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R/Dean Daniel Lesson 22

Defeating Fear; Stability in Crisis – Daniel 5:2-10


During World War II FDR said it most concisely in one of his speeches, that "we have nothing to fear but fear itself."  Few emotional sins are as self-destructive and as self-defeating as fear.  When you give into fear you become a slave of the object you fear and you become controlled by the controlled by the object of your dread.  Today people in this nation are paralyzing themselves with fear.  As long as they do this they let the terrorists win.  Rarely before in our history have believers in the Lord Jesus Christ had such a fantastic opportunity to stand out and to shine as examples of true courage, bravery and integrity.  We see this same kind of example in Daniel 5. 


Daniel 5:1, Daniel and the Queen Mother, Nitocris, stand out as stalwart examples of believers who are applying doctrine in the midst of a national crisis and have complete poise and stability despite the fact that they know that this very night the kingdom is going to be taken from Babylon, it will be overrun by the enemies of Babylon, by the Persians, and on the new day there will be a new government in place, a new power in control and their positions of privilege, their positions of aristocracy will probably no longer be theirs and they could very well be dead by morning. 


Remember the purpose for Daniel is to teach us how to grow to spiritual maturity in a pagan environment.  Too often we think that all the believers in the Bible somehow lived in these wonderful environments where everybody around them was a Christian, everybody thought like they did, and nothing could be further from the truth, especially when we get into this period of time when you have people like Daniel, Jeremiah and Ezekiel were living outside the land, completely surrounded by Gentiles who were worshiping the entire pantheon of false gods.  What they faced on a day to day basis probably was much worse in terms of the overt paganism, immorality, idolatry and everything that goes with it, it was much worse than anything that you and I face.  The indoctrination that they went through personally in their own job training, the indoctrination their kids were put through, was probably much greater and much more intense than the kind of indoctrination the world system, the cosmic system in the secular education system in this country is forcing us through.


So it tells us something about how to live our spiritual life and grow to spiritual maturity in the midst of a pagan environment and that the path to spiritual growth is always through trials.  James 1:2-4 says, "Count if all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, [3] because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  [4] And endurance will have its maturing result, that will make you mature and complete."  1 Corinthians 10:13, "There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful and will, with the temptation make a way to escape that you may be able to endure it," and endurance in times of testing, and that means to stick with the Word, stick with applying the Word, no matter how difficult it becomes, no matter how strong the temptation is to bail out and to try some other system to solve life's problems, sticking with the Word of God in tough times is the key to spiritual growth.  And we've seen that Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego clearly demonstrated that.


Furthermore, we've seen that every chapter in Daniel sees believers in some kind of either personal or national crisis.  We watch how they handle those crises, how they keep the external adversity from being transformed into stress in the soul.  This book ultimately, even though it has much to say about prophecy and God's plan for history, it's not about prophecy but it's how God continues to maintain control over the affairs of men, even when everything around us seems chaotic and out of control.  The events of chapter 5 are no exception.  We learn four things here that we've emphasized.


First of all, Jesus Christ controls history.  No matter how crazy things might seem, no matter how chaotic history might seem, no matter how great the upheaval, we know that Jesus Christ controls history.  Second, we emphasized that Jesus Christ is sovereign, not only over Gentiles and Jews but Moslems and Christians, terrorists and criminals.  Nothing can happen apart from God's sovereign will, He controls everything.  He allows evil, He controls evil and He will ultimately bring evil to its final destruction.  The third thing that we have seen is that the believer's life and destiny is in the hand of God.  The Lord Jesus Christ has already determined from eternity past the time, manner and the place of your death, and since that has been set from eternity past, why are you worried about it.  Get on an airplane, go to New York, go to DC, go into combat, but don't worry about the things we have no control over.  God has already determined the time, the manner and the place of our death so no matter what our situation might be, whether we're facing an enemy in combat or the potential of some cowardly terrorist act here at home, we can relax because our destiny is in God's hands and we can live life to the fullest.  The fourth point is that the only security that we have in this life is in a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ based on Bible doctrine.  The only security we have in this life, it's not based on financial security, job security, it's not based on military security, political security, legislative security, none of those things can provide real genuine security in this life.  Only the Lord Jesus Christ and a relationship with Him can provide true security.


