Ephesians 6:15, 16 – ” And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked”
One of Satan’s agenda is to fill the believer’s mind with doubts and fears, especially those who are new to the faith. I want you to put yourself in the place of this young lad. As a young boy, Bryan was alone in the darkness of his upstairs room. Bedtime had come and he was to go to sleep, but he couldn’t. He pulled the blankets tightly up to his nose and peered over the top of them, not moving a muscle. His breathing was rapid; his heart was pounding in his chest. Though the baby-sitter was right below his room on the first floor, she seemed to be miles away. She was totally unaware of the nightmare on Franklin Street, which was occurring just above her head.
That night, as happened quite often, creatures from the dark side came to get him. He knew they were in his room because now and then their shadows would appear on the wall. He could hear noises from the roof where they often waited until they could sneak in through the window. They loved to hide in the closet and attic, both of which opened into his room. He was sure of that because he could hear the floorboards creaking from within. He lay there, staring into the dark, with eyes as big as basketballs. Though he didn’t want to see the attack, neither did he want to close his eyes, and be an unsuspecting victim.
Suddenly there were loud footsteps in the hallway outside his door. He knew the end was near. In a moment, some cold-blooded child murderer would burst through the door and maul him. The door began to open, giving a squeaky warning. A gloved hand came around the corner. Where could he run? What could he use for a weapon? Should he scream? The top of a head appeared. The killer was wearing a hat to conceal his identity. The door opened further and now he, she, or it was in the room and coming toward his bed. He tried to move, to scream, but couldn’t. The thing was closing in on him. The shadows concealed his face, but maybe it was for the best. He squeezed his eyes shut, knowing that in only a moment he would feel the searing pain of cold, razor sharp steel or the suffocating pressure of a rope across his throat. He knew he was bending over his bed because he could hear him breathing. He put his hands on the blanket, and in a whisper asked, “Are you asleep, son?” Bryan opened his eyes and answered, “Dad?”
Are You Frightened by Life
My beloved, the days of our childish fears should be gone, however, in their place we have grown-up versions of the same thing. The stress and uncertainty of life can be very troublesome. One of Satan’s devious tactics is to induce fear in our minds by the dark shadows of life’s experiences. Satan is the author of confusion and is often the culprit behind many of our fears. He stirs up trouble, and tries to keep us in a constant state of turmoil. He takes sadistic pleasure in creating tension, mental stress, fears, worry, and anxiety within us so that we will become uptight, withdrawn, on edge, confused, and upset.
My brethren, Satan is no respecter of persons when it comes to fear and doubt, as he is the master and author of it, and takes great pleasure in sending our way some of the following:
(1) The unknown. You may be reentering school or college, embarking on a new job with more responsibility, or moving into a new phase of life such as marriage, mid-life, or retirement. You’re anxious and uncertain about what is ahead.
(2) Bad memories. You have been hurt deeply in the past, having experienced some terrible event. It may have been a shattered marriage, a combat experience in Vietnam, or times when you were the victim of abuse, neglect, or crime.
(3) Sickness or death. You may be stricken with a life-threatening illness. You may face serious surgery or the process of dying.
(4) Financial failure. You may be worrying about what may happen if you lose your job: Will there be enough money to live on? Will the children be able to go to college? Will you be able to keep your house and car?
(5) Not being good enough. You feel so much is expected of you and you question your ability to produce.
(6) Fear of condemnation. You may be haunted by guilt over some past act.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on a list that can become endless. Satan knows the areas of our lives, which are most vulnerable to fear and doubt, and for this very reason, we need to put on the whole armor of God and courageously stand up to our enemy.
Pull Your Boots Up
God didn’t mean for us to live in fear and doubt. Is your walk peaceful or filled with bumps of fear and confusion? The Christian life is certainly not problem-free, but in the midst of problems, God intends for us to have an internal peace that passes all understanding. Sandals and moccasins are comfortable but very inappropriate combat attire. A soldier needs a strong pair of durable boots. Romans 15:10 describe the feet of gospel messengers as “beautiful.” God has given to us the gospel boots of peace and the shield of faith to keep us calm and confident in the most fearful of circumstances. Have you inspected your own feet? Are they shoeless, or are they “shod with the gospel boots of peace”?
