Jimmy Evans - How to Change Fear
The commandment "Do not fear" or "Fear not" is the number-one commandment in the Bible. God did not create us to live in fear. It's the opposite of the way that he created us. God created us to live in peace. When God created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, it was a place of peace. It was a paradise. And Jesus is the Prince of Peace. But the devil brings fear into our lives for different reasons that I'll talk about in just a minute. But Luke 22, this is talking about before Jesus died on the cross. He went to the Garden of Gethsemane, and here's what it says in Luke 22:
"Coming out, he went to the Mount of Olives, as he was accustomed, and his disciples also followed him. When he came to the place, he said to them, 'pray that you may not enter into temptation'. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and he knelt down and prayed, saying, 'father, if it is your will, take this cup away from me: nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done'. Then an angel appeared to him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony", and that's an important word there, agony, "He prayed more earnestly. Then his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. When he rose from prayer, and had come to his disciples, he found them sleeping from sorrow. And then he said to them, 'why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation'. And while he was still speaking, behold, a multitude: and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss him".
We see that Jesus was in agony, and that word is the word "Agonia" in the Greek, and it means great fear or distress. And we need to understand that Jesus experienced fear, but he defeated it. And because Jesus defeated it, we can also defeat it. And, literally, he shows us how to do it. Let me say one other thing before I get into the body of the message, and that is there were many other times that Jesus could have feared, but he didn't. And the question really becomes, why did Jesus feel fear here when he really had never felt it before? And I want to answer that in several different ways.
The first reason that Jesus felt fear was so he could identify with us as a human being. Remember, Jesus is fully God, but he's fully man. Our God has a human mother named Mary. We have to remember that Jesus was born a real human being. He was laid in an animal feeding trough. He grew up in a village named Nazareth. He had a dysfunctional family. Jesus was a fellow human. And as a fellow human, he can identify with us, and here's what Hebrews 4 says about Jesus as our high priest: "We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with all of our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin. He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness".
Well, see, it says that Jesus was tempted in all manner, as we are, yet without sin. Well, what was Jesus' temptation in the Garden of Eden? To head south, to run. Satan puts fear on us so we won't do God's will. That's why Satan put, every time you make a fear-based decision, it will never be in compliance to God's will. And I'll say this, I'll promise you you'll regret every fear-based decision that you will ever make in life. And Satan puts fear on us. See, it was God's will for Jesus to go to the cross. And Jesus prays 3 times and says, "Father, I don't want to do this. I don't want to do this. Not my will. Your will be done". And the answer is, God says, "You're going to do this".
And so Jesus was dealing with the temptation not to do it because of the fear that he was feeling, but thank God that we have a Savior because he acted above his fears, and he'll have disciples if we act above ours. But fear is always present, always there in our lives to some degree to try to keep us from doing God's will. And understand, our concept of God is huge. You cannot get closer to God than your concept of him will allow. If you believe that God is a loving, sweet, generous daddy, when you have a problem, you will run toward that God. If you believe that God is a mean, austere, distant troubled God, you will not run toward that God when you're in trouble. God's thrown us a throne of grace, and our high priest who is on that throne understands every single thing we go through.
When you need God the most, you deserve him the least. The reason we need him is we're a mess, and the only way to get fixed up is jump in his lap. But you're not gonna run toward him. In other words, if you're feeling fear, if you're feeling weakness, if you're feeling insecurity, those kinds of things, and you fear, here's what the devil wants you to believe: "God's already kind of ticked at you. Just don't get too close to him or he'll swat you. He sees all the dumb stuff you do, and he just doesn't want you hanging around him too much. He'll take you in the family, but stay at the back of the line".
The devil wants you to believe that God's always kind of mad at you and he really doesn't like you. That's the concept of God the devil wants you to have. Your high priest is madly in love with you, and when you go to Jesus and you say, "Jesus, I'm tempted. I'm feeling sexual temptation: I'm feeling financial temptation. I'm feeling tempted to do something bad, and I'm feeling fearful", Jesus says this: "I experienced that. I know exactly what you're feeling. Let me help you overcome it".
Let me say this, if you could see God how he really is, you would run toward him and you'd never feel fear again. He is madly in love with you: he understands not just your issues but why you have those issues: and he wants you to come to him and let him mercifully and graciously help you. Jesus said, "I'm humble and gentle, and you'll find rest for your souls in my presence". Our God is a fabulous God, and our God understands everything we've gone through, every fear, every temptation. And that's one of the reasons why Jesus felt fear here, is so he could identify with us.
