Christian courage vs. cowardice

By COGwriter

Do you consider yourself courageous? Do you live courageously?

If not then you are not likely to be a real Christian!

Do you really understand what courage and cowardice are from God's perspective?

Can you overcome cowardice? What about the fear of God?

This article addresses all of those. And to do so, it starts off with information from an old Good News magazine article by the late evangelist Dibar Apartian (Apartian D. It Takes Courage to Be a True Christian! Good News, January 1981). It also has more scriptures and more information to assist you to live courageously as God would want you do. Plus a section I added on cowardice. Two sermons related to this article are available and are titled Courage and Cowardice and Cowardice and Overcoming Fear.

A Spanish language article is also available: Valor Cristiano vs Cobardía.

Courage

Are you courageous? The chances are that you will answer: "Not always. At least, not as courageous as I want to be."

But do you know what courage really is? Has it ever occurred to you that to be deeply and thoroughly converted you have to be deeply and thoroughly courageous?

Indeed, not only does it take courage to become converted, but it takes even more to remain converted.

Amidst moral corruption and confusion — in a world of rebellion and misery — some people think that to rebel is to show courage. Actually, the contrary is true. The Bible teaches:

23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord (1 Samuel 15:23, NKJV throughout unless otherwise specified)

Because of Satan's influence, it's much easier to rebel than to obey God's word — easier to follow society, with its customs and traditions, than to stand firm for what is right in God's sight. In plain language, it takes courage to be truly Christian.

Courage is the opposite of fear — it is acting against fear.

But how can you stop being fearful? How can you get rid of your fears, unless you replace them with something positive, worthwhile and more powerful? A courageous person does what God wants him to do — regardless of the consequences.

In our families, we need more courage. And as a Church, we need more courage! The source of power God has chosen "the foolish" and "the weak" things of the world to confound those who are mighty in their own eyes:

27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; (1 Corinthians 1:27).

But God has not called the cowards of the world to confuse and confound the mighty!

Notice the following from the Old Testament:

1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 2 And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 3 So the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered together for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4 Then a herald cried aloud: "To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; 6 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace."

7 So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

8 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews. 9 They spoke and said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image; 11 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up."

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?"

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore, because the king's command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, "Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?"

They answered and said to the king, "True, O king."

25 "Look!" he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here." Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire. 27 And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king's counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.

28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! 29 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this."

30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 3:1-30)

Of course, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego did not want to get burnt up. Being burnt alive is not comfortable, but they believed God more than the feared King Nebuchadnezzar. Interestingly, those who threw them into the fire apparently feared Nebuchadnezzar more than God, and they were burnt up. Many falsely believe that they are better off doing wrong. They give themselves excuses, but that is cowardly.

Now, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were not belligerent. They were meek and humble.

People often mistake meekness for weakness. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were not weak, they were courageous.

Consider:

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (1 Peter 5:6-9)

Roaring lions are frightful. But we are to resist Satan's pulls to be cowards. We are to resist Satan:

7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:7-9)

On your own you can't do much, if anything. You have no real power or wisdom. But with God's help and the power of His Spirit, you can do all things:

13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Years ago, a man wrote a minister in the old Worldwide Church of God and expressed some of his fears as the following report shows:

"I have been a member of God's Church for nine years now, and in that time more problems have come my way than I thought possible. The last 2 years have been especially rough. If anything could go wrong, it has.

"After graduating from engineering school... I was just learning God's truth and that God had a college — a college where we could learn more about His ways and truth. This was more important than graduate school.

"The most important day of my life was the day I was baptized. The second was when I was accepted to attend Ambassador College. The college called me, saying I was to be in the first class starting that fall, and that I would be an asset to the work and could help in other church programs.

"The next day, after the phone call. I rejected this opportunity be cause of fear." Several years later, this young man came to Pasadena and talked to a college administrator about reapplying to Ambassador College.

"Again, I was fearful and talked to [a minister] about this fear. He asked me to stay and attend college, the local minister asked me to stay and another of God's ministers asked me to stay. But I came home. Then everything unraveled.

"The day before Trumpets, I called God's local minister and wanted to give up. He said to let God run my life His way and stop running it my way.

"A few days after repenting, the same brethren asked me to come back to Pasadena and to try again for Ambassador College.

"But I am still fearful." (as reported in Faulkner DH. Just one more thing: The fruits of fear. Worldwide News, November 4, 1985).