The Scriptures give us a clear direction in this area. What is the fear-breaking technique given in Isaiah 26:3, ““Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Thus, we are to keep our minds fixed on God. After highlighting the great faith of men and women of the past in Hebrews 11, the writer gives us a faith-building technique. Who does he instruct us to focus our attention on?
Hebrews 12:1-2, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud or witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Conquering Our Fears
Psalm 56:3 puts it this way, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” Excellent counsel from God’s Eternal Word! A young woman who lived in a crime-ridden area was waiting for a bus when a rookie police officer came up to her and asked, “Can I wait with You?” “That’s not necessary,” she replied. “I’m not afraid.” “Well, I am,” he said. “Would you mind waiting with me?”
The apostle Paul was candid with his readers in Corinth, admitting his fear and weakness, even to the point of trembling (1 Corinthians 2:3). However, he faced up to it, expressed his need for the Lord, and then relied on Him. He said that his speech and preaching were a “demonstration of the Spirit and of power”. We may safely assume that Paul spent much time praying and depending on God while he was in this wicked city.
Admitting that we are sometimes fearful isn’t a sign of being out of fellowship with God or that something is wrong in our lives. To acknowledge that we become anxious about dying, about getting cancer, about losing our mind, or about our children getting in trouble is being honest about our feelings. To overcome our fears, we must first acknowledge them. Then we must bring them to God and go forward in obedience. That’s the only way to conquer fear.
Job’s Severe Trials by Satan
We must remember that Satan will do anything he can to keep our eyes off God and on our circumstances. When fears paralyze us, we lose our focus, and forget about God’s power and see only our failure. We must always keep our minds and eyes fixed on God. Satan often deceives us into thinking our trials are God’s judgment for our sin. He tried this tactic with Job. In Job 1, Satan suggested to God that Job, who was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil,” would curse God if he experienced some severe trials. God permitted Satan to try Job (v. 12).
(1) His livestock was stolen (v. 13-15),
(2) His servants were murdered (v. 15),
(3) His sheep were struck by lightning (v. 16),
(4) His children were killed by a tornado (vv. 18, 19), and
(5) His body was infested with boils (Job 2, 7, 8).
If you know the story, three of Job’s friends came to comfort him (2:11). They concluded that Job experienced these trials because God was punishing him for his sin. However, we know something these three men didn’t. God was not punishing Job, but was instead proving Satan wrong. In a similar way, Satan often makes us think that our trials happen because God is angry with us and wants to punish us for our sin. These guilty feelings distance us from God. We may conclude that our sin is just too awful for God to accept us. We either try to make up for our sin by striving harder to be worthy of Him or we give up trying to maintain a relationship with Him because we feel we can never satisfy God.
On the other hand, we may become bitter. We may ask Him, “How could you be so cruel to do this to me?” If either case we conclude, that God is an abusive Father who holds a club over our heads and waits to clobber us for our every sin. The Bible, however, describes our relationship with God differently. Hebrews 12:5-13 teaches that the Lord disciplines us as a father would discipline a child in order to correct him. Discipline actually reaffirms God’s commitment to us (v. 6). However, He does not judge or condemn us for our sin. That was settled at the cross when Jesus Christ died in our place and paid the full penalty that sin demanded. Because of this payment, we now have peace with God.
Joshua – Peace & Faith Defeat Fear
Peace and faith defeat fear. Joshua demonstrated this when God gave him a tough assignment. God said to Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them …” (Joshua 1:2). That was an intimidating responsibility. Joshua knew that he and the people would have to face the same nations that 40 years before had caused them to tremble.
However, before fear could set in, God gave Joshua a promise. “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Joshua 1:5) Can you imagine that! There was not an opponent that he would ever face that would overpower him, no giant, no massive and well-equipped army, and no strong and fortified city with its thick and tall walls. Joshua was assured of victory. He’d have to work, some lives would be lost, but ultimately he would be the conqueror. The promise God gave to Joshua is no less valid today.