The second reason that Jesus felt fear was he had the full knowledge of everything he was about to go through. Remember, he was also fully God. He knew everything. Remember when Jesus was fasting for 40 days and at the end of that fast, Satan attacked him? And here's what it says at the end of that attack in the wilderness. Luke 4:13, "When the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time". Here's what you need to understand about the nature of the devil: he's an opportunist. When you're the weakest, he's the most evil. You know, when you're a gentleman or a gentlewoman, you're a kind, gracious person. When someone's hurting, you let up. He's the opposite. When you're hurting, he presses in.
And at the end, remember, at the end of 40 days of fasting when Jesus was weak, that's when he pounced on him. And now in the Garden of Gethsemane, Satan understands that Jesus is weak, that he's troubled, that this is an opportune time, and so Satan comes with his spirit of fear and attacks Jesus. This is what 2 Timothy 1:7 says to us about fear, "God has not given us a spirit of fear", fear is a spirit, "But of power and love and of a sound mind". The devil doesn't control our thoughts, but he influences our thoughts. He wants to whisper thoughts of fear to us so we'll accept them, and he can control our lives. God will never use fear to control your lives. And when you read in the Bible, it says, "The fear of the Lord", that means a reverence of God. That does not mean a negative emotion. It means a positive emotion, a reverence for God. God will never, never bring fear into your life to cause you to do anything. But the devil uses fear to control us.
This is Hebrews 2. It says, "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, Jesus himself likewise shared in the same, that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage". Now, see, all fears ultimately are the fear of death. You say, "Well, I have a fear of bugs". No, you don't. You have a fear of getting bitten and dying of a bug, a critter. Ok, you say, "Well, I have the fear of snakes". You do not have the fear of snakes. You have the fear of dying by snakebite. You say, "I have a fear of heights". You do not have a fear of heights. You have a fear of splattering.
Ok, so if you think through all your fears, they ultimately come to the fear of death. But let me say something to you about this: you'll never die. That's the lie of the fear of death. It says that Satan holds people in bondage because of the fear of death. You'll never die. Jesus said to Mary and Martha, "I'm the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will never die".
Well, let me say this to you: do you understand that you will never in all of eternity experience a moment of death? You'll never be in a casket in the ground. You never will be. Your body will be. And one day your body will be reunited with your spirit. But do you understand that instant that your eyes close on earth, they open in heaven? Jesus turned to the thief on the cross next to him and said, "Today you'll be with me in paradise". Isn't that what he said? The minute that you go numb here, your senses come alive there. The instant you take your last breath here, you take your first breath there. Somebody say "Amen"! You'll never die. You'll never die.
So when the devil comes and tries to put the fear of death on you or some fear on you... See, fear is a prophet spirit from hell. To give us a negative view of the future to cause us to make a fear-based decision that God will not honor. Faith is from the Spirit of God to give us a positive view of the future so we'll make a faith-based decision that God will honor. Satan's always dogging you through fear. He's always showing you a movie of the future, of your husband, of your wife, of your children, of your health, of your finances, to get you upset so you will find a reason not to do what God is saying. But faith gives you courage. Thank God that we have a Savior, because he acted above his fear. Jesus felt fear, but he didn't let it control him. Here's why the devil uses fear and kind of the nature of fear.
Now, there is some good fear. I mean, like, for example, someone swerves into your lane when you're driving and you feel instantly that fear. That's a good kind of a fear. But the fear I'm talking about is a demonic kind of a paralyzing fear. And here's the difference between good fear and bad fear and how you can tell the difference. Good fear is circumstantial. I only feel that fear, someone swerves into my lane, because there's somebody in my lane. When they pass, I'm over it. Bad fear is perpetual. It just hangs over you. Just that sense that the next shoe is going to drop. Anybody ever had that before? You just, you had so much hurt, you had so much pain, you had so many bad things happen. There's just that perpetual fear that the next shoe's about to drop.
