What Are Spiritual Causes of Excessive Fear?

Once Gideon hears words of his upcoming victory from the mouth of a Midianite, he is immediately filled with the praises of God and the courage of God. Quickly, in the dark of night, he summons his men and, with trumpets blasting, jars breaking, they shout, “For the LORD and for Gideon” (Judges 7:18).images

Gideon’s men surround the enemy camp with a fearsome ring of fire, striking terror into the hearts of the massive Midianite army. They cannot see who they are fighting … confusion and chaos reign as God causes the vast army to turn their swords on one another. The result is that 120,000 of the mighty enemy lie dead (Judges 8:10) without Gideon’s ever even raising a shield or losing a single one of his 300 men … and God gets all the glory! The Lord gives the Midianite camp into Israel’s hands.… And all the Israelites, along with all of their surrounding enemies, know that only God and God alone could achieve such an awesome feat! Surely the God of Israel is the one true God! Gideon knows he has to depend on God … not on himself … and not on his army. God is able to use Gideon to gain a great military and spiritual victory because Gideon chooses to put his trust in Him. Because he decides to obey God – in spite of fear – while he is preparing for battle, Gideon is able to obey God without fear in the midst of the battle. He let God be God – the all – powerful One, who goes before us and conquers for His name’s sake. “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) Gideon’s greatest weakness eventually becomes his greatest strength. He discovers that when he acknowledges he is weak and inadequate, God’s strength and adequacy prevail in him. Imagine!… God has an encounter with a fear-filled Gideon and reveals truth to him both about the fearsome man of God he will become and the plan God has for him!… Then God supplies him with 32,000 men to accomplish that plan … but gradually reduces that number to only 300 men! Finally God sends this band of 300 against the army of 135,000 – with odds of 450 to 1 – so that the victory would clearly be the Lord’s and His alone! And though no one man could ever defeat 450 men (the ratio God arranged) in his own strength, Gideon goes forth with a whole heart! But not until God first removes the final kernel of fear residing in Gideon’s heart by sending him among the sleeping Midianites to overhear the interpretation of a dream. “He [Gideon] and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp.… Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. ‘I had a dream,’ he was saying. ‘A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.’ His friend responded, ‘This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon.… God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.’ When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped God.” (Judges 7:11, 13–15) So now … it is time to rally the troops.…“He [Gideon] returned to the camp of Israel and called out, ‘Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands.’ ” (Judges 7:15) Many people have the wrong belief: “I have no control over my fear. My only recourse is to avoid all fearful situations.” But what they actually should believe is: “As I face my fear in the strength of the Lord, fear will not control me. Christ lives in me, and as I focus on His perfect love and His perfect truth, I will feel His perfect peace in the midst of every fear-producing situation.” “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.” (1 John 4:18) Throughout the Bible God repeats the instruction over and over and over: “Do not fear.… Do not be afraid.… Fear not.” God tells us not to fear … circumstances, people, things. But we are told … “Fear the LORD your God, serve him only” (Deuteronomy 6:13). This fear is not “fright” in the sense that we would be afraid of God. The meaning of this kind of fear is reverence and awe for God. We are to … fear Him, be in awe of Him … because He is the one and only all -powerful God. He alone has the ability to change us from being fearful of others to being courageously obedient to Him. “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)