In the Bible, fear is represented in two ways: as an emotional or mental attitude sin, and as a term for reverence towards God. First, fear is a mental attitude sin that is characterized by panic when one is intimidated by something, or finds oneself in a dangerous situation. Fear arouses the emotions in a bad way. It is a painful emotional distress produced by actual impending pain, danger, and disaster, or by illusions regarding the same.
Whether the conditions causing the fear are real or imaginary the results are the same. Regardless of its source, fear will torment and punish you, and the worst thing is, you do it to yourself. Fear is self-induced misery. Fear is worry, apprehension, horror, or consternation, all of which cause the person to become paralyzed toward their problems. They run away from the problem like frightened mice, close their doors and hide from society. Fears will paralyze you physically and mentally to the point that you lose the normal function of life as God has designed it. People are afraid of many things, and death is usually at the top of the list. However, it's not death that a man should fear; rather he should fear never beginning to truly live. The mental attitude sin of fear will snatch the life right out of you.
Fear is also an active feeling of dread, of which fright and terror are the more intense degrees. Under these intense mental attitude sins the emotion of the soul takes center stage and the believer becomes unable to think rationally. No longer capable of making good decisions, he apprehensively waits for the next realization of what he is dreading. While all believers have the potential to live this way, they do not have to. The solution to controlling fear, like all solutions to life's problems, is given to us in the Bible. The solution to controlling and overcoming all fears in life is learning virtue-love through the daily intake of Bible doctrine.
There is no fear in virtue-love; but mature love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not matured in love. (1JO 4:18)
The second way that fear is used in the Bible is for reverence, respect, or being in awe of God. Our first reference to fear was the negative, but now we see the positive. Fear, or respect of God, is reverence that manifests itself in obedience. This positive sense of fear is better represented by the words “awe” or “respect.” Unbelievers who do not know God may fear Him in many ways. Believers who are ignorant of Bible doctrine may also fear God because they find themselves in legalistic churches that teach them falsehoods about God. Many believers think that God is angry at them for their sins, or for failing to live up to some moral standard. Sadly, this is even taught from some pulpits, but it is the understanding of Bible doctrine that will teach the believer about God’s love and grace. When a believer finds and understands this love and grace, fear is a Christian virtue.
Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. (1PE 2:17)
The meaning of the word “fear” in the Bible is determined by the context in which it is used, whether positive or negative. All students of the word of God need to know the difference.
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