Afraid of Death or Dying? Bible Study on Fear of Death
Conquer the fear of death and dying with God’s help
Doug Britton, MFT
Do you fear death or dying?
Many people, including Christians, are afraid of death or afraid of dying. In fact many people are consumed by the fear of death and dying. Or they are afraid of suffering as they die. If this describes you, you aren’t alone. Even David, a man who wrote much of the Bible, sometimes was afraid of dying:
My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me. (Psalm 55:4)
Do you worry about end-of-life issues?
Many people have end-of-life fears. For example, some people fear that they will be a burden to others in their last years, or that their spouse or children who are left behind will suffer.
If you worry about or fear death or dying, or if you have other end-of-life fears, take some time to read and meditate on the passages in this Bible study. Pray as you read. Ask God to remove your death fears and help you see things through his eyes. God does not want you to be afraid of death (also known as thanatophobia) or afraid of dying.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)
Turn to God to overcome your fear of death or dying
Jesus came to reconcile us with God, free us from the fear of death and dying, and to give us the assurance of eternal life with him.
How can we be reconciled with God? Jesus said, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). He also said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The apostle Paul helped us understand how to be reconciled with God when he wrote the following:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
God created you, and he loves you more than you can imagine.
If you have not yet done so, I invite you to surrender your life to Christ by saying the following as a prayer:
Dear Lord, I confess that I am a sinner. Please forgive my sins and accept me as your child. I invite you to be my Savior and the Lord of my life. I surrender myself to you in the name of Jesus Christ.
If you prayed with sincerity, Christ accepted you into his Kingdom. You are now a Christian — a follower of Jesus. Welcome to the family of God!
Jesus came to set us free from the fear of death and dying
When you are with Jesus, you do not need to be afraid of death or afraid of dying. There is no more need to fear the end of your life.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14-15)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants. (Psalm 116:15)
Overcome the fear of death or dying by thinking about heaven
It’s normal to be afraid of death or dying. One way to overcome being afraid of death or being afraid of dying is to think about spending eternity with Jesus. God has an amazing plan.
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling. (2 Corinthians 5:1-2)
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (2 Corinthians 5:4)
We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)
Don’t be afraid of death or dying — heaven will be amazing
Death is not the end of life. Your spiritual body is eternal, and heaven will be unbelievably wonderful.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)
However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” – the things God has prepared for those who love him – these are things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)
Don’t be afraid of death or dying — you will be with Jesus
If you have been reconciled with God, you are part of his family. You will be with Jesus forever.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:1-3)
For if we have been united with him in a death like this, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like this. (Romans 6:5)
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)
Don’t be afraid of death or dying — there will be no sorrow or tears in heaven
…he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8)
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ (Revelation 7:17)
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
Related: Defeating anxiety, fear and worry
Don’t fear suffering before you die
God will be with you and strengthen you no matter what you go through. He will comfort you and help you overcome the fear of death and the fear of dying.
Be inspired by the confidence of Paul, Peter, and John. Here’s how they looked at suffering (or dying) for their faith:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. (Romans 8:18-19)
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (1 Peter 1:3-6)
They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)
God sometimes takes the righteous away to spare them from evil.
The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death. (Isaiah 57:1-2)
Don’t fear you will be a burden to others
People sometimes fear dying because they think they will be a burden to others. That’s a normal end-of-life fear. But the Bible says we are all connected to one another (Romans 12:4-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). God expects us to care for one another. Although it sometimes can be a burden, caring for others can also be a blessing, for we give of ourselves that we become more like Christ.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Don’t fear for those you will leave behind
If you die before your spouse, children, parents or other significant people in your life, they likely will miss you. If you die when they are living with you, they probably will miss your love, support, and care. Yet God loves them much more than you do.
Write a will and provide as best you can for the future, then put yourself and your family in God’s hands. Don’t be afraid of death or dying for their sake. If you die first, God will still be with them. Remember, he loves them much more than you do.
But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. (Psalm 10:14)
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. (Psalm 68:5)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:6-8)
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Overcome the fear of death or dying — you have a purpose
Let the verses in this study help you overcome being afraid of death or afraid of dying. But don’t stop there. God wants you to make a difference while you are here on earth. He wants you to touch the world for Christ. Meditate on the verses on this page, overcome your fear of death, then make a difference for Christ!
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith. (Philippians 1:21-25)
If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:8)
Related: You have a purpose
Overcome the fear of death or dying — remember God’s love
Knowing and remembering that God loves you is one of the most powerful ways to overcome the fear of death, dying, or other end-of-life issues.
Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever. (Psalm 136:26)
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Next: God’s love for you
About Doug Britton, MFT
Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)
Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.