Posted On May 27, 2019

Defeating Fear With the Love of God

by | May 27, 2019 | Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

There are countless emotional obstacles that keep us from freely praying to God each day and moment by moment. But there is one overriding reason, Paul says, for you to fight through and go to God in prayer: the Holy Spirit himself is the one beckoning you, drawing you into God’s presence. God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).

I was struck recently, in recently reading  this passage, by the fact that each of these nouns refers back to the Spirit, just as in Galatians 5 each of the “fruit” points back to the Spirit. But here in 2 Timothy, Paul also uses contrasts to help us see what the work of the Spirit does and does not look like:

  • Not the spirit of fear, but it is the Spirit of power,
  • Not the spirit of fear, but it is the Spirit of love,
  • Not the spirit of fear, it is the Spirit of self-control.

What is Paul’s point? Why would he say this to us, and in fact say it twice in parallel ways in Romans 8:15 and 2 Timothy 1:7?

The impulse in your soul to be fearful, to run away from God, or to dread God’s presence—God wants you to know does not come from him. But that internal urge to run to God, to trust in his strength and his power is from the Holy Spirit—that’s God’s Spirit speaking.

The longing in your soul to have loving fellowship with God is from the Holy Spirit. Even that careful, faithful reckoning of the mind that has to take place when your emotions are all over the place—when you don’t feel like trusting God, you don’t feel like believing his promises, you don’t feel like it’s a good day—yet you reason from the gospel, and so trust God anyway. That is the Holy Spirit sustaining your faith. That is the Holy Spirit providing self-control. Not the fearfulness, not the running away, not the terror of God’s presence.

Three Types of Prayer-Killing Fears

In other words, that fear in you that keeps you from coming to God in prayer is not God speaking to you. Whatever it might be:

  • Fear because of guilt. You’ve had a bad week, you’ve had a bad day (you know good and well what you did today) that’s not worthy of God. How could you come into God’s presence after acting like that, after saying that, after doing that? How could you do that? This fear of guilt in you tends to keep you away from God.
  • Fear that comes from laziness because you know it’s going to take work. Real repentance takes work, real relationship with God takes work. It’s not just saying some little fluffy prayer. It means coming to God and opening up the wreckage to him and saying, “God, here I am. This is where I am. Help me, search me, clean me. I have to be willing to give up these things that are keeping me from You, I have to be willing to pursue these things that I’ve been ignoring in my life.” There is a fear that arises from laziness: we say, “I’ll do that tomorrow … or never.”
  • The fear of doubt asks, “Does all this really even matter? I know the Bible talks a lot about prayer, I know it talks a lot about repentance, but sometimes I feel like I’m talking to myself when I’m praying, and sometimes when I’m confessing sin I don’t feel any different afterward.” Doubtful fear asks the heart-sickening question, “Does this really make any difference whatsoever?”

Don’t Let Your Fears Outshout Your Father

Whatever is causing that fear that drives you away from God, God says, “That is not me speaking to you. Don’t listen to that internal inclination.” That compulsion which draws us to God in prayer no matter what mistakes we’ve made, no matter what hard repentance it will require, what our emotions may be at the moment: this is God speaking to you.

When you feel drawn to pray yet again—and you are able to say “I know I don’t deserve to go to God in prayer, I know this is going to be hard to fess up to my sins, and I know my emotions are all over the place, but I’m going to trust God’s revelation. I’m going to trust his fatherly provision, direction, protection for my life”—this is the Holy Spirit. This is what the Holy Spirit leads people to. This is what it means to be a child of God, the Spirit of God in you leading you to do this, to cry out “Abba, Father,” to go to God and speak to him.

Anything that keeps you from speaking to God is not this Holy Spirit. That in your breast that draws you to God in spite of all the obstacles that is the Spirit of adoption that says you are a child of God, and you belong there not because of who you are or how good you’ve been, but because God is your Father.

Related Posts

Naked and Unashamed

Naked and Unashamed

Genesis 2:24-25, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” As Moses concludes his narrative on the creation of Adam and Eve, he...

How to Study Scripture to Show Yourself Approved to God

How to Study Scripture to Show Yourself Approved to God

On today’s episode, a listener writes in and asks Dave, “How can we study Scripture to show ourselves approved?” What You'll Hear on this Episode The Context of 2 Timothy 2:15. What 2 Timothy 2:15 means. Whether 2 Timothy 2:15 means we can earn our way into heaven....

Taken Out of Man

Taken Out of Man

Genesis 2:21-23, “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the...

Our Greatest Need

Our Greatest Need

On today’s For Life and Godliness show, Drew considers knowing our great need of Christ, how to be sure you are known by God, and availing yourself of the means of grace. What you’ll hear in this episode Critically assessing our needs versus our ultimate need for...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share87
Tweet25
Email
Reddit
Share