The Antidote to Fear
James Smith, 1865
"Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Matthew 8:8
Timidity does not befit us — if Jesus is with us. As believers on His name — He has pledged Himself never to leave us or forsake us. He may be concealed by the mist, hidden behind the cloud, or lost sight of in the storm — but He is ever with us! The assurance of His presence — should generate confidence, courage, and daring. What have we to fear? Why should we fear? Can anything conquer Him? Can He forget or neglect us? Impossible! Well then may He ask, "Why are you fearful?"
TheCAUSE of our slavish fear is, that we look at CIRCUMSTANCES, and judge by them — rather than the Word of God. As if the Word must bend to circumstances, instead of circumstances conspiring to ratify and fulfill, the Word. The disciples listened to the howling of the winds, looked at the rolling billows, and thought of the feeble vessel — instead of remembering that Jesus was on board, and looking for safety to Him.
Or, we look at SELF — rather than Jesus. Every time we take the eye off Jesus, and fix it upon self, Satan gains advantage over us. If we would enjoy acceptance with God, and feel assured of His favor — the eye must be kept steadily fixed on Jesus, as our Sacrifice, Substitute, and Surety. We are complete in Him — but only in Him. We are accepted in Him — but only in Him.
Or, we look for PERFECTION where it is not to be found. We shall not find it in ourselves, nor in our fellow Christians. All are imperfect here, and the nearer we get to God, and the closer we walk with God — the more will our imperfections stare us in the face. If we would see perfection — we must look for it in Jesus. If we would enjoy perfection, we must realize our union and identity with Jesus.
If we look at circumstances instead of God's Word, or at self instead of Jesus, or for perfection anywhere but in Him — we shall become a prey to slavish fears, if not to despondency and despair!
In addition to these things, Satan's influence and power often fills us with fear. He misrepresents the character of God. He perverts Scripture. He suggests evil thoughts. He stirs up our corruptions. He endeavors to conceal the Savior. He misapplies evidences. In a word, he is always endeavoring to puff us up with pride, harden us in presumption, or fill us with slavish fear.
Our constitutional infirmities often have much to do with our fears. A natural timidity, or a weak and nervous system, often occasion many fears which are entirely groundless, and if nursed will become extremely painful!
But all slavish fear is inconsistent in a Christian. The righteous should be as bold as a lion. Slavish fear dishonors God, who is love, who has promised — not only so, has sworn — that by two immutable things in which it is impossible for Him to lie, we might have strong consolation. Slavish fear robs Jesus of our confidence, on whom we should constantly depend, on whom at all times we should rely. He has given us every reason to trust Him and not be afraid.
Slavish fear contradicts the Inspired Word, for if the truth of that is admitted, and faith is steadily exercised on it, slavish fear is impossible.
Slavish fear grieves the Holy Spirit, who in the Christian is a Spirit of adoption. His work within us, and His Word without us, are alike calculated to inspire us with strong confidence, and to fill us with all joy and peace in believing. The loving Spirit desires to see us happy in God, obedient to God, as the effect of confidence in God; and is grieved when we give way to ungrounded and legal fears.
Slavish fear dejects and depresses the mind, unfitting it for duty, and disqualifying it for praising and serving God. It is a weapon which Satan uses against us with great effect, to our sorrow and injury, and therefore we are exhorted to resist him steadfast in the faith.
Slavish fear misrepresents religion, which in its nature is union to God, communion with God, and the resemblance of God, who is infinitely and eternally happy. Bible religion is happiness. Happiness flowing from pardon of sin, acceptance with God, union with Christ, deliverance from Hell, and the sure promise of eternal felicity. If slavish fear is so inconsistent and so injurious, surely we should realize it as an evil, and seek a remedy for it.
"Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" TheCURE for all slavish fear — is faith. Faith in God. Faith in Jesus. Faith in the promises and provision of God's gracious covenant and most holy Word. If we would be freed from these painful, troublesome, and injurious fears, we must steadfastly credit God's testimony. And this is the testimony "that He has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." We must carry all to God's throne, and there spread it before our heavenly Father, for His blessing or deliverance. We must cleave fast to Christ's person, who is our Guide, Guard, and immutable Savior. We must daily cast ourselves and our all — on God's mercy. This is the remedy — the only remedy. This will prove effectual — but all other remedies will be sure to fail. May the Holy Spirit help us to approve it, apply it, and realize deliverance from all our slavish fears by it.
Observe, so to fear, is quite natural, and all saints are more or less guilty of it, and therefore suffer for it. But though natural, it is nevertheless very injurious and sinful. Faith, and only faith as it credits God's testimony, carries all to God's throne, cleaves fast to Christ's person, and casts all on God's covenant mercy — can raise us above such fear. The indulgence of slavish fear, and the lack of a steady faith, are alike reproved by the Savior. He would have us trust ourselves and our all with Him. Believing His Word, confiding in His veracity, and rejoicing in His immutable faithfulness.
Believer, Jesus asks you, "Why are you fearful?" Why? Has He ever given you any cause? Can you derive any warrant for your fears from His holy Word, or His dealings with His people? Has He not been faithful? Is He not the same yesterday, today, and forever? Does He not forbid your agitation and vexation when He says, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God — believe also in me?" Is He not at this moment asking, "Where is your faith?" Ah! where is it? Not in exercise frequently — but like the root of the plant in winter, frozen in the cold ground!
Oh, Savior, increase our faith! Give us strong confidence in You, that we may not only commit all to You — but leave all with You, simply seeking "one thing" to reach the mark for the prize of our high calling. O to confide in Jesus, and so rise superior to our fears, doubts, and misgivings; and become like Abraham, who expected all God had promised, and stood prepared to part with all God had given, being "strong in faith, giving glory to God!" Lord, deliver us from our fears, and fill us with faith, hope, and love, that we may glorify Your grace, and adorn our profession of Your truth.