Recommended Reading: Triumphing Over Sinful Fear

It’s no secret that I enjoy reading and learning from the Puritans, and John Flavel’s book on fear is one of the best. I first read this book in 2020 as the world was collapsing in fear of a virus. Flavel’s little book helped me put my own fears into a Biblical context and allowed me to shepherd others who were struggling with the same fears. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Why is it so good?

  1. Flavel distinguishes between holy and sinful fears. Not all fear is sin.
  2. Though many Puritans taught in university settings like Oxford, Flavel was more like a country parson. He speaks plainly and directly.
  3. Because Flavel pastored during a time of tremendous political and religious upheaval, so he’s able to speak about fear from experience.

A few favorite quotes:

The fear of God will swallow up the fear of man. A reverential awe and dread of God will extinguish the creature’s slavish fear, as the rain puts out the fire.

Sinful fear arises from unbelief—an unworthy distrust of God. This occurs when we fail to rely upon the security of God’s promise; in other words, when we refuse to trust in God’s protection.

To trust in any creature as if it had God’s power to help us, or to fear any creature as if it had God’s power to hurt us, is exceedingly sinful.

Our immoderate love of life and its comforts and conveniences is another cause of sinful fear in times of danger. If we loved our lives less, we would fear and tremble less.


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