Listen, fear is expecting the devil to move. Faith is expecting God to move. Huh? And we choose. You can put your eyes on the devil or your eyes on God. Good fear is protective. Bad fear is paralyzing. Someone swerves into your lane, you swerve out. Good fear is instructive. Bad fear is confusing and fatalistic. When you're under the influence of good fear, you do the right thing. Now, this is the last one. Good fear is empowering, bad fear is enslaving. There was a story in the news about a month ago of two, like, 20-year-old young ladies who lifted a truck off their father. He was pinned under a truck.
I don't know if you saw that story. But these two young girls come over and grab this truck and lift it off their father. Their father crawls out. And they came up to these girls and said, "How'd you do that"? They said, "We don't know". You can do superhuman things when you're under the adrenaline of good fear. But bad fear is just enslaving. You need to change your mind about fear. When fear shows up, it doesn't mean you're demon-possessed, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying the devil's trying to influence you to get you to do the wrong thing, so that you won't follow God, that you won't be the person that God wants you to be. That's why he comes. Jesus rules by peace because he's full of it. The devil rules by fear because he's full of it. That's the way he influences us in our lives.
And here's how to overcome fear like Jesus. The number-one thing to do is to admit your fear without shame. Don't be ashamed of it. We all feel it. Though we sometimes want to act like we don't, we do. God is a God of light, and the devil is a devil of darkness. See, when the devil is working, he always puts shame and fear on something so we won't admit it. We don't want to talk about it. But it won't be well until you bring it into the light. And here's what Jesus said, "Daddy, I'm afraid". The Son of God went before his father and said, "Abba, father", daddy, "I don't want to do this. I'm afraid". The truth literally will make you free. And the end of fear is when we expose it as an entity, not as something that is natural within us, but something that is supernatural and from the devil. This is a spirit of fear. "Daddy, I'm afraid. And I know that this doesn't come from you, because the Bible says that you would not give me a spirit of fear".
The second thing that you do to overcome fear is that you submit your fears to God. You have to submit it to God. Jesus said, "Not my will, but your will be done". You go to God and you say, "Lord, I feel fear right now". I want you to listen to me. I love what Mark twain said. He said, "Courage is not the absence of fear, it's the mastery of it". People who have died for our nation, they felt fear, but they acted above their fears. To be a mature Christian, you have to act above your emotions. And there will be many, many times in life when you're feeling anger and you have to act above it. You feel the desire for revenge. You feel a temptation for sexual immorality. You feel fear. And because of that fear, you don't want to do what God is saying. And to become a man and woman of God, you have to act above that.
And here's what it means - you go to God and say, "I'm feeling an emotion and it's real. That doesn't mean it's right". And Jesus went to God the Father and said, "Father, I'm afraid, but I don't want my will to be done. I want your will to be done". Now, listen, good doctors don't operate on their children for a reason. And that's because emotion makes you less capable of making a good decision, right? The worst time to be making a decision is when you're feeling fear. That's when you need outside counsel. That's when you need somebody else telling you what to do. And the best person is God telling you what to do. The perspective that we have is so isolated.
I have a perspective of right here, right now, and my past experiences, but I can't see everything else. God can see the entire world, everyone in it, and all of eternity. And I think he has the best perspective to help us make a good decision. And for that to happen, we have to separate how we feel from what's right and wrong. My emotions may be very real, but that does not mean that they're right. And it does not mean acting upon them will bring a good response. My greatest regret in life is every decision I made by fear. Great people feel fear, but great people act above it. To become the person that God wants you to be, you have to act above your fears.
Now, let me say one more thing. I'm going to keep going here. When God took the children of Israel to the Promised Land, there were giants there. In fact, let me just start this next point. It's a focus on God's presence and love is the third way that you deal with fear. The children of Israel came to the Promised Land. There were giants there, 9-foot-tall people. And the spies went into the land, and they came out and 10 of the spies said, "We're like grasshoppers in their sight. These people are huge, they will destroy us if we go in there". But Joshua and Caleb came out and said, "Their protection has been lifted from them and they'll be our prey. Let's go in and take the land".
Let me say this: the devil will always put a giant where God gives you the promise. And that giant's going to try to terrify you and keep you out of God's Promised Land. But once God gave you that land, that giant was pronounced dead right then. All you have to do is fight it. They could have shot a pea shooter at those giants and they would have died because God had lifted their protection from them. Now, let me just say this: what a blessing to move in after giants - big houses, big beds, big closets, big barns. You know, what a blessing. And so it's just the way you see things. And 10 spies came out and terrified the nation of Israel with a bad report. And two spies came out and said, "We see a big God and a little devil. Let's go in and take our land".