Last time we saw that this kind of stability is based only on Bible doctrine which comes from the revelation of God.  We started by looking at a passage in Jeremiah.  This passage describes the contrast that we're going to see between Belshazzar the king on the one hand, and Daniel and Nitocris on the other hand.  Jeremiah 17:5, "Thus says the LORD, 'Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength.'"  That's what's going on with Belshazzar and with everybody else in Babylon.  They're putting their trust in their false gods, they're putting their trust in the walls that surrounded Babylon, they're putting their trust in their military might and the fact that they're inside Fort Babylon and they have closed everything up and they have enough food and wine and water to last them for a year or more and they think they can just sit and out wait the Persian army but the problem is the Persians have their own plan, they have some great engineers and this is the night that they're going to fall.  This verse represents the false hope, the false confidence, the false trust of mankind.  "Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord.  [6] For he will be like a bush in the desert, and he will not see," that is, he will not have perception, he won't understand truth, he won't even know prosperity when he sees it, "but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant."  We went through this in detail last week. 


In contrast in verse 7 we have the blessed man, this is represented by Daniel and Nitocris, these are believers who have assimilated doctrine and they are applying doctrine in the midst of the crisis.  "Blessed is the man who trusts in Yahweh and whose trust is Yahweh.  [8] For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes," that is when the pressure comes, when the outside pressure of adversity comes, he "will not fear when the heat comes, but is leaves will be green," even in the midst of crisis there is no stress in the soul, the believer is relaxed, calm, tranquil and shares the happiness of Jesus Christ.  "…its leaves will be green," it will still be productive and fruitful, "and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit."  The believer who is operating on doctrine does not cave in to worry, anxiety and fear, and does not cease yielding fruit.  Whenever we cave in to fear what happens is we cease producing fruit, we're out of fellowship and we're in danger of self-destructing in our spiritual life.


The second thing we saw is that only doctrine provides national stability…only doctrine, that is the revelation of God, the Word of God taught faithfully by pastor-teachers can preserve the nation.  This is seen in Proverbs 29:18 which is so often mistranslated: "Where there is no vision," this is not talking about some kind of insight into the future of a church, corporation or nation.  "Where there is no vision," vision comes from the Hebrew word chazown which means revelation, this is the revelatory vision God gave a prophet in the Old Testament.  So this is talking about Bible doctrine.  "Where there is no Bible doctrine the people are unrestrained," that means they run wild from the Hebrew word pera'.  When people reject doctrine they become lawless, they end up rejecting absolutes.  But the contrast is "happy" or "blessed is he who keeps the Law."  And as a result of doctrine, we saw the people run wild in a panic, they fall apart, they cave in to fear, mental attitude sins and that is their weakness.  And this is typical of any culture as it reaches its end. 


Last time we quickly went over an analysis of history, first stated by Alexander Frazier Tyler who lived from 1748-1813 in his book, The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic.  There he noted that there were patterns, in every empire there are patterns of their rise and their fall, and so he wrote it out this way: "Man begins his existence in bondage and rises from bondage through spiritual faith," when we're down at our very worst, finally we turn to God.  Unfortunately for many people that's the only time they turn to God.  It's amazing how many people are suddenly talking about God in the last month, and God bless America has been so overused in the last month but it's nice that nobody is taking anybody to court when they talk about God bless America in public buildings.  "Man begins his existence in bondage and rises from bondage through spiritual faith," and then the next stage, as he moves from spiritual faith to courage, because it is doctrine that is the foundation for real moral courage in life, and then that courage allows him to move to the next stage which is liberty, to fight for liberty, it takes courage to fight for liberty, freedom is only won through military victory.  Nobody ever had freedom in this life that they didn't earn, that they didn't fight for that somebody didn't die for.  And the freedoms that people have in this nation to disagree with war, to get out and march against war, to express their pacifistic and cowardly ideas, that freedom was paid for by men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for that freedom.  It is a sad thing that people don't recognize that their very ideals of pacifism are there because somebody died for it. 


"…courage to liberty, liberty to abundance," once you have a free nation with a free market you can have prosperity, and that brings abundance but so often nations fail the prosperity test just as people fail the prosperity test and what happens is we become complacent and we give in to arrogance and self-centeredness.  So we move then on the decline, "from abundance to selfish-ness," and as we become more and more self-centered and self-absorbed we become complacent, "from selfishness to complacency, then complacency leads to apathy," and people don't want to get involved, they don't want to sacrifice, they don't' want to give up, they don't want to get involved, they don't want to change their life, they would rather sell their freedoms in order to remain secure.  So they move "from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency" and finally they complete the cycle, "from dependency back into bondage." 


