Fear is a powerful force in our lives. It causes us to lie, deny, become passive when we should be active, grow silent when we should speak up. Fear is powerful! Is all fear bad? No. God gave us the emotion to protect us from danger. When facing a lion we should be afraid. Fear is a “survival instinct.” Having said that, most of our fear is self-protective fear. It is sinful fear.
Let me focus on several of the sinful manifestations of fear. Take lying. Why do people lie? What motivates them? Fear of consequences if the truth were known. Why do people shift blame onto others? Fear of what might happen to them if they own what they’ve done or said. Why do couples refuse to back down in an argument? Fear of looking weak or admitting they might be in the wrong. Fear is a powerful motivator! The roots of fear go all the way back to Genesis 3 and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Journey with me back to that ancient passage and let’s learn some lessons about the fruit of fear. After they had disobeyed the one command God gave them, Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves into loin cloths and hid among the trees. The Lord God comes looking for them and calls them out, “Where are you?” Wait a minute! God is omniscient. He knows where they are. So why does God ask the question? I would submit that God has two reasons, first to draw them out of hiding and second, to learn where they are in their relationship with Him.
Adam responds with the first mention of fear in the Bible, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked so I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10). Notice why Adam says he was afraid; because he was naked. I don’t buy it. Do you? I think he was afraid because he knew he disobeyed God’s one command and was guilty. He knew there would be consequences for his disobedience. He and Eve had already sewn fig leaves to hide their nakedness before they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden. So Adam lied. Adam knows what he did was disobedient and he fears God’s punishment so he hides himself.
Adam’s fear leads to covering up, lying, hiding, and then blaming others for his sin. Oh how we all bear out that same Adamic pattern! Adam shifts the heavy weight of guilt and shame onto Eve by blaming her and God! He says, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate” (emph. mine-Genesis 3:12). Adam not only throws Eve under the bus but God as well! It’s God’s fault for giving Eve to him. Eve follows Adam’s example by blaming the serpent. Lying and blaming others to avoid the consequences of the truth is the common lot of mankind.
I’m not discounting the role pride plays in lying, blaming, etc. I know it plays a huge role but my concern in this article is the role fear plays and the power that it wields over us. In this day and age when truth is in such short supply, believers need to be counter-cultural, radical truth-tellers. To do that, we must have the courage to silence our fears and faith to boldly speak the truth regardless of the consequences. Yes, we may suffer for doing so but God will honor us.