“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ… not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God” (Phil. 1:27-28, ESV, emphasis mine).
An essential component of gospel-worthy living is fearlessness. In this passage of Philippians, Paul directly links the two: discipleship and courage go hand-in-hand. A genuine disciple of Jesus Christ will not bow the knee to fear. His perfect love drives fear out of the life of one who walks intimately with Him. Knowing Him, truly knowing Him, chases fear out of every corner of our hearts. (Breathe easy – this is a gradual process. No pressure to have this perfected, or even close to perfected! Check out yesterday’s post for more on that.)
Our Scripture today instructs us not to be frightened by our opponents. First of all, who are our opponents? Ephesians answers that for us. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12, ESV).
Let’s take a closer look at this. Contrary to what it may seem, your real opponent is not that difficult person in your life. It is not that power-tripping manager who seems to rub everyone in the department the wrong way. It’s not the crazy driver who cut you off on your ride to the grocery store. It’s not that domineering family member whom everyone secretly wishes won’t be able to make it to the birthday gathering.
Right now, the most serious opponent threatening the human race is the spirit of fear. And here, the Bible tells us plainly not to succumb to it. You know what, my dearly loved friend? If it’s in there, in His manual for our lives, it means it’s doable. Not in my strength, nor yours, but in His. Ephesians also provides amazing insight about this one: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Eph. 6:10, ESV, emphasis mine).
See that there? His might. He’s extending it to us, by His Spirit. Working on the inside of us, He is the provider of strength, of power, of might, and of courage. See how this verse is so close to the one about our real opponents? Look at that again – the connection between Ephesians 6:10 and Ephesians 6:12. We are not called to wrestle against the spirit of fear in our own might; but rather, in the mighty strength that God provides. In His strength, we can be truly strong. As we come to Him daily, He will generously supply the power we need to be courageous.
One more thing about today’s original Scripture, Philippians 1:28. Did you notice what happens when we stand up in the strength of God’s might – and refuse to give in to fear? “This is a clear sign to them of their destruction…” We become a reminder to our invisible enemies that they are doomed. When they see us get up and begin to walk in the triumph that is ours, the tables get turned. They are the ones who become terrified.
Let’s make this our goal during the season our world is facing today. Let’s walk so closely with Jesus that His love is the only thing governing our hearts. Let’s walk so far forward into the victory our Savior made ours with His blood… that the darkness trembles just looking at us. Let’s live courageous lives worthy of His name.
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6, ESV).
During the current battle we are all facing, what strategy has helped you the most for finding victory over fear?