Posted April 14, 2008
In coping with the forces of hell in what is called spiritual warfare, a certain kind of courage or fearlessness can be reckless, rash, and irresponsible. Its opposite is an appropriate and prudent fear. Jesus incisively advocates a prudent fear of the evil one and his machinations, as distinguished from fear of a temporal threat: “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Lk 12:4-5).
In the next few sentences, however, Jesus tells us how to prevent an unwarranted fear in resisting the devil, namely by exercising a profound trust in the Lord who cares for each of us lovingly: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Lk 12:6-7, emphasis mine). Thus, paradoxically, fear and courage can work together through a combination of fear of evil and a secure courage in trusting in the Lord’s protection from that evil. We can fear the devil and yet not fear his efforts to attack us, if we avail ourselves of God’s trustworthy protection. A child who is terrified of a rattlesnake in the yard is not frightened when he is picked up and held safe, snuggling in his father’s protective arms, distanced the threat.
A trusting, warm fellowship with the Lord is the best protection from fearful demons. You may be severely tempted and harassed by forces of evil, as so many of the saints were; Jesus, himself, while in the desert, was tempted three times by Satan, and was confronted by him while performing exorcisms. As long as you stay close to God, however, trusting in his care, you cannot be enslaved by the Evil One. The devil himself knows that “you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.” (1 Cor 10:21).
John H. Hampsch, C.M.F. “PATHWAYS OF TRUST”