That man lacked faith and love, as "perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). Many, even those who actually attended graduated from places like Ambassador College, simply feared the world and many things too much to have the courage to live as a Christians when many of their peers accepted apostasy.

Sadly, some people, even in God's Church, are fooled by emotions that Satan influences. Some trust that their fears or wishes are faith. Many lack faith because think they have it when they do not.  But the real tragedy occurs when these people meet trials that demand real faith, and instead of real faith they find only a poor substitute. The substitute quickly crumbles under pressure and they are left with nothing. Such a person who finds his false faith crumbling beneath him quickly learns about his lack of faith the hard way — by experience.

The power to overcome is from God. It is God's Holy Spirit that enables us to serve God, and by its power we can overcome fear and weakness. One must having a believing faith and act on it. That takes courage.

To be among the "foolish" and "weak" of the world is no excuse for you to live in fear:

7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

The word translated as 'fear' above means "timidity, cowardice." Notice two other translations:

7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and self-control. (1 Timothy 1:7, Berean Study Bible)

7 For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power, and of love, and of self-control. (1 Timothy 1:7, Berean Literal Bible)

Think!

If you are truly converted, the Spirit of God should bear fruit in you. The Spirit must express, through you, love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

The Bible calls these virtues "the fruit of the Spirit."

But do you realize that courage is at the root of each of them?

It takes courage to love someone who hates you. It takes courage to express joy in times of sorrow, and to have peace of mind amidst turmoil. It takes courage to be patient or to show kindness, goodness or faithfulness, and to practice self-control. If you feel that your spiritual growth has been slow, you are probably not showing as much courage as you should in your daily Christian life.

A true Christian is a type of soldier – a good soldier (see also Christian Soldiers).

1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. 7 Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things. (2 Timothy 2:1-7)

But have you ever seen a good soldier who lacks courage? No, you have heard of deserters and traitors who lacked courage, but not any good soldier.

You showed a certain amount of courage when you first answered God's calling, but that was only the starting point.

You were called to change your habits, your ways of thinking and living. That takes courage. You were called to turn away from sin. That takes much courage.

No faith without courage

Christ came with a message of courage and faith.

It takes courage to stand for the truth, knowing that you may be ridiculed for it. It takes courage to tithe when you are poor. It takes courage to fast when you are hungry. It takes courage to get up each day and try to live as a Christian if you are in pain or have to deal with health issues. It takes courage to not be violent in a violent society.

He said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15 KJV).

When God called you to repentance He asked you, through His Word, to first sit down and count the cost, just like the builder of a tower, to see if you had "sufficient to finish it" (Luke 14:28).

Notice — He didn't say if you had enough to start the job, but to finish it.

All along the path, you were told, you would have to face trials and problems.

Both repenting of your sins and believing in the Gospel require courage.

Any change in life – especially conversion — requires courage.

That's why you need the power of God's Holy Spirit to live like a Christian. If you are convinced, and you should be, that Christ is coming soon to change this world and to rule over all nations, then you must be enthusiastic — filled with zeal – despite your difficulties! Ironically, many of this world's people who call themselves Christians don't believe in Christ's return. No wonder they lack courage. This is part of why many support the ecumenical movement--they do not believe that the Kingdom of God is what people need, but cooperation of humans. But you should not follow their example.

You should be like Christ, who with courage faced persecutions and condemnations, while being totally innocent of any sin.

Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was also a man of courage. Facing death, he didn't hesitate to proclaim God's message and tell the people of their sins. He said, under God's inspiration:

"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it" (Acts 7:51-53, Revised Standard Version).

Would you have this type of courage to face your persecutors, to look in their eyes and proclaim the truth even though it may cost your life?

Stephen did. He died for the truth — for the Gospel — for Christ's message.

To believe in the Kingdom of God in a world that rejects God requires faith.

But faith without courage is not faith. We need to take the steps God wants us to. Consider Abraham:

16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, "I have made you a father of many nations") in the presence of Him whom he believed — God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, "So shall your descendants be." 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."

23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. (Romans 4:16-25)

Just like Abraham, you must be fully convinced that God is able to do what He has promised, and you must act accordingly. Then your faith will be reckoned to you as righteousness.

What do you do when you have a serious problem?

Do you just complain?

Or do you simply pray about it and wait for the answer? Prayer alone is not always enough.

You must do your part.

As the saying goes, after praying for a good harvest, you work on the crops and keep on hoping. Trusting God is waiting actively, not passively. And that takes courage!

