Not too long ago, my son asked me a very pointed question– Is fear a sin?
I was reading just this week, that the Bible contains 366 “fear not” kinds of verses. That’s a lot. And when you read Revelation 21:8 the fearful or cowardly are listed with some big-time sinners who will have their part in the lake of fire. So the Bible commands us not to, and those who do get judged. Open and shut case.
Except I don’t think it’s quite that cut and dried. Fear is an emotion. Often emotions happen without any connection to our brains. Anyone who has had, or been, a teenager knows what I mean. They are impulsive, even instinctual reactions to a situation. Sometimes fear is a good, protective mechanism. Fear of injury and death gets us to leave a burning building. Fear of germs and who-knows-what-else keeps us from eating that cookie we found under the refrigerator.
And that is the key. What does fear prompt you to do or not do?
- Fear of rejection makes us cave to peer pressure.
- Fear of exposure makes us lie.
- Fear of exclusion makes us hide our faith.
- Fear of deprivation makes us betray our values.
- Fear of failure prevents us from acting.
In short, fear can lead to distrust of God’s goodness and disobedience to His commands. Suspicion of God’s goodness and His motives is a sin as old as Eden. Disobedience and rebellion are the very definition of sin.
Anytime we allow our emotions to drive our actions and decision-making rather than the truth God has given us, we venture into dangerous territory.
It is important to recognize that most of those “fear nots” come with an alternative. In Mark 5:36, Jesus said, “Do not fear, only believe.” Replace fear with trust. We’ll look at this a little deeper next time.