Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Beginning of Fear

The biggest problem in our world today is sin because it will end up causing most people to spend eternity in hell (Matthew 7:13-14). The case can be made that the root cause of our sin is misplaced fear because fear leads to sin. Other things which lead to sin such as pride really are a result of fear. Pride is simply a fear of being insignificant. Overcome the fear of insignificance and pride can not emerge.

People are fearful of changes going on in the climate, our economy, terrorism, and even the government’s solutions to these problems. In our day, these fears seem to be increasing the rate in which people are “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14, NKJ). And the one fear people should have is the one most people don’t allow themselves to develop: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).

Fear of God drives us to Him for His mercy. Fear of anything besides God causes us to look to less capable alternatives for our salvation. As we experience the weakness of these alternatives, our fear only grows driving us to take irrational counter-measures… “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). So misplaced fear, if allowed to fester, will eventually lead to sin.

It is helpful to consider how fear led to the beginning of sin. We usually think of sin beginning through mankind’s initial ancestors Adam and Eve but since Satan plotted to deceive them, he has the distinction of being the first to reject God. Ezekiel 28:14 describes Satan as the “the anointed cherub who covers… on the holy mountain of God.” Apparently Satan initially had a key role close to God protecting His holiness. As Ezekiel 28:12 says, Satan had been “full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” So what would cause him to reject God? Isaiah 14:12-15 records the prideful mindset that caused Satan to go his own way. Satan feared that that his position in God’s kingdom was not high enough so he parted fellowship with God to pursue his own way.

Blessings can become a disadvantage for us if we forget how we came by them. Adam and Eve had the blessings of Eden yet they let their fears get the better of them. Genesis 3:1-13 chronicles the very first sin of mankind. Eve feared missing out on something God "had to be" withholding from her. So she allowed Satan’s lie to eclipse the truth of God. She also feared being alone in her disobeying God so she lured her husband to join her in eating the forbidden fruit. But Adam was complicit in Eve’s sin because he was with her and failed to stop her from disobeying God.

God gave Adam the truth of the forbidden fruit in Genesis 2:16 before Eve was even on the scene. So Eve had to find out about it from her husband. Thus Adam failed to live up to his God-given role as spiritual leader in their family allowing Eve to influence him. I’m sure he feared losing the affections of his wife who he knew was perfect for him since he had described her as, “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” in Genesis 2:23.

Upon eating the forbidden fruit, both Adam and Eve feared being seen in their nakedness. I once had a dream where I suddenly discovered having forgotten to wear any clothes to work; so I have a sense for what Adam and Eve must have felt. My dream no-doubt was an indicator that I needed to put more trust in Christ to overcome whatever it was I feared at the time.

Adam and Eve hid when the heard God “walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” They knew they had sinned against God and feared His reproach. Adam feared God’s condemnation and blamed his moral failure on his wife and ultimately on God himself for giving him a wife that enticed him to sin. Eve also feared God’s condemnation and proceeded to blame Satan who deceived her. This is what fear does; it causes us to blame others for our condition.

Fortunately, as God provided a covering for Adam and Eve’s nakedness, He also provided Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sin. As the first blood shed on earth was done by God to cover Adam and Eve; the most important blood shed in history covers the sin of all who trust in Jesus. Remembering that gives us courage when we find ourselves fearing anything that threatens us in this world.

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