Obedience to God sets you apart from the world; it protects you. It makes your life happier and more abundant. It makes you courageous and brings you closer to Him.

God loves courageous people!

He has promised to never forsake you:

5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." 6 So we may boldly say:

"The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5-6)

The courageous believe God and do not give up!

12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13)

The faithful have confidence in God.

You might feel that you have sinned too much for God to support you, but His mercy endures forever. Consider also the 118th Psalm:

1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

2 Let Israel now say,
"His mercy endures forever."
3 Let the house of Aaron now say,
"His mercy endures forever."
4 Let those who fear the Lord now say,
"His mercy endures forever."

5 I called on the Lord in distress;
The Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
6 The Lord is on my side;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

Now related to verse 6 above, I remember coming across that a few days because I thought I would be put in jail for observing the Day of Atonement. I was in the military at the time and although I had tried to avoid a particular scheduling conflict, it happened. I was told that according to the legal office and the chaplain's office at that military installation, I had no legal ground to stand on. At that moment, I silently prayed.

Notice Jesus' words:

11 "Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. 12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." (Luke 12:11-12)

Anyway, I had been brought up before an authority. This was not yet a court. Anyway, in response to my prayer, it occurred to me to say something.

Which was?

"I would die for my country, but wouldn't kill for it."

This authority figure did not want me to go to jail (I had received an award of being the top first-term enlisted person on military installation a couple of months before this, so I was not considered to be a trouble-maker), so when I said that, his tone changed and he realized that there was a 'loophole,' if you will, to get me out of the guard duty they had scheduled me for. I had never had guard duty before as I mainly did office work in the military (the military had decided to enact a new program after I had been in for 3 1/2 years to ensure office personnel could back up those who used guns in their jobs). And the US military could not have someone on guard with a rifle who stated he would not be willing to shoot someone to defend what was guarded (despite the fact that there was never an instance where any guard at this military installation had ever needed to shoot at anyone. So, I kept the Day of Atonement as I should have. Since my enlistment was going to be up in about six months, no one prosecuted me, and I left the military when my enlistment ended.

Yes, I would have gone to jail, but did not have to. And no, I had no idea what would have happened until it did.

My wife also ended up later with a Holy Day issue related to a job she had. We met with the employer, but the employer concluded that legally they did--so she lost her job. Sometimes we have to have the courage to do that.

Have courage and believe God above men.

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!"

29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him." (Acts 5:27-32)

Anyway, getting back to the 118th Psalm, it continues with:

7 The Lord is for me among those who help me;
Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.
8 It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in man.
9 It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in princes.

10 All nations surrounded me,
But in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
11 They surrounded me,
Yes, they surrounded me;
But in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
12 They surrounded me like bees;
They were quenched like a fire of thorns;
For in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
13 You pushed me violently, that I might fall,
But the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.(Psalm 118:7-14)

Salvation--eternal life--comes for God! Humans can neither grant it nor take it away!

Have confidence in God. And God will keep His promises:

5 ... He will do no unrighteousness. (Zephaniah 3:5)

3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; (Philippians 1:3-6)

God will not give up on you. Therefore, you should be courageous.

People of courage

When God told Joshua to begin the battle to enter the promised land, He commanded, "Be strong and of a good courage" (Joshua 1:6). Of course, God apparently said that to reassure Joshua and motivate him to go forward. Much in the Bible is there to do the same for us (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:11).

The apostles were also men of courage, particularly after they received God's Holy Spirit. It wasn't easy for them to preach the Gospel amid continuous threats and persecutions. They had to choose between obeying God and obeying man — between entering the large gate and the narrow one. They were told by the authorities, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us" (Acts 5:28, RSV).

The answer Peter and the other apostles gave was one of faith and courage: "We ought to obey God rather than men" (verse 29).

Do you realize that someday you may have to give the same answer to those who persecute you?

Hebrews 11 is generally known as the faith chapter. And talk about faith it does. All of the people mentioned therein lived by faith, at least part of their liee, but that required much courage. They didn't simply pray for God's help; they acted and fought as true Christians should.

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. (Hebrews 11:1-2)

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command.

24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again.

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented — 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:23-40)

Moses and others had the courage to live their faith.

How about King David? What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of him? His sins, perhaps? Or the psalms he wrote? The wives he had? Do you ever think of him as a man of courage?

Look at the attitude he had when the other Israelites were frightened in the presence of Goliath the giant. David said to King Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine" (1 Samuel 17:32).

