Fear only came into the world after Adam sinned (see Gen 3:6-10); after sin, man feared God in a bad way, aware that He was holy and pure (unlike us) and that we deserved punishment for our disobedience and sin. The world does not necessarily believe in God and therefore does not fear Him, fears can be healthy in keeping us safe from harm. Nonetheless, some fears (often called phobias, from the Greek word for fear) are unhealthy and do not lead to happiness or freedom.

Machiavelli, an Italian diplomat, author, philosopher and historian who lived in the 15th and 16th centuries wrote that ‘it is better to be feared than to be loved, if one cannot be both.’ He argued that fear was a good motivator and an effective tool for leaders. Certainly, many governments have used fear to control people (think of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution in 1792/3 or the Red Terror in Soviet Russia in the early 20th century.) Fear was used unashamedly by political leaders during the Covid pandemic, especially through Government posters and propaganda. Their fear tactics still have ongoing effects to this day. To use fear to control behaviour is never God’s way.

God wants us to fear Him and remove all other fear from our lives. Fear of God is a respect for the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt 10:28); it is not an enslaving fear. Jesus told us that if we love Him, we will obey His commands (John 14:15); love is the greatest motivator, not fear. God is our refuge and strength, our help (Ps 46:1-3); He is our protector and refuge. (Ps 91:1-6) Because the Lord is with us, we need not fear (Ps 118:6-7). Because Jesus has overcome death and the devil, we no longer have to fear either. (Heb 2:14-15) God has the power to break captivating, traumatising fear and set us free so we can love and serve Him gladly..