Facing Our Fears Head- On
Keep Your Shield Up – Ephesians 6:16 tell us to keep our shield up because of the fiery darts that Satan shoots at us. Have you ever been shot with a flaming arrow? Probably not, but if you are a child of God, you have been hit by one of Satan’s fiery darts. Our enemy has a number of darts in his arsenal. Two of these are fear and doubt, along with doubting God’s ability to provide for our needs, our ability to make a contribution to the Body of Christ and doubts about His promises.
We probably have all watched game wardens shoot wild animals with paralyzing darts on National Geographic specials. Each pierced animal collapsed to the ground and was unable to move. Similarly, Satan shoots us with his paralyzing darts of fear and doubt in order to immobilize us in our walk and service for the Lord. Take for instance, when in the beginning of creation, when Satan fired one of his darts at Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He suggested that God was withholding privileges from them. In addition, they began to doubt that God knew what was best. They foolishly sampled the restricted fruit in defiance of God’s instruction. Their doubt led to disobedience, which led to fear as they hid themselves from the Lord. Satan had aimed, fired, and hit his target paralyzing them in their walk with God. Satan does the very same thing today! So be prepared and put on the whole armor of God mentioned in Ephesians.
Moses Shadows of Intimidation
At the outset of Moses’ ministry God challenged his servant with a new assignment. Immediately the shadows of intimidation haunted this once self-confident prince, now timid shepherd. He was convinced he couldn’t be God’s spokesperson. His excuses were plentiful and are mentioned below:
(1) Exodus 3:11, “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
(2) Exodus 4:1, “They will not believe me”
(3) Exodus 4:10, “I am not eloquent”
Moses incorrectly focused on his own in-capabilities; however, God redirected his thinking, and responded to each of his fears with assurance of His sufficiency:
(1) Exodus 3:12, “Certainly I will be with thee …”
(2) Exodus 3:14, “I AM hath sent …”
(4) Exodus 4:1-8, “Show them the miracle of the rod and the hand”
(5) Exodus 4:12, “I will be with thy mouth”
My beloved, God provided help for every fear, and He will do the same for us today. Moses discovered that as God’s peace and faith filled his heart, Satan no longer hindered him from doing God’s work.
A Determined Faith – Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego
One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel. Determine how their faith protected them from fear and doubt. The key is in verses 16-18.
Daniel 3:15-18, “Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve they gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
They knew God was able to deliver them. If He chose not to, they would still bow to no one else. What might have happened if a fiery dart had hit them? The testimony of God would have been hindered. Proud Nebuchadnezzar would not have been confronted with God’s power, and the worship of God might have been severely restricted.
What Lies Ahead – Opportunities to Serve the LORD
Before us lie countless adventures and opportunities in Christian living and service for our Lord. As God’s soldiers, we need courage to face these challenges that lie before us. A number of Congressional Medal of Honor recipients were asked to define courage. None said it was the absence of fear. Instead, they responded, “It’s doing the things you’re afraid of.” Courage is not covering your eyes and pretending that nothing is wrong. Courage, Biblical courage, acknowledges the difficulties and fears, and faces them in the strength of the Lord. We need courage! We begin by admitting our fears and asking God for help. We may need to admit some failures and problems that we’ve been concealing. God want us all to move forward in our service for Him. The next time Satan whispers in your ear:
(1) “Let somebody else do it,” “you’re not qualified,”
(2) “You don’t stand a change,” “Remember how you blew it the last time?”