Where did David get his assurance? He was but a young man. He did not have Goliath's strength or armature. But he had courage.

He told the king, "Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him" (verses 34-35).

And David added, "Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God" (verse 36).

Think of it! David, with no other weapon than a sling, was able to face the giant, who was heavily armed with a sword, a spear and a shield'. Where did he get his strength? From God. He likewise got his courage from God.

He told the Philistine: "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand" (verses 45-46).

There is a Goliath in everyone's life!

Yours could be in the form of sickness or poverty or various other trials and sufferings.

It doesn't really matter.

The fighting is always of God, provided your courage and attitude are similar to David's.

When your eyes and your mind are set on God — when you put your trust in Him — you can have all the courage you need, whatever your problems. He will do your fighting for you.

As in the days of Noah

Noah was a man of integrity, righteous before God. He lived in a world of corruption and sin, just as we do today. And he undoubtedly was a man of courage. Do you think it was easy for him to stand up against the crowd and do what God told him to do? It took him many years to build the ark, while the people around mocked him. They didn't cease to ridicule him. They thought it was utterly foolish to expect a flood when there wasn't even a sign of one in sight. It took courage for Noah to accomplish his job and to patiently wait for the fulfillment of God's promise.

Have you ever wondered why Christ compared Noah's time to ours, stating that the present world would have a similar fate?

He told His disciples:

36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:36-39)

We are living today in a world just as corrupted as Noah's was.

People deny God, break His laws, defy His authority, eat what they ought not and contract marriages that are unlawful before Him. God tested Noah's patience, just as He's testing ours today. How tragic that, during this testing period, some of God's people are losing courage and deserting the ship! You had better realize that NOW is the time God is testing your faith, patience and courage — as a member of God's Church you are being judged now (1 Peter 4: 17).

In the days of Noah, he apparently was the only righteous human being on earth (I say apparently as it is possible that one or more of his family members were as well). The Bible says:

5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the Lord said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

9 This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:5-10)

Likewise, today, the Church must be spotless, pure and righteous before God. We, too, are to walk with God (Psalm 119:1-3; Colossians 2:6).

Noah persevered to the end. He did not weaken. We, too, must persevere to the end and not weaken. Whatever the danger, whatever the persecution, we must serve God, being fully convinced that He will always deliver us.

However, just like the three Hebrews thrown in the fiery furnace (Dan. 3:17-18), we must also prove that we will not serve other gods or worship "the golden image" – even if God chooses not to deliver us. That shows real courage!

The Widow's mites

Consider the following:

1 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, "Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had." (Luke 21:1-4)

The rich fulfilled his duty. But the widow had courage to demonstrate her faith. Some will not give when they should, because they are more concerned about themselves. Many will not give up jobs over the Sabbath or the Holy Days.

The courageous believe Jesus when He said:

31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:31-34)

The cowardly will not do that.

The cowardly will not tithe, keep the Sabbath, keep the Holy Days, and/or abstain from pagan practices if they fear loss of jobs, money, friends, etc. When they have pressures or lusts, they refuse to live as a Christian (to learn more about how a Christian should live, check out the article Living as a Christian: How and Why?).

Paul's courage and biblical warnings

The apostle Paul's life was one of courage, faith and perseverance.

It took tremendous courage for him to turn away from what he had previously believed was right. The change, in his case, was very difficult.

When God struck him on the road to Damascus, the first question Paul asked was, "What wilt thou have me to do? (Acts 9:6).

This eagerness to know and follow God's will led Paul to conversion. Paul was not afraid to change. He didn't worry what his friends would say about him if he turned from his former religion and began to worship the true God.

Some will say, "Well, so what? God performed a miracle, what else would Paul do?" Yet, the reality is that there are many miracles recorded in the Bible and most people DID NOT change their lives or direction because of them.

People reason around them. People reason around living courageously as they are concerned about family and what others would think. Jesus warned against that:

34 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; 36 and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34-39)

That first verse should show all that the ecumenical (see Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox? and Beware: Protestants Going Towards Ecumenical Destruction!) and interfaith (see Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction?) agendas are NOT what Jesus encouraged. Jesus addressed having the courage to follow Him, despite family and other obstacles. Many are afraid to be 'different' because of family and friends. Of course, this does not mean that we are to pick fights with relatives, only that we are not to use pressure from relatives to make us afraid to do what is right.

