The Matthew Series 15. The Fear of God
Matthew 10:26-33 New International Version (NIV)
26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
We must remember that this passage is the continuation of what we spoke about last week. So, to get us all on the same page, Jesus warned us that he is sending us out into danger, to die, to be handed over to men to be beaten and killed. He warned that our own families would be the those who were against us, and if they hated him and called him the chief of demons, how much more will they hate his followers.
Now, at the end of all this he tells his disciples. “So, don’t be afraid of them…”
Which leads us to point one;
1. Don’t be afraid; really?!
Imagine being told to not be afraid after someone says that he is sending you out to be beaten and killed.
I would be like me saying; Church, after this service, there are a bunch of people waiting to take you all to prison; where you will be beaten and probably killed. But don’t stress, don’t worry about. Everything they do will be made known!
This passage brings up a common theme throughout the New Testament; which is that Christians are called to endure, why, because we know the justice of God is coming; as Jesus says;
“what is hidden will be made known, what is whispered in your ear will be shouted from the roofs.”
In other words, church, endure the temporal injustice, because permanent and everlasting justice is coming!
Now, how does this help us not be afraid?? How does this give us courage? Surely just knowing something else is coming doesn’t protect you from the sting and fear of that situation?
It is like the story of the son who discovered by talking to his school friends that it is illegal for parents to hit their children. So he went home with great confidence expecting to get one over his strict dad. So, he went home and as was expected got into trouble to which the father said son get to your room for a beating, to which the son replied, I know that you are not allowed to smack me so just try, I’ll call the police.
The father stopped and looked at the son and said I dare you, because it will take the cops at least 20-30 minutes to get here, and if I’m going to jail I’m going to make sure that 20-30 minutes counts!
Well, the son didn’t call the police.
The hope of future punishment of his dad, did not take away the fear. Because he was still going to get a smack.
So how, do we endure the call that Jesus calls us to? How do we endure with hope, even with joy as we see the disciples did in acts, and as is recorded in church history.
The ideas that gave the church the hope to endure are ensconced in justice, but not upheld by them. The things that gave the church and the disciples extraordinary courage was they had a true fear and a deep love.
I’ll explain this in the next two points; firstly Jesus calls us to…
2. Fear God
He overcomes their fear of men, with a fear of God. Now, this is an interesting idea, why should we have fear of God? I mean surely, God is love and He is for us? Why fear him.
And in fact, the word used here in the Greek, phobeō Where we get our English word phobias from; like arachnophobia; the fear of spiders (in fact the irrational fear of spiders). So why are we called to fear God?
Well, from the passage, Jesus points us to what? God’s power. He says, “Don’t fear man that has power over the body, fear God who has the power to destroy both body and soul in the fires of hell!
I would argue that our worries in this world, are primarily because we have a profoundly underestimate God’s power!
Now, if God was simply a force, simply an unstoppable energy then that would be terrifying, because there would be no reasonability to His power.
That is like a nuclear bomb. it is a force of nature! But God is a person. And with that personhood, come variability to his usage of power.
The best illustration of this is the son of a great warrior never knows the true power of his father, because he is his son. But the son will because he knows his father’s ability has an awe-filled respect of his dad.
This is the same reality that we have for God. He is king over creation; without limit of power, unable to be defeated or frustrated, there must be a awe-filled respect.
I fear the society we live in, finds itself in the state it is, because we have lost all awe for God. We have convinced ourselves that God will not be just, or he will overlook our sins.
Or we have convinced ourselves that he doesn’t exist. I know this because I see how people act.
I remember thinking the other day, just how terrifying it will be for when people come into the resurrection and are confronted by a holy God and everything that they have ever done!
We have people today acting in the most debase way and then saying only God can judge me. I want to cry when I hear this; because surely that should absolutely terrify them!
But we have redefined God; we have made him in our image and so the fear of the Lord has escaped us.