When he does that, focus on God’s words to Joshua, “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:9). We can stand up to Satan’s strategy of fear by:
(1) Prayer – We restore inner tranquility when we bring our concerns to the Lord in prayer. As we express our gratitude to Him in all things, we acknowledge His sovereign control over our lives. As we release our anxieties to Him, inner pressure subsides. Through consistent thankfulness and prayer, God builds a protective wall around our minds to keep out concern. (Philippians 4:6, 7),
(2) Obedience – Satan stirs up inner turmoil be enticing us to ignore or disobey God’s Word. He urges us to chart our own course in life, entangling us in our own shortsightedness and foolish decisions. By choosing our own way, we only create more confusion and further add to our anxiety. God promises His peace to those who live by His Word. When we know we are doing God’s will, our hearts are at peace. (Philippians 4:9),
(3) Meditating –Focusing our thoughts on God’s greatness, His power, His love, His mercy, His knowledge and His authority demonstrates our confidence in Him. The more we think on such things, the more we realize that God is in control and will take care of us. The person who follows Satan’s suggestion to concentrate on the problems of life will always be worrisome and uptight. How much better to dwell on God! (Isaiah 26:3),
Study the account of Joshua in Chapter 6 to determine how his faith protected him from fear and doubt. He was not disturbed by the strength of Jericho. He obeyed the Lord. He won a great victory. He inspired the people to obedience. What might have happened differently if a fiery dart had hit Joshua? Jericho might have prevailed. Joshua’s reputation would have been damaged. God’s name would have been disgraced. The victory would not have been won. The people of Israel would have been demoralized.
If Satan can hit us with one of his fiery darts, he can render us ineffective in our walk and service for the Lord. Fear makes us unwilling to take a stand for the Lord. Doubt makes us distrustful of God. We refuse to follow His instructions, assuming we know what is better. This leads to confusion and trouble. We must find protection for Satan’s attacks by using the “Shield of Faith”.
Just as riot police use shields to deflect objects, we must hold up the shield of faith against Satan’s fiery darts. The key word to understanding this piece of the Christian’s protective gear is faith. Faith simply means confidence in, trust, or belief. The object of our faith is God and His Word. We must believe or be confident in what He is and what He has said. Satan may shoot a dart of doubt at us and suddenly thoughts of uncertainty about our salvation overtake our mind.
To protect ourselves, we mentally review what God says about salvation in His Word. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). We can affirm to ourselves, “This is what God says about salvation. I do believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (John 1:1) and that He died for me, and rose again (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4). The Bible tells me that nothing can separate me from His love (Romans 8:31-39). Therefore, I refuse to accept this insinuation that I’m not saved.” This is how we hold up the shield of faith.
If we entertain doubts concerning God’s ability to provide for our needs, then we need to review the Bible passages that reaffirm His promise of provision and remember Satan is a liar. If we doubt the value of maintaining our moral purity, then we should read God’s instructions about purity and remember Satan is a liar. If the problem is fear, then we ought to rehearse in our minds such verses as Joshua 1:9 or Hebrews 13:5-6. We must remember the concept communicated in Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” As we lift up God’s Word in our minds, we will increasingly find ourselves able to deflect Satan’s fiery darts of fear and doubt.
When W. B. Davidson was a young boy, he walked with his father three miles from his rural home to his grandmother’s house. While they were visiting, the sun set. Davidson writes, “Between our home and grandmother’s house was a swamp. That night the croaking of the frogs, the chirping of the crickets and the shadows of the trees frightened me. I asked my father if there was any danger of something catching us, but he assured me that, there was nothing to dread. And so, taking me by the hand, he said, ‘I will not allow anything to harm you.’ Immediately my fears passed away and I was ready to face the world.” Someone has said that the three keys to real peace are:
(1) Fret not because God loves you (1 John 4:16, “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him.”)
(2) Faint not because God holds you (Psalm 139:10, “Even there shall thy hand lead me, and they right hand shall hold me.”)
(3) Fear not because God keeps you (Psalm 121:5-8, “The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”)
My beloved, as we rest in the love of Christ and recognize that God holds our hand, we too shall be at peace and unafraid. The “three keys to real peace”, fret not, faint not, fear not, can open our prison of worry and discouragement. Let’s step out into the full joy and liberty as the children of God! It would be well for us to remember and focus on God’s words to Joshua, when He said, “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:9). Thus, the perfect and only antidote for fear is being “Faithful, Obedient and Totally Trusting in the LORD thy God.”
The perfect antidote for fear is trust in God.