When people become slaves in their soul which is the result of living according to the sin nature, in any culture where the vast majority of the people are living according to the sin nature, with no restraint on the sin nature from either establishment principles in the law or from Bible doctrine, when there's no restraint on the sin nature and people are giving themselves completely over to it, they're enslaved to the sin nature, according to roman's 6 and the result is that that nation that is enslaved to the sin nature will before long become enslaved as a culture.  The only way to break this cycle is through Bible doctrine, through national change of thinking and where the priorities are shifted.  But this did not happen with Babylon, they had the opportunity.  Belshazzar probably heard the gospel many times; he was familiar with the God of the Jews, he was familiar with the Jews, he was familiar with Daniel, as we shall see, but he failed to heed the message. 


Let's review the setting.  Daniel 5:1 says: "Belshazzar the king," and we have seen that he is really the co-regent with his father, Nabonidus.  He is the grandson, through his mother Nitocris, of the great Nebuchadnezzar.  Nitocris was probably the youngest or one of the youngest of Nebuchad­nez­zar's daughters and she married Nabonidus.  Belshazzar has been co-regent with Nabonidus since about the third year of Nabonidus' reign and at this point Nabonidus is in semi-retirement, he loved old things, he loved to dig things up, he was always rebuilding old temples and reconstructing them, he'd rather do that than sit in the place of power in Babylon.  So Belshazzar, for all practical purposes, ran the empire and it was falling apart because Belshazzar did not have the capacity in his soul to carry out the responsibilities to reign.  He had rejected the wisdom that was given him and so now he is consumed with arrogance and he thinks that he has complete security inside the walls of the nation. 


So he has a party, that's what we're told in verse 1, "Belshazzar the king held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles," now this was really a small dinner party.  We have historical records from the Persians where they would have, the Persian kings would have dinner parties for ten or twelve thousand.  So Belshazzar is just having a small little intimate get-together here with a thousand of his closest friends and most needed admirers, and they're having quite a time.  You can just imagine what it was like in there, in this enormous banquet hall, all the noise, the din of all the servers and servants coming in, serving the meals, the clanking of the dishes and the gold goblets and the silver goblets and they're enjoying their wine and the talk is getting louder and louder and that's the background. 


We're told in verse 2, "When Belshazzar tasted the wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar, his father," actually his grandfather, the Hebrew term can mean father or grandfather, in fact, there are seven different ways in which the term "father" is used in the Aramaic.  "…which Nebuchadnezzar, his father, had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem," so he is going to commit sacrilege at this point.  Now I think what's gone on here is he's trying to demonstrate his control over the gods and a reminder of one of the great victories that they had over the gods and that the gods of Babylon, the gods of Marduk are superior to all of the other gods and what has happened in Nabonidus' retreat as the Persian army has come down from the south they have just rolled up the Babylonian army, they've conquered one town after another, and every time Nabonidus went into retreat he took the local gods from the temples and brought them all back to Babylon so they lined the streets of Babylon with all the various deities representing all the gods in the Babylonian pantheon.  And of course, there's no idol to represent the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so Belshazzar is going to demonstrate their superiority there by bringing out the vessels from the temple, but this is the height of blasphemy and a challenge against God and it is no mere coincidence that it is as soon as he brings out the gold and silver vessels that the handwriting begins to appear on the wall. 


So he brings out the vessels, "the temple vessels which were in Jerusalem, in order that the king and his nobles, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them."  Now it's unusual at a dinner like this to have his entire harem there but when it says "his wives and his concubines," he's brought out his whole harem so the suggestion is that they are having a wild party, bordering on a Roman orgy, and from what we know about the Babylonians, they did not shirk getting involved in some… let's just say some extreme sexual hi jinx, so they are having quite the time and everybody is getting good and drunk.


Then in Daniel 5:3, "Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God," notice the writer repeats that so we get the point, pay attention to the context, "they brought the gold vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God, which was in Jerusalem; and the king and his nobles, his wives, and his concubines drank from them."  So it's demonstrating that … none of them have the right to, they're not Levitical priests and so it is sacrilege, it is blasphemy; they are making a theological statement showing their superiority over God. 


Daniel 5:4, "They drank the wine and praise the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone."  And here the structure indicates two different categories of gods; the gold and silver are linked together, these would be the higher gods, the higher idols, whose statures were made of gold and silver, and then the lower echelon of gods whose idols were just built out "of bronze, iron, wood and stone."


