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Hi, my name is Dean Smith and in this podcast, I want to briefly look at three indicators that may suggest you are being controlled by a ‘Spirit of Fear’.
Of course, there are varying degrees of fear, but fear has one goal; it wants to control you and at times, we are completely unaware that are decisions are being dictated by our inner fears.
In the discussion on fear, I want to use probably the most popular verse thrown out about fear provided in the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy, when he said:
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Unfortunately, because of its popularity, verses such as these become common, and we end up glossing over them.
In this verse Paul sets up three characteristics that are alive in a person not controlled by a spirit of fear, namely power, love and a sound mind.
In other words, if you are being controlled by a spirit of fear, these three things will either be missing in your life or at the very least weakened.
Loss of Power
The first thing that Paul says is that you will no longer have power. The Greek word dynamos, from which we get our word dynamite, refers to the Holy Spirit power demonstrated in miracles.
But the word can also refer to our natural abilities and strength.
In other words, when we are being controlled by a spirit of fear we lose confidence not only in God, but even in our own God-given abilities.
We are consumed by insecurity and self-doubt.
When Israel was at the border of the Promised Land, Moses sent out 12 spies, and only two came back with a positive report. The other ten were terrified by what these saw in this territory, promised to them by God.
But in fact the biggest problem involved not how big the giants were, but how they felt about themselves.
There we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight. (Numbers 13:33 NASV)
They literally said out loud, we are grasshoppers in our own sight. They were so controlled by a spirit of fear that they considered themselves to be a small, insignificant insect.
But notice what happened next, then the Anak considered them as grasshoppers too. Bullies pick up on people’s insecurities and fears.
These ten spies were not only reinforcing this thinking in their own minds, they were telling everyone how useless they were.
But many of us do the same thing. We may not be comparing ourselves to grasshoppers, but we are essentially saying the same thing.
Have you ever muttered to yourself how stupid you were? Look, we all do stupid things, but that doesn’t make us stupid.
Have you ever called yourself an idiot, under your breath?
Or am I the only one that ever does that?
But when we do this, we are describing what we really think about ourselves.
I am useless.
I am no good.
I am a failure.
I can’t do this.
I am too scared.
I am incapable of defeating this enemy.
This kind of talk actually weakens us, because if faith comes from hearing the word of God, then what happens when we hear negativity, does it produce unbelief.
Several years back, I read a story about an incident that took place in an Eskimo village located in Canada’s northern arctic. While out hunting one spring, a hunter came across a lost wolf pup and brought it back to the village.
At first, it was a novelty and everyone’s favourite pet. But the village dogs knew it was the odd man out, and picked on it.
But that wolf started to grow and within a year, it towered above the other dogs in the village in both power and size.
And the writer recalled seeing this massive, full-grown wolf, being chased around the village by the small, yapping house dog. The wolf could have easily killed that dog in a matter of seconds.
But it was completely blinded to its power and strength.
A few days latter, one of the men took the wolf out into the Tundra and shot it, because the day it ever realized what it really was, it would become the most dangerous predator in the village.
But that is what fear and intimidation does, it blinds you to whom you really are.
But along with this lack of confidence, the Israelis had also lost confidence in God’s ability to help them in this battle.
This fear so dominated their thinking that they completely forgot how God had miraculously delivered them out of Egypt just a few weeks earlier.
A spirit of fear actually paralyzes our thinking. It causes you to forget God’s past provision.
We are blinded to God’s ability and to our own.
We lose our love
Secondly, Paul says if we are controlled by a spirit of fear, the love for others begins seeping out of our lives.
The question we need to ask is how will this loss of love actually show up?
Personally, I think it shows up in an increased harshness and judgmental attitudes towards others.
Coming out of this COVID pandemic, I have been shocked by the comments directed towards people who are not vaccinated for COVID, even at times mocking them if they contract the virus.
Look, I am fully vaccinated, but I am shocked by how our so-called civilized society is so eager to turn the unvaccinated into second class citizens. A friend recently told me that his local municipal government just fired all its unvaccinated employees and didn’t even provide them a severance.
