Delivered from the bondage of FEAR

breaking-free_1851_1024x768In our previous Connect Group lesson, we covered the Freedom that Christ offers to us as His followers. This freedom was foreshadowed in the Old Testament book of Exodus with the inauguration of the Passover feast. God frees us from the power of our sin nature so that we may worship and serve Him. We must be careful of idols and other sins creeping back into our daily lives. Sin is like leaven, just of little of it will leaven the entire lump of dough.

This week, we are going to take a look at what role fear plays in our daily lives and how does faith help us overcome our fears. I have written an article entitled Fear vs. Faith and I invite you to read it here. I also have another article on the same subject entitled Failing Faith Needs a Faithful Friend.

Our brother in the Lord, the Apostle Peter, tells us that:

seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. (II Peter 1:3)

This means that God has given to us everything that we need to live by faith, in His Holy Word. The same was true for the children of Israel. As we turn to Exodus 13 and 14, we see that God had demonstrated over and over again that all the children of Israel had to do was place their faith in Him.

I. God’s evidence for FAITH

The children of Israel had a front row seat to the mighty deeds of God. They had experienced God’s mercy and grace. God did not give them what they deserved. Instead, He gave them what they did not deserve. God also raised up a spiritual leader and ordained him to serve the people. They did not deserve it but God did it for them anyway. Then, He performed extraordinary miracles in their presence and they had everything that they needed to have faith. The final piece of evidence that the children of Israel needed to have faith was the fact that the presence of the Lord was with them everywhere that they went.

21 The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.
22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. (Exodus 13)

If the children of Israel did not have enough evidence, the Lord gave them more. In Exodus 14, the Lord reveals His plans to Moses and then instructs Moses to share all of these things with the children of Israel. Everyone knew what was going to happen yet, the children of Israel were still going to have to choose to surrender to FAITH or to Fear.

II. The children of Israel’s FEAR

The first thing that we have to establish is that fear and faith cannot coexist in the same space. When faith appears where fear is present, one will exit. When fear appears where faith is present, or will exit. The difference maker is the person’s choice. If a person surrenders to fear, faith is driven away. If a person surrenders to faith, fear is driven away.  You would think that all of the evidence provided by God for faith, it would be enough for the children of Israel to surrender to faith. For the children of Israel, it was not enough. Before coming down too hard on the children of Israel, remember, it is not enough for us today. In fact, in the New Testament, God’s presence was with the disciples, they witnessed the miracles yet, when fear reared its ugly head, their faith disappeared. The same is true for us today.

Let’s turn to Exodus 14 to see what led the children of Israel to surrender to their fear. As the Egyptian army bore down on the children of Israel, their fear reared its ugly head.

As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD. (Exodus 14:10)

They cry our to the Lord superficially, giving lip service to Him yet, they are totally surrendered to their fear. This manifests itself in what they do in verse 11:

Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt?

The children of Israel begin to complain against their leadership. They do not lash out at God directly, yet, they lash out at Moses, the man appointed by God. So, in all reality, the children of Israel lash out at God indirectly. The disciples did the same thing with Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 4. Jesus had spent the day teaching about faith. Here are the things that the disciples had learned about faith:

  1. Faith is evident.
  2. Faith produces more faith.
  3. Faith begins small and grows large.
  4. Faith and Understanding go hand in hand.

Faith was on the disciples’ minds. Then, when the storm begins to squeeze them, they surrender to their fear, totally and their faith exits. They lash out at Jesus, similarly to the way that the children of Israel lash out at Moses.

Moving back to the children of Israel, being controlled by fear has driven them to want to go back to their old master.

“Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians ‘? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” (Exodus 14:12)

Our fear will drive us back to our old master, our sin nature. Moses takes a stand to confront the children of Israel in order to stop the fear from spreading.

13 But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. (Exodus 14:13)

Moses points the people back to God. They are focused on the enemy. Fear has caused them to forget about God. Moses is trying to get them to refocus. Moses reminds the people of the fact that God has promised to provide salvation. As the Apostle Paul would write many, many years later, “bad company corrupts good morals“. The fear of the children of Israel had spread to Moses and now Moses has to be confronted by the Lord.

15 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.
16 “As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land. (Exodus 14)

The Lord sets Moses straight and then Moses challenges the people. In fact, this is what God’s solution to overcoming fear is. Let’s take a look at it.

III. God’s Solution

The first thing that we need to help us overcome our fear and walk by faith is a strong Biblical leader to confront, correct, and encourage people not to surrender to their fear and instead, surrender to faith. This leader must point us to God’s salvation. The word “salvation” means “rescue”. God wants to rescue us from our sin nature, from fear. That salvation is always available. We must know about it and walk in it by faith. By learning to trust the Lord, we get to experience Him. We go from learning information about Him to seeing Him work in our lives. It makes all the difference. This leads us to respect God more and more. This is the same solution that Jesus employed when dealing with His disciples. He confronted them and used the opportunity as a teaching moment, for their own good. Jesus shows mercy to them and grace to them. They learn to have faith and are ready for the next opportunity to apply what they have learned.

What about you my dear friend, are you surrendering to faith or to fear? The two cannot coexist. One will drive out the other. Fear will always rear its ugly head because you and I both have a sin nature that wants to dominate us. Fear and your sin nature work well together. Do you have a spiritual leader who confronts, corrects, and encourages you to surrender to faith instead of fear? Do you lash out at spiritual leaders thinking that it is okay because you do not lash out at God? Are you encouraging others to surrender to faith instead of fear? Let’s learn to walk by faith and encourage one another to walk by faith moment by moment, day by day.

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