Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 21:12-13

12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.

Abraham was at an impasse, but in the midst of his conundrum God assured him it was alright to let Ishmael go. God assured Abraham that Ishmael would be under His protection and that He would raise the lad into a mighty nation of his own.

And this is a rehearsal for Abraham’s future sacrifice of Isaac. Here, with Ishmael, God is asking Abraham to turn his son over to God’s care, to surrender him with the trust that God will provide. Later Abraham will take that level of trust and surrender to a whole other level.

Optimism in a Falling World- Numbers 23:19, Isaiah 55:8-9

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

COMMENTARY

God is not a man, that he should lie; hath he said, and shall he not do it?
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. My ways are higher than your ways

Sometimes a friend might ask me to join a cause and I don’t have faith in it. Usually this is because I can see flaws in the design, or I question his motives, or because even the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. We are imperfect humans, and many of the plans we conceive of are complete folly, unworthy of trust and faith from others.
And sometimes I think we take the skepticism we have for the plans of men, and we bring it into our view of God’s plans as well. We hear bold claims in the gospel like how Jesus came to save the entire world (John 3:16, John 12:46-47) and it sound incredible. We are invited to be a part of that work and are told that by small and simple things we may have a tremendous effect in this world (Alma 37:6-7) and it sounds impossible.
We hear such tremendous, sweeping claims and we struggle to believe in them because we are so acquainted with tremendous, sweeping claims ending in utter failure. It goes against all the ways of this world to trust in a plan that is so grand. But of course, when we hold this skepticism it means we are viewing God and His capabilities as being the same as that of man. And as today’s verses firmly attest “God is not a man.” The same limitations do not apply to Him, nor to us when we act in His cause.

For Our Own Good- Alma 5:12-13, Jeremiah 31:33

And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.
And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved.

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

COMMENTARY

According to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart
After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts
I do believe that most of us try to follow our conscience and live as best we know how. We may all be at different stages of how well we adhere to that pricking of our heart, but we are at least trying to follow it to some degree. And I believe most of us would like to take that guide in our hearts, and ever strive to improve on that, and that alone.
Yet the scriptures speak of a different experience. They speak of “mighty changes of heart.” They speak of people who thought they knew what they were supposed to do, and then discovered that they ought do something else instead. Saul’s problem was not that he needed to follow his convictions more firmly, it was that he needed to throw them out and replace them with entirely new ones!
Our hearts are good and our consciences are wonderful. We will do very well just by adhering to them alone. But we are also somewhat flawed and misaligned, and if we are ever to find our true potential we have to accept that there are convictions of ours that have to be released, and convictions that aren’t ours which have to be adopted. A mighty change of heart is necessary for us all.

For Our Own Good- 1 Timothy 1:9-10, 12-13

Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

COMMENTARY

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief
Yesterday we discussed that the proper attitude towards the commandments requires one to sincerely want to change who they are. Until then, our pride will prevent us from taking the gospel’s advice at face value.
When I came to admit my own failing, when I felt the guilt of my wrongs, when I genuinely wanted to change…I found that I didn’t know, by myself, what the right way forward was. That isn’t to say that I didn’t have opinions for how to “fix” myself, but I just didn’t trust my perspectives anymore. I didn’t want to follow the advice of an addict like myself, I wanted to be guided by someone who had a clear mind and a pure heart.
And so I started giving the gospel and the lifestyle it teaches the benefit of the doubt. Some things I still didn’t understand the immediate importance of, but it was coming from a source that I trusted, so I would try it. Like Paul, I felt that Jesus was enabling me, that following his principles were changing me from what I was before.

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.

Faith vs Fear- Hebrews 11:1, 7; Luke 9:2-3

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house

And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.

COMMENTARY

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, prepared an ark
Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece

What exactly do the works of faith look like? In Noah’s case he was warned that something bad was going to happen and so he prepared. But later Jesus told his disciples not to worry about the essentials of life, and to instead trust that those would be provided for them.
Noah could be considered a fearmonger, or Jesus a flippant idler…if it wasn’t for the fact that they were both right in what they did. In the end the flood did come and the disciples were cared for. God’s ways ebb and flow, and under different contexts an action of faith can take entirely different forms.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen
Because in the end faith isn’t just based in the unseen, it is also based on what is true. Sometimes that truth may be that there is danger and you must prepare, other times the truth is that you will be protected and need not fear. Acting in faith is not a rash gamble where you hope God will catch you, nor is it wearing tin hats “just in case” someone is trying to read your mind. It is an informed and conscious decision, an assurance based upon the foresight only God can provide.