I have seen others becoming angry and judgmental towards people who are not taking COVID as serious as they are. I remember watching a video of a man stalking and harassing a woman who was not wearing a mask at a Target store in the US.
He followed her around the store, and was even pointing the woman out to other shoppers and telling them to shame her.
A survey, conducted by One Poll in September 2021, found that one in seven have dumped friends because they weren’t vaccinated.
Another poll conducted by CoinStar discovered that one in eight people will not be giving Christmas presents to family members who disagreed with their position on vaccines and lockdowns.
Another poll conducted by the Trafalgar Group revealed that 22% of Americans believe that people should lose their jobs if they are not vaccinated, and another 12% were unsure.
So what is behind all of this? I believe the Apostle John provides a clue when he wrote:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1 John 4:18 NASV)
Do you see what he said ‘fear involves punishment’ and I wonder if people who are controlled by a spirit of fear want to see others punished as well?
Read these headlines in light of the Apostle John’s warning:
- From the DailyBeast: Mocking unvaccinated Covid victims is the new pandemic blood sport
- Newsweek headline reads: Calling unvaccinated people ‘stupid’ endangers us all
- Fox News headline reads: Jimmy Kimmel says unvaccinated people shouldn’t get ICU beds in his return to late-night show
When people have a spirit of fear, they want to see others punished.
You lose a sound mind
The third thing Paul mentions is that a person who has a spirit of fear loses a sound mind.
What is this referring to?
Fear is primarily an emotion and I believe when we are controlled by a spirit of fear it overrides our thought life, facts and reason are tossed aside as we focus on worst-case scenarios, the dark and ominous ‘what ifs’.
I recently read a story in the Daily Mail, how an employer in Britain asked a woman to quit wearing a decorative spider broach that she had bought online for about $20.
Apparently, one of her coworkers was terrified of spiders and asked the employer to have it removed because she was finding it uncomfortable.
In an article, on Northwestern Medicine’s website, entitled 5 things you don’t know about fear, the author says that fear can make you foggy writing:
As some parts of your brain are revving up, others are shutting down. When the amygdala senses fear, the cerebral cortex (area of the brain that harnesses reasoning and judgment) becomes impaired — so now it’s difficult to make good decisions or think clearly. As a result, you might scream and throw your hands up when approached by an actor in a haunted house, unable to rationalize that the threat is not real.
I like how they described it as a fogged mind, when we are controlled by fear. We can’t see clearly, and similar to someone out on a foggy night, a person can start seeing imaginary monsters floating through the mist.
I remember a few months back, a younger person in his 20s died of COVID in the area where I live. Now it is ‘very’ unusual for a person this age to die of COVID and the article was quick to point out that he had severe underlying health issues.
But when a woman posted this story on Facebook, the first thing she said was
“I don’t want anyone talking about his underlying health issues.”
She wanted everyone to be as terrified of COVID as she was. She did not want anyone dispelling her fear by pointing out that he had underlying health issues, even though the young man would have undoubtedly survived COVID if he wasn’t so seriously sick.
But she wanted none of this.
Her emotional fear was more real than solid fact. She did not want to be talked out of her fear, and was almost angry at any who would try.
We need to respect COVID, but God does not want us to be terrified of it.
So in closing, if you feel like you are being controlled by a spirit of fear, how do we deal with it?
It primarily comes down to controlling your thought life and that will be one of the most difficult things you will ever do as we can sometimes build up ruts in our mind because of bad thinking.
And just like the wheels of car, your mind wants to fall back into the ruts, your old habits of thinking.
I remember a couple of years back reading an interesting statement that you have about 90 seconds to take control of a thought that enters your mind or it will control of you.
And this is exactly the point that the Apostle Paul made in Romans 12:2, when he said that we are transformed, literally changed, by the renewing of our mind.
God wants to transform your thinking.
With the help of God’s word and the Holy Spirit, we need to take control of our thought life.
We need to, as Paul writes, take captive every thought.
Sources: 5 Things You Never Knew About Fear