In Daniel 5:5 we have the sudden dramatic change; all of a sudden fingers appear.  Now it's important to notice that the Hebrew here is the word 'etsba', and it doesn't' mean hand at all, it's just the fingers, so you don't even have the appearance of the palm, you just have a group of fingers appearing on the wall.  And suddenly the place grows silent.  God is going to announce His judgment and proceed to condemn the empire of Babylon at this particular point because Belshazzar has called divine judgment down upon himself.  He has been exposed to the Word, he's familiar with Daniel but he has rejected it time and time again.  [5 "Suddenly the fingers of a man's hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace, and the king saw the back of the hand that did the writing."]


Now I want you to picture this; archeologists have discovered this particular banquet hall, it was enormous, it was 173 feet long and 56 feet wide.  It was part of the Hanging Gardens and was an enormous banquet hall that was used for all their state dinners.  But not only have we found the banquet hall and the entrance to this room, but opposite the entrance way, which is in the middle of the building, it's a large rectangular building and you enter in from one side and opposite that side on the long wall there's a niche cut in the wall, and that's where the king would sit.  And the entire interior of the wall was covered with plaster, which is what the text says, that the handwriting appeared on the plaster of the wall.  And when the archeologists discovered this, the pieces of the plaster were still there, so the Bible is very accurate down to the minute details.  When it talks about this plaster on the wall it was a white plaster, so the letters would appear very clear, even in the midst of the candlelight dinners.  Remember they didn't have electrical chandeliers, they didn't even have gas light, they just had various candelabra on all the tables, and suddenly this hand appeared above the king, and he's probably up there having a great time and telling a few jokes and swashing his wine around and all of a sudden he notices that everybody's staring at him and they're not talking any more.  And then he turns around and sees these letters begin to appear on the wall.  And no one knows what they mean and no one knows their significance and he is struck with fear. 


Daniel 5:6, "Then the king's face grew pale," instantly all the blood drains out of his face, "and his thoughts alarmed him;" I want you to notice that this is a principle here that's true of every carnal Christian and every non-Christian.  When an individual is on negative volition and operating on the sin nature his conscience is always sensitive and will always give testimony to his failures, given the right circumstances.  And no matter how skilled you might be at covering up your conscience and hardening your conscience and suppressing it, sooner or later you're going to get into some situation and all of a sudden all those things in your conscience are going to come bubbling to the surface and you're going to become overwhelmed with guilt and guilt always comes along with its handmaiden, fear, which is the fear of discovery and the fear of having to pay the consequences for our actions.  Fear is the result, then, of letting our mind focus on the wrong things.  See, "his thoughts alarmed him," he's letting his mind focus on the wrong thing, he's not focused on the task at hand and he becomes controlled by the emotional sin of fear and the results are that he's physically destroyed, "and his hip joints went slack, and his knees began knocking together."  He can't think, he can't move, he can't function, he is overwhelmed by guilt.

Now I want you to notice the contrast, we're going to come back and look at the doctrine of fear in a minute but I want you to notice the contrast.  Here when the fingers appear and the handwriting appears he falls apart, he just turns to jello right there in front of everybody, just like so many people in this country are just turning into jello right now, they don't want to go out of their houses.  Look at the contrast, look down to verse 10, "The queen entered," now this is his mother, Queen Nitocris, "entered the banquet hall," she's the picture of stately decorum, she's elegant, she's poised, she "entered the banquet hall," everybody is quiet, everybody is scared to death, you could hear a pin drop, she walks up before the king.  We read, Daniel 5:10, "The queen entered the banquet hall because of the words of the king and his nobles; the queen spoke and said, O king, live forever!"  That's a standard address, that's how you had to preface everything.  "Don't let your thoughts alarm you or your face be pale."  She immediately tries to get him to calm down, straighten things out.  She is the picture of control and she knows what the solution is and she's going to tell him to call for Daniel. 


Daniel 5:13, we see Daniel come in and Daniel too is not going to be swayed by Belshazzar's bribes, his attempts to give him power and money and reward in order to give him a good interpretation of what's on the wall.  So we see in contrast to Belshazzar two believers who are stable, who are poised, who are calm in the midst of crisis and who exude almost a bravado because of the fact that the understand the plan and purpose of God in the midst of a national crisis.  So at this point we need to stop a minute, we need to understand the doctrine of fear, what the Bible teaches about fear. 


