Today I want to talk with you about the greatest challenge that all of us face. This is something we all struggle with. It is also the greatest weapon the devil uses against God’s people. It’s extremely effective, and it’s rare, indeed, when it does not completely put a dead STOP to great things we might have done for the Lord and the Kingdom of God, and great blessings we might have received in return.
What am I talking about? FEAR. The most paralyzing emotion there is. Fear dictates how we feel, what we say, what we do (or DON’T do); and when God’s people are fearful, when they FEAR anything other than the Lord, it is always, ALWAYS of the enemy. It is a tactic of spiritual warfare, used by the devil and his demonic spirits to shut us down. And it works so well.
In Genesis 3, following Adam and Eve’s disobedience and sin against God, we read, “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of You in the garden and I was afraid, because I was naked and I hid myself.’”
Prior to this, Adam and Eve lived in perfect communion with God; all their needs supplied, not a care in the world; a life of perfection and abundance, all for their enjoyment. But the instant the devil came on the scene and enticed them, and they took the bait, the immediate result was FEAR. The heart of man has been frightened to death ever since. Allow me to refresh your memory with just a few examples.
I think of Noah, a man the Bible describes as “righteous, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.” As God tells Noah what is to come, and gives him instructions for the construction of the ark, Scripture does not say anything at all about Noah’s response, other than Genesis Chapter 6, verse 22, where we read “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” And Chapter 7, verse 5: “And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.”
As I read this story, where God speaks with Noah and tells him about the horror that is coming upon the Earth, I have to wonder: was Noah not fearful? The entire world and all its inhabitants WILL be destroyed. What’s more, God is commanding Noah to build a gigantic thing that has never been conceived of before… 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 51 feet high. That’s big enough to hold, among other things, 500 semi-truck trailers. And there was no modern technology, just his own two bare hands and a few primitive tools. It took Noah 100 years to complete the task.
Scripture doesn’t tell us much about it, but we can assume that as the people in the neighborhood saw this great structure begin to rise from the ground, Noah must have shared what the Lord had told him. Certainly, he must have preached to them and told them why he was doing what he was doing… his message must have been one of repentance; and the peoples’ response, we can only conclude, must have been one of ridicule and derision. For a hundred years. Imagine, faithfully serving God for 100 years amid constant ridicule and taunting, with no help and no friends, and not winning one single convert.
I think, also, of Job. Do you suppose Job was sometimes fearful? His own wife, fed up with the utter despair this poor man was enduring, told him to “curse God and die!” What about Abraham, or Lot? What about Joseph, sold into slavery, thrown into prison, given up for dead by his own brothers….
Do you think Moses was ever afraid? Told to defy Pharaoh and his entire army and lead his unbelieving and ungrateful countrymen into the Promised Land? And when they finally arrived at the edge of the land, and the young men were sent to explore it, ten of them returned in terror because the inhabitants there were powerful, described as “giants.” Look at Numbers, chapter 13: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.”
The people were filled with fear. Only Caleb and Joshua had a different attitude from the others. Verse 30 records, “Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’” When the people complained that they couldn’t, both Caleb and Joshua were insistent: We read that they “tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, ‘The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.’”
Did God’s people listen? Of course not. And so God judged the people of Israel by making them wait 40 years to enter the land. He also promised that every person 20 years old or older would die in the wilderness and would not even see the land — with two exceptions — Caleb and Joshua. Why? “Because My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows Me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” Verse 38 adds, “Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb… and Joshua.”
How sad, the many blessings we lose and how we postpone the will of God by our disobedience, caused by our fear. The Bible is filled with similar stories of fearful men, who overcame their fears; and we read about them still today, as heroes of the faith. Why? Because of their COURAGE. They WERE afraid, but they still obeyed; they pushed beyond the fear of men and held fast to the promises of GOD. Young David who defeated Goliath. Jonah, so fearful that he tried to tell God to find someone else to preach to Nineveh. For that matter, look at ALL of the prophets of God… NONE of them were welcomed. NONE of them were popular or well-liked by the people. I can assure you, ALL of them endured fear. And yet, they obeyed.
Consider also Mary and Joseph. And Jesus Himself, in the garden the night of His arrest, as He prayed that the cup of His suffering might be taken from Him; but nevertheless, He prayed that His Father’s will be done…. And Peter, who denied Him three times, because he was fearful of the persecution of men. Peter learned that night what it means to take up his cross daily. And each of the apostles of Christ who were martyred for their association with the Lord and for preaching His word… do you suppose they were ever tempted to be afraid?
What about the men, women and children in the Middle East even today, having their fingers, hands, arms and legs cut off — for the entertainment of the Islamic savages? Do you think the Christian women and children are fearful when their husbands and fathers are beheaded or crucified in front of them, and then they are sold into slavery? Do you think the Christians who refuse to renounce their Lord and Savior in Iraq and Syria are afraid as they are locked in cages and set on fire?
