Worry Defined and Victory
What is it and How to get Victory
The term worry is so common in our culture both churched and unchurched that it is rarely defined; when it is, subjectivity rules. The term for most people expresses feelings than thoughts and desires. For those reasons this series: Worry Defined and Victory unpacks God’s view of worry and the worrier and God’s answer for the sin of worry.
I. Worry Defined:
A. Worry is a descriptive word that is translated in the dictionary as concern, fear, burden, care, and uneasiness. The words focus more on the subjective.
B. Biblically, it is a whole-person activity (inner and outer man) of focused thinking based on what a person wants or does not want to occur in his life. It is focused on self according to what he thinks is best.
C. It originates in the heart of man (Proverbs 4:23) which is reflected in neurochemical changes in the brain and physiological changes in other organs such as the skin, muscles, lung, heart, and gut.
D. It involves desires, thoughts, and conclusions reached by the person.
E. The person believes he knows what is best for him in contrast to God’s wisdom and will.
F. His inner-man/heart activity include such thoughts, desires, and even demands expressed as: I need it; I need more of more of I; if I don’t have it all is loss; I want it and if I do get and have it, then will it probably be gone.
G. He hopes to avoid something or to have something. He reflects on these desires and hopes constantly.
H. He lives the lie that what God has ordained is not best.
II. The worrier’s focus:
A. It is on a wrong identity. Rather than on who is in Christ, he focuses on what he wants and deems best.
B. his focus is on self and tomorrow rather than on pleasing God now.
C. Tomorrow is not necessarily a calendar day or a 24-hour day.
D. Rather, tomorrow is the realm of what may happen but the person desires not to happen or in the realm of what may not happen or is happening that the person desires.
E. God’s control and providence is not accepted at all or it is not accepted as a good God’s sovereign choice.
F. Biblically: worry defined and victory is a reality for every believer.
1. Tomorrow speaks of God’s prerogative and responsibility which is the person’s responsibility.
2. The worrier is the problem. He is living the lie. He is looking for something better as defined his way as opposed to God’s definition of better and good.
3. The believer is called to use God’s providence no matter what it is to become more like Christ.
4. This is to be a blessing and privilege not a burden (1 John 5:4).
5. The mindset focuses on the God who makes and keeps promises expressed by David: By this I will know that God is for me (Psalm 56:9).
5. The truth: I am in Christ, the Triune God is ever-present, and He is with me as well as for.
III. Simply, worry is concern that is gone wrong.
A. At the heart of worry is the worrier’s heart (Proverbs 4:23).
B. The worrier is goal-oriented:
1. Thoughts and desires: He wants “it” to happen and if “it” does, he focuses on how long will it continue?
2. The “it” is what he wants to happen or not to happen and is what he thinks is best.
C. The main subject of the worrier is control: his vs. God’s.
D. Thinking and wanting are involved and the two are interrelated and are linked.
1. Both result in and are controlled by feelings and vice versa.
2. Feelings are the result of thoughts and desires.
3. Feelings never just are.
4. They have an origin and the person responds.
5. The person lives the lie as if he is his feelings.
IV. How is worry concern gone wrong?
A. Today is the person’s present life including daily situations and people which are God’s providence.
B. It is the person’s responsibility to evaluate and respond to God’s providence today in a God-honoring manner.
D.Every person responds in and to the situation from the heart. He thinks and desires which results in actions or inactions.
E. The worrier and his worrying stems from an inner logic – what he thinks he knows about God, self, and life.
F. The person’s response is to God and flows from his relationship with God.
G. It is thinking focused on tomorrow but tomorrow is God’s responsibility.
H. Therefore, the worrier is engaged in an activity that is in competition with God.
V. The issue is the outcome for me – the person and worrier (what he wants or does not want) and his self-determinism (trying to get or prevent the outcome) .
A. The worrier is on the horns of a dilemma: his control as he trusts in self vs. God’s control as he trusts God: Proverbs 3:5-8.
