Faith vs Fear- Summary

I have enjoyed each of the studies that I’ve done for this blog, but frankly this one might have been my favorite. It seemed as if each day was bringing up realizations and questions I had never considered before.
Having completed this study I definitely feel all the more firmly that fear is truly the antithesis of faith. Obviously “doubt” also comes to mind as an opposite to faith, but I feel that fear is the more active principle that serves the same function to exercise evil that faith serves to exercise good. If faith is the currency of God, fear is undoubtedly the currency of Satan.
I particularly enjoyed learning how faith does not represent just any belief or action, but only the ones that are based upon truth and performed in collaboration with God. Having realized that, I now see how much more faith I have left to exercise! I do try to do good things, but usually I’m trying to do them all by myself. That’s putting my trust in my own strength and not in God’s.
I will try to overcome that failing by implementing the lessons we have reviewed this past week. Let’s take a look at what some of the key points were.

Fear is a Tool to Cripple Others

The first step to making any change in our lives is to first realize that there is a problem that needs correcting. Because most of us live in a state of fear by default, it may take some eye-opening to realize what a crippling influence it has been in us.
Fear is a primary instinct used by the body to promote self-preservation. It has a healthy purpose in compelling us away from dangerous situations, and we even speak of the “fear of God” as a positive quality of respect for our Maker.
But to be effective, fear by necessity must be quite powerful. And being so powerful, it becomes an obvious tool for misuse and abuse. Very easily fear can be inappropriately amplified until it defines our entire decision-making process. At that point others can use targeted fears to steer us into actions that we are morally opposed to.
We might experience this abuse of fear from a person that has a position of influence in our lives. Also Satan certainly uses fear when he pressures us to sin. We even put fear on our own selves when we try to force a change of behavior through negative self-talk.
2 Corinthians 7:5- But we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.
Jeremiah 17:5- And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.

Fear Can Be Overcome Only By Deliverance

Freedom from our toxic fears is something we cannot give to ourselves. Seeing that we are mortals, all that we have power to assuage our fears with are mortal things. We therefore try to shore up against our fears by obtaining worldly powers, things like money, beauty, and influence. The problem is that each of these assurances from the world are still inseparably connected with…fear. Each of them is finite, lost in time, or taken by force. In gaining them we fear the inevitable losing of them.
To ever truly be free we need to depend on something that is not based in this corruptible world. We need to depend on a power that mortality can have no influence over. By necessity, then, our deliverance has to come from God.
1 Corinthians 2:5- That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
Psalm 34:4- I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Faith is the Essence that Replaces Our Fear

This dependence on the power of God takes the form of faith. In order to increase our reliance upon our Creator we have to exercise it. He has assured us that it does not burden Him for us to rely on His power, rather it is something that He wants us to do. By exercising our faith and inviting His miracles into our lives our assurance of His reality, His kindness, and His power grows day-by-day.
Not only will our foundation shift from one of fear to faith, but our own identities will reform as well. We will be become better, happier, and more fulfilled individuals while in this life, and fully perfected souls in the next.
Malachi 3:10- Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Psalm 56:4- In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

Faith Accomplishes the Impossible

Our faith grows firm as we see God accomplish in us the things that were impossible by any worldly process. The miracle I have personally seen, of which I am the most amazed, is the quiet change of heart within me. I have experienced healing and restoration that I frankly deemed impossible. I deemed it impossible, because then I lived more in the fear of the world, and the world could do nothing for me.
Often an action of faith is one that takes me outside of my comfort zone, that sees me approaching those I would not approach, saying things I would not say, doing things I would not do. Thus I become the person I would not be, the miracle occurs that would not occur, and the world becomes a bit more His.
Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)- For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you
Mark 9:23- Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

The Differences Between Knowing, Doing, and Becoming- Matthew 19:16-22

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
And he said unto him…if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
He saith unto him, Which?
Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

COMMENTARY

…if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments
I suggested yesterday that the act of becoming is more important than the act of doing, indeed the rest of this scriptural recounting bears that out. But I do not mean to suggest that doing good is not important. Frankly no one will become a Christ-like person without doing Christ-like actions. The process generally is one does first, and in so doing gradually becomes. Hence in this moment Christ begins by asking for the doing of good, and already promises blessings for meeting that call.

All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
And yet this young man still feels that something is missing in life. He’s been checking everything off the list but still isn’t satisfied. I appreciate his honesty. It doesn’t seem that he came to boast, to have Jesus validate his perfection. It seems he authentically wanted to know what the next level of discipleship entailed.

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor
Note the wording here. Jesus does not say “if thou wilt do perfectly,” he says “if thou wilt be perfect.” And while I still believe there is a reward for those that keep the commandments merely as a rite of duty, Jesus is teaching that there is a greater reward for those which become something more.

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
But in this moment the young man isn’t willing to face that sacrifice. The more I think about it the more I am certain Jesus knew that giving away riches would test that man to the breaking point, which is exactly why that was called for. Because since it wasn’t in that man’s heart naturally to let go of his possessions, it was only going to occur by there being a change of heart. If giving to the poor would have been easy to the man, then Jesus would have asked him to do something else that was hard instead.

Summary
I think of my own life, and there are some commandments which are easy for me to keep and some which are hard. Take for example the commandment inherent in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: that my body is a temple and I must treat it as sacred.
Now there are multiple facets of this commandment. Partaking in illicit drugs has personally never been a temptation for me, but for a very long time I did not give my body any exercise, nor the healthy food that it deserves.
And so when God came to prick my conscience it was not to abstain from illicit drugs, I would be able to consent to that with absolutely no change of my heart whatsoever. No, instead He pricked my heart about the exercising and eating healthy food, because He knew that was only ever going to happen with a real change of heart.
Just so you know, I’d say he’s gotten about a 50% change out of me so far. I still struggle with the food aspect, but I’m not done working on my heart and certainly neither is He!

The Differences Between Knowing, Doing, and Becoming- Question

I gave a sermon in church a little bit ago, and while I was studying for it I had my eyes opened to a message about how some people knowing what is good, and some people do what is good, but neither one of these alone is quite the same as being what is good.

And I know that what God intends for all of us is to be the good. He doesn’t want us to be limited to just knowing theory or only doing good things out of duty. He wants our very hearts to change, for us to become His children. That’s what His gospel is really geared towards.

I felt like I only scratched the surface of this topic when I was preparing for that sermon, and now I want to really dig in deeper. I’ll start tomorrow with the passage that first opened my mind up to this idea, though, that of the rich young ruler asking Jesus what he needed to inherit eternal life.

In the meanwhile, I’d love to hear whether you’ve noticed this same distinction in your study of the gospel. Any insights as to how one actually makes the transition from a knower or a doer to a becomer? What’s been your own experience in that process?