Overcoming Fear: By Sherilyn Grant
If you are human, you have experienced fear at some point in your life. Some of us battle fear more than others, and if I'm honest, I have allowed fear to cripple and debilitate me at times. There have been nights where I have woken up gripped by fear, paralyzed by the overwhelming feelings and thoughts that have come over me. Not long ago, the Holy Spirit began to lead me down a journey of healing and breakthrough in this area of my life. I remember a key moment when the Holy Spirit began to open my eyes to the spiritual battle I was facing. I was watching the movie, Divergent. In this movie there is one particular scene where the main character, Beatrice, is undergoing a series of tests or challenges. The series of tests were designed to assess her in such a way that her response to those challenges would determine which group of society she would belong to. The thing is, the challenges weren’t real. These challenges were a simulated series of events in the mind of the person being tested. Once she was “put under”, it was much like entering a dream where one doesn’t know they are dreaming. In this scene, Beatrice has a moment in her “dream” where she finds herself enclosed in a plastic tank that is slowly filling with water. She’s trying desperately to escape, grasping and pounding at the walls as the water is about to completely engulf her. All of the sudden, she has an epiphany where she realizes that what’s happening isn’t real. She realizes that her panicked reaction was based on a situation that wasn’t really happening. Instantly, she calms down, tells herself it’s not real. The test is over and she wakes up.
As I was watching this scene unfold, I heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart and say, “This is what the enemy does to you. He places a scene in your mind that is not real and you respond out of fear to a simulated picture that he wants you to believe is truth.” The problem is, sometimes we allow the false pictures to play out in our minds on replay until we cannot distinguish truth from lie and we begin to live out the fear. You see, the enemy knows that if he can get us to believe his lies about ourselves and our future, then he can keep us in a state of being ineffective for the kingdom of God. When we allow the enemy to lie to us, and we believe his lies, we come into agreement with those lies and they become what we believe to be true. And before you know it, the enemy has us in a state of bondage.
As followers of Christ, we are not meant to live our lives in bondage. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Paul also reminds us in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” As believers, the Bible teaches that anyone who has the Holy Spirit living inside cannot be demon-possessed, but we may however, be influenced in our thoughts and emotions if we have not been delivered from bondage and strongholds.
Once I realized that I had been living under bondage to fear, I had a choice in how I was going to respond to the lies of the enemy. The Holy Spirit led me to God’s Word to understand more about the authority believers have over the power of Satan and his lies. I began filling my mind with the truth of God’s Word and aligning myself with what it declared as true. I had allowed fear to run wild in my mind for so long, that I had not been able to see or believe that there was any other reality. I had been fighting in my own strength and losing, because in my own strength, I did not have the authority to overcome Satan and his lies.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” I love this version of this verse because it uses the word “submit.” I knew I needed understanding and insight, but I had not been submitting to the Lordship of Jesus in my life. I had been trying to fight the enemy with my own understanding. The enemy doesn’t want us to submit to Jesus because he knows that if he can keep us in our own head, we will stay in a place of confusion, fear and bondage. One night as I sat in my bed with my Bible open before me, I asked the Holy Spirit to show me what he wanted me to read. I prayed, “Holy Spirit, this is your Word, please show me the truth that you want me to see and believe. I submit to you and your leading.” I waited and was quiet, and gently, like a still small voice, I heard the word “Mark.” I opened my Bible to the book of Mark and began reading. I wasn’t even finished reading chapter one when I came upon verse 23 when Jesus encounters a man who was possessed by an evil spirit. It says, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God!” I kept reading and came to Mark 3:11, “Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.”
The demons knew who Jesus was before most people on earth knew who he was. And whenever they encountered Jesus, it was not a battle of who was stronger. They immediately recognized his Lordship and authority and when they saw him, they FELL DOWN BEFORE HIM. I almost fell out of my bed when I read that! The same demons that I had been allowing to torment me with fear, were the same demons who cowered at the presence of Jesus!
The same Jesus that the demons cower under is the same Jesus that lives in you and me. The root problem of my fear was that I did not believe in the authority of Jesus and his power in my life. From that moment on, when fear began to raise its ugly head, I would call it out and then I would then immediately submit that fear to the name and authority of Jesus. I began to declare, “I see you fear, but I also see my Jesus and his power to defeat you is greater.” As I began to replace the lies for the truth of God’s Word, the bondage of fear began to break in my life. It was as if scales fell off of my eyes and I could see clearly. I had been taken captive, but I didn’t realize that all I had to do was call out to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in my life. The enemy knows this and he tries to keep us paralyzed and silent in our fears. He knows the minute we use our voice to proclaim the truth, the battle is over.
When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, the battle wasn’t over as soon as they left. The Egyptians pursued them. The Bible says the Israelites were “terrified” (14:10). Based on what they saw in front of them, they saw a false reality based on fear of a future where they would be overcome by the Egyptians and die in the desert, but this was not truth. God did not deliver them just to die in the desert. Sometimes, what we see in the circumstances in front of us, causes our hearts to be gripped with fear. We allow the enemy a foothold by replaying all kinds of fearful outcomes in our minds that are not based on God’s truth. Moses said to them, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13-14).
By knowing Jesus and the power of his life, death, and resurrection, we can confront and break the power that demonic powers try to exert over us. We must continue to recognize as disciples in God’s kingdom, we are called to wage spiritual warfare only by the power and authority of Jesus and the Holy Spirit of God living inside of us. We can challenge the powers of darkness by knowing and using the authority of Jesus’ name. It is only as we stand in faith on the truth of God’s Word and submit to the presence of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us, that we will be free and help others to walk in that same freedom.
Contributors: Sherilyn Grant