“For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.”
2 Peter 2:19
To allow anything control of our passions and emotions is to be overcome. The word Peter uses for “overcome” gives the sense of defeat and succumbing to a greater force. Each day of our life we are confronted by any number of potential conquerers. These conquerers often rise up from within as remnants of the person we once were before Christ. At other times they arise from without as new foes guarding and forbidding a certain path that Christ would invite us upon. The presentation of that which threatens to overcome is most often presented as a blessing. That which overcomes is often a good thing which we allow to become the greatest thing.
Fear is one such overcoming threat. Fear in and of itself be a wonderful tool in our life. Fear is a defense mechanism built in to protect us from that which might introduce danger or cause pain. In this sense Fear is good. This is why believers are called to have a healthy fear of God. It is a sense of terrifying wonder at that which is so much greater than us. Fear of God is an appropriate response of a person who recognizes their “creatureliness” before the Creator, their “wholly-otherness” before Him who is Holy.
Misplaced fear reveals itself from time to time in a believer’s life. An overcoming fear or something or someone often reveals a lack of trust in God. I am not here discussing any ordinary fear, but a continual and persistent fear in a person’s life. A crippling fear that regularly overtakes and consumes our emotions and passions, that drives our decisions is an evil presence in our life. This kind of fear, as Peter says, has enslaved us. We become transfixed upon it. We have lost our gospel freedom. But more importantly we lose our ability to hear the precious whisper of our first love, Jesus Christ.
Anything that overcomes our thoughts and emotions, anything that conquers are passions and consumes our thinking other than Jesus becomes our Lord. It holds us and will not release us by our own strength. It is like a kitten toying with its caught prey, allowing it to slightly run away only to be caught once again. Only by returning to our first love, to Christ in all His fullness, power, and presence, can “overcoming-ness” be overcome.