The Problem Of Fear

fear.gif (3296 bytes)


People FEAR many things. We can easily become FEARFUL and AFRAID. Some of these fears have been classified into various kinds of "PHOBIAS." ("Phobia" comes from a Greek word meaning "fear"). For example, consider the following:

  1. ACROPHOBIA--a fear of high places
  2. CLAUSTROPHOBIA--a fear of enclosed places
  3. CYNOPHOBIA--a fear of dogs
  4. HYDROPHOBIA--a fear of water
  5. NECROPHOBIA--a fear of death
  6. NOCTIPHOBIA--a fear of night

FEAR is not always wrong or sinful (even as WORRY is not always wrong). God has equipped man with the capacity to FEAR for man’s own protection and benefit. Though we often think of fear as a dreaded FOE, it can also be man’s best FRIEND. Fear is that FRIEND which keeps our hands away from the tigers’ cage at the zoo. Fear is that FRIEND that helps us to drive safely in the midst of heavy traffic. Fear is that FRIEND that helps us to respect and obey the police officer, lest we should get into trouble. Fear is that FRIEND that encourages us to study for our final exams. Can you think of other ways that fear serves as a friend?

Consider again the "phobias" listed above. Show how, under certain circumstances these FEARS can be helpful. (For example, "acrophobia" might help someone on top of a high ladder to proceed with much care and caution.)  Show how these same FEARS can be harmful. (Consider for example "noctiphobia" when a child imagines that he sees a monster in the dark of his room at night.)

Friend or Foe?

FEAR can be healthy or harmful. FEAR can protect us or fear can destroy us. As we shall see, the right kind of fear will eliminate every wrong kind of fear. Please complete the following MATCHING exercise as you study verses which relate to FEAR or BEING AFRAID:

1. _____ Matthew 14:26
2. _____ Matthew 14:30 A. A healthy, right kind of fear (FRIEND)
3. _____ Matthew 2:22 B. A harmful, wrong kind of fear (FOE)
4. _____ Genesis 22:12
5. _____ Acts 27:17
6. _____ Proverbs 28:1 (The word "fear" is not used here, but the idea is certainly present.)
7. _____ 1 Peter 2:17
8. _____ Isaiah 8:12
9. _____ Isaiah 8:13
10. _____ Psalm 112:1
11. _____ Psalm 112:7
12. _____ Mark 5:36

The Origin of Fear

Find the first place in the Bible where FEAR is mentioned (HINT: Begin reading in Genesis chapter 3):  Genesis 3, Verse ______ Was this a healthy, right kind of fear? _______ As you think about Adam’s fear, put the letter "F" before each of the following phrases which properly describe this wrong kind of FEAR:

1. _____ A direct result of man’s sin and guilt
2. _____ Running from God
3. _____ Running towards God ("cometh to God"--Heb. 11:6)
4. _____ Facing and fixing my problems
5. _____ Hiding and covering up my problems
6. _____ Avoiding the Lord
7. _____ Approaching the Lord
8. _____ Open and honest before God
9. _____ Ashamed before God, "having an evil conscience" (Heb. 10:22)
10. _____ Ever conscious of wrongdoing and of one’s own failure to fulfill his God-given responsibilities.

Does the believer who is hidden IN CHRIST ever need to be afraid of approaching a HOLY GOD (Hebrews 4:16; 10:19,22)? _________

Fear Not!   Why Not?

What is the constant plea of God to those who belong to Him (see Lamentations 3:57; Isaiah 41:14; Joshua 8:1; Luke 12:32; Matthew 10:31; Acts 27:24; etc.)? F______________ N________     The Lord gives us many REASONS why we need not fear. Search the Scriptures and see if you can discover some of these reasons:

  1. Gen. 26:24; Psalm 23:4; Isaiah 41:10; 43:5; Jer. 46:28; Deut. 20:1
    I will not fear because ______________________________________
  2. Exodus 14:13-14; Deut. 3:22; 20:3-4; 2 Chron. 20:15 (compare v.17)
    I will not fear because ______________________________________
  3. Deut. 31:6,8; 1 Chron. 28:20
    I will not fear because ______________________________________
  4. Psalm 118:6
    I will not fear because ______________________________________
  5. Isaiah 41:13-14
    I will not fear because ______________________________________
  6. Isaiah 43:1
    I will not fear because ______________________________________
  7. Deuteronomy 7:18 (compare 20:1)
    I will not fear because ______________________________________
  8. Psalm 56:3,4,11; Psalm 112:7 (cf. Mark 5:36)
    I will not fear because ______________________________________
  9. Matthew 10:29-31
    I will not fear because ______________________________________
  10. John 6:20
    I will not fear because ______________________________________



Isaiah 41:10
I will not fear because HE IS MY _____________________________________


Genesis 15:1
I will not fear because HE IS MY _____________________________________


Proverbs 3:25-26
I will not fear because HE IS MY _____________________________________


Psalm 27:1
I will not fear because HE IS MY _____________________________________


Psalm 46:1-2
I will not fear because HE IS MY _____________________________________


Hebrews 13:6
I will not fear because HE IS MY _____________________________________


Psalm 91:2,5
I will not fear because HE IS MY _____________________________________

The King of Fears

What is man’s greatest fear (Heb. 2:14-15)? _________________________ Is this a legitimate fear for the UNSAVED (Heb. 9:27)? ________ What is even more fearful than physical death (Matt. 10:28; Rev. 21:8)? _______________________________ God describes DEATH as a killer-bee (think of a giant bumblebee!) who has a powerful and deadly sting for all its victims. What is the terrible STINGER on this killer-bee (1 Cor. 15:56; cf. Rom. 6:23; James 1:15; Ezekiel 18:4)? _____________________ What gives this STINGER its strength and power (1 Cor. 15:56; cf. Rom. 3:20; 7:7-13)? _______________ The Lord Jesus, through His death and resurrection REMOVED THE STINGER and ____________________ death (2 Timothy 1:10). Therefore, does the believer need to fear the KING OF FEARS, or may he bravely and joyfully face his hour of death (see 2 Tim. 4:6-8; 2 Pet. 1:13-14; Philippians 1:20-23, 2 Cor. 5:8; Luke 23:43)? _______________________________________________.