Faith vs Fear- Matthew 14:29-31

And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

COMMENTARY

But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid
O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Faith and Fear is a dichotomy. It is a choice between which side we put our trust in, the power of the world or the power of God. Whichever side we trust in the power of we also give power over us.
Peter was filled with faith and he walked upon the water. The only reason why he got into any trouble was that he acknowledged the storm. He had been defying the laws of physics, but in that moment he regarded them, feared them, and gave them power. In that moment the storm, not the miracle, defined his reality. And he sank.

And he said, Come.
Jesus knew that Peter could do the miracle. He knew that Peter had the faith, even if only for a moment. Though Peter may have slipped, the Lord did not cease to invite him to keep exercising faith. Though Peter would slip again in the future, still Jesus called on him to lead the others.
“And he said, Come,” is therefore not a one-time invitation. Perhaps we will succumb to fear at times in our own discipleship as well. It is alright, the invitation to rise again remains forever in full force.

Faith vs Fear- Psalm 56:4, Matthew 10:28, Doctrine and Covenants 101:36-37

In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Wherefore, fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full.
Therefore, care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the soul, and for the life of the soul.

COMMENTARY

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul
Therefore, care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the soul, and for the life of the soul
As we have mentioned, part of replacing fear with faith is acknowledging that God possesses all power, and that He can save us from every threat imaginable…if it is His will. The other element of surrendering our fear, then, is to accept the times when it is not God’s will. We need to believe that even in those moments we are still preserved in what really matters.
Many the faithful disciple has prayed for relief from sickness, oppression, and even death, yet been told “no, this trial is one that you are supposed to pass through.” At first this might sound like being abandoned back to fear, but in reality it is being lifted to greater faith.

For in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full
If our hope is that depending on God will shield us from every pain, then our happiness is still tied to worldly security. We are still living in the “fear of the world.” And even if God did circumvent all worldly pain and give us all worldly pleasure, our joy would still be unfulfilled, because this world simply does not have what it takes to provide completeness. Fulfillment of the flesh is a game you just cannot win.
God wants something better for us. He does not want to merely mask our fears, He wants to help us overcome them. So sometimes He isn’t going to give us worldly comfort and He isn’t going to spare us worldly pain. What He is going to do, though, is help us through worldly pain with spiritual comfort. In this way He is bit-by-bit weaning us from the flesh and supplanting it with the soul. And in the needs of the soul He does provide all and we do find fullness of joy.

Faith vs Fear- Numbers 14:9, 1 Corinthians 2:5, Psalm 34:4

Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

COMMENTARY

I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears
Our modern culture often urges us to just let go of all our fears. That, frankly, is far easier said than done. Perhaps the worries that we put on ourselves can be released, all of those little frettings that really don’t matter. But when it comes to external powers threatening our basic needs, fear seems to be baked into our very nature.
We don’t just need a different frame of mind in these situations, we need deliverance! Fear is something that we have to be saved from. Otherwise it will always be a part of our lives.

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God
The Lord is with us: fear them not

And fear will only be let go of when our dependence on the world’s power has been replaced by something else. Our deliverance is in God showing us that His power is sufficient to save, and that His desire is to protect. Suddenly it doesn’t matter so much what the world can do, God can trump it all. God calls us and we are able to rise above that cycle of fear. We are able to trust in something higher.

Faith vs Fear- 1 Samuel 15:24, 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.

Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.

COMMENTARY

Because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice
Yesterday we noted how fear is used to try and control others. Today we will look at what it is like to be the recipient of fear. In Saul’s case he chose to do something that he felt wrong about, because he feared. Where faith empower us to meaningful action, fear it seems is a principle of inaction.
Consider how the moment of fear is so often often described as being crippling, freezing, or paralyzing. It is a force by which men and the devil seek to prevent the undesired actions of another, or to cause them to perform an action that they feel contrary to. To the person being made afraid, then, their actions are not to achieve some greater good, but simply to avoid or mitigate pain.

Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord
Pilate feared the people, too, when they called for the crucifixion of Jesus. Peter feared the people when the identified him as on of the Lord’s followers during his trial. Each of them had their “heart depart from the Lord” because of their trust (or fear) in the power of the people, and did things they felt wrong about.
Many the vice is entered into by the root of fear. We fear what others will think of us, we fear not receiving approval, we fear being left alone. By those fears we willingly do the very things we know we shouldn’t. Not because we think those things are good, but simply to avoid or mitigate pain.