New Year, Same Fear? The Fear of Death
Just because we have turned the page on another year does not mean that the fears that plagued us in 2021 have disappeared. So as we start this new year, we’ve begun by slowly tackling these fears head-on you can check them all out here & select the “Fear” tab.
The final fear we will look at is one that every person has wrestled with at one time in their life: the fear of dying. Let’s be honest, there are many questions about death that can cause fear. For example, when will I die? Will I have to suffer before death? What happens after I die? What will happen to my loved ones after I die? These are real questions that we must wrestle with. The best way to fight fear is by exposing our fears to the truth, and hopefully, that truth will grow into faith.
Truth is a powerful weapon against the fear of dying. In his letter to the church in Thessalonica, Paul encourages the believers as they consider death by saying, “we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope (4:13)”. To better be informed about death, let’s look at what the Bible teaches about death and dying.
“…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…” (Heb. 9:27)
From this verse, we first learn that death comes to everyone. Death was not God’s design. We were created to live in a perfect eternal relationship with God, but when sin entered the world, death came with it. Death, in this sense, is a gift of grace from God. Could you imagine living in an eternally sinful world with no justice? So death puts a limit on man’s sin.
Second, our death is appointed. God knows the number of our days, and we are helpless to gain more or fewer days. Since God is sovereign over our lives, worrying about when we will die is pointless because worry will not prolong our lives.
The last truth we learn about death is that we each will face judgment after we die. Though our bodies are mortal, our souls are eternal. God has “put eternity into man’s heart”(Ecc 3:11), meaning that we were designed with an eternal longing. We have an intrinsic understanding that there is something more to this life. And what awaits us after death is judgment. Each person created in the image of God will have to give an account for their sin and will be judged accordingly. There are only two possible eternal destinations for our souls, heaven or hell (Matthew 25:46). Heaven is the dwelling place of God, and those that go there will live in perfect fellowship with no more pain, tears, or sorrow (Rev. 21:4). Hell, on the other hand, is the place of eternal torment. Revelation describes hell as “a lake of fire” (21:8).
Instead of living in fear of death, it’s much better to use your life now to prepare for where you will spend eternity, which in terms of time is much longer than the few years you will live on earth. A wise friend of mine once said that “the purpose of life is to prepare for eternity.” Where you spend eternity is determined by how you respond to Jesus (John 14:6). You see, God’s plan to save you from your sin and reconcile to Himself was fulfilled in Jesus. The Bible tells us Jesus “…died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor 15:3–4)”.
Jesus came and lived the perfect life you couldn’t and died the death you deserved, and through His resurrection, he defeated the grave and death. According to John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Entrance into heaven is based upon faith in the person and the work of Jesus. If you have believed, then you have the promise of heaven and no reason to fear death. If you have not yet believed, you can place your faith in Jesus today (Romans 10:13).
For the believer that still struggles with the fear of dying, continue to fight fear with the truth of God’s word:
🔹 You don’t have to fear death because at the moment of death, you will be in the presence of Jesus (John 14:2, 2 Cor. 5:8).
🔹 Another way to overcome the fear of death is by thinking about heaven (Phil 3:20, 1 Cor. 2:9–10, Rev. 21).
🔹 As a believer, you don’t have to fear suffering in death because God promises to be with you and give you strength (Rom 8:18–19).
🔹 Overcome the fear of dying by living out your God-given purpose today. Paul’s disposition toward life and death in Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” As stated, dying has great gain (i.e., no more pain, in the presence of Jesus), but while alive, you can live like Christ, loving people and expanding the kingdom of God.
The temptation to fear death is real. However, the believer has the promises of God to stand firm on in the face of fear. This year choose to fight fear with the truth of God’s Word and allow those truths to produce faith. I leave you with the words of Jesus; may these words give you strength and peace:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33