Overcoming The Spirit Of Fear

Erase Fear

Erase Fear

I recently had an opportunity to teach on a trip to Brazil. As I was preparing to share a message in front of 350 Brazilians, fear gripped me. This would be by far the largest group of people I had ever spoken in front of.

My pastor had spoken two days before and absolutely crushed it. The next day he was followed up by my friend Ryan and he knocked it out of the park as well. Now it was my turn.

I’m not much of a “preacher” in the sense of an exhorter or encourager with my message. I’m a teacher through and through. I am passionate but it never takes precedence over the meat of what I want to teach. I never want to distract anyone with myself for fear of them losing focus of the message. No one else that spoke before me had my style. I wondered how I would fare.

As I was preparing, the Lord was showing me how fear relates to our identity. Fear is the single most destructive force warring against the sons and daughters of God. It seeks to strip us of power, strip us of love and cause us to lose all sense of control of who we are. Fear robs us of our identity in Christ and ultimately causes us to bring down others with us. Because after all, misery loves company.

We all know the single most popular verse in regards to fear:

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

As I read this verse, the Lord began to illuminate these 3 things to me in a deeper way. If he didn’t give us a spirit of fear, then clearly he DID give us a spirit of power, a spirit of love and a spirit of self-control.

The Spirit of Power

Power is linked to authority. Matthew 10:1 says that Jesus gave his disciples authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. If the disciples operated in fear, there is no way they could have used the authority they had been given.

In a more practical sense, I got this illustration. In my church, at times I teach the 1st-5th graders. I’ve been given authority over them. The funny thing about kids though, is that they can smell fear. If I don’t walk into that room with confidence and authority, they will run all over me. Even though I have been given authority over them, if I don’t exercise it, they will recognize my weakness and take advantage. I believe the illustration applies to our walk with the Lord.

Fear strips us of power. It strips us of the authority Jesus has given us as sons and daughters. Skip forward in Matthew 10 and verse 7-8 says “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (emphasis mine)

The disciples had been commissioned to preach the kingdom of heaven. They had been given authority to bring it with them. It had been given to them freely for the purpose of them giving it out freely. You can’t give what you don’t have. Fear will close your hands to the power you have been given.

The enemy does not want us to understand the power we have. He will use fear to strip us of our authority. We become so preoccupied with a sense of worthlessness, failure, false humility and everything else we say about ourselves that we can’t accept the authority that has been “freely given”. When you see the world walking all over Christians, you can bet those sons and daughters are operating in a spirit of fear. God wants us free from fear and operating in the spirit of power. This is our inheritance.

The Spirit of Love

Love and fear are enemies. Love is the antithesis of fear. Love in it’s purest form is unequivocally devoid of fear. John, the apostle of love, (Which by the way is an awesome name. If you call me that, I won’t stop you.) said it decidedly:

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

The spirit of this age has been gunning for the purity of love for a long time. Love has been warped, perverted and twisted in so many ways that pure love is looked upon as naiveté.

One of the ways fear manifests in love is through control. What we fear, we try to control. Our relationships suffer due to fear and insecurities. It can manifest through jealousy, anger, selfishness and many other ways. However when fear is removed, we can operate in the spirit of love. We have the ability to love the unlovable. We can love our enemies. We can love those that do not show grace. When we are free from fear, we can love as we are loved by the One who loves perfectly.

The Spirit of Self-Control

As I said before, fear manifests itself in control. When we attempt to control others, it is damaging. However, when we operate in a spirit of self-control, we are only concerned with managing our own heart.

The spirit of self-control gives us the ability to maintain the internal environment of our heart. It gives us the ability to respond to situations as opposed to reacting to situations. James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” This can only be accomplished when we are freed from fear and operate in the spirit of self-control.

The Spirit of Adoption

So how do we break off the spirit of fear and walk in the spirit of power, love and self-control?

Yup, you guessed it. It’s all about identity. When you know who you are, you will understand what you have been given. That’s why Paul talks about the spirit of adoption:

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” ~Romans 8:15-17

It is vital that we understand the spirit of adoption because it defines who we are. We can embrace the truth that as His sons and daughters, we no longer have the spirit of slavery which leads to fear.

Until you understand that you are an heir of the kingdom, you will continue to live like an orphan. Only orphans live in fear because they have no one to care for them. We are not orphans. This isn’t something we have to strive for. It is ours. We simply have to receive it.

