The Baptist Pillar © Brandon Bible Baptist Church 1992-Present www.baptistpillar.com
"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
Pastor Jeremiah Sargent
From The Plains Baptist Challenger, 2015
Emotions play a huge role in our lives—they greatly influence how we think, how we make decisions, and ultimately how we act. At times it seems that our emotions are more detrimental than beneficial, but they are a gift from the Lord. God created us with emotions so that we could enjoy life, relate to other people, and draw closer to Him.
But the problem with our emotions comes when we lose control of them and they begin to control us. A good example of this is the emotion of anger. Anger is not a sin, but uncontrolled anger will certainly lead to sin. Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” This scripture does not condemn anger, but simply teaches us how to respond to it and reminds us that the devil is seeking to gain the advantage in our life.
Unfortunately, many emotions have received a bad label—anger, depression, jealousy, and the one this article will address: anxiety. Anxiety is one of the most prominent emotions people struggle with today. Just look at what is going on around your world―it’s hard not to be anxious!
But once again, it is important for us to realize that feeling anxious is not a sin; it IS a sin to continually live in a state of anxiety. Here is the reason why: I Peter 5:7 instructs us to “Cast ALL your care upon him.” Philippians 4:6 says “Be careful for NOTHING; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
God has a remedy for anxiety and as His children, we should be looking to His Word for help: II Peter 1:3-4 “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:”
Victory over anxiety is available to all who believe in the sufficiency of scripture and depend upon the power of the indwelling Spirit of God. We don’t have to be labeled with an anxiety disorder!
THE CAUSE OF ANXIETY
Most psychological diagnoses list worry as the primary cause for anxiety, but according to the Word of God, anxiety is rooted in fear. In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us on three occasions to “take no thought”― meaning “don’t be anxious or fearful; I will take care of you.”
In theory, many believe that God will take care of them, but fear keeps them from releasing full control of their life to the Lord. Notice that before Jesus told us to “take no thought”, He addressed the issue of control: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” There is only room for one master!
Anxiety is born out of our own fears―a fear of not being in control, a fear of feeling vulnerable, a fear of being rejected by others and a fear of not knowing what our future holds. These fears pull us away from the peace that Christ offers and sends us down the road of anxiety.
Until we release control of our life to the Lord, we will not be released from anxiety. Every day we must lay our fears at His Throne (Hebrews 4:16) and deliberately leave them there. When we don’t deal with anxiety this way, it takes up long-term residency within us and causes all sorts of emotional, physical, and spiritual problems.
THE CONSEQUENCE OF ANXIETY
Proverbs 25:28 offers a good description of what happens when we allow anxiety to control our life: “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Anxiety breaks us down and leaves us with a huge list of problems:
PHYSICAL PROBLEMS: Our body reacts to anxiety. According to medical research, people who allow anxiety to control them will often experience headaches, back pain, upset stomach, shortness of breath, difficulty sleeping, elevated blood pressure, muscle tension, and fatigue. When Jesus described the end days, He spoke about the physical effects of anxiety: Luke 21:26 “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth:” Many physical symptoms are connected to anxiety.
EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS: Since anxiety is an emotion, it often negatively impacts other emotions. That is why many who allow anxiety to control them will experience feelings of dread, worry, nervousness, stress, depression, hopelessness, and overwhelming thoughts. Psychologists label these emotional responses as disorders (separation disorder, OCD, social phobia disorder, claustrophobia), but readily admit that the root cause is anxiety.
Remember how the Prophet Elijah’s emotional state changed after hearing that Jezebel planned to kill him? On Mount Carmel he experienced the emotions of boldness, confidence, joy, and peace. Why? Because Elijah knew God was in control. But once he allowed anxiety is dominate his mind, he asked God to kill him. Anxiety and control are two sides of one coin. When we can’t control something, we worry about it, but when we hand God the controls, our emotions rest easy.
SPIRITUAL PROBLEMS: The most damaging aspect of anxiety is what it does to our spiritual life. Those who are dominated by it often struggle in their walk with the Lord. Prayer and Bible reading become sporadic, church services are no longer a priority, guilt overwhelms the mind, selfish desires increase, and even a spirit of anger towards other Christians and God begins to grow.
In the New Testament, the word “care” means “to be distracted or pulled apart.” Anxiety distracts us from our high calling and steals the fruit of peace and joy. It is impossible to walk intimately with Christ when anxiety is pulling you in a different direction. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)
God is not the author of anxiety and anxiety does not fit our identity as followers of Christ. II Timothy 1:7 reminds us that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” If you are battling with anxiety, let the Lord remove it from your life and replace it with His truth and the promises of His Word. Trust me, you will feel much better!
THE CURE FOR ANXIETY
With so much at stake, it is foolish to give in to anxiety or seek a quick, temporary fix. So what should you do? Thankfully the Bible has the answer! Philippians 4:5-9 provides us with a remedy for anxiety and it is a little more than just telling God all about your fears or praying that you won’t be overwhelmed with worry. When you carefully study this passage, you will notice three commands:
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF: Verse 5 says “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” The word “moderation” implies “self-restraint.” Stop making excuses for your anxiety; stop playing the victim! Take responsibility for how you are responding to the difficult situations in your life and determine to make a change. In this verse, the Apostle Paul gives us some great motivators for change:
“Unto all men”―Do you want others to view you as a fearful, anxious person?
“The Lord is at hand”―Is this how you would like to live your last day on earth?
Change begins with you―only you can determine to cast down anxiety and bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
GIVE CONTROL OF YOURSELF TO THE LORD: Verses 6 and 7 instruct us to “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Which God are you going serve: the idol of anxiety or the God of the Bible? This may sound shocking to us, after all, we don’t consider anxiety to be an idol (it’s not made of wood or stone!) But anxiety becomes an idol when we allow it to control our thoughts, our decisions, and our actions. A true worshipper of God will obey His command and He says “Be careful (anxious) for nothing.” You must choose:
Who will be your Master? God or anxiety? – Matthew 5:24
Which Master will you magnify? God or anxiety? – I Kings 18:26-39
Which Master will comfort you? God or anxiety? – II Corinthians 2:3-7
The words of Joshua come to mind: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” God will not take control of your emotions until you give Him the controls.
TRUST AND OBEY THE WORD OF GOD: Verses 8 and 9 show us how to keep anxiety at bay: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” The Christian life is a life of discipline―we must discipline ourselves to follow God’s Word every day. Start by obeying verses 8 and 9.
Remove the wrong influences from your life―thinking on and involving yourself in the wrong things will only intensify to your anxiety. Follow and meditate on the “whatsoever things.”
Remain faithful to the house of God―forsaking times of worship, preaching, and fellowship are detrimental to your spiritual life and will only cause more anxiety. God has something for you every time you attend church.
Rely on the promises of God―when God says He will do something, He will do it! If He said that He will bless you with peace then believe Him.
Remember, no one has to live in a state of anxiety. It is a dark, dreadful place to be. Freedom and peace await those who will give their fears and worries to God and leave them in His hands.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)