We all know fear and worry can lead to sin. They can cause us to sin. But are they sins, in and of themselves? Is fear a sin? Is worry a sin?
Some people say that if God says “do not” and you “do,” then it’s a sin – simple as that. But I think that might be a little too simple. It overlooks some pretty significant distinctions, like the differences between worry and fear. And the difference in Scripture between a command, an exhortation, and a word intended to offer comfort or reassurance.
I believe worry is a sin – because it’s a choice. We’re choosing to dwell on our doubts and fears, our anxious thoughts. (Romans 14:23)
We ignore God’s admonishment to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), NOT to be anxious but to trust Him, and to think on things that are true and right and lovely and pure (Philippians 4:6-8).
Instead, we latch on to a negative thought or a bunch of negative thoughts. We grab them by the teeth and refuse to let go of them. We churn. We toss and turn. We shake them this way and that. From a distance it looks like we’re strangling them. But the truth is, they’re strangling us.
Fear, on the other hand, is a little more complicated. Because there is such a thing as healthy fear. Reverent fear. And fear can be a biological response to real danger, the “fight-or-flight” response God designed to help keep us alive. Sometimes fear is an affliction. A trial, a test of our faith.
Maybe the best way to put it is that feeling fear is not a sin any more than feeling tempted is. But giving in to it… that’s a different matter. Sometimes fear, too, is a choice. Sometimes it is a sin. And when it is, we need to repent of it.
Even so, Romans 8:1 says, “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (NLT) Only the constant, loving encouragement of our Heavenly Father to listen to Him and let Him help us choose what is better.
This broadcast was excerpted from What Women Should Know About Facing Fear by Christin Ditchfield, Leafwood, 2013.