Matthew 10:28 tells us, “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.” That’s good to remember, but it is still scary when you are face to face with demonic spirits, when you are standing for Christ at the very gates of hell.
Friends, the point of all this today is that our American Church has literally NO IDEA what it’s like to suffer for the cause of Christ. The things that go on week after week in most American churches are ridiculous, carnal and vain. Worse than a waste of time, because souls are literally being led astray by “easy believism.”
The Christian life is HARD. It is a life of taking up your cross DAILY, and DAILY choosing to follow Jesus. Taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. Scripture tells us that THIS IS HOW we demolish arguments and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. This is the KEY to spiritual warfare. And make no mistake: THIS IS WAR! Is it easy, pleasant or fun? Of course not! Let me give you a quick crash course in TRUE Christian living:
2 Timothy 3:12: “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” John 15:18: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you.” 1 John 3:13: “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” 1 Peter 4: “Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” It sounds like Peter learned a few things on that awful night after he heard the cock crow.
My friends, please listen: The Establishment Church in America knows NOTHING about true Christianity; certainly, the modern preachers are not proclaiming it. Because of the fear of the opinions of man, they are suppressing the truth, cowering, afraid to speak it. ABSOLUTELY afraid to lead. These so-called “shepherds” have the duty to protect, teach and lead the flock of God’s people and prophecy truth from GOD’S WORD; but instead, week after week they spend their time tickling itching ears with feel-good self-help talks, ALWAYS dancing around the issues so delicately, so as not to offend the lost sinner.
Our churches are so politically correct and so seeker-friendly, we welcome the desperately lost to our meetings, and strive to make sure they feel “loved” and accepted just as they are, comfortable in their sin, rather than convicted in their souls. Those who REALLY WANT to know God are left to fend for themselves spiritually, with NO leadership and no direction.
Because our modern American pastors want to be popular and well-liked, “only a few of the millions of lost souls will ever find” that narrow road which leads to salvation and life everlasting. Shame on those who fear the opinions of man and therefore refuse to speak and prophecy the truth which they KNOW is SO VITAL. These are not ignorant men. These are men who know the Scriptures, and know them well. Yet they choose to speak only the soft things, the easy things. Our modern American pastors, charged with leading their flocks, are instead choosing to be smiling, hand-shaking, popular people-pleasers. That just does NOT line up with what the Bible says God’s people are to be or do.
God’s word tells us 365 times to “FEAR NOT!” Yet today, we are so fearful, we will not even speak about God to our own families in our own homes. How, then, will we ever stand up and confront the evil at the gates of hell?
We live in a time and place where baby killing is commonplace for the sake of convenience and profit; where sodomy is celebrated and our children are invited to try it out for themselves; where parents refuse to teach their children about Jesus as they were taught, choosing instead to just wait and let the child pick for himself which “path to God” he will decide to take — exposing the poor little kids to all sorts of false gods and doctrines of demons. Instead of liberty and justice for all, our poor are oppressed and kept dependent as virtual slaves in our ghettos. Christianity is shunned but the evil of Islam is praised; evil judges and wicked magistrates persecute the righteous and reward the lawless.
Who will stand and fight these demons? WHERE are the Christians? I’ll tell you where. Most of them are hiding in fear. And the few who ARE fighting are ridiculed and shouted down — not just by the evil ones – worse than that — by the so-called “Christians” who are too cowardly to join them. And these cowardly “Christians” can be the meanest of all.
It is time for judgment to begin with the house of God. As Christians, it’s time for us to “man up.” Do we BELIEVE GOD’s Word or not?
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe!” (Proverbs 29). “We have not been given a spirit of fear but of power and of love and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1). “Am I now seeking the approval of man or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1).
Friends, God has equipped us, and God is WITH US. We need not fear what man can do to us. Ever. Where is your faith? As our world continues to spiral out of control, it is up to us, as Christians, to OCCUPY until He returns, to FIGHT this spiritual battle. Not just for our own personal sakes, but so that God’s will is done on earth, as it is in heaven. We are HIS INSTRUMENTS to get that done. We are SUPPOSED to be His “Salt and Light Brigade.” The fact that our country and our world has become so hellish should be evidence enough that the American Church has become little more than a social club for the cowardly. Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof!
This culture war is heating up to levels we have not seen since the days of Noah and Lot. Which side of the war are you on? Because there’s no fence-sitting allowed. There is only God’s side and the devil’s side. It’s time now to PICK ONE. So again, I urge you, as God’s Word says, ‘FEAR NOT!”
Audio CDs and transcripts of this message are ALSO available when you call me at Wisconsin Christian News, (715) 486-8066. Or email Rob@WisconsinChristianNews.com and ask for message number 177.