God has not given us the spirit of fear. Fear is a spirit, like worry is an emotion. As Timothy writes (*both translations are worth noting in this case)…
1 Timothy 2:7 (KJV)
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
1 Timothy 2:7 (NIV)
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
Fear, anxiety, worry. These are emotions that are fed spiritually, therefore they cannot be addressed emotionally. Emotions do not have intellect. They don’t think—they react. It’s why emotions change all the time and change to whatever they are reacting to. For instance, good news makes us happy and bad news makes us sad. We react to the information that we receive. Timothy mentions the “sound mind,” or from a spiritual standpoint—God-ordained thinking. But what does that consist of?
The Growing Seed of Thinking
(Dr. Evans has a new series entitled, “Living Above the Circumstances,” which address this topic in “Don’t Be Scared, Part 2.” This sermon provides a good basis for shifting our thinking towards a more positive light. I will attempt to share with you some of the more important parts I learned from it.)
The apostle Paul writes…
2 Corinthians 10:1-5
By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
In this passage, Paul expresses that our victory or defeat is not situated in our circumstances, but rather it is situated in our THINKING. But you know who else is aware of that concept? The devil. He understands that if the data from God’s Word gets planted in our thinking, it has the ability to grow within us, and we can then become victorious.
“The truth of God always comes to you in seed form. it doesn’t come to you full grown,” according to Dr. Evans.
The Bible often talks about the seed needing to grow in order for the information to flourish and become part of our lives. It’s a way of thinking. Satan’s goal is to snatch the seed and prevent the growth, since that growth ultimately controls our thinking.
Okay, that might be a lot to digest in one thought in itself. So let’s take a more familiar story to use as an example, instead. Let’s go back to the beginning…
A Shift in Our Perception
In the garden of Eden, God was always addressed as Lord God. But when Satan entered the picture (the serpent), he dropped the “Lord” and only referenced “God.” In essence, he reduced God’s authority in Eve’s life without losing her religion. Satan does not mind our religion. He minds God being Lord in the midst of our religion. And as we soon learn, Satan used the name of God to re-steer or re-shift Eve’s way of thinking…
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
The tree in the Garden of Eden had been there since the beginning. It didn’t change appearance—Satan just made it look different. When he talked to Eve, she thought about the tree differently and suddenly it became pleasant to her eye. So when Eve thought about the tree differently, her reaction to it was much different because he (Satan) entered into her framework of thinking.
This is why the Bible talks so much about the renewing of the mind.
Our victory or defeat is tied to our mind. That’s the key. It’s about the mind and the thinking in the mind. Dr. Evans argues, that if you tell your body to do something it doesn’t want it to do, and your mind hasn’t accepted it, your body won’t stay with it.
For example, if you’re an alcoholic, and you say “I want to stop drinking,” you may mean it, but your body could still need the alcohol, despite your good intentions. A new realm of thinking must be brought into the picture so that the body can become hostage to it. Paul writes of this very thing and the importance to grab every thought and make it hostage so that everything else therefore will follow it…
2 Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
If we as believers are physically here on Earth, then our minds should still no doubt be in Heaven.
Setting our Minds to Think Differently
We are seated in Heaven (thanks to Jesus), but in order to benefit from our relocation, we have to set our minds. Dr. Evans says that it’s kind of like setting an alarm clock. An alarm clock creates a situation where you must react to it. Because you have set the alarm or planned for it to wake you up at a particular time, you must do something about the intrusion.
Yet, after a while of training our bodies, the “wake-up process” soon becomes a natural habit because our minds have now been purposely set that way. An intentional setting of the mind.
When Paul writes to “set your mind on things above” it means to plan to think about what God says on a matter. Whatever emotion or dilemma you find yourself dealing with, go and find a reference to it in the Bible. You may not be able to memorize a particular scripture passage, but after a while you’ll soon be able to learn and remember the concepts. At this point, the concepts stick in the mind and it is here that God’s Word now becomes part of your thinking. As a result, you won’t have to keep “setting your alarm,” to be with God, because you’ll be automatically pulling up the reference or concept naturally.
What God Says on a Matter
The issue is not “reading a verse to keep the devil away,” as Dr. Evans likes to put it, but rather it is in setting our minds on Heaven’s point of view with an issue. Then you can work that concept over and over in your mind to where it starts to take up a dominant presence in your way of thinking. And when it takes up a dominant place in your thinking, then the action itself will start to keep up with the thinking.
But remember, Satan will try to keep that seed of thought from becoming part of your thinking and will try to put “static on the line.” It is one of the reasons why we are so easily distracted. Have you ever noticed that when you are trying to do something for God, something else suddenly comes up? (And here you probably thought it was just some sort of coincidence.)
When Feelings Control our Destination
We all know the engine controls where the train ends up. Our feelings of fear, anxiety or worry should not be treated like the engine on a train. Instead, these feelings should be moved to the back of the caboose. The facts of our FAITH should become the engine so that our feelings have to keep up with that—not our minds keeping up with our feelings.
As that thought grows and we establish what God says on a matter—even though it’s not necessarily what we are “feeling”—those feelings will eventually become more in line with those thoughts.