You cannot always see fear with your eyes, but you feel it and hear it in your thoughts. Of course there is a normal fear response built into your system for moments when you need to either flee a dangerous scene or gain energy to face a sudden crisis.
A Spiritual Battle
But there is also a force of fear that the Bible calls a spirit of fear. It's the enemy's way to hijack your thinking and put you under the influence of fear, so you become more anxious, worried, apprehensive and passive. Your faith will weaken and your confidence in love can get diluted.
That is why it's important to discern fear's voice in your thoughts and feelings. Not every thought is your own, so you need to recognize when fear is trying to speak.
With that in mind, there are two responses to fear of which you need to be aware. You will also need to know which one you'll need to use in a given circumstance.
1. Learn to cast down fear.
When a fearful thought comes your way, what you first often do is take the thought and cast it down. Don't debate with it or waste your time arguing with it. If you do, you'll often find yourself in piles of fear-ridden, spaghetti-like thoughts that have wrapped around you. Fear is to be treated like a terrorist. You don't negotiate with terrorists. It only feeds the torment and enlarges its narrative.
So the first response is, "I am not going to listen to fear and serve its thoughts anymore." You may hear them, but you don't have to serve them.
Over time, you can develop your spiritual muscles and detect fear's voice quicker. It takes practice, because most of us have been used to going with fear every time it speaks.
So the change starts with a decision that says, "I am not going to listen to fear anymore" and we detox its ways out of our system.
That's the power of repentance, which breaks the agreement with fear's thoughts.
So the first response is to cast it down. When fear gets out of the equation, we can see much more clearly with faith.
2. Face What You Fear
The second response can be a more challenging one at times, because many of the things we fear, we actually need to face.
Most of the fearful thoughts that come our way need no attention at all. Ignore them. But there are fears that you will need to face in order to defeat them.
For example, there are people I have worked with who have been dealing with certain symptoms in their body. Over time, they wonder if they have some type of illness. The fear keeps pounding at them, but they haven't gotten it checked out.
They keep saying no to fear, but they probably just need to face the issue, go get checked and get some clarity on what's going on with their body. Many times, they are afraid of going to the doctor or fearful they may hear a bad report. Regardless, this is a great example of facing the issue that fear has attached itself to.
How to Know the Difference
So how do you know which one to use in a given situation?
The answer to this question is: wisdom. You need wisdom.
The good news is that God gives it our freely.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and without criticism, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5).
You need wisdom to know which fear you need to ignore and which one you need to face. Gaining that wisdom takes a few things:
- Practice: We need to learn over time what wisdom is saying. Sometimes we confuse fear for wisdom. Fear often cloaks itself under the guise of "wise concern."
- Building faith: James says when we ask for wisdom, "ask in faith." This means trusting that God is sending you wisdom.
- Not letting doubt win: Doubt is a partner to fear. In fact, doubt is empowered by fear. Fear says, "what if," giving room for doubt to win the narrative.
- Getting single-minded: When listening to doubt and fear, we allow a second way of thinking to interfere, making us double-minded and unstable. You were only meant to have one mind, one focus and one direction. When we get two minds colliding, we "tilt" and lose our ability to walk in fruitfulness.
So ask God for wisdom. Know He is sending it your way. Allow that wisdom to help you overthrow fear in your life.
You do not need fear to be your counselor anymore. Get a new counselor that is built on faith, hope and love!
Mark DeJesus has served as an experienced communicator since the 1990s. As a teacher, author, coach and radio host, Mark is deeply passionate about awakening hearts and equipping people towards transformational living. His message involves getting to the core hindrances that contribute to the breakdown of our relationships, our health and our day-to-day peace. He is well-versed on struggles that originate within our thoughts. Through his own personal transformation, Mark is experienced in helping people overcome and live fruitful lives. He is the author of five books and hundreds of teachings. He hosts a weekly radio podcast show called "Transformed You" and blogs at markdejesus.com. His writings have been featured on sites like charismamag.com.
This article originally appeared at markdejesus.com.