“COWARDS BE GONE”
by Ed Arcton
There has never been a better time to be alive. God’s plan since before time began is about to unfold all over the world and He wants you to be a part of it. Jesus said in Matt. 11:12, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of God is advancing forcefully, and forceful men lay hold of it.” God is going to establish His rule and cover the earth with His glory by pouring Himself into those believers who throw off the cloak of passivity and put on the whole armor of God. We live in a world at war and we’re supposed to fight back. To kill the lion you’ve got to run to the roar. For many this is a difficult reality to embrace as witnessed by the passivity that marks much of Christianity. Most people want the Christian life to be all about the sweet love of Jesus not knowing that Christianity is not a life of comfort but of conflict. Anyone who chooses to become a Christian automatically enters God’s military and is immediately engaged in the longest war ever fought. Our God is a Warrior because there are things worth fighting for.
The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “But the Lord is with me as a mighty, awesome one. Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and will not prevail. They will be greatly ashamed, for they will not prosper. Their everlasting confusion will never be forgotten” (Jer. 20:11). The late Nelson Mandela once said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not out darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates them.”
Ex. 15:3 says, “The Lord is a man of war; The Lord is His name.” Is. 42:13 states, “The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man; He shall stir up His zeal like a man of war. He shall cry out, yes, shout aloud; He shall prevail against His enemies.” David wrote in Ps. 24;8, “Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” God made man a warrior in His own image because He intends for man to join Him in the battle. Life is a battle, a struggle, and there is no such thing as an easy life. To win the battle you must rise above your circumstances and be the victor instead of the victim. There is a real divine power that can be resident in your life that helps you overcome whatever obstacles you face in life. God in you will make you stronger than whatever trial you are facing. You have greater capacity than you think. There is truly a God who lives inside of you, a Godly Spirit that makes you stronger in the heat of battle. 1 John 4;4 says, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
The Message Bible says, “For the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world.” What comes to mind when you think of courage? Many think of a lion as a symbol of strength, courage, and gallantry. In “The Wizard Of Oz” the lion is missing the one quality that should define him the most: courage. Fear crippled his ability to see himself as he actually was. As the movie unfolds he discovered he always had courage, he just didn’t show it. In the Bible the phrase “do not fear” is written 365 times. Every day of the year God gives you a personal message that says “do not fear.” You can not always control your circumstances but you can control your response to your circumstances. The word “fear” is used to describe lack of faith (Matt. 8:26; Mark 4:40) and the cowardly are “timid ones, persons showing fear in a shameful way.” The wicked and lazy servant hid his talent in the ground out of fear rather than investing it for the Lord’s benefit. He was rebuked by the Master and cast into outer darkness (Mark 25:25;Luke 19:21).
Those who deny Jesus before men, possibly out of fear, will not be confessed by the Son of Man before God and His angels (Luke 12:8,9). Many of the religious rulers believed in Jesus but for fear of being put out of the synagogue by the Pharisees would not confess Him. They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:43). During the tribulation the beast worshipers took his mark out of fear of losing their lives (Rev. 13:16,17). They were among those who,because of fear, saved their lives for a season but ultimately lost both their soul and body in hell (Matt. 10:28). In Rev. 21:8 the cowards are the first who are thrown into hell, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars have have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” God hates cowardice and it is His will that all cowards be gone from His kingdom. This is why Deut. 31:6 gives the command to “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
You are stronger than your enemy. You are tougher than anything the forces of hell can throw at you. You can have a strength that gives you peace, stability, and assurance because Jesus has already conquered the world and He lives inside of you. Rom. 8:11 says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” You are stronger because God has made you stronger. The Message Bible says, “It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, He’ll do the same thing in you that He did in Jesus, bringing you alive to Himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and He does, as surely as He did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With His Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!”
Everybody is battling something. That is not always a bad thing because every victory must have a battle beforehand. Every champion had an opponent and every comeback had a setback. You can win from within if you have an understanding of what God’s Word says about having the spirit of a warrior. Jesus said in Luke 10:19, “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” The Message Bible says, “See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the enemy. No one can put a hand on you.” The only way you can be strong and have this power is to be connected to the One who gives this power. Webster’s Dictionary defines “courage” as ‘the attitude of facing and dealing with anything recognized as dangerous, difficult, or painful, instead of withdrawing from it; it’s the quality of being fearless or brave; valor.’
The apostle Paul said in 1 Cor. 16:13,14, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.” The Message Bible says, “Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your conviction, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.” The NIV states, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” Every person is born with the potential to show courage and without it you can not produce and other virtue with consistency. You can’t be kind, true, sincere, merciful, generous, or honest without courage. Like the cowardly lion in “The Wizard Of Oz” you already have courage but you will need major challenges that you must face so that you can display courage. You are a warrior and you are called to win major battles in life. Those who are fearful and weak don’t take risks. They choose comfort and security over opportunity. Warriors, on the other hand, don’t run for cover. They run toward danger knowing that they have the God-given ability to overcome any obstacle that comes their way.
