The test of fear as the test of faith
“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — Unless indeed you are
disqualified.” (2Cor. 13:5)
It is a Divine directive and requirement for a Christian to continuously examine his faith or test himself as to whether he is still in the faith. Faith is that which we believe or uphold about God, which reflects in or guides our lives. It is an active belief and trust in God’s words. The strength of our faith can, therefore, mean the level of our belief or unbelief in the words of God. This follows that one of the ways to examine our faith is by considering our fears and worries. Our fears are conversely proportional to our Faith. The test of fear is therefore, also, the test faith.
Nehemiah considered fear as sinful. Hence, he wrote: “For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin …” (Nehemiah 6:13). Fear and worry are indications and manifestations of unbelief, which is considered by some as the worst sin, as it makes God a liar and entails rejection of God’s Promise and Gift. The Bible does not name any sin as the greatest, but it refers to unbelief as unpardonable sin because there is no pardon for anyone who dies in unbelief or lack of faith in Jesus Christ.
It is sobering to consider the fate of the fearful and unbelieving and the rank they are placed in the list found in Revelation 21:8: “But the cowardly [fearful, KJV], unbelieving [faithless, RSV], abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
Christians are enjoined to be anxious for nothing (Phil. 4:6). This is because anxiety or worry or fear questions God’s goodness and care and displays a lack of faith in His promises of wise and gracious providence and casts doubts on the depth of the love God has for us. It insinuates that God’s words about His sovereignty, love, power, and faithfulness are not to be trusted. Fear and worry mirror Satan’s attitude, which believes God exists but does not believe what He says.
Rather than give in to fear and worry, we can choose—an action—to believe God and His love. Belief in the depth of the love the Lord has for us (John 15:13; 17:23) will cast out fear (I John 4:18) and we can say like David: “I will fear no evil; for You are with me” (Psalm 23:4).
“Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6) and the object of faith is Jesus (Acts 16:31).
The people of Israel did not pass the test of fear and anxiety in the wilderness and therefore also failed the test of faith, which is considered as a rebellion (Heb. 3:8), such that God swore that they should not enter His rest (Heb. 3:11). We are therefore warned: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12). Faith is life (Habakkuk 2:4), and faithlessness is sin (Rom. 14:23) and therefore death (Rom. 6:23). To examine your faith, examine your fear.
The Venerable Dr. Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba, FIMC, CMC, is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.