First of all we need to recognize that fear is used two different ways in the Bible.  First of all it is used for mental attitude sin of fear, and mental attitude sin of fear, it's an emotional sin that's characterized by anxiety, worry, dread, and panic in a crisis.  It's aroused by real or perceived danger.  It doesn't have to be a real danger.  You remember when you were a kid and you'd turn the lights off at night and you thought the boogey man was under the bed. It's a real or perceived danger, impending crisis, disaster or evil.  It's related to worry, apprehension, consternation, horror and dread.  Fear and all these other mental attitude sins are a sign that we are converting the outside pressure of adversity into the inside pressure of stress in the soul and guess what is in control of your soul?  Your sin nature is starting to run wild with you.  There's only one solution and that's going to be confession of sin and getting your focus on doctrine, having some promises in the mentality of your soul that you can immediately recall so that you can begin to stabilize your emotions by focusing on doctrine. 


Whenever I think about this I'm always reminded of a story that Charlie Clough tells.  Years ago Charlie was pasturing a church down in Lubbock, Texas, and one of the men in his church had been a bomber pilot in Vietnam when they started the bombing runs on Hanoi.  To some of you that's ancient history but others of you can remember that.  And the first time he went in, and I don't know much about the strategy and tactics of bomber formation but you stack them two or three deep and everybody has a wing man and you've got different layers and everybody is protecting one another, and the last thing you want to happen is for somebody in the midst of this type formation to start baling out and start zigzagging all over the sky and trying to avoid all the anti-aircraft fire.  And so the first time this guy is going into combat and all of a sudden the anti-aircraft fire starts blowing up all around him he said that was your immediate response, you want to grab the controls and start dodging all over the sky.  And this guy had grown up at Berachah Church and back in those days, still to some degree, the pastor would, as I do, quote some verses.  That's one reason I always quote those different verses before each class, is because for many of you that's going to be about the only way you're going to memorize those Scriptures, if you hear me say them week after week after week.  And this is where I got the idea from, is that this guy as he was going into combat all of a sudden he heard the voice of Pastor Thieme in the back of his head, "Fear thou not for I am with thee, be not dismayed for I am thy God, I will strengthen thee, yea I will help thee, yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.  And he said he quoted that verse about 500 times before he got back to base that day.  But he heard that just as clear as a bell and that immediately stabilized his emotions, he got past the fear and focused on his task.  So that is what we're supposed to do.


Fear is related to emotionalism and once you let any emotional sin control your soul then you are in serious trouble; you become a prey for irrationalism, emotionalism and you will become a victim of false thinking.  So this is what we are going to address, the mental attitude sin of emotion, the emotional sin of fear. 


The second way in which fear is used in the Bible is related to respect, awe or reverence and this is about all we'll say about this category tonight so I want to run through a few verses where it is used in this way.  1 Peter 2:17 says, "Honor all men, love the brotherhood," that is other believers, that is not the brotherhood of mankind, that's a liberal idea; you do not enter into the royal family of God until you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ.  Scripture teaches that all men do not have God as their Father.  When Jesus was in a confrontation with the Pharisees, and these were religious moral men, He said, "You are of your father, the devil," that until you are born again, born from above, where you put your faith alone in Christ alone, it is only at that point that we are adopted into the royal family of God.  And so there's no such thing as the brotherhood of mankind and the fatherhood of God, that is classic 19th century religious liberalism and has nothing to do with the Bible, it's just religious fluff.  "Honor all me, love the brotherhood, fear God," that means to have reverence and respect for God, "honor the king."


Articulated in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 17:19, "And it shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn," this is the instruction to the king, "that he may learn to fear Yahweh, his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes."  Leviticus 25:17, "So you shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God, for I am the LORD your God."  Psalm 111:10, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  A good understanding have all those who do His commandments, His praise endures forever," and this is reiterated in Proverbs 1:7, "The fear of the LORD," that's the starting point, the fear of the Lord has to do with authority orientation.  When we become a little fearful of the Lord, that it's a healthy fear because we know that a little divine discipline is going to come with disobedience and we realize the seriousness of our spiritual life, that's the beginning of learning.  You don't really learn something until you begin to realize there are consequences for not learning.  "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, fools despise wisdom and instruction." 


Then this same word for fear, the Greek word is phobeomai and it is used in Ephesians 5:33 in describing the love of a wife for her husband, "Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife, even as himself, and let the wife see to it that she fear her husband," that's phobeo and it's the idea of respect and reverence.  I think it's interesting it doesn't tell the wife to love her husband, it tells her to respect her husband because that is indeed a high form of love. 


So in this first point we've seen that fear is used two ways in the Bible; first it's a mental attitude sin and second, as reverence, awe and respect.