Notice that Jesus also said:

21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. (John 14:21)

Moreover getting back to Paul, when God showed him the right way, Paul never departed from it. He labored more than the other disciples, working harder and suffering more than any of them. His writings make up a large part of the New Testament.

Do you know what Paul's writings reflect most?

Faith?

Yes, undoubtedly.

Love?

That's for sure.

Obedience? Of course.

But above all things, courage!

Paul tells you to always rejoice, and be grateful whatever the circumstances:

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-20)

That takes courage.

Paul ran the race of life and won:

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

So must you also win and face what is ahead.

But remember: It takes courage to win!

What was Paul's secret?

He reveals it throughout his epistles.

The Bible never states that a true Christian will live without problems or difficulties.

On the contrary, it warns us that we will be tested and proved.

But just like the apostle Paul, we must withstand affliction in every way without being crushed:

8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)

Is this the case as far as you are concerned?

Can you say, like Paul, that you are "perplexed, but not in despair"?

Do you feel forsaken when facing persecution? Or can you say, like him, that you are "struck down, but not destroyed" (verse 9)?

If so, nothing can shake you. But it takes courage to have this attitude — and to be totally converted!

Paul further wrote: "We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything" (2 Corinthians 6:8-10, RSV).

If you are a true Christian, this is the way you must think and live. Nothing should separate you from God — no difficulty, no trouble, no persecution, not anything or anyone. God loves you and will always protect you. He will watch over you. He will lead you to victory, if you will only yield to Him and trust Him — courageously.

We need to have our confidence in God, and not humans:

8 It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in man.
9 It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in princes. (Psalm 118:8-9)

We need to trust God above ourselves:

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
8 It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.

9 Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
10 So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.

11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor detest His correction;
12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:5-12)

Trust God, and accept His correction.

Notice something Jesus taught and promised:

29 "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

32 "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:29-34)

Jesus said that His people were not to be fearful! They were to look to Him.

Notice also the following:

5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who has authority, after the killing, to cast into Gehenna. Yes, I say to you, fear Him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two assarion? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 But even the hairs of your head all have been numbered. Fear not; you are more valuable than many sparrows. (Luke 12:5-7, Berean Literal Translation)

(2 assarion is be about 1/64th of the pay of a day laborer.)

Christians are repeatedly told NOT to be fearful as we are valuable to God!

Furthermore as Paul wrote:

13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

What a tremendous warning and encouragement!

Cowardice

The Bible does not speak well of cowards.

But biblical cowardice is not the same as the world's.

Notice that Jesus contrasted the courageous from the cowardly:

32 "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)

This does not mean that we need to go around pestering people about our faith. It does mean that Christians should live their faith and answer about when asked as the Apostle Peter wrote:

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. (1 Peter 3:15-17, KJV)

Christians are to be willing to do what they should even if people will speak evil of them. In New Testament times, Christianity was considered a cult and many avoided it because of that. In the 21st century, those practicing real Christianity are labeled as part of a cult (see Is the Genuine Church of God a Cult?), and this has made made afraid to be part of it. Many are cowards who are more afraid of Satanically-influenced society than of God.

In similar manner, many are afraid to give up traditional holidays and doctrines as they want the praises of humans more than God (see also Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings). Even is Jesus' day, religious leaders sadly, "loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:43).

Many love the world more than God. But as the Apostle John wrote:

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

Cowards have deceived themselves to think that doing thing their way instead of God's is better. But their world will pass away as only those willing to have the courage to do the will of God will abide forever.

Many think that simply minding their own business is fine. But Jesus expected His people to do more than that:

14 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. 16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. 18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord's money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.

20 "So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.' 21 His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' 22 He also who had received two talents came and said, 'Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.' 23 His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'

24 "Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.'

26 "But his lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.

29 'For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' (Matthew 25:14-30)

Notice that the person above was fearful to do what should have been done. Jesus condemned him and called him wicked.

Elbert Hubbard once said: "The greatest mistake you can make is to be continually fearing you will make one."

Consider also the following Proverb:

5 Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed. (Proverbs 27:5)

Some really have a fear of the truth. Fear of the truth is cowardice. So is fear of acting on the truth. Consider:

10 If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small. (Proverbs 24:10, NKJV)

10 If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.(Proverbs 24:10, New Living Translation)

If you are too afraid, you do not have the faith as you should (more on faith is in the free booklet Faith for Those God has Called and Chosen).

Now, some fear that they cannot be a real Christian, as they feel they have sinned so terribly God could not forgive them. But that is not true:

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Satan is the one that brought guilt in the world:

9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?"

