Is It Sinful To Have Fear And Doubt?

Is It Sinful To Have Fear And Doubt? May 7, 2018

Almost everyone’s had a time of doubt and fear, so what does the Bible say about fear and doubt? Is it sinful?

Doubt

Doubt is a feeling of not knowing what to believe or what to do, or the condition of being uncertain or it’s an uncertainty about something or someone, or even having difficulty believing in something or someone, but fear is more debilitating than doubt because fear is a feeling that can be induced by a perceived danger or a real threat. This causes a change in our metabolic and organ functions and can ultimately create a change in our behavior, so as you can see, doubt isn’t the same thing as fear. Fear can create a dysfunctional life, affecting work, family, and other personal relationships, but doubt is something that we all experience from time to time. Doubt isn’t exactly cynicism, but it’s more about having an uncertainty about a particular expectation or upcoming event, but both fear and doubt can creep into a believer’s life and stymie their walk with Christ…and as we shall read, fear and doubt are contagious.

Fear

As I said, fear is contagious, and perhaps the reason why is given when Israel was being oppressed by the Midian’s. God called Gideon to lead a small force to rid the nation of Midianite raiding parties. When Gideon had assembled over 30,000 men, “The LORD said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me’” (Judge 7:2), so God tells Gideon, “’Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’ Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained” (Judges 7:3). I believe the reason why God removed the men who were fearful was because fear in contagious but more importantly, God wanted a small number to fight against the Midianites so that God would receive all the glory. When you see the battles between nations in the Bible, quite often, when one army flees, the others do too, so fear is like a disease…if you are around it, you can “catch it,” so this may be why God sent all 22,000 of the fearful men home.

Self-Preservation

Even though doubting is not as bad as being fearful, doubt can still rob you of your joy, assurance, and self-confidence. When we begin to doubt ourselves, and perhaps even doubt others, we’re projecting defeat before it ever happens. It’s like we wave the white flag of surrender before the battle begins. That’s how doubt can affect us, but when that doubt grows into fear, it can be especially crippling, however not all fear is bad. In some cases, fear can actually be a good thing and for several reasons. It can keep us from taking unnecessary risks or placing ourselves in danger. Fear can keep us alive. There’s a natural tendency for self-preservation in every one of us, and that type of fear is not debilitating, but is life-preserving, so fear is good for some things, but it can be bad when there’s no real reason to fear. If it’s a rational fear, it can keep us alive, but an irrational fear can make our lives miserable, and perhaps the lives of those around us.

The Wisdom of Fear

One type of fear that is beneficial is the fear of the Lord, because the fear of the Lord is the very beginning of wisdom (Prov 9:10). This kind fear isn’t the fear that comes from the judgement of God. The Apostle John wrote, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18), so if you fear God’s judgment, you are either unsaved or you don’t understand that Jesus took the judgement that was due us. Some fear kept people from being receiving eternal life, like many of the Jews who believed in Jesus, but “for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him” (John 7:13). Even though many “of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue because they’d be put out of the synagogue” (John 12:42), so fear can be good, but fear can also be very bad, and yes, fear can be sinful. The only thing we should fear is God, but if someone’s rejected Jesus Christ, Jesus warned them, saying “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt 10:28). On one occasion, the disciples were in a boat with Jesus when “a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling” (Mark 4:37), but Jesus “awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him” (Mark 4:39-41)? At first, they feared the storm, but when Jesus rebuked the storm, calming it, they feared Jesus more, but this was not a sinful fear but a fear of Who they were with…and it was God!

Conclusion

Fear and doubt are normal for some things, but when fear and doubt join hands in our minds, they can be debilitating, and these two can be exceedingly hard to get out of your mind. It takes the Word of God to calm the fear of man and bring him peace…and it’s a peace that surpasses all human understanding (Phil 4:7). The peace of God comes from being at peace with God, and when we’re at peace with God, we have no reason to fear. Jesus left us with His own peace, telling the disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). If you have trusted in Christ, you have no more reason to fear. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and it is the fulfillment of wisdom, but that’s a healthy fear, not one of being struck down by God or fearing His judgment. To fear God means to reverence the Word of God and God Himself. The day is coming when God says, “I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD” (Jer 23:4). Today is the day to remove all doubt and fear, and you can do that when you repent and put your trust in Christ. Then, there is no more reason to fear, and I can say that with absolutely certainty, and without a doubt.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • pud

    “For ye who have no brains to think”

    Doubt and fear are biological functions that serve to enhance our survival. Doubt is using judgement to assess risk and fear serves a similar purpose while causing physiological responses that aid us in “fight or flight” response.

    Then there is IRRATIONAL fear which is what you peddle. Fear of the unknown, fear of invisible undetectable forces, fear of non compliance and subsequent punishment. You are, and your cult has always been, a guilt and fear salesman. It’s what makes you and your cult so despicable.

