It is good when fear motivates us to jump away from a coiling snake or to wear our seat belts. These are examples of God-given reflexes and reason. It is not good when fear motivates us to sin. Much sin is rooted in fear. It stems from a lack of trust in God. Our fears are exploited by the powers of darkness and used to tempt us away from love and toward sin. I am reminded of the line from the classic movie Poltergeist, “It knows what scares you.”
Virtually any sin we can think of can be traced back to some fear. Virtually any fear can result in some type of sin.
We Americans like to talk about rights and justice. Seldom do we get to the heart of the matter. When we violate God’s moral or natural laws we are usually motivated by fears which fuel our lack of trust in God. We also like to use the word “love,” but we fail to understand the word. We think love is simply another pleasant emotion instead of a courageous, selfless act of the will.
We are taught that courage is a virtue and that fear is a weakness. So, instead of admitting that we have sinned because we are afraid, we mask our sins under the cover of “rights” and “justice.” This makes us seem courageous, but often it is just like Adam and Eve hiding from God and wearing “fig leaves” to cover their shame. So, the first step is to recognize sin for what it is and choose God’s love instead (even when it’s really, really hard). Otherwise we remain stuck in the circular rationalization of our sins.
Next, we must ask ourselves what we are afraid of. When we acknowledge our fears we are better able to see how they pave the way for sin. Is our sin rooted in a fear of what we might miss out on (some pleasure, perhaps)? Is it rooted in a fear of increased responsibility? Is it a financial fear? Is it a health related fear? Whatever the fear, there is likely a lack of trust in God that accompanies it. So, we choose our way instead of God’s way, and we sin. We violate God’s moral or natural law. We choose fear over love.
“God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2Tim 1:7) “There is no fear in love; but perfect love castes out fear; because fear has torment. He that fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1John 4:18)
What are your fears? You may have to dig deep to find some of them. Can you choose God’s ways in the face of them? Will you let perfect love cast them out? Or will you remain crouched behind your right to do things your way?