I went through a time where I had to repent from the spirit of fear. The word repent literally means “change of mind”. Once I had the shift in my mindset to the reality of my position as a son of God, I began to realize that I was no longer subject to fear. The enemy comes with intimidation tactics, but he is really just like those little kids that I teach in the children’s ministry. Once I stand my ground, he has to flee (James 4:7). It’s time for the sons and daughters of God to take their place and resist the spirit of fear!

Are you living under a spirit of fear or living as a child of God?

Comments

  1. I was very encouraged by your article. There was a great deal of insight and wisdom. Continue to utilize your gift of teaching, you are equipping the Body of Christ! Well done.

  2. I enjoyed reading your article on fear. And it really motivated me, because as a child of God, once when teaching youth Ministry I was speaking and was trembling while teaching and I was scared, for what reason I don’t know and there were other instances where I would become fearful while speaking. Even at home sometimes I just get this sudden feeling that the enemy is after me and there are things watching me, especially in the dark. But after reading your story I realize that I wasn’t made perfect in love. A few weeks ago I went to bible studies at my church and the topic was ‘Fear’. I learned that there is enough ‘fear not’ in the bible for ever day of the year. And I realize also that I have to be bold and fear only God because he is the one that created my soul and he has the power to destroy it. So thankyou for your help it was a blessing to me. :)

  3. fear almost makes me mad i had a fear of accidents after my mum died in an accident it made me fear to travel and the fear of travel crippled me that really changed my life completely
    i pray that it ends soon.

  4. Thanks for this topic .I am blessed by it.

  5. Thank you Tony for posting this. I felt led to preach on the spirit of fear this week and came upon this blog. Your insights on the scriptures you used were invaluable. It was a powerful message. It is hard to envisage a world full of love, but perhaps it is easier to envisage a world without fear. Keep up the good work

    • Thanks Tony, this write up has encouraged me a lot, I’m really going through a tough time in my life, fear has been tormenting me, I’m really glad I read ur blog, please! I would like to talk to you, can I get your e-mail or something? Thanks in advance…

    • thank you so much your massage played a big roll in my life GOD bless you am trying to find a way on how am im going to overcome this devil of fear and doughty may god revel more to you so that you may redeem me out of this unbelieves spirit

  6. Hi Tony I stumbled upon your article doing a google search for spirit of fear, I really enjoyed it and wrote down some great notes. Great writing my fellow minister. May God continue to bless you and use you!

  7. Thank you for your message, it has really enlightened me. I’m struggling now with fear as I have never had before.
    Thank you for your message it has been a blessing.

  8. You r very right Tony! Fear? Where have u gotten d spirit of fear? As a kid, when I run 2 my Dad after having one of those bad dreams my Dad will look at me n say…” Nibo ni iwo ti ri emi eru” ” Okunrin kankan ko ni le duro niwaju e ni ojo aiye e gbogbo” Translation: where have u gotten d spirit of fear? No human being, man or woman, mighty or powerful can stand in front of u al d days of ur live amen. After hearing dis while growing up… I fear nothing, nothing at all. Praise the Lord!

  9. Thanks for sharing your revelation on fear. I am truly blessed to have read up on your blog.
    Bless you Brother Tony

  10. I am really learning Gods love for me. I am being set free as an orphan abd embracing sonship. I just yesterday said “i no longer want to fear”. Your article was a blessing to me. Thankyou. It gave me complete clarity. Thank you for using and sharing your gifts and talents with the body nf Christ.

  11. This kind of gripping fear is of the enemy that seeks only to “steal,kill, and destroy.” I believe we must speak to this fear right when it begins to come on you. Don’t wait and allow it to grow. Curse it in Jesus name. Speak to it directly as something trying to take you down and destroy you. It is! Remember fear is not just a feeling, but an enemy, a real person. Don’t be deceived by not taking it seriously, meditating on thoughts of fear, and allowing it to grow and take a gripping hold on you like a snake. If a snake was coiling around you in the physical realm, you wouldn’t just sit and think about it . You’d act immediately to get it off you and cast it away. So don’t just sit and wallow in fear feeling sorry for yourself, because fear (satan) has no mercy. If you feel weak, call out to God in reverence and His strength will quickly become yours in a moment’s time. “Let the weak say I’m strong”. Face your own fears head on and curse them directly in Jesus name, and watch them die and be overtaken by the love that lives inside you.

