Someone Asked: I have fear, but I wanna have faith. Yet, I’m afraid that when I’m afraid, I’m sinning because I’m not having faith, because anything that’s not of faith is sin, which makes me even more afraid. I’m trapped… HELP!
I have never quite understood the popular dichotomy of fear and faith. It seems that biblically, fear and faith are connected in some way, not necessarily directly opposed. For example, Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…” Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” Proverbs 14:27, “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.”
So, I cannot accept that fear in itself is the opposite of faith nor can fear on its own be a sin—but rather, fear (in the context of a forgiven believer in Christ), whether expressed in reverence or trembling, leads us to the love found only in Christ. In the context of a believer, fear may be part of our sanctification. Paul expressed fear throughout his ministry (See 1Cor 2:1-5, 2 Cor 7:2-15), he instructs us to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil 2:12, please note, NOT works in terms of justification, but rather, not taking our salvation for granted, also see Rom 11:20), and Paul expressed, fear that God would humble him (2 Cor 12:20-21)…
If your fear is due to being disciplined (or chastised) for unrepentant sin—turn away from sin and seek strength and forgiveness in Christ… As John writes, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
If by fear, you mean anxious, then remember Philippians 4:3-7.
The bible does not set fear and faith as a dichotomy, but it does set fear and love in opposition. See 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” And so, contemplate this passage (not just the verse) in 1 John 4. This is such a beautiful passage on God’s love, the love between The Father, Son, and Spirit, and as part of this relationship, we see the gift of this amazing love shared with us. Are you in Christ? Then you are forgiven in Christ. And if forgiven, then remember, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” And then Paul continues, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus…”