Fear, Is It a Sin?

A lot of things can cause us to be afraid, and many believe fear itself is sin. Others, like me, believe the sin is in how we allow fear to affect us.

Is Fear Sin? Photo

I Fear

I sat there inwardly trembling. My stomach knotted up and threatening to rebel. The “what-ifs” running through my mind. The expectation of disaster threatening to shut me down.

I was afraid.

How did I get myself roped into this? How can I get myself out? Maybe, I can just feign illness. I mean, my stomach is lurching erratically. It wouldn’t be that great of a lie. But… I promised I would do this. I need to do this. It is the right thing to do.

My stomach groaned in a convulsive belly flop. Sweat broke out. The war against fear raged within me.

A sweet, well-meaning lady took one look at me and asked if I was OK. This was my way out! I could take it… but no, I will stay. I answer her question with a feeble, “I’m just afraid, but I’ll be fine.”

She responded with a motherly gaze saying, “Fear is sin. You need to repent of it.”

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 | New International Version

And that statement and verse has haunted me for years, because I fear:

  • Rejection
  • Ridicule
  • Failure
  • Loss
  • Uncertainty
  • Being asked a question I cannot answer.
  • Giving the wrong answer.
  • Being looked to as a leader.
  • And the list goes on… and on… and on.

But fear is not sin, it is real. We all experience it. It is an emotion hard-coded into our beings by the Creator. He did so with purpose.

Fear is a genuine thing; without it there is no courage. The courageous man is the one who overcomes his fear.

Chambers, Oswald (2011-07-14). Faith: A Holy Walk (Kindle Locations 871-873). Discovery House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The sin is allowing our actions and our lives to be controlled by fear instead of by our faith and trust in God.

In that instance, our fear becomes our idol, our god.

Love Breathed Courage

I look back to 1 John 4:18 – “Perfect love drives out fear.”

Love overcomes fear! It’s not that fear does not happen or should not happen. It’s that, through love, we win the battles against it. Perfect love gives us the courage to stand and move even in the face of fear.

We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:19 | New International Version

He has given us love. He has enabled us to love. And in so doing, He has given us the ability to rise above our fears and to stand firm! Fears still come, but they hold no power over us because of His love in us and through us.

Is fear sin? Only when we do not stand courageous and firm against it.
Stand Firm by Lynae Zebest. Licensed under Creative Commons. Sourced by Flickr.com

 

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 | New International Version

  • In love, guard yourself from all attacks
  • In love, stand firm in the faith
  • In love, be courageous.
  • In love, be strong.

May God’s love – given to us, expressed through us – breathe courage into our living. May His love raise us up above all fear. May we stand and live courageous in service to Him!

Conversation Starter

  1. Do you consider fear itself to be a sin? What verses form the basis of your belief?
  2. How do you deal with fear when it crops up?

Dusty Rayburn

Image credits: (Top) Fear of the dark by Stuart Anthony. Licensed under Creative Commons. Sourced by flickr.com.

10 Responses to “Fear, Is It a Sin?”

  1. Martha Orlando

    No, I don’t believe fear is a sin, but allowing it to cripple us so that we don’t reach the full potential God has in mind for us, that is the sin. When I feel afraid, I run to the One who loves me, trusting that He will give me the courage to move forward.
    Blessings, Dusty!

  2. Kari Scare

    “Perfect love casts out fear.” To me, this says fear gives love an opportunity to reign more fully in our lives. Fear, really, involves that which I know I am supposed to do but am unsure of my ability or lack confidence or think I can’t change. I’m not afraid of facing down a bear in the woods or being in a war with a gun because that is not something I am called to do. Seems like real fear only comes when it involves something I know I am supposed to do but feel incapable of actually doing. Perfect love comes along and casts out that fear because then it’s Him making it happen and not me. The reliance and ability lies with Him, not me, which allows me fear to fade away.

    • Dusty Rayburn

      Love it Kari!

      I actually have come across a black bear in the woods. It was a momma with a cub at Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountain National Park. There were a ton of people around. Most were satisfied to just view the bears from a distance. But a few insanely tried to approach them to get a better shot (and they took their kids with them!).

      A total lack of fear can be stupid and put us in bad situations.

      Fear that causes us to rely more on God for success cannot be sin.

      • Kari Scare

        Actually, I have seen two black bears also, and both of them where while visiting the Smoky Mountain National Park. (I went to Cades Cove too.) Yes, total lack of fear is just stupid. I wonder how/why people get to that point? Are they simply focusing on what they want rather than on what’s best? I don’t understand the thinking. Because fear is a feeling, I don’t think it’s sin. It’s our reaction/actions resulting from the fear that is or is not sin. In other words, just like any other emotion, does it lead us closer to or further away from God?

  3. tcavey

    I used to think fear was a sin, and I agonized over all the fears in my life. I sought God about it and He helped me understand fear is a feeling, an emotion, a temptation. As you said, it’s what we do with it that can become a sin, NOT the fear itself.
    Jesus was without sin but he was tempted in all ways we are.
    I believe that before facing the cross He had some fear in Him. He sweated drops of blood. He knew He was about to face horrific physical pain. He also knew that for the first time, God was going to turn His back on Him and He was going to be separated momentarily from God. I believe He was tempted with fear. Yet, He took that fear to God…”not my will, but yours”. I think He was saying, “I’m scared. I don’t want to do this. But not my will, we will do it your way God.”

    Anyway, this is my belief on fear and the assurance God has given me.

    • Dusty Rayburn

      Fear has a natural place in our lives. I know as a teenager my fear of the repercussions from my parents kept me from a lot of wrong. :)

      Fear that incapacitates in relationship to our obedience and service to God is sin. That fear needs to be confronted and conquered by strengthening our reliance upon God. May Hiw will be done!

  4. ann

    Thank you, Dusty –I needed this after a sleepless night worrying about an increasingly ill beloved older cat, who is/was a gift to me from God. I feel literally ill with fear and dread of what the days or weeks ahead may hold. I am afraid of pain, loss. I try to put it at His feet, but it is so hard to control how my body reacts. I have gone to asking Him that if He wants her back, to please take her quickly, for both of our sakes. I do not want to be controlled by fear, but as a panic disorder sufferer, I have been for many years. If you’d pray for me, I’d be grateful. Glad I found your site! Ann

  5. ann

    thank you for this timely post. I spent a sleepless night last night because my beloved elderly cat is ill, and does not seem to be getting better with treatment, and seems to have taken a turn for the worse last night. I am filled with fear of the unknown, the uncertainty, the fear of loss, the fear of grief. I am physically feeling ill, and lack of sleep does not help. I keep trying to put her at His feet, and asking for His peace and wisdom, but my nervous system doesn’t cooperate. I am at the point where I have told Him that He can have her back (He brought us together), but that for both our sakes, please let it be quick and let me act in wisdom and assurance, not fear. will you pray for me? Thanks–glad I found your site. Ann

  6. ann

    sorry for the double post–the first didn’t seem to come up.

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