Courage is not the absence of fear, it’s acting in the face of fear. Warriors eat problems for breakfast, lunch, and supper. They do it for fun. They see it as part of who they are. They look at every problem as a set of weights that will help them grow stronger. Danger is your opportunity to awaken courage. Courage sleeps quietly until it is awakened by an opportunity to confront danger head-on. Sometimes low self-esteem is connected to a lack of godly courage. If so, then having courage is the recognition of your potential. A warrior reflect courageous energy and is characterized by initiative, protection, provision, and perseverance. A warrior is a man of action, a person who tackles life head-on and wins. He takes the other guy’s best shot and still stands strong and continues to move forward. He looks fear in the eye and spits in its face. He does not allow fear to handicap his ability to fight and move forward leaving him in a worthless position.
A warrior works the hardest and the longest and outlasts the competition. He perseveres in the midst of all kings of adversity and fights for what matters most. He takes the initiative and does not run away from problems and is most comfortable on the battlefield. He has an inner supply of conquering energy and with holy boldness makes an impact on the world. A warrior is assertive but gets his direction from God. This is not about power, it’s about strength of character. It’s not a destructive force, it’a a positive energy force. A warrior fights with purpose for noble things and eternal values. He has a reason to fight and is constructive and intentional. He runs the race to win staying alert and in top condition at all times. Warriors are those who “mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall run and not faint” (Is. 40:31). They fight the good fight of faith and lay hold of the eternal life to which they have been called (1 Tim. 6:12).
Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, and perseverance are not easily seized in any person’s life. You must fight for these qualities and it takes courage to obtain them. There is a warrior inside of you and you must reach down and call him out. Is. 40:28,29 says, “Have you not known? have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. There is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.” David was a fearless warrior and 1 Sam. 17 tells the story of David and Goliath. What helped him display his courage? David practiced courage before he faced the giant. He killed the lion and the bear before he killed Goliath. He worked his way up the ladder of courage. You must climb the little mountain before you climb the big one.
Michael Jordan once said, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” No one ever becomes a success in life without first having had multiple failures. Real men practice climbing out on the limb until it breaks. They then dust themselves off and do it again. Real men take risks. If you haven’t failed, then you haven’t taken enough risks. All of the fruit of life is out on the limb of the tree. Warriors go after it, those who are fearful cling to the trunk of the tree. Become a professional limb-walker and do what David did. Practice! Practice! Practice! If you practice enough, when reality strikes you’ll be ready for it. Become numb to failure. Courage is having radical obedience in the face of what scares you the most. It doesn’t pull back. It’s pressing into your fears, not denying your fears.
Courage is a maximum gain strategy. Michael Jordan, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, and Colonel Sanders all had multiple failures in the quest to accomplish a great work. Would anybody call these men failures? Of course not. Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something else is more important. In 1 Sam. 17:29 David said, “Is there not a cause?” Esther said, “And so I will go to the King, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:16). Sometimes people have to do things they’re afraid to do. Being brave doesn’t mean you never get scared. It means that even when you are scared you step up and do the things you have to do. Courage is a choice so choose to be brave. Make your life count. Billy Graham once said, “Courage is contagious. When one brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.”
The Bible describes Jesus as the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:45-47) and He set the pattern for how life was to be lived. Every person will walk in the shadow of one of these two Adams. They’ll either walk in the darkness of the first Adam or the light of the second Adam. The first Adam was passive in the garden (Gen. 3:6) but Jesus rejected passivity. A warrior does not just stand around and do nothing. Jesus did something. He acted. He turned over the tables of the money changers. He called the religious leaders “hypocrites” and children of the devil. He looked at Peter and said, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” He touched lepers and women who were unclean. People are passive because they wimp out. The army of Israel feared Goliath but David ran toward the giant. Elijah faced down the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel but wimped out when threatened by Jezebel. Jonah ran away from Ninevah and Peter denied Jesus three times.
Those who are passive are uncomfortable doing what they have to do. They lack courage. It’s easier to do nothing. They think if they ignore a problem maybe it will go away. Vince Lombardi once said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but a lack of will.” When you are passive you put yourself in a position to fail. Consider Paul who got stoned, got up, and walked back into the city from which he came. Consider also Jesus who went into Jerusalem knowing that torture and death awaited Him. Declare war on passivity, comfort over courage. Man up! When you don’t operate in courage a part of you dies. Every action you take that lacks courage is like cutting yourself with a knife. There will be times in your life when you will be confronted by Goliath and fear will grip your heart and try to stop you from standing up to him. Call it fear, anxiety, concern, or hesitation, the fact is we all face moments when fear tries to keep us from something better.
