Your life is built on beliefs. Whether or not you are a Christian has no bearing upon whether you are a “believer” – all men are “believers” in something or someone. When you look at and wonder at your lack of faith in Christ, the first thing is not to try and muster up more effort in tying to believe harder. This is a band-aid over an open wound.
Part of the process of understanding the self is learning what you believe to be true about your self. Your fears are directly connected to what you believe to be true – true about you, about others, their perceptions and reactions, true about how life “works”.
When you are confronted with fear, your common response is to surpress the fear and try and muster up courage. This is a reverse response of fear. When you attempt to “muster up” the courage necessary out of sheer will-power, you are still reacting out of fear.. Just as fear is built on beliefs, so is courage. Courage and confidence are not primary responses of the will but latent effects of the will. Why one man fights on and another runs away before the enemy is built on their beliefs about themselves and their enemy.
In order to develop genuine confidence and courage you must begin to believe what is true. One of the primary places to start is by asking what is incited in you when you begin to fear. When your heart is afraid of something, you must pay attention to the reasons given by your mind as to why you are afraid.
The mind assents what is true and the heart believes and then the will acts upon those beliefs. One must confront the mind prior to confronting the heart. The mind is the gateway to the heart and the heart cannot be accessed otherwise. A change of mind is necessary to a change of heart – “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
If you wish to confront the fears of your heart, you must begin to listen to your thoughts, as evasive as they seem to be. Your mind always gives its reasons for running. Listen carefully so that you may hear those reasons.
Oftentimes the bottom of the reasons are never fully elucidated. You go simply on the evidence of the actions themselves. If your thoughts seem to be elusive, observe your actions and especially your words, for they are the mirror and abundance of your mind and heart.
Such actions must never be excused, minimized or avoided, but confronted, assessed and most importantly, repented of. Acting out of fear in a wrong way is still sin. Acting out of fear almost always results in the omission of a necessary duty. Omission and commission are alike sins, simply the backsides of one another. Sins of omission are actively self-destructive and passively other-destructive. Omission makes you toxic with others, they may not see your sin but they feel it. Sins of commission are passively self-destructive, that is, the object of infliction is not the self but the other person, and therefore actively other-destructive.
No sin is better than the other, both are heinous, just some are externally more apparent and therefore easier to identify and condemn. Fortunately (if I can so speak) God sees into the heart of man and into the soul, and weighs the thoughts and intentions of the heart. All things are laid bare before the eyes of him with who we have to do.
The reason repentance is so necessary to the process of confronting your fears and false beliefs is two-fold: one is that you are exposing them for what they are – wrongly located fears and false beliefs. Your heart actively engages in accepting them as true because of its hidden, fleshly desires. But when you confront and repent, you bring those fears into the light, and are able to assess them for what they really are and how they really are affecting your actions and behavior.
The second reason for repentance is that it opens the avenue for true-belief to take place. Repentance is the active throwing off of false beliefs, of forsaking those things that the flesh seeks to find solace, acceptance and harbor in. Repentance is only half of the step towards overcoming fear.
The second step of overcoming fear, as said, is believing the truth. All of your life, you are fed lies. Satan breeds lies and, quite literally, floods the senses with objects of false beliefs. Words and actions are witness to the self of what one is to believe. There are two primary sources of these witnesses – the World and the Word of God.
As you immerse yourself in the World, you further believe the lies that it speaks about who you are. There are two primary ways the World will lie to you about yourself. The first is about your creatureliness – this, the world will attempt to destroy by constantly telling you that, as a creation of God, you are unworthy as you are, that you are insufficient and unacceptable in your present condition. The second is about your personal estate – this the world will do exactly the opposite, it will affirm that you are o.k. in your present state and that you are justified in who you are. Both are lies. As a creature of God, you are instilled with dignity, worth and value, and this must be affirmed and nurtured. But, as a willing agent, your present state is of active, willful disobedience to the Creator, and you are anything but o.k. in this state – you are quite literally under the wrath of God – and scripture declares that in this state you are worthless (cf. Romans 3:12). Creatureliness does not override your compliance in rebellion.
The only place that you can truly confront these two primary sources of falsehood is in the Word of God. Here, you learn of your value, dignity, and worth in a way that redefines your existence. You are not considered as valuable based upon anything within yourself – but because of everything that God has granted to you. All of your value is expressed in terms of righteousness – that positive, active quality that gives worth, enabling one to stand before God and others.
Here, with righteousness, fear is confronted in a most abrupt and overwhelming way. Everything that the false beliefs of the heart speak are instantaneously confronted in the obedience and death of Christ. Everything that would speak against your value is completely demolished when Christ stands before you. All of your relationships take on a entirely new dimension – Christ stands before all. Christ affirms your creaturely value, in that he dies for you. But Christ goes further than this. Christ offers you his life, giving the undeserving the very thing they need the most – righteousness. This is the truth that the heart must believe – Christ offering you his life and death.
When the mind assents and the heart believes this, then the self is redefined. The bible considers you a new creation (you are literally a new creation). All of your relations, towards the world and towards others, are made new and to be seen in this light. When confronted with situations that would incite fear, this is the place most needed to instill the heart with truth. Where rejection may occur, Christ declares acceptance. Where failure and sin occurs, Christ declares forgiveness and restoration.
Here, as truth is believed and lies are rejected, transformation occurs. The only way that this can occur is through the sustaining power of the Word of God as it destroys the false self, holding it up to the sham that it is and showing it crucified on the cross, and then affirming that all the worth, value and dignity the soul needs is given to it through Christ.