Fear and Love
And the greater of these is love!

FEAR and LOVE cannot dwell together, because the Bible says, "There is no _______ in ________; but perfect _________ casteth out _______, because _________ hath torment (punishment). He that ______________ is not made perfect in ________" (1 John 4:18). A mother might be terribly afraid of a mouse, but she would gladly risk her life against the most savage beast (such as a lion or bear) if necessary for the protection of her child whom she loves. A soldier might fear actual warfare, but he would willingly fight on the hottest battlefield if he loves his country and the cause for which he is fighting. Can you think of other examples of how love casts out fear?

As you examine the following, decide whether each phrase is describing FEAR or whether it is describing LOVE:
____ What can I do for him?

____ What will he do to me?

____ How can I help him?

____ How can he harm me?

____ What can man do unto me?

____ What can I do for man?

____ How can I give of myself for him?

____ How can I protect myself from him?

____ Shrinks away from others

____ Moves towards others


____ "Believes all things" (1 Cor. 13:7)

____ Very suspicious

____ Thinks of everything that might go wrong

____ "Thinketh no evil" (1 Cor. 13:5)

____ Concerned about self

____ Concerned about God and others

____ Produces hard work and labor(1 Thess. 1:3), tackling the problems at hand.

____ Fails to fix problems and refuses to face up to responsibilities

____ Looks at the problem (Matthew 14:30)

____ Looks past the problem to the God who has the solution


The Fear that Conquers All Fears

What is man’s supreme duty towards God (1 Pet. 2:17; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Prov. 1:7; Deut. 10:12; etc.)? ______________________ How long are we to do this (Prov. 23:17)? _____________ How long (Deut. 14:23)? ______________ How long (Josh. 4:24)? _______________ When can I begin to do this (1 Kings 18:12)? ____________ Who should do this (Psalm 34:9)? __________________ Who (Psalm 33:8)? ____________________________ How should we serve the Lord (Psalm 2:11)? _______________________ How should we worship the Lord (Psalm 5:7)? ___________________ How should we spend our time on earth (1 Pet. 1:17)? _________________

The fear of the Lord casts out all other fears. The fear of the Lord is healthy and clean and right (Psalm 19:9). Complete this MATCHING problem:

1. ______ Matthew 10:28
2. ______ Matthew 10:31
3. ______

Psalm 112:1

4. ______ Psalm 112:7 B. DON’T FEAR ANYTHING ELSE!
5. ______ Isaiah 8:12
6. ______ Isaiah 8:13
7. ______ Psalm 34:4
8. ______ Psalm 34:9

The Fear of Men

Often, instead of fearing GOD we fear MEN!  We begin thinking like this:

"What will they think of me?" "What will they say?" "Will they get angry?" "Will they be pleased?" "Maybe they will see me!" "I’m afraid of what they might do to me!" "Will they be upset or offended?" "Will they still be friendly towards me?" "What will they want me to say?" "What will they want me to do?" "Where will they want me to go?" "I’m afraid they will not be happy with me!" "I don’t think they will approve of this!" "They might frown on my actions!" "I hope they will really appreciate what I’m about to do!"

This then is the FEAR OF MEN. What is the FEAR OF GOD? To answer this question, simply read the above sentences again and substitute the word "GOD" for the word "they." This is the FEAR OF GOD.

Read Genesis 12:10-20; 20:1-11. Note especially Genesis 20:11. Was there any fear of God IN ABRAHAM? ________ Did Abraham fear men? ________ Was God able to protect Abraham, even without his lies and deception? _____ Can you think of times when the fear of men kept you from doing what you knew was right? Did Abraham learn to fear the Lord (Gen. 22:12)? _______

How To Recognize a God-Fearer

If a person really FEARS THE LORD, then the following will be true:

  1. Proverbs 3:7; 14:16; 16:6.; Job 28:28.
    He will _______________________________________
  2. Proverbs 8:13.
    He will _______________________________________
  3. Exodus 20:20.
    He will _______________________________________
  4. Nehemiah 5:15.
    He will _______________________________________
  5. Deuteronomy 5:29; 6:2; 13:4.
    He will _______________________________________

    Who should our close friends and companions be (Psalm 119:63)? ______________________________________________  How can we learn to fear the Lord (Deut. 4:10; 17:19; 31:11-13)? ___________________________________

Let Us Hear The Conclusion Of The Whole Matter
(See Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Personal Questions to Ponder:

  1. Are you afraid of displeasing the Lord?
  2. Are you afraid of not being right with the Lord?
  3. Are you afraid of sinning against a Holy God?
  4. Are you afraid of having less than God’s very best?
  5. Are you afraid of not hearing God’s "WELL DONE"?

(Compare Proverbs 1:29)