10 So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself."

11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?"

12 Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate."

13 And the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?"

The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." (Genesis 3:9-13)

Satan got Adam and Eve to sin, then Adam and Eve became fearful. Adam did NOT have the courage to tell his wife no and Eve did not have the courage to believe what God said. Instead they let Satan influence them, and then became afraid.

Satan is happy for you to not take proper steps because of your guilt.

But understand that those who really want to serve God have NOT committed the unpardonable sin (see also What is the Unpardonable Sin?).

Some will not move from their COG group as they are comfortable, despite realizing that their group teaches significant error. Jesus did not approve of that attitude either as not only the parable of the talents indicate, but because of what He said to the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:14-19.

It is not cowardice to be afraid. It takes faith to act when you are afraid (to learn more about faith, check out our free online booklet Faith for those God has Called and Chosen).

It is cowardice not to act as God wants you to act.

Jesus said to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39). Some in the world would consider that cowardice, but that is not God's view.

Notice who will not make it into the Kingdom of God:

8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

Notice also the following:

14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. (Revelation 22:14-15)

God's people are not to simply believe His commandments, but do they--obey them, put them into practice--even when it is not convenient.

Cowards, on the other hand, believe a lie. They believe that they are better off not doing what they should do. Unless they repent they will experience the second death.

Fleeing persecution is not cowardice. Jesus taught:

22 And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10:22-23)

The world may equate fleeing with cowardice, but Jesus endorsed fleeing when appropriate.

Notice also that Jesus said:

16 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. (Matthew 10:16-18)

Bewaring of men is not Christian cowardice. In the world, many who are harmful are considered courageous, yet Jesus taught that the courageous were to strive to be physically harmless.

Satan will be mocked. Notice:

12 "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! 13 For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,I will be like the Most High.' 15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.

16 "Those who see you will gaze at you, And consider you, saying: 'Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms, 17 Who made the world as a wilderness And destroyed its cities, Who did not open the house of his prisoners?' (Isaiah 14:12-17)

People will not believe that they foolishly followed such an individual. Since that is the case, you obviously should have the courage to not obey him and accept his influence now.

Notice the contrast between the wicked and the righteous:

1 The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion. (Proverbs 28:1)

Do you act like the wicked or the righteous? Not being foolhardy or brash, but having the confidence God expects you to have?

Christian Cowardice

Are there Christians who have had cowardice?

Certainly.

Jesus condemned various Christian churches.

Notice what He said to Pergamos:

12 "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write,

'These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13 "I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. (Revelation 2:12-16)

Those in Pergamos were too afraid to denounce false doctrine and tolerated those who promoted falsehood. More on Pergamos can be found in the article: The Pergamos Church Era.

Jesus told the Thyatirans:

18 "And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,

'These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: 19 "I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

24 "Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. 25 But hold fast what you have till I come. 26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations —

27 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron;
They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels' —

as I also have received from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star.

29 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."' (Revelation 2:18-29)

The old Radio Church of God noted:

Thyatira ... there were many false teachers and false brethren among God's people who taught that it was all right to have Catholics baptize their children or to attend idolatrous mass once in a while. Others committed spiritual fornication by meddling in politics in the hope of avoiding persecution. (Hoeh H. Amazing 2000-Year History of the Church of God. Good News, July 1953)

Notice that Jesus warned that those who would not be faithful would be subject to the great tribulation (see also The Thyatira Church Era).

Notice what Jesus told Sardis:

1"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,

'These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (Revelation 3:1-5)

So, some in Sardis have the courage to stand up, yet many do not have the courage to stand up for the truth and will have problems. I have spoken to various leaders in a Sardis church and they have truly lost a lot (see also The Sardis Church Era).

There is another group Jesus basically warned about that as well:

14 "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:14-20)

Most real Christians in the 21st century are part of Laodicea. They too cowardly to repent and lack to courage to be part of the true end time work. Having met and spoken with many, many leaders of Laodicean churches, their lack of being committed to the truth of the Bible has been severely disappointing to me, as it obviously is to Jesus (see also The Laodicean Church Era).

Now what was the problem these churches all faced?

When it came down to it, they were satisfied with sin and error and did not have the courage to do what needed to be done.

While they were not totally corrupted, the last three groups will end up in the great tribulation unless they have the courage to repent and do what is right.

Does this mean that Christians are never at all afraid?

No.

