Fear is "false evidence appearing real." Though this is often true, there are times we are and should be afraid, such as when a lion is breathing down our necks!
God designed a built-in mechanism for those times called the fight-or-flight response, also known as the acute stress response. This is the response our body has when we are afraid, whether it is a real or perceived fear. Our bodies will release hormones to help us deal with the issue or to run away to safety.
We will feel our hearts racing, our breathing increase and blood rushing to our limbs. The blood flows from our veins to our extremities to get us out of danger. When this happens, we aren't thinking; we are just getting out of the situation ... and fast! Then we return to normal.
God's Fear Solution
The evil one, though, thrives on messing up our lives by throwing in irrational fears. Even though these may be all in our minds, they still seem real to us. Even in these types of feelings, God has a solution.
In 2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP), tells us: "God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but He has given us a spirit of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline, abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control."
Fear can take many forms, but God tells us that fear did not come from Him. Still, He knows we will have fear, so He gives us tools to overcome fear.
The Spiritual Package
He gives us is a spirit that encompasses four things: power, love, sound judgment and personal discipline. That, my friends, is an action-packed combination!
We think of power as physical strength, like the ability to run fast enough to get away from an attacker. Power includes the ability to change your own mind and thoughts.
He has the power to help us understand whether we need to be afraid or not. This is the power over fear, and it is ours as a gift from God.
Love is even stronger than power. It was God's love that translated us from a destiny bound for an eternity in a very dark and endless place to one filled with the light and abundance of God. Nothing is stronger than God's love. It is endless. It is measureless. It will continue, even when we thumb our noses at God. His love will never give up, under any circumstance. God's love is resident within us. We just have to call upon it.
Using Solid Thinking
Sound judgment gives us the capacity to assess situations, individuals, circumstances and life events and draw sound conclusions. It is the ability to evaluate a problem objectively and with a clear mind, to calculate risks and benefits in order to make an informed decision.
It means we can analyze what is happening and react appropriately. Many times we are afraid of making a wrong decision. This is why God incorporates sound judgment in this spiritual package.
Personal discipline is a tricky one for sure. This word seems to put the burden on us. The dictionary says this means that we have the control to motivate ourselves, stay on track and do what is right. It's the ability to control our feelings and overcome our weaknesses. It's that great ability to pursue what we know is right, despite temptations to abandon it.
All of this is so we can master the kinds of irrational fears that keep us in a bound in the evil one's straitjacket of fear. The all-encompassing, fear-defeating spirit that God gives us imparts abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control.
Abilities God Gives Us
We need the power to change our crazy thoughts. We need to focus on love as the greatest strength and motivator. We need to have sound judgment instead of being moved by the whims of those around us or our own emotional involvement in the situation.
Then we have to have self-control. It's part of the fruit of the Spirit and is a sign that we belong to Jesus. We can't allow our selfish wants and desires to lead us. So to have self-control, we must be Spirit-lead.
This is allowing the Holy Spirit to lead our physical bodies. This type of Spirit-led self-control helps us resist temptation and do what we know God wants us to do. Spirit-led self-control must guide every decision we make.
The Enemy's Weapon
Our enemy uses our fears as a way to keep us from God's best. He wants to keep us in a constant state of irrational fear and chronic stress because he wants us defeated. Fear is the weapon he uses the most, but we usually don't recognize it until it has us totally bound in a stronghold.
The evil one is constantly whispering in our ears. He entices us with thoughts like, "Eat this to feel better." Then in the next breath, he says, "You're a failure. You'll never amount to anything. You might as well just eat everything in sight."
Where is our spirit of power, love, sound judgment and personal discipline? Where did our calm and well-balanced mind and self-control go? The spirit God gave us is still there. We chose fear instead. It's so much easier to give in to our addiction than to fight, to just lay down and die.
Straitjacket of Fear
This week, I was reminded what God told me about this stronghold of fear the enemy tries to keep us in.
"Many of My people want to give up. They say, 'I might as well throw in the towel. This journey is too much.' But I say, 'You are made stronger with each difficult step you take. It's the only way to create muscle.'
"Sure, you could just give up. That's the easy way. You could stop trying to make a difference, find that solution, figure out your problem, roll over and play dead, but then fear wins.
"Fear is a liar. Fear tells you to give up. Fear stops your forward motion. Fear keeps you in bondage.
"Fear doesn't want you to change, transform and become better. Fear wants to kill, steal and destroy any progress you have made.
"Fear wants you stuck in bondage to your addictions. Fear loves it when you are in a straitjacket stronghold doing exactly what the evil one wishes.
"Are you there right now? Are you a robot of fear's demands? Are you eating, drinking, smoking, spending, watching, reading, raging, screaming exactly what fear tells you to? This will only drive you deeper into bondage.
"Listen to Me, My Child, fear would tell you that you are of no value. Fear would tell you that you are worthless. Fear would say what you do doesn't matter. Fear would tell you that you are and always will be a failure."
"Love tells you that you are priceless. Love moves you forward to success and worth. Love says, 'You are Mine, and you matter.' Love tells you that you are are a success, and you have a hope and a future.
"You, My Child, have been chosen for the exact place you are in right now. You are in the right place at just the right time.
"If you defy the enemy's words by refusing to do what he tells you to do, you will see there is a way out of whatever has you bound.
"You can take off the straitjacket of fear that says, 'You are stuck in your addictions. You'll never amount to anything.' That's the voice of the liar that is burying you a little more each day.
"Stop. Just stop, and choose love. Choose life. Choose surrendering all that you are to love's design rather than fear's clutches.
"Choose vitality rather than complicity to the voice of fear.
"Choose the energy I give you, which isn't born out of exhaustion or self-effort, but the pure beauty of just reclining and resting in Me.
"Choose love, life, surrender, vitality and energy. These are My gifts to you.
"When you choose to rest in Me, these gifts are being strengthened in you. It's in resting in and relying on Me that fear loses and love wins."
For more on this topic, check out the Straitjacket of Fear on Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast on Charisma Podcast Network or wherever you listen to podcasts.
This article first appeared on teresashieldsparker.com.
Teresa Shields Parker is the author of six books and two study guides, including her No. 1 bestseller, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds. Her sixth book, Sweet Surrender: Breaking Strongholds, is live on Amazon. She blogs at teresashieldsparker.com. She is also a Christian weight loss coach (check out her coaching group at Overcomers Academy) and speaker. Don't miss her podcast, Sweet Grace for Your Journey, available on CPN.
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