"Fire and brimstone" preaching brings mixed reactions from Christians and is the butt of jokes, derision, even animosity among those who are outside the light of Christ. Thanks, Postmodern Redneck, for bringing the information that Edward's demeanor in delivery was not fire and brimstone style. That effectively raises the question of, on what level was this pivotal historical moment in the history of American Christianity the work of the Holy Spirit. A rich moment of human and Holy Spirit interaction that calls for some reflection, perhaps, but not a moment on my mind this morning.
Putting the last four posts together today I examine "fear" as a composite topic:
--deep fears within me out of the reach of my conscious mind
--fear as evidence against the fruit of the spirit, which I face consciously
--fear as the root of holy living, as in the fear of the Lord described in Proverbs
Reverse the order of the list, and therein lies a sound way to overcome fears that are against the will of Lord and outside the truth of the Kingdom of God.
Commenter Craig V. is spiritually insightful to raise the issue of encountering the "perfect love which casts out fear" for consideration. 1 John 4:18 reads, "There is no fear in love ; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love."
1. The only conclusion I can draw is that to be moved, even by fear, into submission to God answers all other fears. "Fear" of God, total reverence and respect for Him calling one to do whatever in obedience to Him equates in New Covenant theology, which we all understand at least intellectually, with submission to the Grace of God and thus NOT be in fear of His judgment. His plan of grace replaces all my wrong-doing under the covering of Christ's atonement. My every failing...absolutely...is erased. If that is true-- It absolutely is! --then all reasoning and emotional feelings need to embrace the truth that my conscience is freed from fear of punishment by the Ultimate Judge. With a freed conscience, I am equipped to move into one being perfected in love.
2. Seeking the pure love of God experience in my life, I need not spend much time groveling before any conscious fear that tempts me. Fears of which I am conscious are precise evidence I am not experiencing the Presence of the Holy Spirit, and therefore, evidence I am not trusting the Lord. Submission to the Spirit of Christ which is always as close as my own heart within me, means the fear must flee. If it does not, then I am trusting something other than Christ. That is good information. It tells me the exact spiritual construct with which I contend. So, I consciously bring to light my fears and confront them through confession to others while trusting that the way of Christ is both freedom and the path Christ described as, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Isn't it interesting that within the Body of Christ, intended by God to be a place of spiritual sustenance and building up for the believer, is often the place where we hide our strongest conscious fears.
Fear of judgment by others.
Christians are so prone to judge one another unrighteously.
3. The deep fears, which may occur in the subconscious will be effectively dealt with across the span of our lives as we consciously do what God has faithfully provided as both instruction and substantive equipping. That is, we simply trust God will finish the work He has begun unto the utter reaches of ourselves, the places we cannot touch. If we effectively rest in the Presence of Jesus within the heart, find the path of trust which is the fulfilling place of perfect love and respond by a walk in obedience to resist the temptations of fear; then we are in faith standing on the Solid Rock, and we are pleasing to God.
Rejoice, my fellow citizens of Heaven! Nothing, absolutely nothing, in the Wild Wood is greater than the One who reigns over the Kingdom in which we now have our citizenship!