‘Fear not.’—Luke xii. 32, etc.
THERE need be no difficulty in distinguishing between the holy and blessed ‘fear of the Lord,’1 which is our ‘ treasure,’ and which is only as the sacred shadow cast by the brightest light of love and joy, and the fear which ‘hath torment,” and is cast out by perfect love and simple trust.
‘Fear Him, ye saints, and you will then
Have nothing else to fear!’
precisely expresses the distinction.
But it is a very solemn thought how ‘ verily guilty ‘* we are as to this most absolute command of our King, reiterated by messengers angelic and human, and by His own personal voice, perhaps more often than any other. No wonder that we are left to suffer the fruit of our own thoughts when we do not even see our disobedience, much less cease from it. ‘Fear NOT.’ There is no qualification, no exception, no modification; it is as plain a command as,
1 Isa. xxxiii. 6; Acts ix. 31. 2 j John iv. 18.
‘ Gen. xlii. 21.
‘Thou shalt not steal.’1 What excuse have we for daring to regard it as a less transgression, or even no transgression at all? If the heinousness of a crime might, to human judgment, be measured by its penalty, what must the true heinousness of this everyday sin be when God hath said, ‘The fearful shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone!’2
Why should what seems only a natural infirmity be catalogued with the blackest sins? Because, if we honestly examine it, it is always and only the fruit of not really believing God’s words, not really trusting His love and wisdom and power. It is a bold, ‘Yea, hath God said? ‘3 to Hisabundant and infinitely gracious promises; it is a tacit denial that He is what He is! Only let us sincerely and thoroughly trace down every fear to its root, and we shall (if the Holy Spirit guide our search4) be convinced of its sinfulness, and ‘by the commandment’ it will ‘become exceeding sinful.’5 ‘Let Thy judgments help’ us, O Lord,6 in this matter.
But now for the brighter side! Would our King tell us again and again, ‘Fear not!’ if there were any reason at all to fear? Would He say this kind word again and again, ringing changes as of the bells of heaven upon it, only to mock us, if He knew all the time that we could not possibly help fearing? Only give half an hour to seeking out the reasons He gives why we are not to fear, and the all-inclusive circumstances in which He says we are
1 Ex. XX. 1$. 2 Rev, xxi. 8.
3 Gen. iii. lo; Luke xix. 21; 2 Sam. vi. 8, 9. ^ John xvi. 8, 9. ?6 Rom. vii. 13. 6 Ps. cxix. 175.
not to fear; see how we are to fear nothing, and no one, and never, and nowhere; see how He Himself is in every case the foundation and the grand reason of His command, His presence and His power always behind it; and then shall we hesitate to say, ‘I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me’ ?1 Shall we even fancy there is any answer to those grand and forever unanswered questions, ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid ?’2
There is a ‘Fear not’ for every possible case and kind of fear; so that we have never any answer to give when He asks, ‘ Why are ye fearful ?’ * but we are ‘without excuse.” It is part of His ‘holy covenant’ that we should ‘ serve Himwithoutfear.’5 It is one of His ‘precious promises’ that ‘ thou shalt be steadfast, and shalt not fear.’ * It is one of the blessed results of His reign that His flock ‘ shall fear no more.’ * It is no impossible thing, but the simple and natural consequence of really seeking and really trusting the Lord, that He will deliver us not from some, but from ‘all’ our fears.8 He did this for David, will He be less kind to you and me?
The Lord Jesus gives a very tender and gentle expression of the same command when He says, ‘Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’9 Ah! we too often let our hearts be afraid:
1 Isa. xli. 10, xliii. 1-5; Matt. x. 28; Lam. iii. 57; Rev. i. 17; ib. ii. 10; Isa. li. 12,13; Gen. XV. I; Matt. xiv. 27; Isa. xxxv. 4 ; Ps.xxiii.4.
2 Ps. xxvii. I. 3 Matt. viii. 26. 4 Rom. i. 20. 6 Luke i. 74. 6 Job xi. 15. “^ Jer. xxiii. 4. 8 Ps. xxxiv. 4; Heb. xiii. 8. 9John xiv. 27.
we yield without even a parley; a fear arises, and we do not recognize it as an enemy of our King, we just let it enter and sit down, instead of unsheathing the sword of the Spirit and attacking it in the power of His might, and in the Name that always conquers. No matter how powerless we feel about it, strength comes with determination to obey.1 Let us say this morning, now, ‘I will trust and not be afraid ;’ * and then let us ‘ say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not; . . . He will come and save you.’3
Is God for me? I fear not, though all against me rise!
When I call on Christ my Saviour, the host of evil flies.
My Friend, the Lord Almighty, and He who loves me—God!
What enemy shall harm me, though coming as a flood?
1 Eph. vi. 17; ib. vi. 10; Ps. xliv. 5; Luke x. 17; Mark iii. 5. 3 Isa.. xii. 2. 3 Isa. xxxr. 4.