Fear itself - What is its origin?
Fear is defined as, "an unpleasant feeling of apprehension or distress caused by the presence or anticipation of danger."1 But what is the origin of this unpleasant feeling - fear itself?
The ultimate basis for all fear is man's alienation from God. The first mention or manifestation of fear in the Bible was from the first man, Adam. While in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had been given a command by the Lord to refrain from eating the fruit of the tree in the midst of the Garden. The serpent, Satan, deceived them and caused them to disobey God. As a result they became afraid and hid from God. Genesis 3:8-10 shares the account, "Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, 'Where are you?' He answered, 'I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.'"
The root of so many fear-based thoughts is this alienation between God and man. When man sinned, he no longer enjoyed the close, intimate, loving fellowship with God as at the beginning. Fear of punishment, insecurity, dread of evil events, anticipation of loss all stem from the lost relationship to God and the covering that comes from His loving protection. Inherently, sin makes man feel that he is undeserving of any good from the hand of the Lord and is therefore vulnerable to all kinds of bad things.
Rising also out of the enmity between God and man is the feeling of inadequacy that generates all kinds of fears and is a direct cause of unbelief. Faith and fear cannot be present at the same time. When we trust in the promises of God, we are not afraid.
After the Children of Israel had crossed the Red Sea and continued on their journey towards the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey that God had promised to them, they came to Kadesh Barnea. Moses sent twelve spies to spy out the land of Canaan and ten of them came back with this report: Numbers 13:31 says, "But the men who had gone up with him said, 'We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are.'" Though the children of Israel had received the promise that God would give them the Land of Canaan and had led them through the Red Sea and had promised to be with them, they still feared. They felt inadequate to tackle the "giants" in the land and, rather, forfeited the promise.
What was the origin of their fear? The Bible gives us a very clear answer. It was their unbelief and it caused them to fail to enter the Promised Land. Hebrews 3:19 says, "So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief." Sin and unbelief working in the life of any person will promote fear and alienation. As a result, there is torment and rebellion and the reaping of the displeasure of God.
Hebrews 11:6 says, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
2 Timothy 1:7 states: "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."
1 John 4:18 reads, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
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