In the last few years we have all seen the t-shirts and decals that say “No Fear.” Those who display this message apparently intend to say that they are bold and courageous, that they have no fear of the things that ordinarily cause fear in others. Perhaps they also intend to embolden and encourage others to live fearlessly.
On its face, the advice to have no fear is very bad advice indeed, for there are many things in this world that one ought to fear. We should be afraid of what could happen to us when driving a car at high speed. We are right to be afraid of touching an electrified wire. We are prudent to flee or take cover when a storm approaches. Only a fool swaggers into the path of danger with “no fear” emblazoned on his chest.
The ungodly are foolish when they profess no fear of death or of divine judgment. This is true of those who scoff at the judgment and of those who look for something good beyond this life apart from the Savior Jesus Christ. Without Christ one should fear death and judgment. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
The trouble with the unbeliever’s attempts to free himself from fear is that he does so by pretending that there is nothing to be afraid of. The unbeliever ignores dangers that are both real and threatening. On the other hand, God offers freedom from dangers that are real, not imagined. He has actually removed the greatest of dangers that threatened us. We don’t have to be afraid of death because Jesus has removed death’s sting. We don’t have to be afraid of divine judgment because Jesus suffered the wrath of God for our sins.
The proof that the cause of our fears has really been removed is the resurrection of Jesus. His resurrection after suffering and dying for our sins was God’s public announcement that He had accepted the sacrifice that His Son offered.
The resurrection of Jesus declares that our sins are forgiven, that death has lost its sting, that we are at peace with God. Jesus intends that His resurrection should take away our fears.
On that first Easter when the women went to the tomb, an angel greeted them with the words: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” And as the women went to tell the disciples, Jesus Himself met them and said: “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me” (Mt. 28). And when the risen and glorified Christ appeared to John in Revelation He said:”Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Rev. 1:17-18).
With the cause of our worst fears removed by Jesus, we can deal with all our lesser fears by trusting in God, whose children we have become through faith in Jesus Christ.
We are not completely free of fear, nor will we ever be in this life, for we still have the old sinful nature. We sin against God and fear His wrath. Satan accuses us of our sins and tries to frighten us with death and hell.
Our trust in God is not perfect, so lots of things scare us. But when we are afraid, we have God’s own Word to drive away our fears, assuring us of our salvation and of the heavenly Father’s abiding love and protection.
We can walk confidently, saying: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil . . . . ”
–Pastor John Klatt