You want to truly be free in this world; you want to have unending courage; well the only way to over come the fear of the rulers and power of this world is to fear the true power; God himself.
Let me explain it this way; if you had a thug with a metal pipe threaten you and say unless you steal that TV I’m going to beat you, many of us would be fearful in that situation; until we saw coming up behind him a cop with a gun, then we would boldly say no! why because if we obey the thug, who has power, we put ourselves under the threat of the cop with more power!
Well this is exactly what Jesus is illustrating here. Honestly what can someone threaten you with that God cannot outpower!
This is what you marvel at when you read of people who suffer the most horrifying realities in persecuted countries.
I remember reading of one pastor in the Soviet Union being beaten and the guard getting more and more brutal and more and more blasphemous with this pastor; eventually at one point shouting out as he beat him; why won’t you break I am now your god!
The pastor looked at Him and gently said; no you are not, but, our God will judge both of us!
The power to endure comes firstly church from knowing just who God is; He is a consuming fire, an impartial judge, an all-consuming power!
But Jesus doesn’t just give us a powerful God; He calls us to see a powerful God who is for us.
Which leads me to my third point;
3. Trust Christ
Jesus does paint for us beautifully the care of our Father in heaven as he connect the care of God in all thing and the knowledge of God in all things to His care for us.
But left there, would be an ever increasing fear of the power of God. What do I mean by this? Well, Jesus paints for us a picture of a just and unequivocally powerful God.
A God who will call all things to justice, who will shout out what was done in secret and will bring into the light that which was done in darkness.
This sound great at first; justice, always sound good until we start to see the scope of justice. Church we always want justice as long as it is not true justice, as long as my sins and errors are kept out of the equations.
This is why we as societies keep on adding modifiers to our terms on justice. It’s not justice anymore; it’s social justice. Why? Because then I can comfortably avoid looking too closely at my own failures and just label and work at fixing the real evil of the world. Because the real evil of the world is done by those people that are unlike me. The others.
We do this with everything; we find a fault in society; or a problem and rather than looking at it deeply; and analysing the root cause; which will always be what is endemic to human nature; we find a clause in that evil that other people unlike me only are guilty of, so I can easily make them to be the personification of evil; and then I can be the virtuous arbiters of justice.
The problem is; that we are all hypocrites, and if you are really honest with yourself the thing that you cannot stand in others is your own justified evil.
For example; people hate thieves; unless it is stealing by illegally downloading stuff from the internet. People hate greed, until it’s my greed. People hate liars until its your reputation on the line and then the lies justify the end, don’t they? People hate the other, all the while not seeing that what they hate in the other is most prevalent in themselves.
This is the crisis of real justice! Inevitably the microscope of real truth will come upon me and then what! I will be left without excuse! I will be exposed for the hypocrite I know I am.
None of us could bare having our lives and thoughts being truly exposed for all to see; and yet this is what we demand of others!
This is why our only hope is found in verses 32 and 33, if we confess Jesus before men, He will confess us before His father! The reality of this passage is the confession of faith that connects us with the grace of God found in Christ Jesus.
How can we ever hope to stand before a perfect judge? We stand in the power of the death of Jesus that paid for our sins.
It will be like everyone one of our sins being called out to be given their true due; Barry, 23 September 2018 and the sin called out and Jesus saying it has already being paid.
This is why John says in 1 John 1:9
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
He is faithful he will forgive and just; he will not count our sins twice; he will count them justly and see that they have been paid for by Jesus Christ!
So, don’t be afraid, know that whatever is done in dark corners will come into the light; every whisper will be called out on the rooftops, every act of injustice will be brought before the king and will be held perfectly to account!
So don’t fear those evil men who will war against you and hate you, you have nothing to hide; and your powerful God, your just God will vindicate every action in Christ!
We do go out into this dying world to die, but like our saviour we die to show them the grace of God showed us; in sending his One and only son to die for us!