There was a time in my life, when I was in fear for my soul. I was outside of Christ and knew that if I died in that state, I was going to hell. Many nights as I fell asleep, I was in fear that I would wake up in a place separated from God!
Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
2 Thessalonians 1:9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
I cannot tell you how scary those nights were for me, and I hope none of you reading this will ever experience that feeling of being lost eternally. My guess, however, is that most of you have felt that feeling of dread or maybe still do! Think about this for a second.... Do we fear going to hell more than we desire to get to heaven?
Our desire to go to heaven should far outweigh our fear of hell. God has provided a perfect plan of salvation. If we do our part, He is certain to do His. However, once we are baptized, it is up to us to grow up!
1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
1 Corinthians 14:20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
Colossians 1:9-12 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
Continually maturing in Christ is the cure for this malady. When we stop growing, we start dying… and then that fear resurfaces. As babes in Christ, we naturally have the fear of hell, but as we mature our motivation should be less of fear and more of hope. We should be shedding that fear and start to feel closer to God, be comforted by His word.
Unfortunately as a mature Christian, we can still get those feelings of fear. When it happens, we should examine our lives. What has changed, causing us to once again fear hell? The thing about sin, it creeps into our lives slowly and sometimes without really noticing, we find ourselves doing wrong. Hopefully, that’s when our fear mechanism kicks in. You see, our conscience is our friend.
I believe a trained conscience to be a healthy reminder for us to be vigilant and careful, so we do not slip and find ourselves in a bad situation. Maybe it’s God’s way of tapping us on the shoulder and saying, “Hey, turn around and get back on track!!” If we do that, God will forgive and our fear will dissipate.
Christian maturity comes more rapidly to some of us than others. I am not sure why that is, but I can guess it has to do with how dedicated we are to becoming a mature Christian. One of the components in God’s plan for us is that we are never going to fully grow up while we are here on earth. But that does not mean we should just wait for it to happen, or believe it will happen by merely attending church and expecting to grow. We need to learn, study, and talk about Jesus. We need to share the gospel. The bible is alive, and the scriptures we have read for years can teach us new things, if our heart is open and mind is focused. Reassurance comes from God through His word.
Proverbs 19:23 ESV The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.
Psalm 111:10 ESV The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
The previous scriptures are not talking about the kind of fear that we should avoid; they speak to the proper fear that shows reverence towards God. We must not focus on fear, rather we must become mature. We need to have courage and display boldness. Our purpose in life is to serve the Lord, and we can’t do that effectively while being afraid to fail.
The apostle Peter was afraid and ran; so did Jonah. But they both came back, did the right thing, and God forgave them. One day we will be perfected fully in love. Until that day, we must put our fear aside and press on to maturity and never fear.
- Terry Ryan