1. THE FALL, REASON FOR FEAR
The peace and tranquility of heart that Adam and Eve experienced in Genesis chapter 2 was broken in Genesis chapter 3. When the Lord God confronted Adam with the question "Where are you?", Adam answered with a soul-revealing reply: "I heard your voice in the garden, and I hid myself." Adam's reply can be separated into three modern terminologies-Adam's core emotion, core motivation, and core strategy. Adam's core emotion was fear ("I was afraid"). Adam's core motivation was "nakedness" ("because I was naked")-- sense of unacceptability (rejection). Adam's core strategy was to hide his nakedness ("and I hid myself"). Many of the psychological and emotional problems that have plagued humankind since Adam's day can be understood in much the same way.
2. BEFORE AND AFTER THE FALL
Before the fall, Adam had a love relationship with God, and later Eve. Adam also had a special God-given purpose-to rule over the earth. Adam had not only love in his life but complete faith in God as well. Adam had no fear of the future, no fear of any sort. He lived in a perfect environment with a perfect God watching over him. He had complete faith in God's goodness. He had no reason to fear.
Eve, also, had love relationships and purpose in her life. She loved and was loved by God and Adam. Her purpose was to be a helpmate for Adam. Both she and Adam were to rule righteously over the earth. She had no reason to fear.
But something happened to destroy the Edenic peace. Adam and Eve bought the lie of the serpent, the lie of self-dependence and self-exaltation. When they disobeyed God by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they violated three principles of life.
3. VIOLATION OF PRINCIPLES OF LIFE
The three principles of life they violated were love, faith, and hope. They violated love toward God by disobeying Him. They violated love toward each other by not fulfilling their God-given roles. They violated faith by not trusting God's provision for them. They violated hope (God-given meaning for their lives) by seeking self-exaltation and self-reliance instead of accepting their dependence upon a providing God.
The understanding we receive is that lack of love, lack of faith, and wrong purpose led to Adam and Eve's fear. And this fear led to a strategy (post-Fall purpose) to hide or cover over their nakedness.
4. HOW FEAR OPERATES
Proverbs 28:1a gives us a description of fear's activity. "The wicked flee when no one pursues." Fear manifests itself in flight. Outward fear, as might be found in times of war, may result in hiding in a foxhole or "behind a tree." Inward fear, that stirs our thoughts and emotions, may result in any number of psychological and emotional manifestations. Adam experienced anxiety and nervousness. His strategy for hiding his guilt was denial and rationalization-he disavowed guilt by directly accusing Eve and indirectly accusing God. He did to God what Job sought to do, "condemn [God] that [he] [might] be justified" (Job 40:8).
This basic understanding of fear, that of fleeing, escaping, and anxiety, can be seen in some of the following problems: 1) withdrawal from others (avoidance of others), 2) irrational irresponsibility (escape from pressure), 3) drug and alcohol abuse (escape from pain into forgetting), 4) extreme daydreaming and fantasy (escape from present world into another), 5) some depression (withdrawal from others on the inside), 6) abnormal sexual activity (escaping loneliness, chasing pleasure). Other forms of fear-fleeing, escaping, anxiety-may include more extreme cases such as phobias (fears), manias (drive to escape), some schizophrenia (escape from environment), and nervous breakdown ("nervous" breakdown). It must be kept in mind that what God sees as a simple and clear problem, with a simple solution, may manifest itself in a complex set of symptoms. This does not deny the possibility of real organic or chemical deficiencies in some cases. However, these cases represent only a small percentage of the total number of individuals exhibiting these behaviors.
5. TO TRUST IN THE SPIDER WEB SOLUTIONS TO LIFE
Bildad gave an accurate description of those who forget God in Job 8:14-15. He said that they trust in their "spider web" solutions to life. Instead of dependence on God, they seek to build their own life "house". But this "house" cannot support them, it always fails. The problems numbered above, and possibly the others, are the strategies of people to "cover over" or "hide" their fear.
Fear of the future emerges out of our finite ability to control many of the things, events, and people around us. There are many things in the world that can hurt us, or destroy our well-laid plans. Luke 21:26 gives us a glimpse at a future time on earth when "men's hearts [will be] failing them from fear (judgment because of lack of love) and the expectation (fear of the future) of those things which are coming on the earth (which are beyond their control), for the powers of heaven will be shaken."
Several Bible passages will illustrate to us the importance of the three core principles of life.
6. WHAT THE WORD OF GOD SAYS
Proverbs 19:23-"The fear of the Lord leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction; he will not be visited with evil (inner turmoil that is destructive)."
Proverbs: 1:33-"But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil."
Psalm 34:4-"I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."
Psalm 131:2-3-"Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother…O Israel, hope in the lord…
Psalm 130:5-"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope."
Love (a righteous person)
Proverbs 10:3a-"The Lord will not allow the righteous soul to famish."
Proverbs 11:25-"The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself (even as he "waters")."
Proverbs 11:28-"He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage."
Proverbs 13:25-"The righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul, but the stomach (inner man) of the wicked shall be in want."
7. THE NEED FOR RESTORATION AND RECONCILIATION
When Adam sinned he needed restoration and reconciliation. But that restoration and reconciliation were his (given by God) outside the garden. He possessed it in the cursed world around him. He possessed it in his sinful state (prone to selfishness and independence from God). Ultimate fulfillment was (and still is) for a future time. Adam had many new things, events, and people challenge his sense of personhood. Adam had to struggle between self-centered fulfillment and God-dependent fulfillment-a struggle between selfish independence and strivings for self-glory and humble dependence on God's provision. We do too. The degree to which we depend on God in the three areas of life--faith, hope, and love-will be the degree to which fear and its corrosive effects will be eliminated from our lives.