Are you dealing with ongoing fear? Is the Lord asking you to trust Him in the very area where you’ve been dealing with fear for a long time?
Here are five truths to consider as you battle this old enemy.
1. Figure out where the fear is coming from.
Where did this habit of fear first start?
Did something happen in your childhood that taught you to be afraid? Maybe it was a situation with a parent, sibling, or a person in authority.
Or is the fear related to something you’ve decided in your heart? “This situation is unsafe for me. I am not protected. I cannot trust the Lord to keep me safe when this kind of thing happens.”
Or are you afraid because you expect things to go wrong? Do you have what we at Elijah House call a negative expectation? “Something bad is going to happen. I just know it. Things always fall apart for me. They never work out.”
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you more about where the fear started. If you would like help in this area, get prayer counseling with an Elijah House–trained counselor.
2. Understand that sanctification and transformation are a process.
Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. (Rom. 6:6 NKJV)
For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I do the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me. (Rom. 7:19–20 NASB)
Jesus’s work on the cross set us free from the “old man.” However, this doesn’t mean that we no longer struggle with our sin nature. If Paul struggled with it—we can bet that we’ll struggle with it too!
All of us are learning how to recognize sin, repent of it, bring it to the cross, and walk in freedom. Each time we follow that pattern, we establish more and more of God in our life—His nature, His heart, how He thinks, His holiness. We become more like Him. Conquering fear is a part of this process. The tendency to fear gradually loses its grip as we keep repenting for it and turning to the Lord.
When you realize you’re responding in fear, repent and take the fear to the cross.
3. The fear has no power to control you. You can say no to it because of Jesus.
So you too, consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 6:11 NASB)
Sometimes when the fear is especially loud and screaming, we can feel powerless against it, but that is never true. Jesus is an incredible force. When “the old man” of fear tries to influence our thinking, we get to say no—and run to Jesus.
The next time you feel fear trying to talk to you, it might be helpful to say these words aloud: “I am dead to this fear. It does not exist for me anymore. I think differently and I live differently now, because I am alive to God in Christ. That is my reality.”
4. Be patient with yourself, and keep replacing thoughts of fear with thoughts of Jesus.
Healing rests on Jesus’s shoulders alone. We aren’t healed because of our strength; we are healed because of His strength.
At the same time, we often need to go through a process of learning to think and act according to His truth. Paul called this “pressing on”:
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (Phil. 3:12 ESV)
Paul “died” every day. That was his mindset regarding sin and who he used to be before he met Jesus (see 1 Cor. 15:31). We can have the same mindset regarding fear.
When you’re struggling with fear, here’s a brief prayer based on Galatians 2:20—an incredible verse about the power of Jesus living inside us: “I was crucified with Jesus, and my propensity to fear has been replaced with Him and His propensity for life. I live by faith in Him, and fear no longer has any place in me. That’s over and done with forever.”
5. Continually practice putting your trust in the Lord.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Cor. 5:17 NASB)
In the area where God is asking you to be brave, the fear will try to say you can’t be brave. But God is doing a new thing with you, and this new thing is good. When you feel yourself starting to react in fear, turn to the Lord. Tell Him what you’re struggling with, and acknowledge His power to change the situation. Ask Him for the grace you need to carve out new pathways with Him.
As you continually practice putting your trust in the Lord instead of responding in fear, you will start to see the victory you’re hoping for.
To read more about sanctification, transformation, and bitter-root judgments and expectancies, check out Transforming the Inner Man (chapters 1 and 8) by John Loren and Paula Sandford.