Let’s Talk about FEAR – a Red Flag in Relationships

1Jn 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

None of us have been perfectly perfected in regard to love. As we grow in Christ, He shows us the ramifications of His love more and more with the result that fear diminishes more and more. While there will always be the positive, healthy, and right “fear of the Lord” by which we honor and obey Him, the kind of fear John is speaking of is not a positive trait. It is a fear that results from punishment in a relationship. We used to fear God in this sense because, before we came to Christ, we were under righteous condemnation by Him. We were guilty. The Law showed us our guilt and was a means of driving us to embrace Christ.

But now that we are in Christ – if you have been born again by faith alone in Christ alone – then this is your status:

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

The more we come to understand this, the more this fear which results from punishment will dissolve.

Now, what I want to talk to you about today is this business of fear in our relationships with people. Fear that is the kind of fear that results from punishment. A child, for instance, should have this kind of fear in the sense of knowing that if he disobeys his mother or father, he is going to be punished. At the same time, that parent-child relationship must be characterized by love, and the child must know this as well.

But in respect to our relationship now, now that we are adults (or even let’s say in our teen years), fear that is the result of punishment is something that evil people use to hold us in bondage. In this respect, fear is a huge red flag that a relationship is toxic. You often hear domestic abuse victims talk about having to “walk on eggshells” lest their abuser punish them with one of his evil tactics. This is just another way of describing the fear that dominates in such a relationship.

Lately I have been particularly interested in how a matriarchal abuser uses fear of punishment to enslave her family members. Of course most domestic abusers are men, but as I said, of late this business of the mother working an evil domination over her family has been in the forefront.

Whenever one of our relationships with someone is characterized by fear, something is terribly wrong. And I mean the fear that is the fear of punishment.

This thing is sooooo wicked. It creeps up on us. Very often it is present in families and the children grow up in that kind of fear-drenched environment, becoming what many people call “adult children” who keep right on fearing punishment from, for instance, their mother. It is this fear that is the vise holding us to that poisonous relationship. Fear that if we don’t do what we are told, fear that if we do not think what we told to think, fear that if we in anyway step out of the authorized path – we will be punished. Scowls, that “tone” in mother’s voice, a tirade of anger, the silent treatment, playing the victim role – on and on and on this evil arsenal goes. AND IT IS ALL DESIGNED TO ENSLAVE US BY FEAR.

I want to tell you loud and clear – any relationship in our lives that is characterized by fear of punishment is a relationship that the Lord wants us to be free from.

Gal 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

The thought of freedom from this tyrrany – from, for instance, a mother’s tyranny – can at first be fearful in itself. Think of the Israelites on that great day when the Lord led them out of slavery in Egypt. I bet many of them were afraid. What will Pharaoh do? And sure enough when they stopped at the Red Sea, here he came! Even across the Red Sea there were many times when they grumbled and said things like “let’s go back to Egypt where we had leeks and garlic to eat.” The enemy of our souls does not give us up easily. When you resolve to be free you can expect that Pharaoh is going to come chasing after you. But then, the Lord parts the Sea and shows us that path to freedom.

Love casts out this fear of punishment:

Rom 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Did you know that you can live in this freedom from fear-of-punishment relationships? It’s true. You can live free from a narcissist, enslaving, terrorizing mother or other such person – and you will thrive. The enemy wants you to think that you cannot. That a life without that toxin is just impossible. Slavery to it is all you have known – how will you go on? Well, the answer is – Christ! When you are cast out, He will be there to greet you and once you see Him, I mean REALLY see Him and experience the love He has for you, you will never ever want to go back to Egypt.

Let the enemy roar. Let mother weep and wail and rage. We are going to follow Christ and we are not going to permit the wicked to drive us back into slavery. Never.

The 10 Commandments of a Naricissist Parent

Lynn, one of our blog community friends, sent me these commandments which characterize a narcissist/abuser mother or father. Lynn grew up in just such a home, under all this oppression, and has been set free from it. So many, many thanks to her. These are great!

A Narcissistic Mother’s 10 commandments 

A parody of Deuteronomy 20:1-17

I am your mother who brought you into this world & I can take you out of it.

  1. You must have no other relationships or activities that are more important than me.
  2. You must not love or pay attention to anything or anyone more than you do me. You must unconditionally love, forgive, and blindly obey me only for I am a jealous, wrathful taskmaster if you stray from keeping my commands.
  3. You shall never speak ill of me, even if it is the truth, to anyone. For I will hold you guilty if you do.
  4. Every day you must remember me and treat me as holy.
  5. You must unconditionally honor me and blindly obey me in order to minimize my wrath and prolong my days.
  6. You must not ever express any negative emotions in my presence and/or at me regardless of my words, behaviors, and actions I choose to do.
  7. You must never break free from your relationship with me, no matter what I do to you.
  8. You must never take anything away from me that I believe belongs to me.
  9. You must not provide any testimony that makes me look bad in my own eyes and the eyes of others.
  10. You must not desire your own life and freedom apart from me.

A Narcissistic Father’s 10 commandments 

A parody of Deuteronomy 20:1-17

I am your father who gave you life & I can take it away.

  1. You must have no other relationships or activities that are more important than me.
  2. You must not love or pay attention to anything or anyone more than you do me. You must unconditionally love, forgive, and blindly obey me only for I am a jealous, wrathful taskmaster if you stray from keeping my commands.
  3. You shall never speak ill of me, even if it is the truth, to anyone. For I will hold you guilty if you do.
  4. Every day you must remember me and treat me as holy.
  5. You must unconditionally honor me and blindly obey me in order to minimize my wrath and prolong my days.
  6. You must not ever express any negative emotions in my presence and/or at me regardless of my words, behaviors, and actions I choose to do.
  7. You must never break free from your relationship with me, no matter what I do to you.
  8. You must never take anything away from me that I believe belongs to me.
  9. You must not provide any testimony that makes me look bad in my own eyes and the eyes of others.
  10. You must not desire your own life and freedom apart from me.

We are Children of the Promise – Take Heart

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight [Keith and Kristyn Getty, Stuart Townend, By Faith]

Do you know about the Promise? If you don’t, you really need to. It is at the center of the gospel and of our salvation in Christ. Let’s start here:

Exodus 19:5-6 ESV  Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;  (6)  and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

You were probably taught in church that this was and is a promise for the Jews in some future day when Christ returns. But that explanation is far too small. God’s plan and purpose is bigger. MUCH bigger. Besides, we know that Israel, by sin, failed to be this kingdom of priests and this holy nation. But check this out:

Revelation 1:4-6 ESV  John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,  (5)  and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood  (6)  and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

See it? The “you shall be” spoken to the Israelites has become “has made us…a kingdom, priests to his God and Father.” Who? Us! The true church. All people from all nations who have been born again in Christ. It is a finished deal. (Christian,  you are a king and priest serving the King of kings and the Most High Priest – live like it!)

Now, what of the Promise? The Promise is the promise God made to Abraham –

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