What is fear?

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim. 1:7 ESV)

What is fear? Image showing scary hands

Fear is an old enemy of humanity. It made its entrance through sin in Gen. 3:10. It is a spiritually devastating enemy which incapacitates and erodes spiritual abilities. Fear is a slave master and can take people hostage for their entire lifetime. But what is fear?

First of all, fear is an emotion. It is a distressful feeling of impending danger. It is the feeling that grips us when we sense that we are at risk of being hurt. However, there is more to fear than being a mere emotion. The scripture above gives us a deeper dimension of fear. It talks of “a spirit..of fear.” The phrase “a spirit” here does not mean an evil spirit, as though fear is a demon. 

The word “spirit”  in this context is aptly explained by the NET translators “denoting the human personality under the Spirit’s influence as in 1 Cor 4:21”(1). I want you to note that word “influence.” In this verse, the Apostle was saying fear is not one of the influences of the Holy Spirit in our lives. That gives us a deeper understanding of fear as a spiritual influence. Fear is a spirit, that is, a spiritual influence that functions with the power and abilities of the spirit realm. Have you ever been gripped by fear and it was so tangible as though some invisible force was holding you?   Fear is an emotion, but more importantly, it is also a  spiritual influence. 


Can you think of one example in the scriptures in which fear led to an undesired outcome? ( Job 3:25, Matt. 14:30-31). 


Fear will enslave and rob you of your spiritual victories if you do not put it under check. The antidote of fear is trust and faith in God’s presence with you ( Ps. 23:4). You need to actively deal with fear in your heart through the Word and prayer. Fear is always around us. It is your responsibility not to allow it rule your heart and mind.


Ask the Lord to help you overcome this terrible enemy called fear.


  1. Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (2 Ti 1:7). Biblical Studies Press.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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