What is fear? It was described to me well by a woman I met recently. She called it a spirit of fear. Many modern churches neglect the spiritual aspects of humanity that create emotional tension which can cause people to act in ways characteristically un-Christian. In my case which was similar to what she described, the spirit of fear was an actual evil spirit. By giving credence to this spirit and what it had been telling me, I gave power to the spirit over my psyche. Eventually, the spirit became so influential to my thinking that it physically manifested itself.
It started that I began to notice subtleties in movement in my bed. When the spirit of fear got out of control I was unable to sleep at night because of the movement I was feeling in my bed. My friend told me that I had given life to this spirit because I was focusing and believing in what it was telling me. Physically, it was able to keep me from sleeping and soon after two nights without sleep my mind and body were well on their way to atrophy.
At first I didn’t recognize the spirit as evil. I thought that I was just being cautious and perhaps preparing myself for oncoming misfortune by entertaining my fears. When the scenarios started playing out in my head, I mean full-blown "what if" scenarios where I would imagine an entire catastrophe stemming from one minor faulty step, I realized that something else was at work besides just my imagination. The Holy Spirit definitely was being pushed away by this spirit because I had given so much energy to believing thoughts surrounding fearful subjects. The Holy Spirit is the opposite of any evil spirit but in this instance, the Holy Spirit’s difference most notable would have been in the emotion it evoked. The Holy Spirit is also known as the Comforter. The spirit that had been plaguing me was not comforting.
Where did it come from? I think it came from my imagination working overtime when an evil spirit saw a vulnerability/weakness in my psyche and took advantage of it. What an opportunity to bring a Christian down by striking her with fear! It was so bad at certain points that I would physically tremble. Paralysis resulted. When a Christian is worried, or fearful they become inactive and unfruitful. They cease to become witnesses and they cease to provide light to the darkness. Jesus repeatedly tells His disciples not to worry. In Matthew 6:34 (NIV), He states "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." This is not without reason. When Jesus was resurrected, His disciples were faced with less than the welcome-wagon from neighbors. Jewish leaders at the time wanted to annihilate the early Christians and their pagan neighbors didn’t receive their then-radical beliefs well either. Early Christians were faced with threats to their physical well-being. Jesus saw this coming and knew that in order for His disciples to survive they would have to fight off self-doubt and fear or else they would deteriorate before the Christian movement gained any momentum.
What can we do to fight off the spirit of fear? We can’t let it get control of our thinking. Don’t give it credence and don’t automatically believe that because you thought it it will come to pass or that you have to believe it. If you notice your thinking spiraling downward to the extent that it is driving you to emotional drainage stop the thinking with a distraction or change the subject. If you have to write your thoughts down and develop a concrete plan to deal with your fears, do so. It could keep you from exaggerating your troubles and help you prevent hardship or overreaction because of excessive worry. If that doesn’t work say "get out." That will eradicate the evil spirit before it takes hold. God gives Christians authority over the powers of darkness meaning we don’t have to sit back and take the abuse that the devil piles on us willfully (Matthew 10:1). Rather, we need to stand up and fight against it actively or we will find ourselves victim in passive submission to forces that intend to destroy us.
Once again, I’m going to get on my anti-negative-media soapbox. I think that in order to avoid being duped by predators in this world we need to seek outside media such as the television, newspaper, Internet, or whatever else is available to keep our minds wise as serpents. But to keep in step with what Jesus requires in being gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16) we need not let the spirit of fear fill our mind with thoughts that will cause us to doubt our security in Christ by avoiding media that is geared towards inciting our fear. This may mean we need to entertain our minds with less fictional programming and more factual and replace negative programming with more positive, even if it means turning off the television.
I counsel you today to avoid letting the spirit of fear take hold in your life and to take control of your thoughts so that your life’s actions will be motivated by love rather than fear. 1 John 4:18 (NIV) says, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."