The second point, neglect of doctrine and failure to realize that security comes only from God is the root of all fear.  The root of all fear is the neglect of doctrine and the failure to realize that security can only come from God, from a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and Bible doctrine.  For example, Belshazzar had years to respond to doctrine through the gospel, but he is ignorant of the gospel, he's rejected it.  He's aware of Daniel, he's aware of Daniel's past, he's aware of the God of the Jews but he's rejected the gospel again and again.  Remember at the end of Nebuchadnezzar's reign when Belshazzar was probably 16, 17 or 18 years of age, Nebuchad­nezzar spent seven years in insanity.  So that would roughly correspond to Belshazzar's adolescent years.  He knew all about it, when that was over with Nebuchadnezzar published a proclamation that was read to every man, woman and child in the nation.  And it was an evangelism tract, and that was Daniel 4.  And yet Belshazzar is not a believer, he has rejected the gospel again and again.  So fear starts because we neglect doctrine and we fail to realize that real security, genuine security comes only from Jesus Christ and Bible doctrine.


Third, fear is a failure to think under pressure.  Instead of thinking you're emoting, you're feeling, you're operating on adrenalin surge.  Fear is a failure to think under pressure and it is a realization that our own attempts at security are fruitless, realization of our finitetude.  Fear is an irrational and an emotional sin.  We need to realize that part of this that fear is the basic emotional sin that goes with arrogance.  Fear is the basic emotional sin that goes with arrogance; get that in your notes.  In arrogance the creature thinks that he amounts to something, he thinks he is somebody, he's impressed with himself.  He thinks that he has the ability to solve his problems on his own or he's smart enough to figure out how.  But deep in his soul every creature knows he's limited.  He knows his limitations, he knows he can't do it, he knows he can't be the source of his own security.  And in arrogance as soon as the creature is confronted with some problem, some crisis that's too big for him to handle, then immediately the emotional sin of fear takes over.


See, in arrogance we think we can solve everything but as soon as something comes along that's too big for us, immediately the first reaction emotionally is fear.  This happens in Genesis 3.  After the fall, Adam eats the fruit, and then we're told [8] "they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day."  This was standard operating procedure in the Garden, every day the Lord came and spent time with Adam and Eve and taught them, and they interacted about creation and they were learning about creation, they were learning about all of the animals, they were observing things, they were making observations.  Adam and Eve had IQ's that we can only imagine.  I mean, they came straight from the hand of God, their intelligence was far beyond anything we can imagine and every day they're exploring this new creation.  They're learning about everything and now God comes to spend time with them this day and there's something different.  This time they run and hide, "and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the Garden." 


Rather than coming out and welcoming Him and looking forward to this time they run and they hide.  Why?  Verse 9, "Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, Where are you?"  And the Lord knows where they are, He's omniscient, He's saying this, asking this question rhetorically in order to get them to focus on where they are.  They're hiding; they're not out coming to greet Him.  Verse 10, "And he," this is the man, "said, I heard the sound of Thee in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked so I hid myself."  So what is the first sin after eating the fruit?  It's fear.  Fear is the first emotional sin experienced by man in his arrogance after the fall.  Fear is the core emotional sin that goes hand and hand with arrogance.  So the core emotion is fear.  Keep that in your memory because in a few minutes we're going to get in a passage in 1 John that goes completely counter to what most people think and if you don't have Genesis 3:10 as the background you won't understand what's going on in 1 John when we get there.


Fourth point, for the believer fear begins with failure to learn and apply doctrine.  Once the believer is out of fellowship, once you sin, once you decide to try to solve the problem on your own, then sin begins to gnaw away at the soul, it eats away and all of a sudden that foundation of doctrine that you've built begins to erode, fissures begin to appear, the soul begins to fragment and the only way to recover is to use 1 John 1:9, confess your sins, "God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  Now we recover fellowship, now we recover the filling of the Holy Spirit and now we can continue to advance in the spiritual life and if you're still alive, no matter how much you've been out of fellowship, no matter how fragmented your soul, there's always recovery, there's always a grace procedure for recovery.  Fear, we must remember, cannot coexist with the operation of the Holy Spirit in our spiritual life.  They are mutually exclusive.  With doctrine we say "the battle is the Lord's" and…[tape turns]


…we set ourselves up for attack and fear.  A couple of things that go along with this, first of all, sub points: people who live by fear are intimidated by life.  The believer who lives in a state of fear lives with an emotional cancer that's eating away at his soul.  Second sub point: fear eliminates motivation, first from personal love for God, second from a personal sense of destiny, and the believer succumbs to worry, anxiety, guilt, and all the other sins.  Third sub point: fear of death, this is all under point four, just some sub points and some observations, fear of death will never prevent your death, but it will destroy your enjoyment of life.  And a final observation: fear is being overcome by the problem, enmeshed in the crisis and engulfed in emotion it is not security. 