But Christians are not to remain cowards, but take steps that need to be taken. Notice:

43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. (Mark 15:43)

Recall that Peter refused to even admit he was with Jesus at this time (Mark 14:66-72), yet Joseph of Arimathea was bold enough to go directly to Pilate. That could have cost him his life, but he did what he was convinced it was the work God wanted done.

You should too.

What About Fear of God?

But what about the "fear of God," you may ask? Yes, the Bible discusses that.

Unlike cowardice, the fear of God motivates Christians to do what is right.

Here are some things to consider from the late evangelist Dr. Herman Hoeh (note, he originally published this in 1955, and it was basically republished in 1983):

Why Is the Fear of God Necessary?

This age has lost this healthy respect for God. Notice this example: "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household... " (Heb. 11:7, RAV). Noah feared the power of God. That was a right fear — a proper spiritual fear. But Noah didn't let his fear worry and frustrate him. Noah acted on his fear. He did something about it!

The great importance of the fear of God has been woefully misunderstood. Let's understand its full significance. "By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil" (Prov. 16:6). This fear warns us that God will punish us if we harm ourselves by doing evil!

When we do evil, we harm ourselves.

To teach us not to do evil, God sometimes has to punish us. That is how the fear of God leads us away from the danger of evil — both physical and spiritual danger. "The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom" (Prov. 15:33).

When we fear God, we respect what he says.

What he says has been recorded in his Word, the Bible.

In the Bible is the wisdom of God. Its instruction tells us right from wrong. It defines for us the pitfalls of sin. It warns us of the dangers of evil that rob us of happiness and prosperity and eternal life. "The fear of the Lord tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil" (Prov. 19:23).

The need for the fear of the Lord is also a New Testament teaching. Peter said, "Fear God" (I Pet. 2:17). It is repeated again in Revelation 14:7.

The early Church of God had peace when "walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy [Spirit]" (Acts 9:31).

How to Act on the Fear of God

How will the proper reaction to the fear of God rid us of all the needless mental suffering we impose on ourselves? How will the fear of God teach us to manage and direct our minds until we master every nervous fear?

The apostle John wrote, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love" (I John 4:18).

The worries and mental torments stemming from fears occur when love has not been perfected. Love is doing what God commands. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (I John 5:3).

The commandments of God define right and wrong.

They tell us of the dangers of sin.

Sin is the "transgression of the law" (I John 3:4).

By obeying God we avoid the dangers of evil and we fill our minds and emotions with love. Love removes worries and torments. This is how we act upon the fear of God. (Hoeh H. YOU CAN CONQUER YOUR FEARS! Plain Truth magazine, June 1983)

Striving to live God's way leads towards the development of godly character and perfect love.

Acquiring Perfect Love and Conquering Fear

But doesn't the Bible say that perfect love casts out fear? Yes, notice what the Apostle John wrote:

17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.

20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (1 John 4:17-21)

Notice that even John's time some claimed that they loved God, but since they did not really love their neighbor, this was not true. We have this problem today.

Many really only care for themselves and not others. That is not perfect love.

In the same article shown in the previous section, Dr. Herman Hoeh continued with how he believed one should work to acquire perfect love:

Now let us learn how to acquire perfect love. Here is what Peter says: "Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness [love]" (II Pet. 1:5-7). (The archaic word charity, found in the Authorized Version, should be rendered love.)

When the mind IS not properly managed, the natural fear for self-protection is turned into unnatural fears for the protection of self. First, notice that you begin with faith. What is faith? "But without faith it is impossible to please [God]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb. 11:6).

You cannot fear God without having faith that he exists and that he rewards us for what we do, whether good or evil. Faith is not something you try to make yourself think you have when you don't have it. Faith is the recognition that God exists and that it is foolish for you to defy his purpose in your life by refusing to turn from your sins! This faith is acquired. It is learned by experience. You cannot hypnotize yourself into receiving faith. ...

Let's follow the instruction of Peter throughout his sevenfold plan to conquer fear by adding to faith the mind and character of God.

The Sevenfold Plan

First, add virtue to your faith in the power of God. Virtuous means decent, chaste, modest, well-mannered. It is the opposite of being coarse and vulgar.

The first step is to remove the cause of self-condemnation, the secret sins that are often committed under the guise of extreme prudery! We must let the Bible define decency, chastity and good manners for us. Study the lives of men and women recorded within its covers. Recognize their mistakes. Don't make the same mistakes. Remember, too, that the fear of God teaches us not to make up our minds as we wish to believe, but to believe and act upon what God says virtue is. It is neither self-righteousness nor coarseness. It is proper refinement.

