A holy life: that is what people are afraid of, that is the fear of Easter, the wrong kind. “I’m afraid if I trust Jesus I won’t enjoy my life.” Well, if you don’t trust Jesus you are already dead. Christians fear that if they fully surrender to God He’s going to make them miserable. Friends you need to get to know God better than that! Break out of that cage you’re in!
Jesus sets new boundaries for us, not the gates of fear but the guard of grace, the yoke of Christ. His school teaches us to live in Godly fear while losing worldly fear. People think they live without boundaries but they are actually caged in by their own sin and living in fear of the unknown. People think Christians are caged in but they are the ones who are truly free. Free from the power of sin, death, and hell. Yes we still sin and we put up the gates, put the chains back on in a sense but again, when we see Him working to remove unholy fear and working to instill holy fear that is when you know resurrection power is working in your life, when we have a holy fear we will lead holy lives. The resurrection takes away the wrong kind of fear and replaces it with the right kind of fear (Matthew 10:28).
We know how the resurrection affects our eternal destiny, but in the here and now it is about the gates of hell, of fear. 1 John 4:18 – Perfect love casts out fear. This verse is speaking primarily of the fear of death and eternal judgment, and that is the first fear that Jesus drives out with His perfect love. For fear to be cast out means it must have tried to enter in, or that fear can be driven out. It is not that we won’t ever have any fear at all but that fear is overcome by love, and we see His love in the crucifixion and resurrection. Sometimes fear has come in and we need to have it cast out by perfect love. Fear has many manifestations. Let us remember Matthew 27:46 – my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? – We see His compassion but it is undergirded by a real conviction. The more we become convinced about the resurrection the more it can help us to overcome fear in this life. We need to ponder it and preach it to ourselves every day, to preach the gospel to ourselves.
We may not know all the answers but we can know Him is the answer and begins to give us answers as we trust in Him, as to why people suffer, why evil and war plague our planet, and why Christians have lost so much credibility as people who know how to love. When we see our Savior suffer the pains of hell for us, and yet still cry a very certain call out to the Father, we begin to see that He can deliver us from any depth of despair, and that we can trust Him no matter how far we have sunk into sin or sorrow.
Resurrection removes fear. Now fearless faith doesn’t mean reckless in the sense of tempting God it means trusting God. Not, “I have no fear so I am going to spend all my money on some project”, but, “I am without fear so I can withstand any onslaught”. We do need to get these things categorized in our minds correctly. I am not saying that we will live these spotless lives of super triumph in every situation. No I am saying we can have real feelings and still have real hope. We can be like Jesus and feel and be real, hurting in the short term but looking to the long term. Seeing through both the narrow and wider lens.
Proper distinction will lead to proper understanding. Fear is not sadness or depression; we can have sorrow but still have joy. Not having fear doesn’t mean we are foolhardy, and it doesn’t mean not taking care, or a lack of respect or disobeying authority. Freedom from fear is the freedom of faith. The fruits of faith are the fruits of a fearless life (Romans 8:31-39).
He has delivered us from the greatest fear, the fear of the unknown. When we see Him working to remove unholy fear and working to instill holy fear that is when you know resurrection power is working in your life. When we have a holy fear we will lead holy lives. We will not only feel free to die but we will feel free to live. We can bring true compassion because we have true conviction. If you get real with God He will be real to you. If you trust in Jesus Christ and in the resurrection, the gates of hell will not prevail against you. When you fear God you don’t have to fear anything else.