We've begun an ongoing study of God's Grace and the healing it brings. Once received within our hearts, His Grace brings the wholeness we all need in every aspect of our life. So far we've seen how His Grace is the antidote for burnout, stress and the pain inflicted by religious traditions.
Today, I sense the leading to address an area that affects each and every one of us at some time or another. Fear, gripping paralyzing fear seeks to cripple our trust and erode our confidence in God. Fear says God won't be there for you. Fear says this need is too great for even God to supply. Fear says God is fed up and finished with you.
Fear is evil, it seeks to manipulate us into a place of ineffectiveness or mediocrity. It seeks to bring us to a place where we see the enemy or that which is in the World as Greater than He who is within us. It seeks to cause us to see ourselves as insignificant in the face of opposition. It strives to make the challenges we face seem like giants, something that can never be overcome.
Grace is the answer. You see, Grace isn't just about us sinning and then realizing that He has already forgiven us of that trespass. Now that is what makes Grace so amazing. Undeserving, unworthy ones becoming the recipients of total forgiveness and new life. That is wonderful, but Grace is so much more.
Grace is the remedy for fear. Grace received within provides the relief and remedy for all the schemes and plans the enemy sets against us. For instance, whenever religious tradition hurls its accusations that you never measure up or you've gone to far this time, don't accept that conclusion. Instead, focus on what the Cross said. Focus on what Grace has done. Grace freed you from the burden of pleasing man or upholding their traditions.
When fear arises and tries to grip your heart, run towards God. Embrace His Grace and receive His perfect love for you in that situation. Again, fear will lie and attempts to make you sense you're surrounded by insurmountable odds. We can react or respond to this lie from the enemy. Elisha's servant reacted with fear when surrounded but Elisha responded by not being in fear for he knew what was really surrounding him.
When it seems we are surrounded by the enemy and all his schemes and onslaught, we must realize we are already surrounded. We are surrounded by His goodness. We are surrounded by His undeserved, unearned, unmerited favor. We are surrounded by His perfect, everlasting, unconditional love. We are surrounded by the presence of God, our Father, we are hidden in Him. The victorious, triumphant, overcoming King of Kings and Lord of Lords, The Lord Jesus Christ is for us and never against us, therefore no enemy or circumstance or scheme or tactic can ever stand against us!
We are victorious because of Jesus. There is nothing the enemy can do about it. So he employs fear to get us to doubt and even oppose the truth. Religion even has us waging war against an enemy that has already been defeated. Certainly, walk-in triumphant victory, authoritatively and enforce the defeat of the enemy in all areas but never create or ascribe to a mindset that the enemy is some type of formidable foe who is winning and gaining ground.
We must also be aware of the more subtle scheme of the enemy, religion. In spite of the truth, religious tradition employs fear and anxiety, manipulating and controlling God's people. Leaders instill fear in the minds of many thinking this will produce some form of behavior change.
Some ministers utilize the concept that our salvation isn't eternal to produce some form of behavior modification. Churches which proclaim this will see their altars flooded weekly with "repentant" ones seeking to be saved or "saved again". All that has occurred is that people's assurance has been stripped away and they rush to remedy that sense of uncertainty. Not realizing or understanding that the strength of sin is the Law, this practice doesn't bring about real change. It just causes many to mask and conceal their sins deeper and deeper.
Some leaders employ this idea that believers can forfeit their salvation by walking away from the faith. All this produces is more fear and anxiety. There will always be that one unconfident Christian, beaten down by religious tradition, who will buy into the lie that if there is a way to forfeit their salvation they will surely find a way.
One Psychiatrist who spoke with a prominent Grace minister from Asia told the minister the most common mental affliction he dealt with was the idea that the patient believed they had committed the unpardonable sin. Pushing fear only produces fearful Christians. It isn't about preaching "boldly" or "being uncompromising". It's preaching fear in order to create a change in behavior.
Want to see victorious overcoming Christians? Remind them of who they are and whose they are. Continuously proclaim how loved and accepted they are in Him. I recall the leader of a church speaking with me about concerns he and his wife had about the spiritual development or lack thereof of my wife. He began to elaborate on this concern. Now I've forgiven them this for they haven't grasped the revelation of the Gospel of Grace.
The minister laid out these concerns about passion and zeal and desire for the things of God. He relayed how concerned his wife was. Here is the question, if you were so concerned, what actions have you taken in sharing God's love with her? Did they even speak to her? Try to initiate fellowship and convey how much she was loved? Not one time.
My point is this. Don't try to manipulate through fear. What God wants His people to know is that they are loved eternally and unconditionally. Even if they never cracked a Bible again or said a prayer. He wants His kids to know how much they are accepted and approved and in perfect right standing with the God of the universe. Tell me, how much more would one want to fellowship with someone who loved them like that opposed to fellowshipping with the demanding and demeaning one who points out your flaws and lack of zeal or drive and passion? Get away from fear and proclaim perfect love.
Fear cannot thrive in an atmosphere of perfect love. That is the understanding of how much He loves you. Not a God loves me concept that abides in the abstract but rather an intimate knowledge made personal, that understand God loves you, that He actually likes you and loves unconditionally.
1 John 4:18-19 TLB
In summation, Grace is the antidote for fear. Grace made a way. Not by any works or good we've done, but because of His Grace He came down and paid the full price making all who receive Him, His sons and daughters. His perfect love moved Him and His Grace has shown to be greater than all our imperfections. So when fear comes gripping our minds, remind that fear that you are loved and highly favored. The Cross revealed your value and worth. It reveals His great love and reminds us no matter what we face He will turn it around for our good. Fear can't succeed in the face of love.
image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net