Show No Fear – That Will Be A Witness That Any Who Oppose You Will Be Destroyed
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
Live the Life
Paul exhorts us to live a life worthy of the gospel that we have received. In the world today, it is so much easier to just “go with the flow”. We must be vigilant, and guard our hearts against the pull of the world, our flesh, and the devil. Everything that we do is being witnessed by men, angels, and God.
And although only God can see our thoughts, Satan has been around for who knows how many millennia, and he and his cohorts in crime are pretty good at guessing what we are thinking. Impossible, you say? How is it then that con artists are able to “read” a person – properly evaluate how a person is reacting to something – and then feed them information that will speak to their inner desires, resonate with them, and then get them to do things that no one in their right mind would ever voluntarily do? They are able to see the “tells” that we all have. We have imperceptible changes in breathing, heart rate, pupil dilation, fidgeting, and other subconscious involuntary reactions to our environment. They are able to “read” them – notice them and then watch for them – as they probe us with their carefully crafted words.
Satan can do the same thing. He and the demons have been studying humans since the creation of Adam and Eve. They know more about you than you know about yourself. They cannot read your thoughts, but because we are spiritual creatures, they are able to interact with us on a spiritual level, and “whisper in our ear” the lies that they want us to believe and internalize. Not every thought in your mind started with you. Satan can bring back to memory the deepest and most emotionally powerful memories that you have, usually of your failures (to shame you) or your successes (to lead you to pride). That is one of the reasons that Paul told us that we should, “…take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
When we do that, we are able to put everything in its proper place, and remember our training (“If you love me, you will obey my commands…”, “…offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God…”). A good offense needs a good defense as well. Otherwise, the enemy will easily break through your line of defense, and cause you unspeakable pain while interrupting your carefully planned strategy for success.
Paul also exhorts us to stand strong in the one Spirit. In Ephesians 6:14, we are told to “stand firm“. The Greek word for this is stEte. It is an imperative command – we should do it! – and it has the word-picture of a Roman soldier who has dug his shield and both his feet firmly into the ground, bracing himself for the impact of a rushing hoard of enemies. Paul tells us here we are to stand firm as well – stEkete, or “YE ARE STANDING firm”. We are to lock shields with our brothers and sisters in Christ, hold the line, and in all of this, be unified in purpose and thought.
Paul tells us to strive together as one for the faith of the Gospel. We are to all be engaged in the last great commission of our Lord and Savior:
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Face your Fear
Ah, the dreaded subject that is on our minds. What will we do when we are opposed? Internally, we are all frightened. We are human, and God has instilled within us a very good mechanism that biologically activates a number of chemicals that inform us of what we should do when we are in perceived or real danger. We experience fear. It is a self-preservation mechanism that, if we didn’t have it, would cause many more of us to die unnecessarily.
If we had no fear in and of ourselves, we would do crazy things, like jump out of airplanes thousands of feet above the ground, jump off thousand food cliffs into coves of water, and… Oh, I guess there ARE people who do these things! We can overcome our fear of dying, pain, public embarrassment (that’s a hard one), public humiliation, and many other things that cause us fear.
But we don’t overcome them the way the way the world overcomes them. We rely on and trust in the Lord God Almighty, who in our time of distress, gives us a peace that is beyond understanding and guards our hearts in Christ Jesus against anything that our enemies can bring against us.
When we react in this way, we are bringing two separate witnesses to bear:
- We are being saved (removes any doubt in the minds of those who oppose us)
- Our opposition will (eventually) be destroyed by a holy, righteous, and faithful God who doesn’t take it lightly when someone messes with their child (unless they repent). Ask any parent what they would do if someone was trying to bring harm to their child. Multiply that times infinity (God’s love and wrath are eternal), and you have God’s final reaction to any who refuse to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord in the flesh and opposes His children.
Selected for Suffering
Jesus Christ endured great hardship and suffering while He walked the Earth and died on the cross for our sins. Since the student is not greater than the teacher, we should expect similar hardship and suffering while we engage in His work here on Earth. Endure all hardship as discipline. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Look to the life of Paul, and consider your suffering in light of His good example. Remember what God said to Ananias concerning Saul, who was breathing threats against the brothers:
“I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: When faced with fear, how do I respond?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You have shown me that I am to show no fear in how I conduct myself. You expect this of me, because You will provide for my every need at the time I need it. You have said through Your servant John, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Help me to endure and allow perseverance to complete its work so that I may be mature in love. Help me, as I overcome the enemy of my soul, that I would grow and mature in my walk with You. Grant me the strength to walk, and the desire to live in holiness and righteousness before You and man. Help me in my time of need when fear threatens to overtake me so that I would be bold, even unto death. For even in death, You have promised me that You would never leave me nor forsake me. This I ask in the precious name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.