How big is your God? How big is your devil? Understand the devil is not omnipresent, but our God is. The universe cannot contain our God, but the devil is a creature. He is not omnipresent. How big is your God? And here's what David says in Psalm 23, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. You're with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me". "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death", that's not the valley of the shadow of a hangnail. That's not the valley of the shadow of a headache. That's the valley of the shadow of death. And he says, "I don't fear because you're with me".
Here's the confession of Jesus on his way to the cross. When the devil was trying to terrify Jesus, this is his confession in Psalm 16, "I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore, my heart is glad and my glory rejoices. My flesh also will rest in hope, for you will not leave my soul in shoal, nor will you allow your holy one to see corruption. You will show me the path of life in your presence as fullness of joy, and at your right hand are pleasures forevermore". On the way to the cross, the devil was telling Jesus, you have disappointed your father, you're a huge failure, you're going to rot in hell, and God will not come get you. And Jesus said, "He will not allow his holy one to see corruption. He's not going to leave me in shoal. In his presence, there is fullness of joy. You will show me the path of life". And he is confessing against the devil, "I have set the Lord always before me".
Let me say this: the Lord is always before you. You might as well set your attention on him. Fear is reality minus God. Faith is reality plus God. If your eyes could be open right now to see the supernatural realm, you would never fear again. When I first started preaching about half a dozen times, little kids would sit out listening to me preach and they'd draw pictures of me. And after the service, the mothers would come up and give me the pictures. And they were not flattering. I had to forgive those kids. And I remember all their names to this day. Anyway... But this is what happened about half a dozen times, which was so interesting. Different children at different times drew me preaching with two huge angels next to me. And the mothers, the first mother came and handed me that picture, I said, "Well, that's sweet". And then 6 months later, another mother, a year later, another mother, two years later, another mother. And these little kids, I guess, in the spirit can see something that we can't see.
Do you know that there are angels in here? Hebrews 1 says that angels are ministering spirits sent to render aid to God's elect. There are angels in this place. And not only that, God is here. If our eyes could be open, we would never feel fear again. But we have the choice to have spiritual eyes, that we don't walk by sight, we walk by faith. Even though I can't see him, I set the Lord always before me, therefore I will not be moved. The devil wants to overwhelm us with negative circumstances so we'll run the other way. But we can choose by faith to set God before us. I want you to change your mind about fear.
In my life, I dealt with fear in so many areas, and I'm free today. I am truly free from fear in every area of my life, but I remember what it was like to just feel that incredible overwhelming feeling of dread and panic and just, you know, all these raging emotions telling you to go that way when you ought to be going that way. Here's what helped to set me free, and that is, it's not my emotion. Fear is not my emotion. It's not your emotion. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "God has not given us a spirit of fear". And one of the most important things to be free from fear is to understand, "I'm dealing with another entity".
See, you're not a weakling. You're not a fearful person, I can guarantee you that. You were not born with any fear. God hasn't given us fear. We have a normal kind of a fear that's a protective kind of a thing that comes and goes. It's circumstantial. We're born with that to protect us. No one is born with a chronic overwhelming fear of living your life and doing the things that you need to be doing. It's a spirit. And the way you overcome it is to use your authority that God gave you over all the power of the enemy. According to Luke 10 and Matthew 18, God has given you the authority to bind and loose. And you just say, "Spirit of fear, I bind you in the name of Jesus".
Every time that fear begins to tell you something, every time it tells you you can't do something, every time it tells you you're gonna fail, every time it tells you that you're gonna be rejected and this and this and this, you say, "In the name of Jesus, I bind you, spirit of fear, and I'm not going to listen to you, and you're not going to tell me how to live my life". Listen, every time you face your fears, your faith grows stronger and your fear gets less. But every time you act according to your fear, your fear grows stronger and your faith grows less. I'm saying to you, face your fears by faith, in God's word, in the authority that God has given you, and you will overcome it and you will live your life free from that spirit of fear, free to do everything that God has called you to do and free to be full of joy and peace the way God designed, not full of fear. You're a person of faith, and you're an overcomer, and you're gonna overcome this fear in Jesus' name. God bless you. I'll see you next time right here on "The overcoming life".