Point five: fear is often thought to be the opposite of stability, the opposite of tranquility, the opposite of happiness but it is rooted in an understanding of God's love, that's the point.  Fear is not the opposite of stability or peace; fear is the opposite of love.  See, most of you sitting out there and you thought hate was the opposite of love.  Well, let's pay attention to what the Scripture says. 


Turn to 1 John 4:12, we don't have time to go through everything in this passage but I want to hit the high points because this is truly instructive on our spiritual life.  "No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us," now that takes back to a whole range of studies we've done on this Greek word meno, and meno relates to fellowship, so we're talking about the believer in fellowship with the Lord, "God abides in us" where there is fellowship, "and His love is perfected," now that's a bad translation.  I hate it when the Greek translators translate this word group with that word "perfect."  Perfect implies lawlessness, but the word group, telios, telioo, telos in the Greek has to do with two things, quality, flawlessness is quality, perfection is quality.  It also has to do with quantity, completing something.  And I have yet with one possible exception to find any place in the New Testament where this word group refers to flawlessness.  It refers to completion.  "If we love one another," this is exercising those advanced spiritual skills of personal love for God the Father, impersonal love for all mankind and occupation with Christ, "if we love one another, God abides in us," we can only do that if we're in fellowship with God, "and His love is brought to completion in us," that's the process of spiritual growth.


1 John 4:13, "By this we know that we abide in Him," there's going to be some evidence, how can you know if you abide in Him, "and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit."  In other words, it can only be produced by the filling of God the Holy Spirit, the Christian life is a supernatural way of life and demands a supernatural means of execution which is the Holy Spirit. 


1 John 4:14, "And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.  [15] Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God," that is admits, acknowledges, "that Jesus is the Son of God," full undiminished deity, "God abides in him and he in God."  See, that's not talking about salvation, abiding is sanctification, it's not salvation.  This is talking about the fact that we have to recognize the deity of Christ or we're not going to be in fellowship with the Lord because we'll be operating on a false concept and false doctrine. 


1 John 4:16, "And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us.  God is love, and the one who abides," that is stays in fellowship with God, "stays in fellowship with love, abides in God and God abides in him."  So there's this inner connection that John is developing here.  [17] By this, love is matured with us," there's our word telios again in verse 17, "by this love is brought to completion," or matured in us literally, "that we may have confidence," hope, notice how love is related to confidence, "in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world."


And now here's the verse I've been headed for: 1 John 4:18, "There is no fear in love," notice the juxtaposition, "there is no fear in love, but perfect love," that's that word again, it's not "perfect love," it'stelos love, it is complete love, this is the believer who has grown to maturity in his love for God the Father, "completed love casts out fear," it is love that casts out fear, that's exactly what happened in the Garden of Eden, they were afraid and they hid but God responded in grace and love and that dealt with the problem of fear because in grace and love God provided the solution.  So what stabilizes fear is the love of God and coming to grips with the grace of God and salvation.  It is "complete love casts out fear," and in this passage it is a love for God.  That's implied in the next verse, "we love Him, because He first loved us."  There's a textual problem there and it should read, "we love Him," and I don't have time to deal with why.  That should read "we love Him because He first loved us."  So that establishes the context, it's talking about love for God.  "There is no fear in love for God," that's the issue for the believer.  You advance in your spiritual life to the point where you really comprehend and understand personal love for God and then you're not afraid any more, you're not worried any more, you're not tying yourself up in knots over every little problem that comes along, you have peace, stability, and poise because you are motivated by the love for God.  You know of His love for you and that He's provided everything, He's in control, you're not in control, so you can relax and have stability.


This takes us to point six, which is that God's love provides all the security we need, God in His grace.  That's why it's sufficient, sufficient means more than enough.  It supplies everything we need, God's love, grace is the expression of His love to undeserving sinners, God's love provides all the security we need.  Failure to abide in fellowship, then, is a rejection of divine provision and divine security.  So the first emotion is fear.  Failure to abide in fellowship, if you quit walking by means of the Spirit when you encounter some crisis, what you're really doing is rejecting God's grace provision.  You're saying God, you're grace provision isn't enough, it's inadequate, I don't want it, I can do it myself.  And you're saying His security is no security and you can do a better job yourself.  In effect that's what's going on and the result of that is we come face to face with our own limitations and the consequent emotion is fear.  God's love and grace provides all the security we need.


