Boldness, then, comes by faith. And this brings the assurance that God is your Father. While the slave of sin is apportioned fear, the child of God is apportioned boldness. Your sin is covered. Nothing can separate you from God’s love. Your shame is removed. You are unfettered from fearing your former taskmasters of sin, the devil, the world. Love casts out fear.
So, pull out your files. Spread them out. Take out the financial strain file, and the one labelled “health challenges.” If the file named “Unconfessed Sin” is full of entries, bring it too. Grab the volume called “Family Dynamics” from the very back of the filing cabinet. Show them all to God. Then hear His words, “Do not fear.” Hand all your files to God. Then follow His instructions as to which ones to trash and which ones to keep. But when it comes to the “keepers” let God be the One to tell you where to file them.
Our world is gripped by fear. They are fearful because their guilty conscience gnaws at them, reminding them of the judgment that awaits their sin. They are fearful because they worship mankind instead of God. They are fearful because they have wrapped themselves in chain after chain of shame after shame. Yet we in the church have been complicit, because in too many ways we have feared man instead of fearing the One True God. Instead of walking in the boldness of our sonship, we have cowered in the fear of unconfessed sin and unrepentant shame.
But the Apostle John assures you that fear is no longer your inheritance. If you are in Christ, your inheritance is all the blessings which Christ has won for you. You are no longer a slave, but a son.