Sins We All Commit Without Knowing They Are Sin (pt 4 of 4): Anxiety.
Anxiety. Such a haunting word.
I did not want to write this article. I was kind of dreading it. The reason why I was dreading writing this is because I know many people do not agree with my position and many seek to make people like me taking positions like mine look unloving at worst, and uninformed at best. So please understand that everything I write below I write from a pastoral heart. Please understand that I also have first-hand experience with the topic and have had to deal with anxiety attacks at different points in my life. And finally, please understand that just because I may speak out against medication, therapy, or other common methods that people use to deal with this issue does not mean I do not understand some of the science behind what anxiety is, how it works, or why the various treatments are considered effective. Again, having dealt with anxiety first hand, I have explored these things and I have very good reasons for rejecting the mainstream methodology of the world.
The fact of the matter is that God speaks very clearly to this subject in His Word. To try to explain away or deny the information contained in Scripture is to tread on very dangerous ground. I would simply ask you to honestly face God’s Word for what it says.
I am going to lump the terms ‘fear’ and ‘anxiety’ and ‘worry’ together here. I know there may be some nuances to each word, and a person’s experience with each may differ, but the underlying causes are the same and the cure is the same, so I will speak to them as one.
My argument is simple:
Premise #1: fear/anxiety/worry is strictly forbidden in God’s word and is therefore sinful.
Phil 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing”
Matt 6:24-34. This is a long passage so I won’t put it all here, but I would like to simply highlight verse 24 “do not be anxious about your life,” verse 31 “Therefore do not be anxious” and verse 34 “Therefore do not be anxious”
These verses give us explicit commands not to be anxious. Jesus repeats that command multiple times, speaking to a variety of things that one might encounter through life.
Premise #2: the underlying cause for fear/anxiety is a lack of trust in the Lord.
This is made clear from Jesus’ words in Matt 6:30. Speaking to someone who is worried about having enough clothes, Jesus says “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” Jesus makes a clear connection between the anxiety and the lack of faith.
That fear and anxiety stem from unbelief is also evident in the solution to these things that is provided in Scripture:
Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You”
1 Peter 5:7 “[Cast] all you anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” In other words, turn it over to the Lord and trust that He will take care of it. The Lord cares for you.
Phil 4: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Instead of being anxious, we are told to go to the Lord.
Conclusion: anxiety/fear/worry are sins of unbelief/lack of trust in the Lord. If we are to conquer these sins, we must be diligent to seek the Lord and actively be trusting in Him.
Clarification #1: I am not ruling out physiology playing a factor in these things. I am simply concerned that we are merely medicating symptoms instead of dealing with the sin issue at hand in a biblical manner.
Furthermore, who is to say that some aspects of our physiology are not directly affected by spiritual factors? I was once talking with the director of Biblical Counseling at the seminary I graduated from and he would talk about how he has seen people with chronic, so called, “mental illnesses” such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, bi-polar, etc. be healed and freed from their oppression simply by biblically addressing their spiritual condition. When they repented of sin and trusted fully in Christ, they gained victory over these “illnesses” and are free of medication. I believe that our spiritual life and physical body are linked in ways we may never fully understand.
Clarification #2: I do not mean to suggest that anyone taking medication for anxiety should stop taking it. This can lead to disastrous results. Please consult a Doctor before you make any changes to your medication habits.
I would say though that my hope would be that all Christians would eventually be able to deal with anxiety in biblical ways and therefore eliminate dependence on medication.
Clarification #3: I do not mean to suggest that choosing to trust the Lord and seek Him in the midst of anxiety is quick and easy. The process can be long and hard. There may be days of wrestling and pouring out your heart to the Lord and digging deep into His word. But regardless of the difficulty of the process, God’s commands are clear and we have a responsibility to obey Him. In these times, we must pray “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”
I hope no one reads this and thinks “I should never struggle with anxiety.” What I am saying is that the Bible gives us very clear instructions on how to handle things when fear and anxiety hit us, not if. I think we all have to face these things, though some to a greater degree than others. When it happens, the response must be a pouring out of our anxieties to the Lord and a rest in the promises of God. Whatever your fear or anxiety might be, there is a promise in Scripture that answers it. Be diligent to find that promise and take comfort and rest in it.
I hope you hear my pastoral heart in this post. I do not want to discourage anyone. I want you to have victory over fear and anxiety in life. And since God makes it clear that He has given us everything necessary for life and godliness in His Word (2 Pet 1:3), We need to look to His Word, not the methodology and lies of the world, to find the solutions to the troubles we have in this life.
May God give you peace that passes all understanding in accordance with the promise of Phil 4:6-7.