Point seven, fear, worry, anxiety are the key warning signs that our confidence has shifted its focus from God to man.  Fear, worry, anxiety are key warning signs that our confidence is not in God but in man.  As soon as you start becoming afraid, as soon as you become anxious, as soon as you feel worry welling up inside you, instantly a red light ought to go off and say I need to confess my sins, I need to apply some Scripture, I need to have some promises ready to go.

If you don't, fear will snowball.  Point number 8; this is the snowballing principle of fear.  First of all, the more things you surrender to fear the more things you fear.  You start off fearing one thing, the next thing you know, tomorrow you'll fear two things.  And the next day you'll fear three things, and then four things.  The more things you surrender to fear the more things you will fear.  That's what's happening with a lot of people in this country today, they've surrendered their security to fear and now more and more things are keeping them home and keeping them from engaging in life; they're letting the terrorists win.


Second, the extent to which you surrender to fear the greater is your capacity to fear.  See, the more things you fear the more things you will fear; the more you give yourself over to fear then the greater your capacity for fear.  You become characterized by fear.  The greater your capacity for fear then, the more you increase the power of fear in your life.  And fourth, the more you increase the power of fear in your life the greater your mindset as a failure believer and the greater your chances of failure as a believer.  The more you increase the power of fear in your life the greater your mindset as a failure believer, and the greater your chances to fail as a believer.  And you just go through a deteriorating downward spiral until you flame out in the Christian life.


Point number nine: fear is a sign that we have put an abnormal emphasis on self.  Fear is a result of self-absorption and self-indulgence.  We become fearful, we indulge our emotion, all of a sudden something happens, the first thing that happens, it's natural sometimes because we're sinners, to become afraid and we have to deal with it immediately with doctrine.  But what happens is that you focus on that, we indulge that fear, we give into that fear and then it sets the snowballing principle in motion. 


So what's the solution, point ten: The solution to fear is orientation to grace because it is God's love that's going to cast our fear; orientation to doctrine, because it's the principles of the Word of God that are going to stabilize those emotions, and personal love for God the Father because that is what's going to motivate you to be able to endure whatever the consequences are, whatever the crisis is, that gives rise to your fear.  So the solution to fear begins with orientation to grace, proceeds through orientation to doctrine, and then to personal love for God the Father.


Now what are some promise that we can focus on, let's close out by focusing on some promises in the Word that you can write down that you can start memorizing so that when the crisis comes you have something in your soul to wrap your focus around other than well, Pastor Dean said that God's in control so I'm just going to rely on that.  Let's have some passages.


Psalm 27:1, the Psalmist says, "The LORD is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear.  The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?"  This is a basic a fortiori argument, the argument from strength, that if God is for us and since nothing is greater than God, if God is for us who can be against us.  You know, if God is taking care of me and nothing is greater than God, then why should I be afraid of anybody else.  "The LORD is my light and my salvation," light refers to doctrinal orientation; salvation—grace orientation, "whom shall I fear?" if the Lord has done the maximum in providing salvation for us at the cross, then the Lord can handle any other problem that we face.  "The LORD is my light and my salvation.  Whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?"


Psalm 27:3, "Though a host encamp against me," a host is the antiquated English word for army, this is the same word, Sabaoth, it refers to the Lord as the Lord Sabaoth, the Lord of the armies.  "Though an army encamp against me," 50,000 to 1, "though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; tough war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident." 


Psalm 49:5, "Why should I fear in days of adversity, when the iniquity of my foes surrounds me," the answer of course is doctrine. 


Psalm 56:4, "In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust: I shall not be afraid what can mere man do to me?" 


Isaiah 12:2, "Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid, for the LORD God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation," He is my deliverance.


Isaiah 41:10, a verse that you all should know by now, "Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed for I am thy God, I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee, yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."  I like the King James better, it has more rhythm.  You know why that is, why it's easier to memorize in the King James?  Because the King James was written by men who paid attention to the rhythm of the language because it was going to be read out loud and that's how most people were going to hear it and learn it, because it was going to be read out loud in the pulpits.  So they wrote it so it would have a cadence that would be easy to speak and therefore it's easy to remember.


2 Timothy 1:7, "For God has not given us the spirit of timidity, but of power, and love and discipline."  He has "not" given us the spirit of timidity.


And closing with Philippians 4:5-6, "Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.  The Lord is near.  [6] Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."  Then verse 7, "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall defend your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."