Fear, an ungodly use of imagination
Fear is often driven by us imagining the worst and asking “what if?” We needlessly “spin our wheels” going nowhere – until God releases the brakes and sends us off in His planned direction. All our initial anxious activity ends up bringing us no benefit whatsoever. Instead, it only exhausts us and takes the joy out of following God into the works He has prepared for us.
1 Corinthians 8:2 ESV If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.
Ephesians 2:10 ESV For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
It is impossible for anyone to imagine what God has planned for us. We waste so much time and energy relying on our human understanding, trying to imagine and plan for all possible scenarios. Thankfully, God will reveal His plans for us when we rely on His Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10 ESV But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
Ironically, we will still enjoy a deep sense of peace even if God’s plan turns out to be our personal worst case scenario. This is because God will walk with us into His plan for a far more meaningful purpose that we cannot humanly imagine.
Isaiah 41:10 ESV fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
The gift of imagination
God is supremely creative and made us like Him – with the ability, intelligence and the power to create too. In fact, the Bible records that the first time the Holy Spirit ever filled a person, it was to inspire him with imaginative artistic creativity.
Exodus 31:2-4 ESV “… I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs…
Ever since creation, Satan has been tempting people to use our powers of imagination for ungodly purposes. Satan tempted Eve with alternative scenarios to God’s plan as well as some “what ifs“. Eventually, Eve bowed down to Satan’s deception when she imagined, “What if Satan is right?” and ate the forbidden fruit. That didn’t end well and all of us still feel the consequences of Eve’s ungodly imagination and rebellion against God up to today.
Genesis 3:4-5 ESV But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Power and love and self-control
Any ungodly use of our imagination that is driven by fear will eventually lead us to sinful behaviours and “forbidden fruits”.
- We imagine all sorts of wrong ideas about God
- We imagine we know better
- We imagine we can find answers in ourselves, family, fortune tellers…
The Bible makes it clear that fear is not from God, and lays out three things we should practice instead: power, love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
1. Power: Rebuke Satan for tempting us to abuse our gift of imagination
Let us avoid Eve’s mistake and not imagine things about God that are untrue as a result of Satan’s attacks on our thoughts. Like Jesus when He confronted Satan in the desert, we can rebuke the devil in Jesus’ name and command him to leave us. We will only serve God with our minds and make our thoughts obedient to Christ.
Matthew 4:10 ESV Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”
2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
2. Love: Honour God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind
There is no one greater than God and nothing can stop His plans. So why struggle against such odds? Instead, let us use our energy to love and praise God for His infinite love, wisdom, protection and guidance.
Jeremiah 10:6 ESV There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might.
Isaiah 14:27 ESV For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?
3. Self-control: Use our imaginations for God’s glory
Last but not least, we should train our minds to think about whatever is true and pure. Let us honour God’s gift of imagination by using it for good.
Philippians 4:8 ESV Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
You may also like: A prayer to confess our anxieties to God
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