B. Behind the control issue is the following thought, want, and action process:
1. A person may say to himself: “I want certainty, assurance, and things my way” and for any number of reasons.
2. He thinks God may or may not provide them for him.
C. Proverbs 3:5-8 contrasts the mindset of trusting self with trusting in God.
1. The contrast is expressed as: My efforts for my control for my end vs. trusting in God and His control for His glory.
2. Every person has a choice of what to believe and desire and then to act accordingly based on:
a. God knows, wills, and accomplishes what is good and best for Him and His people
b. Or I work out my solution my way for me.
D. In response to God and His providence, the person may:
1. Do the right thing because he thinks and wants the right thing.
2. Try to do the right thing but as a means of control: to get things my way.
3. Take control by trusting in self setting aside biblical truth. .
4. All along, the person’s focus is having things his way and is willing to use God to get it.
VI. Worry (thinking and wanting on self for self and by self) is sin especially against the first, second, and third commandment.
A. Worry is unbelief and idolatry.
1. O you of little faith – why do you doubt?: Matthew 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20.
2. Doubled-minded doubter: James 1:8; 4:8.
3. Trusting-in-self rather than God: Proverbs 3:5-8; John 14:1-3.
4. Focus is on you and pleasing self and not pleasing God.
5. You want what you want more than you want what God wants and deserves. You are devoted to what you want.
B. Worry originates in the heart of a person with little evidence of active and informed saving and enabling faith but a divided faith at the moment the believer engaged in worrying.
C. The worrier is a believer and presumed God-truster, but at the moment he is not functioning in that manner. Rather, he would rather compete with God.
D. James 1:5; 4:8: James describes the person who lacks wisdom, does not pray for it, doubts, and has an unpurified and a divided heart (trying to serve two masters: God and self): he is small or double souled. He is a “practical atheist” when he worries.
E. The worrier practices responding to God’s providence by worrying – sinful thinking focusing on me and my ants based on my wisdom. .
VII. Since worry is sin, repentance is in order. Once worry is defined, the way to victory begins with repentance.
A. Every time you worry:
1. Define what you are doing in terms of thoughts and desires and repent: the sin, the pattern of the sin, and the heart from which it flows.
2. Determine what worry is all about – what are you thinking and wanting and the reasons.
3. Repent of the sin, the pattern, and the excuses for the sin.
B. Keep a worry journal.
C. The temptation to worry is not sin. Record the times and events looking for patterns.
D. The situation is only the context/setting for the person to please self and worry and fret or honor God by trusting, loving, and getting busy doing for His glory.
E. Record the times and situations in which it is easy to worry.
VIII. The answer is to change your thinking and wanting: worry defined and victory comes with changed thinking and wanting.
A. Your focus and view of the situation (or potential one) is according to Romans 8:28-29 and 2 Corinthians 5:9.
B. Based on those two passages and the truth that God is the Creator and Controller in charge of His world AND is personal, purposeful, and good, you will begin to reinterpret your situation from God’s perspective.
C. The issue: trusting self vs. trusting God.
1. Ask yourself and answer: what is it about God that helps you trust and please Him rather than self. What is it about God that makes Him untrustworthy?
2. Ask yourself and answer: What is it about you that makes it easy to trust yourself? What are the results?
IX. How is it possible to be concerned in the proper manner/biblically?
A. Think biblically: worry defined and victory starts here.
1. You have the mind of Christ: 1 Corinthians 2:16 – you can think His thoughts – every time to a varying degree.
2. You are commanded to take captive every thought: 2 Corinthians 10:5.
3. God does not give commands that you can’t keep.
4. He has given you a new heart, union with Christ, the HS, and the Bible.
B. Desire biblically: worry defined and victory continues here.
1. Psalms 27:4; 37:4-5; 40:6-8
2. Desiring what God desires was a primary motivation of Christ on earth: John 4:31-34.
3. 2 Corinthians 5:9: every person’s ambition and aim is to fall in line with God’s purpose and design for his creatures.
