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Good Fear/Bad Fear – Understanding the Difference

by Phil Metzger

Good Fear/Bad Fear – Understanding the Difference

Protective or Paralyzing

Whether we like it or not, fear is a factor in all our lives. And that’s not always a bad thing. Fear of punishment often keeps a child from making wrong choices. Fear of going to prison may keep adults from committing crimes. But fear can also keep people from realizing the potential God has placed within them. 

Fear can also paralyze. It can freeze people in their tracks like a deer in the headlights. Many Christians are terrified to share their faith for fear of rejection. Others are afraid of giving God control of their lives because of what He might do with them once they surrender. This fear of surrender to God keeps Christians from enjoying the blessings of obedience and submission.

Good Guys and Bad Guys?

Sadly, this fear factor has corrupted our perspective as we have come to believe the Christian life is all about “us versus them,” a battle between the sinners and the saved. But when it comes to the human race, there are no good guys and bad guys, only sinners in need of a Savior. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But that is not the end of the story. God, who is rich in mercy, has made restoration possible through His sacrifice on the cross. We can be restored to God through Jesus our Savior.

God has assured us that we are “more than conquerors” and has promised us that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39). Christ defeated the devil, death, and hell at the cross. If we are in Christ, our past is forgiven and our future is secure. If we believe this, then why do we live in fear of men? Why do we shudder at the thought of sharing our faith because of what someone else may think of us?

How the Fearful become the Feared 

Maybe we’ve got it all backwards. Perhaps, the world and all the evil and darkness in it should fear us. Jesus told us that we are salt and light. We have received the gospel of grace. The gospel is God’s power unto salvation. Jesus has already overcome the world, and we belong to Him. Fear does not have to dominate our spiritual life. The Bible tells us that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). We must allow God’s love to flow through us so that fear is no longer a factor, paralyzing us into inactivity for Him. When His love becomes the dominant factor, we can clearly see that there should be no “us” and “them” – only a world of people in need of a Savior. 

This article is an excerpt from A Story of Grace: Beyond the Iron Curtain by Phil Metzger. View the official website or purchase the full book and Kindle version now

Phil Metzger

​​​Phil Metzger is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel San Diego. ​​​He was the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Budapest & has served as a full-time missionary since 1998.