    “Then, there is no more reason to fear, and I can say that with absolutely certainty, and without a doubt.”

    No you cannot. You cannot and do not speak with any certainty. You speak from guilt and fear the very products you sell to the vulnerable, credulous and stupid. Fear and Doubt are the very pillars of your delusional cult and a critical part of your indoctrination process. Absent your imaginary “hell” and you would have no converts, no followers and nothing but empty pews. Absent doubt (Pacals wager) you would be babbling to empty churches. FEAR and DOUBT are the very substance of your wicked business where you offer your various snake oil cures for the low low price of your critical faculties.

    You, your mindeless book, your cult, your propaganda are a disease that infects people at their most basic levels. Your entire modus operandi is to instill fear, guilt, shame and a sense of no self worth and then offer your imaginary cure if they just check their brains at the door, sacrifice critical thinking and become slaves to your imaginary celestial dictator and the evil priests like yourself.

    “At first, they feared the storm, but when Jesus rebuked the storm, calming it, they feared Jesus more, but this was not a sinful fear but a fear of Who they were with…and it was God!”

    No jack…it’s a story! A made up make believe story like a thousand other similar myths. How can you be so gullible?

    PS…there is nothing true in your book, there is no evidence for anything it claims which makes you either completely delusional or a liar. Which one are you jack?

    • phillip mutchell

      To which the imaginary Shakespeare in Shakespeare In Love retorts ‘you have no soul; how can you understand the emptiness that seeks a soul mate’. I’m afraid I doubt your words you wish to rob of joy and the thief comes only to destroy and kill. So, bye bye baby, bye bye, it’s your turn to cry.

  • Salvatore Anthony Luiso

    God explained in Judges 7:2 why he told Gideon “Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead”. As you have mentioned, He said: “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me'”. God wanted to diminish the numbers of soldiers until there were so few that the Israelites had to admit that the victory belonged not to themselves, but to Him.

    I think you have misquoted John 14:42–I recommend you examine how you have quoted it and edit is as necessary.

    You also left off the word “peace” from the beginning of your quotation of John 14:27.

    I think that I may not agree with your conclusion about I John 4:18. Even a Christian who trusts in Jesus for salvation should still fear punishment from God. Hence the warnings given by the Lord to His disciples, such as Matthew 10:28, which you have quoted, and those of Paul, such as Romans 11:19-21.

    You say that it can be sinful to have fear, but it is not always sinful to have fear. What about doubt? Is it ever sinful to have doubt?

    • Jack Wellman

      I agree that it is not always sinful to have fear as it can save our lives (as I wrote in this article) but doubt, I think we all have doubts, but we all have sin too, so God’s grace is more than sufficient brother. Thank you.

    • Jack Wellman

      I agree that it is not always sinful to have fear as it can save our lives (as I wrote in this article) but doubt, I think we all have doubts, but we all have sin too, so God’s grace is more than sufficient brother. Thank you. I am sorry you are so displeased by these articles I write. You have good points, but 95% critique is a bit much in my opinion, as is your custom.

      • pud

        You are both infantile simpletons. One form of babble is just as bad the other

      • Salvatore Anthony Luiso

        I’m sorry you have the impression that I am more displeased than pleased by your articles. Actually, I think your articles are among the better ones I know of on Patheos–among those which I consider to be more worthy reading.

        If I comment on them in the future, I will try to temper my criticism.

        Generally speaking, if I read an article which I consider to be basically good, I do not consider that to be remarkable, and so do not mention it in a comment. I have read articles by you which I consider to be better than that, i.e. particularly good, and I think you may have been able to tell that from my comments on them. For example, the first article of yours which I read, which was about Prosperity Theology.

        In my comment on this article, I mentioned errors in quotations of Scripture. Ordinarily I do not point out a mistake in writing unless it affects understanding, but I think it is worthwhile to point out an error in a quotation of Scripture, because Scripture is worthy of greater honor than all other text.

        • Jack Wellman

          You have good reasons to point these out.

    • pud

      No..it’s a story book for simple minded fearful gullible easily preyed upon simpletons. NO deity spoke anything to anyone ever! How can you be this gullible?

  • DDRLSGC

    Well, if God did not want us to have fear and doubt, he should have never given them to us in the first place.

  • Robert Limb

    I can’t fault this article on any particular – but I hardly feel satisfied. There is a difference, it seems to me, between trusting God (in other words, NOT doubting) and being willing to rethink “certainties” (intellectual doubt) without which no progress can be made in our understanding.

    If it’s wrong to have fear, and I’m scared of something or someone, what do I do? Deny my feelings? Or add shame and guilt to my fear…now that would be debilitating. The fearless may be just stupid, whereas true courage is recognising and overcoming one’s fear.

    I applaud the initial question: “What does the Bible say about fear and doubt?”. Maybe we need further Bible reading and deeper exegesis?