X. Continue to ask yourself or others:
A. What have I accomplished by my way of handling life: see Proverbs 5:21-23; 13:15, and 26:11?
B. What is it about me and about God that makes it easy to trust me and not God?
XI. The key is biblically-controlled thinking and wanting: worry defined and victory hinge on these two truths.
A. Habituation is patterned thinking and wanting with resultant actions.
B. The actions may be God-pleasing or self pleasing (and God dishonoring).
C. Change is possible and has begun at regeneration and is to continue.
1. The believer is the most changed person (John 3:3-8).
2. He is a new creation and has been ushered into a new mode of existence: 2 Corinthians 5:17
3. Therefore he is to be the most changing person as privilege and blessing not simply as duty.
4. 1 Corinthians 10:13: God gives four promises which say that you can’t say I can’t and that motivate you to change from a worrier/self-truster to a God-truster.
a. Temptation is part of living as a sinner even as saved one in as sin-cursed. They are coming.
b. God is faithful (1:9; 10:13) – He is trustworthy: He has made promises and keeps them. Do you believe that fact and act on it?
c. He knows the heart of every person including the believer and He will not exceed the believer’s spiritual IQ – the believer’s ability to think and desire God’s way.
d. God provides Himself and His Word/truth so that the believer has victory in the problem (his escape) as he applies God’s truth. God may or may not remove him the situation.
XII. God’s antidote for worry: The Bible describes worry as sin: don’t worry, be anxious for nothing.
A. Matthew 6:24-34: worry is unnecessary, unproductive, unbecoming, and unbelief.
1. Christ in this portion of Scripture sets down the doctrine of two ways, an antithetical way of living in God’s world: for self or for God.
2. God provides.
3. God is trustworthy.
4. Worry is:
a. Unproductive: v.25
b. Unnecessary: v.26-27
c. Unbecoming: v.28-30
d. Unbelief – idolatry: v. 19-24
B. Philippians 4:6-9
1. v.6-7: pray rather than worry: worry is non-productive self-talk that dishonors God.
a. Prayer is communication with God that is a blessing, privilege, and duty.
b. It is to be specific and God-honoring expressing dependence and respect for God.
c. Prayer un-packages thinking and wanting so you can think God’s thoughts and desire His desires.
f. There is a promise associated with right praying – v.7: peace.
g. Develop a prayer list and use it when tempted to worry.
2. v.8: develop a think list to help you focus on the things of God.
a. Also develop a want list so that thoughts and desires are in proper relation with each other and with God.
b. Verse 8 lists eight categories to think about (change thinking) when you begin to worry – tempted to wrong thinking and wanting.
c. Prepare yourself by listing the times it is most easy to worry – what are your triggers?
d. Repackage your thinking both in heart and the brain (body) with God’s thoughts and desires. They are linked.
e. Right thinking and wanting enables you to use times of temptation for good: to become more like Christ.
3. v.9: action – the verse speaks of patterned action. You develop an action-pattern one thought, desire, and action and at a time.
a. Put on God-pleasing activity in lieu of self-pleasing motivated by a proper view of God, self, and others. Give concrete examples.
b. This activity is not simply duty but privilege and blessing,
c. Godly Prayer involves a change in thoughts and desires BUT does not preclude action. In fact, godly prayer life should lead to God-pleasing actions.
d. You must have a faith-in-action plan (passages that you call to mind: read, recite, mediate, and memorize; then verbalize to self and actualize (put into practice) motivated by the desire to please God because He is most worthy.
e. Not worrying as a pattern way of life is not the goal: it is pleasing God in thoughts, desires, and actions.
f. One simple answer for the worrier is to love God and neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). Loving requires thoughts, desires, and actions focused on pleasing God and others. Worry is just the opposite.
g. You are changing from a self-truster (write out all the ways that you trust self) and put on God-trusting thoughts and actions (write out the ways that you are trusting God).