  12. Sangeeta Guha says:

    Thanks for the sahring the “words” of God.

  13. Good stuff man. I always like Andy Stanley’s stuff on fear and courage:

    “Courage is not the absence of fear. Without fear there would be no need for courage.”

    “Where there is fear there is opportunity.”

    When we stand firm on the promises of God, fear begins to look like opportunities for God to work through us…after all we are children of God!

    Thanks!
    Jonathan recently posted..The Remaining 300

  14. Heather Grey says:

    Thank you for listening to God and putting this word out there .Hallelujah

  15. Anonymous says:

    Ah the silly rituals performed by the weak minded who are too ignorant to realize that their minds have been enslaved by this infection known as “faith”.

    It’s sad to see humans walking around so utterly mentally damaged to the points their minds would actually accept this garbage.

    And even worse.. So manipulated that you’ve actually developed, collectively, the most profound and utterly destructive case of Stockholm Syndrome the world has ever seen, as you truly love, honor, respect and obey your captors.

    When ever I have my doubts as to the survival of the human race..
    Looking to the World’s religious population does nothing to ease my mind.

    Sometimes I just think to myself… Bring on the Asteroid.
    Perhaps in another few hundred million years when the next species of dominate creatures evolves on this planet.. Hopefully they will have learned early enough to seek actual answers to their questions, rather than invent a God and use it as an explanation.

    You are truly a disappointment.. Every last one of you.

    • Silly words spoken by someone whose avatar is that of a would-be murderer. No wonder you hate the Lord so much.

  16. Missingmagic says:

    Thank you for sharing Tony, I needed this today. WOW…I thank GOD for the wisdom to see the enemy at work -and ask for HIS strength in my life. Stay Blessed and keep up what you are doing for others and especially for the LORD. Lisa B.

  17. Last year was the first time I actually dealt with fear as an adult in my life. Fear that paralyzed me and wouldn’t allow me to make decisions. It was a really difficult place to be in and I hated it. Most of my adult life I have tried to live in the power that God has given us. I call my own personal fear factor, facing our fears head on and moving forward. I do not want to allow Satan to hold me back, I want people to see that God can take all the things Satan has done and use them for his glory.
    Keep up the great posts. I really enjoy your writing.

    • Hi Chris, sorry I missed your comment before. Thanks for sharing. I know what you mean about having my own personal fear factor. I think I can have an entire season of shows about what I’ve faced! Lately I’ve been winning though! :)

  18. Tony, great post my friend. It’s this fear that paralyzes most of our world’s population from taking action or – in a lot of cases – dreaming for anything bigger for their lives. Great thing is that Scripture teaches us that God has already given us a Spirit of Power. That Spirit of Power, Love, and Sound Mind is a warm reminder of God’s plan for us. Thank you for sharing!

  19. “We no longer have the spirit of slavery which leads to fear.” This really spoke to me.

    Thank you

  20. This is so good Tony! I love the line…”You can’t give what you don’t have.” That is so true and yet so many people try to serve without having anything to give. Also, on the line of fear…fear can control your whole life if you let it. Fear is probably one of satan’s number 1 tools to use against us.

  21. Tony, or I mean Apostle of Love, your stuff is powerful and anointed. I truly am inspired and blessed to read what you teach.

    To answer your question, I’m glad to say that I live under a spirit of fear less, and living as a child of God more. Ask me this 2 years ago and I’d have been completely living in fear, but by the Grace of God, the power of community within churches and friends, I’ve stepped out from under the fearbrella.

    I just made that up right now.

    • Yes, I was waiting for someone to call me that! Please, just don’t call me AOL. I’m pretty sure I’ll get thrown in jail for copyright infringement or something.

      Glad to see you walking in freedom man! Those fearbrellas are terrifying…and so unfashionable!

  22. You are right in that the enemy of our souls wants us to live in fear. It robs us of everything God wants us to be and to do. The only fear we are to live by is the reverent fear of the Lord… oh and the fear of not finding a bathroom when you really have to go…. zing!

  23. Josh and I were just talking about fear the other night. It is amazing to me how much I let it control my actions, thoughts and words. This was so encouraging to me, Tony! :)

  24. Adonis Seldon says:

    I’m glad you had the courage to share this with your friends Tony and did not let fear overtake you from doing something you love. This was by far the most (inspirational) piece you’ve blogged so far (at least the ones I read..lol) and I want you to keep up the good work. Keep posting!

