September 28, 2016
What Are We So Afraid Of?
Yet, if we call ourselves Christians, we know that we are made in the image of God, and there is no part of Him that includes fear. In fact, His Word very plainly tells us "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control] (2 Timothy 1:7). So what do Christians have to fear? Just what do we think that spirit of power refers to? It is the power of Christ in us, right?!?
So, if we have Christi's spirit in us when we come to faith in Him, and that spirit includes His power, His love, His sound judgment, and His obedience to our Father -- then why do we still see so much evil in the world? Why aren't Christians using that power -- which is above all other power -- to defeat the wickedness that threatens our families, our communities, and our churches? I mean, the Bible makes it pretty darn clear. Ephesians 1:21 says Jesus is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else--not only in this world but also in the world to come. So why do we act as if we don't have access to that power? Why do we stop short of confronting wickedness and evil; why do we let them have their way? Is it because we don't really believe what God is telling us? Because we don't really trust His promises?
I want you to consider this. The Bible tells us that immediately after His baptism, Jesus was taken to the wilderness, where He was put to the test for 40 relentless days, opposing the evil that the devil brought against Him. It is my opinion that during those 40 days, Jesus, the man, was being trained to stand in opposition to evil; He was strengthening Himself for all the trials to come. And I believe that the Holy Spirit wants us to do the same! I think we are called to stand up for God, and to speak up for Jesus. But the thought of standing up to evil scares too many Christians. And I understand the reticence.. we don't want to step into territory that we haven't been instructed to; nor do we want to falsely accuse. But we also must be careful not to accommodate wickedness, when we know it exists. There is no diplomatic way to manage evil. And if there is a question if wickedness exists, shouldn't we get the answer? To do otherwise, leaves the door open for evil to strengthen and grow. And I have deliberately not named any specific evil, because I do not want to place a limitation on which evil or wickedness we confront. God hates all wickedness, and so should we!
Let's go back to that time that Jesus spent in the wilderness. He was driven there to be tempted by the devil, which really means to confront evil. Matthew 10:25 tells us, It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher. Jesus was called to obedience to confront evil. Our calling is no less. And that means confronting the evil in ourselves, in our homes, in our friendships, in our businesses, in our communities, in our churches, and in our world. But have we done that -- or have we merely accommodated it, out of concern (fear) that it might somehow harm our relationships or bonds with those we are in relationship with in the world?
I absolutely understand the desire to make sure that what we see as evil is identified in truth; that it is truly displeasing to the Lord. But, if we are honest with ourselves, do we trust the Holy Spirit to reveal that -- or do we seek validation from men? Are we worried about answering to a higher authority? But isn't Jesus our ultimate Authority?
It greatly concerns me that Christians are unwilling to expose or confront evil. I know it is hard when it exists in yourself, or your family, and especially when it is in our churches. But we cannot become so comfortable in our accommodation that we leave evil alone, and allow the devil to keep his territory. It should make us mad!
If we call ourselves Bible-believing Christians, then how are we ever going to confront that demonic evil coming out of the pit of hell, if we can't stand up to the evil practices of people around us? Shouldn't we be strengthening ourselves in the power of Jesus for those evil days? Are we Christians ever going to train ourselves to confront the evil that exists in this world?
What is our silence costing us? For one thing, it is costing saved lives! That loved one, or that admired leader will not escape the judgment of God if they are allowed to continue in their sin and evil ways -- no matter how much they pretend at righteousness. And I know we don't go into any battle on our own. In fact, the battle against evil is the Lord's battle and He will go before us every time. He could smite the evildoers at any moment without our help; but He wants to work with us, within our realm, to glorify Himself and reveal His power within us. He just wants someone to step out in obedience and to be in agreement with Him!
In the end, each person must search his or her spirit and soul to determine the way in which they will walk. And we must ask ourselves if our decision is based on obedience to God, or on fear. It can be a lonely decision, and I do not doubt that earnest Christians are truly seeking to serve the Lord. But I wish to remind all of us that the only fear that should ever concern a Christian is the fear of the Lord; a reverence for His power and glory; a proper respect for His anger and wrath, and hatred of evil. Seek Him and acknowledge His authority over you and the way in which you should go. The fear of the Lord is opposite of the fear that comes from the world; in Him we have security and a place of safety. Nothing and no one can harm us. Exposing evil is nothing to fear. Ephesians 5:11-12 tells us, Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret.
I pray that we Christians can come together in a spirit of boldness and confidence, knowing that our God is waiting for us to work with Him, and in the same spirit that the early disciples confronted evil. We don't need to allow evil to go on, protected and safe from denunciation. We need to recognize it for what it is and expose it. We need to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
Psalm 94:16 "Who will stand up for me against the evildoers?
Who will take a stand for me against those who do wickedness?"