Fear in and of itself isn’t your problem. Your problem is not facing your fear head-on. The solution? Man up! Do it anyway. If you have to, do it afraid. You have to learn to do what you have to do, even if you’re afraid to do it. Josh. 1:9 says, “Be strong and of good courage; Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee wherever you go.” If you will move forward and do it afraid you will find that fear loses its grip. If you don’t you will miss many opportunities and the good life will pass you by. For a warrior life isn’t about getting comfortable where they’re at right now. Wimps have retirement on their mind and a comfortable life as their goal. Warriors know that life is about breaking barriers and going to the next level. When you’re scared and want to draw back, that is exactly the time you should go faster, move forward, and do more. Life is a continuous journey that requires you to stay in motion. That takes courage. Fear runs much faster than courage but it never has enough energy to finish the race.
Phil. 4:13 says, “You can do all things through Christ that strengthens you.” Courage is a confidence in God’s ability that says “you can do it” while fear says you can’t. Moses sent 12 spies into the Promised Land. Ten spies said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are” (Num. 13:31,32). Caleb along with Joshua said, “Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it” (Num. 13:30). Warriors display courage simply because that is who they are. They know their worth and can increase the display of courage by creating very tangible rewards. David asked what the reward would be for killing Goliath. He was told his descendants wouldn’t have to pay taxes and he could marry the king’s beautiful daughter. David kept these benefits before him as a mechanism to eliminate fear and help him act with courage. Caleb and Joshua’s reward for facing their giants was a land flowing with milk and honey.
Real warriors always expect a great reward for what they do. They also capitalize on their own strengths rather than copy someone else’s. David tried on the king’s armor but it didn’t fit because it was too big and too heavy for him to wear. He goes back to what he was good at: slingshots. He chose to focus on his strengths and that increased his confidence and his courage. David was a man after God’s own heart and he used his connection to an infinite God to overshadow the fear of what he saw and what he heard. Goliath had better equipment and was physically superior in size and strength. David’s only defense was God, and that was enough. Having God on your side is a confidence booster that allows you to display more courage. It’s about seeing what needs to be advanced and what needs to be accomplished as being greater than your personal comfort. Warriors explore their spiritual nature. They look to God for guidance and strength. It gives them the confidence to take on any giant that stands in the path that leads to victory.
Paul told Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). 1 Tim. 6:12 (MSG) states, “Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses.” You must go beyond the mechanics of this scripture and grab hold of the spirit of what’s being said here. Paul is talking about having the spirit of a fighter. If you’re going to make it in this world of hardship and trial you are going to have to be a fighter. You have to seize and lay hold of what God has given you. Eternal life does not just mean life that goes on and on without end. It is a quality of life, life as God has it. Paul is saying that in order to enjoy this God-kind of life you have to fasten on to it and take it. It won’t come to you automatically so you must wrap your arms around it and pull it to you.
You have an adversary who comes to kill, steal, and destroy and 1 Peter 5:8 says, “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking who he may devour.” There is no fight unless there is first an enemy to fight and Peter is saying to wake up, watch, stay alert, and stay sharp. If you snooze, you lose. Those who lack courage and don’t like to fight are defeated right now. They’re gone, they’re history. Your adversary doesn’t fight fair and he is always looking for an opportunity to get the best of you. He seeks to devour you and he comes to attack you and tempt you and to throw obstacles in your path. Verse 9a tells you to “Resist him, steadfast in the faith…” You may have to resist him more than a minute or two. It could take weeks, months, and even years. Resist and keep resisting. Don’t give up. If you get tired and quit, then that is when you are defeated. Life is rough and can be hard but if you’ll trust God and fight the good fight of faith with courage He’ll give you the victory every time.
Prov. 18:14 (AMP) says, “The strong spirit of a man will sustain him in bodily pain or trouble.” God will give you the victory but He needs something to work with. Faith is the determining factor but it takes a strong spirit to fight the good fight of faith. You will be more inclined to fight if you are strong and not weak or passive. If you are weak you will give up and quit before the fighting even starts. There is a war being waged and a battle to fight. Don’t allow the devil to keep you from possessing what God has already given you. Don’t lay down and give up. Fight the good fight of faith and take hold of what is yours. The devil is not big enough to defeat you. He is under your feet. You are more than a conqueror and the devil picked the wrong person to mess with when he attacked you. All things are possible to them who believe, not to those who quit. In 2 Kings 7:3 four lepers said, “Why are we sitting here until we die?” They then stood up and did something great.
It is now time for you to step forward and do that which you were born to do. Your destiny is calling out to you and it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and into the unknown. Fight the good fight of faith! God is talking to you and this is not a suggestion. Do it! Don’t try to do it, do it! You were born to be great. Recognition is not greatness. Greatness is being faithful and doing what is right with dignity and courage. God is calling you to do great things and with His grace you can fight the good fight of faith and do it. Ps. 118:6 says, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” The Message Bible says, “God’s now at my side and I’m not afraid; who would dare lay a hand on me?” The psalmist then said in vs. 17, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” That is a fighting spirit. Warriors are eager and enthusiastic about advancing the kingdom of God and pushing the devil out of the way. So what are you waiting for? Let the battle begin!
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