The Foolishness of Fear – Pastor Stacey Shiflett

The Foolishness of Fear

Deuteronomy 20

  • 1 When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
  • 2 And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people,
  • 3 And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them;
  • 4 For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.
  • 8 And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart.

Intro: For Christians to live in fear is just foolish. There is not a single reason why a child of God should live in fear. Of anything. Ever. It’s unbelievable how many Christians are afraid of everything.

This week, we witnessed another Supreme Court victory.

This time, it was for a football coach that insisted on praying on the field, even after he was told he couldn’t.

The Supreme Court on Monday sided 6-3 with a football coach who was fired for praying on the field after games, marking another win for religious liberty delivered by the conservative-leaning court. The case surrounds high school football coach Joseph Kennedy and Bremerton School District in the state of Washington. Kennedy, a devout Christian who began working at Bremerton High School in 2008, was fired from his role as varsity assistant coach and as the junior varsity head coach after he refused to quit praying on the 50 yard line in full view of the public following games. Kennedy asserted that the school district violated the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. (Source:

You know what surprises me more than the Supreme Court upholding his First Amendment rights?

The fact that he’s the only one that tested it.

Where are all the other Christian coaches?

Why was he the only one?

We live in a society where for the first time since the book of Acts, Christians are too afraid to stand.

The First Mention of “fearful” when referring to man’s fear is found in our text.

There are several elements of this passage that continues throughout the scriptures.

Fear Is Foolish Because Of:

I. The Deception about the Battle’s Aspects

  • 2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Wherever there is fear, there is a lack of many things; but a sound mind is one.

Deception is the only way fear can work.

To be afraid, we must believe a lie.

There are several that apply to this passage.

To be afraid, we have to believe multiple lies about the very aspects of the battle.

               A. About the Opposition – vs. 1 “When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies…”

The first thing we need to understand is that the “enemies” that God is referring to are HIS enemies.

They are God’s enemies; it is not a personal thing.

Those in our life that oppose us actually oppose God.

John 15

  • 18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
  • 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
  • 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
  • 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
  • 22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.
  • 23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
  • 24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

In fact, they not only oppose God, and the people of God and the word of God, but they oppose themselves.

2 Timothy 2

  • 24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
  • 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
  • 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

               B. About the Optics – “…when thou goest out…and SEEST…”

Things are never what they seem to be, or what they appear to be.

A great example of the deception of our optics is Genesis 3.

  • Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

               C. About being Outnumbered – vs. 1 “…seest horses, and chariots, and people more than thou…”

One thing you can always remember: you are never outnumbered.

  • Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

2 Chronicles 32

  • 6 And he set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying,
  • 7 Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him:
  • 8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles.

Fear Is Foolish Because Of:

II. The Disregard for the Blessings Available

               A. The Blessing of God’s Presence – vs. 4 “For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you…

You cannot place a price tag on God’s promise to go with us. No matter where.

  • Psalms 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

               B. The Blessing of God’sPerformance – vs. 4 “…to fight for you against your enemies…”

Can you name a single time in history where God has ever fought a battle and lost?

               C. The Blessing of God’s Protection – vs. 4 “…to save you.”

Explain how you can possibly be fearful when God Almighty has promised to save you?

What part of “I will save you” do you not understand?

Fear Is Foolish Because Of:

III. The Detriment to the Brethren’s Assurance

We find a small minority of people that were given clear instructions to be sent back home during the battle.

There were four groups of people that were excused from the battle.

Three of them were far different from the fourth one.

               A. The man that had built a house – vs. 5

  • Deuteronomy 20:5 And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.

B. The man that hath planted a field – vs. 6

  • Deuteronomy 20:6 And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it.

               C. The man that betrothed a wife – vs. 7

  • Deuteronomy 20:7 And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.

               D. The man that is fearful and fainthearted – vs. 8

  • Deuteronomy 20:8 And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart.

It is amazing that the first three were not at all demoralizing to the others.

  • The first three were allowed to miss the war out of respect for them.
  • The last one was told to miss the war out of respect for everybody else.

There was no mention of the adverse reaction to the troops for:

               1. The man that got to sleep in his own house instead of a tent in the mud.

2. The man that got to stay home and eat homecooked meals and vegetables instead of K rations.

               3. The man that got to stay home and love on his wife while the others fought and bled and died.

NO! The only one that had an adverse, demoralizing effect on the others was the coward.

Fear is contagious. Fear is like a cancer. It starts out small and spreads.

In Judges 7, God told Gideon to send home all those that were afraid.

Judges 7

  • 2 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.
  • 3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.

Conclusion: Tonight, I want you to leave with three simple truths.

  • Fear is foolish because whatever you’re afraid of, it probably isn’t even real.
  • Fear is foolish because you have been promised by God that He will fight for you and save you.
  • Fear is foolish because when you are fearful, it causes others to be fearful also.