by Mike Ratliff
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:4-7 ESV)
We are told not to fear earthly things or other people no matter how evil or violent they are. However, we are told to fear God. Much of the fear Christians have, however, is not based in their fear of God, but in the fear of their own failures being exposed or their own spiritual deficiencies being exploited by the devil’s seed. Of course some of that fear comes from the spirit of fear that dominates some Christians.
When I wrote and posted Are people saved by making decisions for Christ? I had no fear or trepidation about it at all. However, the next day when the comments and emails started coming at me from every direction I began to experience a great deal of unease and a leaning towards outright fear. Why? I was not afraid of anyone or their comments. Where was this coming from? I believe that God uses our obedience to create points of contention to bear in our’s and other people’s lives. These points of contention are His truth that we either believe and obey or we disbelieve and disobey. Our enemy keeps people blind to these truths and, therefore, in bondage and in darkness. When we are obedient in telling the truth in the face of those who hate the truth and love the darkness, our enemy attacks us with things like fear. God creates these points of contention and everyone who reads what we write or hears what we preach or teach are brought to that point. How they respond to these truths is of eternal consequence. Many respond in anger and unbelief. Many respond in repentance and faith by obeying the truth. How should we respond when the fear grows and we see that our obedience will certainly bring conflict?
26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:26-33 ESV)
That is what I did. I simply told the truth from God’s Word. I found it amazing that those who would not accept that truth never even tried to challenge the exegesis from which that post came. All of the challenges were based in ad hominem or church tradition or outright false doctrine. While processing the comments and emails that morning I simply turned to God and asked for wisdom and discernment. I did not let fear find a place in my heart. I handled each comment and email one at a time with total peace. Of course I believe that God gave me that peace because it is part of the fruit of the spirit. When we are Spirit-led we are controlled by the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit is manifest in our hearts in abundance. When we are obedient this way fear is cast out. We can obey our Lord in anything and in any way He commands. We love not our lives even unto death. We have taken up our crosses and followed our Lord out of the city. As A.W. Tozer said, “You know one thing about a man carrying his cross out of the city. He isn’t coming back.”
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:24-27 ESV)
So what will it be? Are we going to believe God and obey Him or are we going to continue to live half-hearted, so-called Christian lives safe from the real battle in our country club churches that are nothing more than entertainment venues? Rick Frueh wrote a post the other day called Two Tragedies. In it he said something I will never forget. He said, “Why does the world ignore us and count our belief system as nothing but sounding brass and tinkling cymbal? Why don’t they believe what we believe? Because we do not believe it either. If we really believed it we would live differently and our demeanor would be much more passionate than the “blend in with the neighbor’s” life we now enjoy.” He is right, but God is calling each of us to repent of playing it safe with innocuous lives that never count for anything in the Kingdom of God. It’s time to get into the battle folks. You may not want to right now, but I promise you that a point of contention from God is headed your way soon and you had better be ready to respond with godly courage and resolve because if we do not confess our Lord before men, He will deny us before the Father in Heaven.
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