Second, add knowledge to virtue. Knowledge refers to the learning of ideas and principles of conduct. We must continually increase in knowledge until we clean up our character!

Third, add temperance to knowledge. When we learn that God permits us to use things that we thought were forbidden, we must exercise the proper balance in handling any new freedom. We must be temperate. Temperance does not mean prohibition. Prohibition is abstention. Temperance is moderate use. Paul said, "And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things" (I Cor. 9:25). Temperance means self-control. This is one of the most vital steps in controlling the mind and stilling fears. You need to exercise self-discipline over mind and body if you want to overcome fears.

Fourth, add patience to self-control. Patience is that broadness of mind by which you wait for the result to be achieved. Patience is the opposite of worry. One who is patient does not become frustrated because problems don't always solve themselves immediately. Patience comes from exercising self-control under trial. "Tribulation worketh patience," wrote Paul (Rom. 5:3). You can't sit down and make yourself patient. You must work at it, under trial and test!

Fifth, add godliness to patience. Godliness means to be like God in character. God defines his character throughout the Bible. Many "religious" people pretend to have godliness, but they "deny the power thereof' (II Tim. 3:5). God is a powerful character, not a weakling. Godliness means strength of character — it sums up virtue, knowledge, patience, self-control. Too many try to imagine what God is like apart from reading the Scripture. Little wonder that they deny his power!

Sixth, add brotherly kindness to godliness. It is often easier to act righteous than to be kind to a brother! James says of the human tongue, "Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God" (James 3:9). God is perfect. We need to be perfect.

But our brothers have faults of the flesh. It is sometimes difficult to be kind, to be helpful, to be generous, to be stern only when necessary to fellow human beings. In misguided zeal many impose their "kindnesses" on others. We must learn to exercise good judgment in being kind. On the other hand, many neglect kindnesses that they can never make up. This breeds sorrow and worry.

Seventh, add love as a climax to perfection. Jesus said, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt. 5:44, RSV). When you love your enemies this much, you won't fear what they can do to you. Love, when perfected, casts out all fear!

Jesus also said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

Perfect love removes the most terrible fear of all — the fear of death!

What Is Love?

Love is the perfection of God's law according to its spirit or intent. "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law" (Rom. 13:10). You cannot love anyone without fulfilling the law. And you cannot fulfill the law completely without loving your neighbor and your enemy! Love sums up the spirit and intent of God's law. And is the summation of all that is good and right.

The fear of God leads us to divine love. (Hoeh H. YOU CAN CONQUER YOUR FEARS! Plain Truth magazine, June 1983)

Those who wish to be Philadelphian Christians in the 21st century need to realize that Philadelphia means "love of brethren" and the work of the Philadelphian remnant in these end times to go through open doors (Revelation 3:7-8) to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to the world as a witness (Matthew 24:14) and to teach all things Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19-20) is something that those who truly are working on perfecting love would be actually supporting.

Those who do not doing that are deceiving themselves about their possible Christianity and displaying cowardice.

Fear Not, Be Courageous

Does being a real Christian mean that all will do well.

No.

The Bible is clear that Christians will face tests and trials and should not be afraid of them:

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Christians must expect to have difficulties:

12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now

"If the righteous one is scarcely saved,
Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?"

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:12-19)

Christians have to have the courage to suffer.

Jesus also taught His followers would have troubles along with a promise:

33 ... In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Yet, Jesus also taught that many would not remain of proper cheer as they would not accept the difficulties:

18 "Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." (Matthew 13:18-23)

That is part of why He taught about the sower:

14 "For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:14)

Those who are biblically-cowards succumb to pressures and fears of the world. They deceive themselves and do not make it.

The cowardly focus on their wants and not enough of what God wants them to focus on the Kingdom of God.

Courageousness or cowardice? Well, that is your choice.

A real Christian does what God wants him or her to do, regardless of the circumstances.

Consider also what Joshua said:

14 "Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:14-15)

Follow God, do what is right:

32 Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

Two sermons related to this article are available and are titled Courage and Cowardice and Cowardice and Overcoming Fear.

A Spanish language article is also available: Valor Cristiano vs Cobardía.

Thiel B. Christian courage and cowardice. COGwriter (c) 2016 http://www.cogwriter.com/courage-cowardice.htm 2016 0405

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