This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Joseph Ton (Romanian Christian writer), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
...and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:15)
Fear is an invention of the devil and a consequence of sin. The devil has countless kinds of fears: fear of failure, fear of disease and death, fear of unemployment, fear of the future, fear of suffering, fear of...
Through all these fears man is doomed to slavery. Through fear, Satan makes us passive, not only in countries where Christians are persecuted, but also in the so-called 'free countries'. Remarkably, there is often much fear in these free countries. It is the devil's instrument to enslave people. But the Lord sets us free from fear. There is no fear in love (1 John 4:18). The Lord sets us free, so that we no longer fear our enemies, but even love them.
This freedom is not related to living in a free country, for there are millions of slaves in the 'free' world. It is a deep spiritual freedom which turns fear into courage, unrest into peace, uncertainty into certainty, doubt into hope and death into life.
'And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds...in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 4:7).
A moment of introspection: Right at first, let us understand that God does not give us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). As brother Ton sets forth, fear "is an invention of the devil and a consequence of sin." Sin enervates us, takes away divinely granted courage and leaves us passive, downtrodden and despairing. But we have decided to follow Jesus, haven't we? No turning back (John 6:66)? No fear of what man can do to us (Luke 12:4-5)? We trust God in all things, from finances to family, from arising each day to retiring at day's end. Repeatedly in God's Word, our heavenly Father, His Son, and even His angels encouraged everyday folk to "fear not", "don't be afraid", "take heart", "be strong and courageous", and other encouragements. But Mr. Ton is right; fears still abound. It is said that fear is rampant in our world, today--yes, even in our country. Headlines shout it, newspapers and radio news shows seem intent on increasing our fear, in this or that way.
Coming financial collapse, government overreach, impending judgment by God against a world that has turned its collective back on Him, local stories of man's humanity to man, terrorism expanding its circle of atrocities, sex trafficking, modern-day slavery, health epidemics on grand scales, and more are just a few of the distractions that gnaw at our sense of peace. In their own individual way, these facts instill fear and anxiety. God's Word goes on to say, about non-believers in our world, "...they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." (2 Peter 2:18-19) Mr. Ton avers, "through all these fears, man is doomed to slavery." Yet God said to believers in Christ's day, and says to us, "Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God." (Isaiah 41:10a) We are not slaves to such fears, as slavery goes--being unwillingly servile to the fallen one. No. God says that those who Jesus Christ sets free will be free indeed. (John 8:36) Free from whatever they were slaves to. If a slave to fear, then freedom from that. If a slave to lusts of the flesh, then freedom from that, etc. God says this, "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!'" (Romans 8:15) Paul instructed the church in Galatia, saying "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1). Brother Ton adds his thoughts regarding what he calls the "deep spiritual freedom which turns fear into courage, unrest into peace, uncertainty into certainty, doubt into hope and death into life." God sets us free from fear (1 John 4:18). But, you say, it hasn't happened yet, in your life? Perhaps you haven't thought to ask Him for this freedom. (James 4:2b) It is best to not let fear gain a foothold, and certainly not get the best of you.
So God frees us from slavery to fear... Why does He do that? Joseph Ton suggests that the "Lord sets us free, so that we no longer fear our enemies, but even love them." (Luke 6:27-32) We accept God's emancipation of us from fear, because that gives us victory over Satan. We can love our enemies instead of fearing them. God blesses you in this, as Christ Himself said, "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." (Matthew 5:44) With God's help (Psalm 70:1), we can escape the tendrils of all sorts of fears: "fear of failure, fear of disease and death, fear of unemployment, fear of the future, fear of suffering, fear of..." We can leave these fears behind, as the apostle Paul did, in his letter to the church at Philippi (Philippians 3:8-18). We press onward, forgetting what lies behind, toward the goal of the upward calling of Christ each in our own lives. In this we experience the deep spiritual freedom to which Joseph Ton alluded. The world behind me, the cross before me; no turning back, no turning back. Though none go with me, still I will follow; no turning back, no turning back. We are in this for the long haul, fellow believers. I love the passage in Isaiah, rightly called "The Joy of the Redeemed" (Isaiah 35:1-9). Verses 3 & 4 of this passage are priceless: "Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, 'Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.'" Indeed, be strong; lose the fear!