In the previous blog, we established the origin of anxiety. We learned that it was a product of the fall of man and was Satan’s attempt to devour our mindset toward God. As a reminder from the first blog, we at Citylight do believe that there is a difference between physically afflicted anxiety and spiritual-emotional anxiety. Regardless of which form of anxiety you may struggle with, all of them are a product of the fall. Our desire in these blogs is to help those with spiritual-emotional anxiety and allow medical doctors to help those with physically afflicted anxiety. Now that we have previously established the origin of anxiety, where do we go from here? We search for healing! Those of us who live day to day with these burdens are continually asking ourselves, “will I ever heal from this or will this be how the rest of my life goes?” The previous blog was mostly bad news when looking at the origin. So is there good news?
Yes! For those who are in Christ Jesus, the most excellent news in all the world has been given to them. It’s called the gospel. The very word gospel, after all, means “good news.” In evangelical circles, we need to lose this mentality that the gospel=heaven. Heaven is just one of many blessings attached to receiving the gospel by faith. Did you realize that when you received the gospel by faith that part of the “gospel package” was relief from anxiety? I want us to look at two gospel truths that will help us with anxiety. 1) The gospel freed us from fear 2) The gospel gives us victory over the enemy.
The Gospel Freed Us From Fear
Romans 8:15 states, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father.” Paul is reminding the believers in Rome of their position in Christ. He told them earlier in Rom. 8:12-14 that they were no longer lead by human impulses and intuition to direct their lives, but rather they are lead by the Spirit. The Spirit does not lead us back to slavery but rather to freedom. It is of utmost importance that you read the entirety of what Paul is saying in this text. He did not say they were free from bondage but specifically free from the bondage of FEAR! Remember Adam’s initial response after sinning? It was fear and anxiety. The gospel has broken the curse! Fear’s chains and shackles have lost their grip on the believer because of the gospel. The Spirit of God now gives us the place of adoption into the family of God. We have a Father who loves us, leads us and never leaves us. Say this out loud so your brain and Satan can hear it, “I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of the living God.”
A believer does not have to live under the dark cloud of anxiety. When anxiety aggravates your human impulses and your adrenaline starts pumping; we need to remember the REALITY of our position in Christ. Every “core” insecurity and fear has been resolved through Christ and His gospel. Here is the list I gave in the last blog of common insecurities: abandonment, disappointing people, loneliness, failure, pain, rejection. Christ will never abandon me; He promised never to leave me (Hebrews 13:5-6). The Christian life is about pleasing the Master, not fellow humans. Disappointing others should not be the means of shutting us down (Colossians 3:23). A believer will never be alone again. He is indwelt by the Holy Spirit who will remain with him forever (John 14:16). Believers will no doubt fail from time to time. However, they will always persevere through the power of the Holy Spirit and never lose their position in Christ (Proverbs 24:16, Philippians 1:6, Romans 8:38-39). Pain is undesirable to all every human, saved or unsaved. The difference is that God can redeem pain for the believer and guarantees to work all things together for the better good of the believer and the glory of Himself (Romans 8:28). Rejection is a term that has been eliminated from the Christian life. God will never reject His children. He has made us accepted into His family (Ephesians 1:5-7).
The Gospel Gives Us Victory Over The Enemy
The spirit of fear did not originate with God nor does He give us that spirit. 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind.” Paul uses a different word for fear in this text than that which is used in other passages. Typically, the word for fear is “φόβος” where we get our word “phobia.” But in this text, Paul uses the word “δειλία” which means timidness or cowardliness. Although both words are accurately translated to fear, it is worth noting that Paul is reminding us that the debilitating power of fear did not come from God.
Through the gospel, God has armed every believer with weaponry to overcome internal and external fear. In the first section, we already established the theological implications of the gospel, whereas, in this section, we will establish the practical implications. This text gives us three weapons that God has equipped every believer with: power, love, and a sound mind. The first weapon is power. The word power means enablement, capability or strength. God equips every believer with the ability to overcome fear. God has not set us up to fail! In fact, He has set us up to overcome fear every time it grips our hearts. This does not mean every time the enemy hits us with a wave of fear, that we say a quick prayer and the anxiety goes away. No doubt God could do that for us, but that’s not what Paul is saying here. He is reminding us that we have the Spirit of power within us enabling us to work through the fear. God is not guaranteeing us a life without anxiety or fear. He is, however, guaranteeing us a life that can overcome anxiety and fear by His grace.
The second weapon is love. This is the word “ἀγάπη.” This is a divine love that comes from God. When Christ saved us, He gave us the ability to love Him and love others. 1 John 4:7 reads, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” The Apostle John in his epistle, elaborates throughout chapter four, that the one who loves reveals that he knows God. He continues on to say, that the one who does not love reveals he does not know God. So what does love have to do with fear? Why is love a weapon against fear? The Apostle John goes on to say “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” A spiritually mature love that abides in the believer has no fear attached to it. John goes as far to say that it “casts out” fear.
One of the quickest ways to dispel fear is to turn to love. When someone is struggling with anxiety, the typical response is self-centeredness. Though it is not always intentional, we tend to run into survival mode and forget the people around us. Our minds immediately focus on how life is affecting us and why we have to live with all of these emotional turmoils. The greatest antidote for this is to love God and to love others. These are the greatest commandments! If we could take our minds off of our problems and serve others, we would find the absence of anxiety in those moments. If we could occupy our time with serving the Lord and focusing on His kingdom, we would find the absence of anxiety in those moments as well. There is no fear in love!
The third weapon that the gospel equips us with is a sound mind. The Greek word carries more of the connotation of discipline or self-control. When we begin to lose control of our minds and emotions, we can stop right in the middle of the panic and say, “this is not from God.” God gives us the ability to find self-control not lose it. Those who struggle with anxiety want to experience a sound mind. We have to stop and remind ourselves who the enemy really is and where the anxiety originated from. Once we know the source of the anxiety, we run to the solution. God is not the author of fear. He is the author of strength to fight, love to share, and the mind to think clearly.
Christian, you have been freed from the bondage of fear. Fear no longer controls your heart or mind. The gospel has liberated you from the control of your fears and those that the enemy would haunt you with. Embrace the fullness of the gospel by claiming your position in Christ. Remember that God is not the author of fear. God gives us the ability to overcome, love and have self-control. So can I heal from anxiety? Yes, you can heal from anxiety. We are fully equipped to overcome all the obstacles that life and Satan might throw our way. We will never be able to remove all fear from our lives, but we can always overcome it when it comes knocking on our door.
Grace and Peace
Stephen Boyce Th.D.