[ Continued from PART ONE – https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/why-do-the-right…suffer-part-one/ ]
“FEAR NOT!” –
Then he [Jesus] called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” ~ Mark 8:34-35 NIV Bible.
We FEAR many things as Christians to this WORLD’s perception of who we are. We FEAR that somehow, unbelievers will think we are RELIGIOUS fanatics and won’t see us as “regular” people and not like themselves, with goals, and hopes, and mortgages, and dentist bills.
We FEAR being misunderstood, that they will conclude that we think we are better than they are.
Even as a follower of the Lord since 1972, I’ve never underestimated the FEAR that most people have in the need to be accepted.
In the HISTORICAL context of the Scripture passage in 1 Peter 3:13-15: PETER instructs us as mature believers and not to be afraid to assert our LOVE and PASSION for God. It is worth the risk of being misunderstood and to be a person of FAITH!
When I meditate on the verses given, it really boils down to this:
Am I, as a follower of Christ Jesus, am I willing to allow the Lord to direct MY LIFE; shape my ethics and control my ethics and control my conduct, even if it puts me at odds with the culture in which I live?
The person who lives a godly life is going to face FEAR of rejection and intimidation in a culture that embraces the philosophy that says,
“There are no moral absolutes and all truth is subjective”
In such a culture, God’s Word demands us, “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”
Zig Ziglar, a Christian motivational speaker says: FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real!
We often run from the imaginary and as Job lived, “that which I feared the most has come to pass” (Job 3:25).
There are legitimate fears–FEARS that cause us to be cautious: FEAR of driving on I-5 at the rush hour in Los Angeles/Seattle [I’ve personally experienced both], or, FEAR of snakes [I’ve experienced this also!]. That kind of FEAR is really more respect that can save us a lot of heartache in the end!
PETER wants us to NOT be afraid and to live for JESUS; to let His life dominate ours.
THE SPIRITUAL ANTIDOTE (v. 14-15):
 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED,  but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; (NAS bible).
The SOLUTION to FEAR is infallible, meaning it is without error…“but in your hearts…”
Verse 15 gives a very simple solution to obtaining VICTORY over FEAR.
- SPIRIT-FILLED DEDICATION
“but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts”
That simply means, we are to recognize Christ Jesus as OUR LORD, OUR SAVIOR and MESSIAH.
The Apostle Peter, in no uncertain terms, is challenging ALL believers too; that is you and I, to set apart the LORD JESUS as Lord in our hearts, our being; giving first place to Him in obedience in our lives.
What sounds easy, appears to be a challenge to churches today and perhaps, the greatest problem.
In a 1999 Gallup Poll, it showed that 78% of Americans expect to go to heaven when they die. However, less than 30% ever pray, read the Bible or attend church on a regular basis. And Christians wonder why they are filled with FEAR.
- SCRIPTURE BASED EDUCATION
“ALWAYS be prepared to give an answer…”
The Spirit-filled life prepares us for education, but doesn’t educate us. We must APPLY our hearts and minds to God’s WORD under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
The word “ANSWER” is from the Greek word apologia, (op-O-low-gee’-ah), to make a plea; to give an answer for clearing of self; to make a defense [Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, page 29 of N.T. Words]. It is where we get our word ‘apologetics’ from.
There is a reason for having a Scripture based education, because Satan is a LIAR– with the attempt to let FEAR overwhelm you with his lies.
It is the Spirit-filled Christian who is filled with the knowledge of Scripture that is able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
“SUNDAY ONLY CHRISTIANITY”, won’t serve in defeating your FEARS!
COFFEE in the church foyer may fill up your styrofoam cup, but never will it fill the life of the believer with the POWER and KNOWLEDGE of Truth that enables you to give an answer–to stand in the midst of an attack designed to cripple your life with FEAR.
“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions and instructions which you were taught by us, whether by our word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15).
God is looking and waiting for His people to SEEK HIM with Passion; to trust Him with the faith of a child and to make Him Lord of their life.
If your BIBLE is neglected and your spiritual passion is on empty, you won’t be able to STAND when FEAR strikes your heart or home!
SPIRITUAL ENCOURAGEMENT –
I thought I would give you some Scripture references that have encouraged me over the years when FEAR has come to roost on my life.
Exodus 14:13: Moses told the people, FEAR NOT; stand still (firm, confident, undismayed) and see the salvation of the Lord which He will work for you today.
Deuteronomy 31:6: Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you.
Joshua 1:9: Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
2 Chronicles 20:17: You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord [Who is] with you…FEAR NOT nor be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.
Job 11:13-15: If you set your heart aright and stretch out your hands to [God]. if you put sin sin out of your hand and far away from you and let not evil dwell in your tents; then can you lift up your face to Him without stain [of sin, and unashamed], yes, you shall be steadfast and secure; you shall NOT FEAR.
1 Corinthians 16:13: Be alert and on your guard; stand firm in your faith (your conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, keeping the trust and holy fervor born of faith and a part of it). Act like men and be courageous; grow in strength.
BIBLE Translations: Amplified Bible, except where noted in the text.
PHOTOS: Google Image Search.