  25. I’m glad that perfect love casts out fear…good thoughts bro’

    You cannot run away from weakness; you must some time fight it out or perish; and if that be so, why not now, and where you stand? – Robert Louis Stevenson

  26. I have struggled with fear in one form or another all my life, and God gave me a word for this year: fearless. I’ve overcome a lot (by grace), but I truly want to live fearlessly for Him. It struck me differently when I read that familiar verse today. We have fear, but He overwhelms it with love, power, self-control. That’s what HE gave us. Fear doesn’t stand a chance! Thanks Tony.

  27. fear has crippled many a thing in my life from becoming a full-blown blessing. stupid fear…

  28. I keep coming back to the attempt to control that which we fear. I feel a political post coming on, brother. Both sides of the ailse operate on fear and their main solution is control.

    More than that, I see the things in my life that I micromanage. It’s because I fear them. I fear finances because I don’t understand them well. I fear some of the things inside me (those unknowns) so, I perfect a facade. If I trust that what is inside of me is what God has placed inside of me, the spirit of power and love and self-control, then that certainly frees me to rest in that knowledge and not play helicopter Christian.

    • I love your political posts. You’re my NPR. P.S. The ç in your spelling of façade didn’t have the little goatee. Don’t forget the gotee…it’s my favorite letter!

  29. Fear used to paralyze me at times, mainly the fear of failure. Then I realized that if I didn’t act upon what God revealed to me, I was already failing. This helped tremendously.

  30. >>If he didn’t give us a spirit of fear, then clearly he DID give us a spirit of power, a spirit of love and a spirit of self-control.

    >>So how do we break off the spirit of fear and walk in the spirit of power, love and self-control?

    Yup, you guessed it. It’s all about identity. When you know who you are, you will understand what you have been given.

    >>Once I had the shift in my mindset to the reality of my position as a son of God, I began to realize that I was no longer subject to fear.
    —————————————

    Tony. Oh, Tony. Spot-freaking-on, brother. Sons. Our identity is how He sees us and never how we see ourselves. Never. Sons with rights and access to our Father.

    Oh for the day when the Christian majority would embrace the Fatherhood of God as a reality and shrug off the cloak of the orphan spirit of fear and doubt.

  31. Great post :) glad you got the chance to teach/preach! You will tell us how it actually went, right? Hehe.

    • It was really good man. After the first few minutes of jitters, I settled down and it just flowed. When I was done, I dropped the mic and walked away 8 Mile style.

  32. Wow, today I wrote about fear hindering us in our acceptance of being created in God’s image with a purpose. That same fear if left to fester can leave us immobilized and sitting on the sidelines.

    I closed my post with Romans 12:1-2a which reads:

    1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

    Excellent word! God is obviously trying to get the message across that in Him, we have no cause to fear.

  33. Anonymous says:

    “When you know who you are, you will understand what you have been given.”

    YES!! This is the key to driving out fear.

    Everywhere I turn over the last week, this has been the message that I have heard over and over again. If we know, like deeply know, we are sons of God, and are therefore loved, protected, and excepted…then we have no reason to fear. If we know who we are, then we will know our power in Christ. Awesome post!

    • One of the songs we sing in my church says “We are children of a kingdom that never ends.” When we start living in light of eternity, it will change our perspective on the here and now. It is finished, He has done it. We don’t have to wait for heaven to live in victory!

      Fling those throwing stars at fear!

  34. Tony, well said today. I appreciate your thoughts (very comprehensive-love it). Right now your words that “fear strip us of our authority” is hitting me pretty hard right now. I had never thought of it like that, but the more I do… I feel that is spot on. Fear that I have (any fear, pick one) hinders me from being the man God has called me to be–one with authority, boldness, and courage. Thanks for the reminder through your post today, Tony.

  35. For a lot time I was crippled by fear, but He is faithful and showing me how to live as a His child. It’s really crazy because the type of fear that you are referring to is a trick. But fear of Him is the good sort. Okay, I’m rambling.

  36. Fear is so crippling. It is a terrible thing and can hold us back from the best that God has. As you wrote so well, we do not need to give into the fear but we can be more than conquerors of it. When we push through the fear – we see the power of God in ways that is more awe-inspiring than we could have ever imagined!
    Excellent Post Tony – thanks for sharing it.

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