1 Peter 3:13-17
Have No Fear of Them
I haven’t bothered to count the number of times that the Scripture tells God’s people to “fear not,” but it must be several. The reason for this has nothing to do with some divine protection with which God covers his people so that we will not suffer at the hands of would-be persecutors. A mere glance of the plight of Christians in Communist and Muslim lands proves that lie. Indeed, as I write, religious liberties are being circumscribed in “free” (otherwise known as “Western”) societies, a current virus providing the impetus, but any other crisis, perceived or real, would suffice.
But I digress. The point is that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Yet, we are encouraged by the Apostle to “have no fear of them, nor be troubled.” These seem like hard words, for we have much to lose, and I am not so much thinking of gold and silver (of which most of us have precious little) as loved ones from whom we might be separated. Instead, we are advised to honor Christ the Lord as holy in our hearts. And what does this mean but to set him above all else, to fear him, to commit ourselves to obey him above all earthly powers—which is the way we should be living day to day whether we are persecuted or not (NICNT, 131). We must remember that the one we fear is the one we worship, for you serve the one you fear. This is why Scripture tells us over and again that we should fear only the Lord. The day will come even to America that we will be required to worship the government and/or leader(s). We must now be sanctifying Christ in our hearts, praying fervently, “Hallowed be Thy name,” in preparation against that day.
And as we sanctify and ponder Christ in our hearts, we walk in a holy way before him. Moreover, he puts an answer on our lips for those who would ask us for a reason for the hope that is within us. But they must see that hope working its way through us. Such hope will not manifest itself in a life that is enamored with the things in this world; no, it will only be revealed in the one who lives his calling as an alien in this world, a sojourner and exile. Such a one carries a good conscience within himself as he looks with disdain upon the trinkets of this world and favors instead heavenly matters. He cannot be robbed who looks upon even the little he owns, yea even his own body, as nothing but dust and ashes; such a one smiles upon his tormentor.
If there is anything a Christian must fear in this world, it is to be convicted of sin and be punished for it. But fear God and you should be clear of that.