The False Faith of Fear

Written by John Bunyan
Taken from the Works of John Bunyan, Volume 1, “The Desire of the Righteous Granted”,
Edited for thought and sense.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; 

whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?” 
–Psalm 27:1 (ESV)

The righteous are not without their fears…

…for all their life long. Through fear of death, they, some of them, are all their lifetime subject to bondage (Heb 2:15). But as the desires of the wicked shall be frustrate, so shall also the fears of the godly; hence you have them admonished, yea commanded, not to be afraid neither of devils, death, nor hell; for the fear of the righteous shall not come upon them to eternal damnation (Isa 35:4, 41:10-14, 43:1, 44:28; Luke 8:50, 12:32; Rev 1:17).

‘The desire of the righteous shall be granted.’

No, they are not to fear what sin can do unto them, nor what all their sins can do unto them; I do not say they should not be afraid of sinning, nor of those temporal judgments that sin shall bring upon them, for of such things they ought to be afraid, as saith the Psalmist, ‘My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments’ (Psa 119:120). But of eternal ruin, of that, they ought not to be afraid of with slavish fear.  ‘Wherefore should I fear,’ said the prophet, ‘in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?’ (Psalm 49:5). And again, ‘Ye have done all this wickedness, yet turn not aside from following the Lord; – for the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake’ (1 Sam 12:20-22).

The reason is, because the righteous are secured by their faith in Christ Jesus; also their fears stand upon a mistake of the nature of the covenant, in which they are wrapped up, which is ordered for them in all things, and sure (2 Sam 23:5; Isa 55:3). Besides, God has purposed to magnify the riches of his grace in their salvation; therefore goodness and mercy shall, to that end, follow them all the days of their life, that they may ‘dwell in the house of the Lord for ever’ (Psalm 23:6; Eph 1:3-7). They have also their intercessor and advocate ready with God, to take up matters for them in such a way as may maintain true peace betwixt their God and them; and as may encourage them to be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto them at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1Peter 1:13; 1 John 2:1,2).

Wherefore, though the godly have their fears, yes, sometimes dreadful fears, and even that of perishing for ever and ever; yet the day is coming, when their fears and tears shall be done away, and when their desires only shall be granted. ‘The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon them; but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.’


Meet the author and a part of your Christian Heritage: John Bunyan ( 1628 – 1688) was an English Christian writer and preacher. He is the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, arguably the most famous published Christian allegory. In addition to The Pilgrim’s Progress, Bunyan wrote nearly sixty titles, many of them expanded sermons.

Bunyan faced legal challenges to fulfilling his calling but did not make any concessions to the authorities. As a dissenter who was not ordained in the Church of England he was unlicensed to preach. He preferred to face and endure twelve years of imprisonment at great sacrifice to himself and his family, rather than resign himself to giving up preaching. Although he has been described both as a Baptist and as a Puritan, he himself preferred to be described simply as a Christian.