Eliminating Fear--Thought by Thought
Have you ever been fearful? One night, my daughter and I were talking about being afraid of things, including walking outside at night. It was 9 o’clock at night. It was very dark outside. And we wondered what was out in the front yard. And we dared each other to walk outside all the way down the front path to the driveway in complete darkness. Scary! We realized that there was actually nothing to be afraid of, and that fear simply existed in our minds. It didn’t really exist, unless we thought it did.
Let’s learn about fear and eliminating it by controlling our thoughts. Check out 2 Corinthians 10:5, where there are clear directions for our thoughts.
II Corinthians 10:5: Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Well, what does that verse mean? “Casting down imaginations” means that we are to cast down, or demolish, imaginary thoughts or imaginations. Imaginations are things that actually do not exist. Right? Just like the scary things lurking in the dark that my daughter and I were imagining. We are to eliminate those thoughts, particularly when they are “against the knowledge of God” or contrary to God’s Word. We should not allow our thoughts to become subordinate to imaginary things, like fear. We are to "bring into captivity every thought." We are to hold and protect our thoughts. Control them. Get control of your thoughts! Hold them captive. And we can do this one thought at a time. If a thought does not agree with God’s Word, then we change that thought. And if our thoughts are fearful, those thoughts do not agree with the Word.
II Timothy 1:7 says that God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Changing the TV Channel
Changing our thinking can be as simple as changing the channel on our TV. We’ve all sat down to watch a TV show or movie only to find the content is not to our liking. Do we suffer through it? Of course not! We click and change the channel.
When it comes to our thoughts, might we be able to change the channel just as easily? Yes. We can decide to change our mind whenever we find ourselves thinking in a way that makes us fearful. And to what channel do we turn our thoughts? Do we change it to the “empty” channel, where there’s nothing on but static and emptiness? No. I prefer not to. Instead, we can change it to the channel where positive, practical truths are being broadcast. With the spiritual truth in our hearts, we can eliminate fear by “bringing into captivity every thought” and lining them up with the truths contained within God’s Word.
Here are two tips to help us with this process of changing our minds and lining them up with spiritual truths:
The Buddha said that the mind is everything, and what we think, we become. That's accurate. If we think about fear, we become fearful. In order for us to change our thinking from fearful thoughts to the powerful, sound truths of God’s Word, we need to first get those truths into our minds and hearts.
Truth does not come to me by osmosis. I require reading, studying, meditating, and the practical application of truths in my life for me to fully understand it. The more we read, study, and believe in our hearts, the easier it will be for us to change the channel, dispel imaginations, and eliminate fearful thoughts that are gripping us. The Scriptures teach us of God’s power and protection and love, and by building these truths in our hearts, we can build our believing and trust in God. By reading and studying God’s Word, we can flood our minds with the positive truths and wash away doubt and fear.
The Word says to meditate. The word "meditate" is used a lot throughout the Scriptures.
According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, "meditate" means to rehearse and go over a matter in one's mind. New Wilson's Old Testament Word Studies says that "meditate" means to talk with oneself. Biblically to meditate means to focus and rehearse one's thoughts on something so as to understand it deeply. For buddhists, this may be similar to having a mantra.
An Example of the Practical Application of Meditation
For me, meditation involves the practice of applying a spiritual truth to any situation in which I have a need. So, for example, when I was informed in 2014 by two doctors that I would never run again, I was practiced enough to be aware of my thoughts in the situation and to apply certain truths to fulfill an emotional, physical, and psychological need. At that moment, I needed to be assured that the counsel of others may not be accurate, to trust and lean on something that was accurate, and to believe that I was more than fully capable of walking, running, and enjoying a lifestyle that I intended to have.
In that moment:
I meditated, or applied biblical truths, and replaced doubt, worry and fear with power, love, and a sound mind. At that moment, I smiled back at my doctors and gave a chuckle. And asked if they'd like to reconsider their diagnosis and recommendations, before I get up and leave. Presently, I regularly run a 5K with 9-minute/mile averages (torn ACL, torn MCL, 46 years old, 235 lbs).
As we rehearse in our minds (meditation) the spiritual truths that are available to us, we can put an end to suffering and live a life that is abundantly filled with joy, peace, and love. This is part of keeping our hearts with all diligence as Proverb says.
Proverbs 4:20-23 says, “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
Sometimes the bible will try to get your attention, so in Proverbs we see a father speaking with his son and saying, "Hey! Son, listen to me." Keep my words close to you, close to your heart. For spiritual truths are life (powerful, more than abundant life) to anyone who finds the truth. And words are also heath (or destruction). Keep your heart (and mind) with all diligence (it takes work and effort). Why? Because out of your heart and mind will come all of the issues of life that you'll ever deal with. It all comes from the mind and heart. That's where life is; that's where the battlefield exists. That's what this one Proverbs verse says. Might we all be better off by rehearsing this (meditating upon this) and recalling it into our minds at the right moment, when needed? I think so.
Alignment and Harmony
With God’s Word in our hearts, we can more readily recognize if a thought doesn’t line up with what God says, and then change it. It’s like inspecting a house and finding a trip hazard.
I teach home inspectors how to do their job. I teach from a standard, a building standard. And I encourage my students to read and study those standards. Why? Because when they walk through a home that they are inspecting, and something is not right, they’ll be able to recognize it--like a trip hazard at the steps, for example. After reading and studying a standard, they should be fully-equipped to recognize something within the house that’s not in alignment and harmony with the rest of the structure. They'll be able to identify that defect that might do someone harm, and get it fixed. It’s the same with our thoughts being lined up with the spiritual truths provided to us.
When you have a standard to which you may refer, you can easily recognize issues in your life that are out of alignment and harmony.
Fix the Trip Hazard, Change the Channel
There is no reason to be held captive by negative thinking. We can lead each thought captive, stopping the thoughts from doing any more harm. We can stop the action of any fearful thought as soon as we notice it. We can fix the trip hazard. We can “change the channel.” We just need to pay attention to what channel we are watching.
We can change. We can change our minds. We can become transformed by the renewing of our minds, and not be conformed to the world. When we think about what we are thinking about, we can do this. I know we can, because God says we can in Romans.
Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
How do we renew our mind? A simple definition of renewing the mind is to hold the Word in mind and act accordingly.
An effective way to eliminate a fearful, negative thought is to replace it with three positive truths from God’s Word—thoughts of power and love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). For example, here are a few positive truths to meditate over: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/bible-quotes/.
The Word of God gives us the ability to bring every thought captive. Just as we change the TV channel if we don’t like what’s on, we can change any fearful thoughts, which are contrary to God’s Word. As we read and study the Word, we become better at renewing our minds and getting back in alignment and harmony with the truth. We can eliminate fear, thought by thought, with the quick and powerful Word of God in our mind and hearts. May God bless you.
You may be interested in reading How to Renew the Mind.
Tips for Men to Be Better Men, Wonderful Husbands, and Loving Fathers