Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Fear of Failure
Atychiphobia is the fear of failure. While I don?t subscribe to their philosophy, PsychologyToday.com posed an interesting question recently: ?What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?? Fear of failure is closely associated with the fear of criticism and the fear of rejection. This is not a self-help seminar on how to ?get out there and realize your dreams.? But as a believer in Jesus Christ, fear of criticism by others and a fear of rejection by God is a real concern.
We?ve been talking about God?s secret weapon, the Holy Spirit. In the life of the believer, the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence and goes to work both on the inside and outside to effect positive change. But often we don?t see that. We go through our lives still experiencing problems and still seeing ourselves fall.
So we worry about failing. I want to pose three questions relating to failure as a believer?questions I believe Paul deals with strongly in the final 9 verses of Romans 8. The questions are: Will we fail because opposition to our faith is too great? Will we fail because we are weak and tend to sin? Or will we fail because bad situations overcome us?
Will we fail because the opposition too great? (31-32)
Paul starts out by saying ?What then shall we say to these things?? What things? The things we?ve seen in chapter 8, that we are uncondemned, we are set free to serve God, we are adopted into his family and have a close relationship with him. When we suffer we are changed, not destroyed, and we have a Helper to mold us from the inside, pray for us when we don?t know how, and orchestrate events so that God?s good comes of every bad situation. In light of that, then he asks this question ?If God is for us, who can be against us?? Despite that assertion, we worry that the world, and the enemy are just too powerful for us. So I ask this question:
How sure is your relationship with God (ie, your salvation)? I don?t mean our ability to get and hold on to it, but God?s ability and willingness to give it to us freely. God is so for us that He spared no expense to have us as His own by giving Jesus.
So, ?if God be for us?, then ?who can be against us?? Or put it another way, if God is on our side, what do we have to worry about? In reality, we worry about two things: not being good enough to merit God being on our side, and life being too difficult to withstand. (we?ll get to those in a minute).
The reality is, God is both really really big and really really on our side. Like having a big brother no one can assault on the playground standing by our side.
But not only is God on our side, and unlike some big brothers, He actually wants to give to us. ?how will he not also with him graciously give us all things.? We get all things that lead to us being transformed into His image and the gospel spread.
Matt 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matt 7:11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Will we fail because we are weak and tend to sin? (33-34)
A lot of religions tell people to be good and hope that you are good enough in the end to get to heaven. It?s legalism, earning God?s favor through your goodness. It doesn?t work. There?s nothing you can do to earn God?s favor because Jesus already earned it for you in Him. But that doesn?t stop us from wondering ?did I blow it so much that God will decide against me in the end??
It happens when we sin, which we will. We despair that we are just too broken for God to fix. We figure He loses patience with us or is sorry He invited us into His family. Maybe we feel like we?ve become the ?black sheep?.
Like a student facing a final exam, we worry we?ll come all this way and fail at the last.
To this, Paul asks: ?Who can condemn us?? It is in the future tense: ?who will condemn us?? God is the only one who can really condemn. He does it by separating Himself from us because we belong to evil.
Jesus died for our evil, and God showed that His sacrifice ?took? by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at the right hand of the Father, there isn?t anyone left who can condemn us. That?s not to say that Satan doesn?t accuse us, but that?s not the same thing. In the court of public opinion, politicians often use this maxim: ?the seriousness of the charge trumps the evidence.? Raise enough questions or accusations about something and it no longer matters whether it is true or not. That?s how the enemy works, blaming us, accusing us, faulting us?making us believe we are no longer worthy. The answer is to agree with him, then acknowledge the greater reality that all the bad stuff you have done, past, present, or future, has all been dealt with. What about our own feelings of failure?
1 John 3:19-21 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
And this isn?t just a wink at sin ?oh, let?s just forget about that.? This is a serious court of law where everything gets exposed. God has justified us and does not condemn.
We get an intercessor in Jesus, who stands before God?s court and pleads our case, not by trying to prove we are innocent, but in taking our place of punishment for our wickedness, then presenting us clean and alive in Him. In addition to that, Jesus prays for us to the Father. He did it for Peter in Luke 22.
He also says He is praying for us in John 17:9-10 I am praying for them.? I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.
Will we fail because bad situations overcome us? (35-39)
Who can separate us from God?s love? (bad things happening to us?)
What are some examples:
????????? Tribulation (Greek: ?pressure? ? a Greek metaphor for oppression, anxiety, distress)
????????? Distress (Greek: ?Narrowness of room? ? ?calamity? ?a set of difficult circumstances?)
????????? Persecution (Greek: from ?to pursue or prosecute?)
????????? Famine (Greek: ?scarcity, widespread hunger over a long period of time?) ? community poverty
????????? Nakedness (Greek: nakedness ? refers to poverty) ? personal poverty
????????? Danger (Greek: ?dangerous or threatening circumstances?)
????????? Sword (Greek: ?knife? from ?controversy?) Could be the punishment for being a Christian.
So when terrible things happen in your life, you are under pressure, penned in?when you feel the heat or direct punishment for your trust in Jesus?or when you feel like you personally lack or are part of a broader time of economic hardship?it is at these times when we most feel like God has given up on us because He hasn?t kept us from the problem or gotten us out of it.
But again, the idea here is that none of these things will separate us from the love of Christ. Paul says that not only do we not give up, we win.
We get the ability to be ?more? than conquerors
Conqueror: (Greek: ?to more than vanquish, a decisive victory?)
How can that be? What is more important?that you escape hardship or have God with you in it? As we?ve seen in this and other chapters?God uses difficulty to mold us into His image. His best work is done in our worst circumstances. The goal is for us to give up on our own abilities and trust in God?s abilities?to trust that in trial He shines the brightest towards the goals of 1) becoming like Him and 2) letting the light of His love shine out from our lives.
Jesus said as he approached the terrified disciples on the Sea of Galilee in Matthew 14 ?Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.? God said ?I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)?. Why ?more than conquerors?? It?s more than just overcoming bad stuff that happens?it is God?s ability to use that bad stuff for His good.
As if this wasn?t enough?Paul gives a list of all the things that cannot remove us from God?s love and care. He starts off with the worst thing: death. Nothing in death can separate us, in fact death merely serves to connect us to God in whole new ways. Also nothing we face here in life can separate us from His love. No spiritual power can do it, nothing can happen in the present or in the future to do it, no human government, no physical separation (height or depth), basically nothing ever conceived can take you away from God?s love.
Once in his hands you are always in His hands.
What have you faced in the past? What faces you today? What worries you about the future? Do you feel pressured, penned in, put down, left out, penniless, optionless, forsaken, pushed away, depressed, harassed, or left in a hopeless situation?
Using God?s secret weapon, the Holy Spirit, we have an advocate, an intercessor, and an unbreakable connection to God?s love.
Depend on it. Lean into it. Use it. When the going gets tough, the tough get going to God?s love to see them through.
You are accepted, not rejected, you are loved, not criticized. With God you cannot fail. You may not be able to figure it out, it may not go the way you want, but the key is that God loves you, is with you, and is working good in every bad situation. What will your life be like knowing you too cannot fail?