By Karen Baloy
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT). I felt so liberated the first time I heard this verse. I had been completely owned by my fears prior to hearing it. Whenever I would feel the signs of a panic attack starting, I would recite this verse. I sometimes had to chant it on loop until the feelings passed. I knew God’s words were truth. I wasn’t going to let the enemy’s lies prevail. I wanted to be calm and loving, just like my precious Jesus.
As 1 John 4:18a reminded me, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.” (NKJV) Fear had no place in my life! Romans 8:15a was right, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear”. These verses brought me to a place of total reverence and awe of God, not to mention giving me an appreciation for the continual peace His Spirit provides.
Once I became more settled in my New Testament understanding of God, I began to study the Old Testament. I was immediately bombarded with verses that told me that I needed to fear God to find peace. The voices of my fire and brimstone preachers and teachers of my youth came flooding back. Is God good or is God bad? I’m supposed to demonstrate my love to God by showing him I’m afraid?!? The mixed messages continued to confuse me, even while reading other chapters of Psalms.
Reading Psalm 25 was a transformative experience. I felt urged to research verses 12-14, “Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity and their descendants will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.”
After reading this verse, I wanted to find out why being afraid of Him would bring me wonderful things. It didn’t take long to discover that there are TWO definitions of fear. According to Eugene H. Merrill on BibleStudyTools.com, the two definitions of the verb fear are: 1) produces awe, reverence and obedience; and 2) that which causes one to cover in dread and terror in anticipation of his displeasure.
Prior to the revelation of these two definitions, I hadn’t quite reached peace because I thought I was flawed by not being afraid of God. But then I realized this is exactly what the enemy wanted. Now I can rejoice: Hallelujah, His truth has set me free! I’m no longer a slave to a misunderstanding of a single word. I have now released the spirit of fear by fearing God with all of my heart and all of my soul!