The Sin of Timidity
We Must Suffer For Righteousness Sake
By Curt Wildy
Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
(2 Timothy 3:12).
And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.
And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and [in his] Father’s, and of the holy angels
Before discussing the means that God has provided to enable us to serve as faithful witnesses, I wanted to discuss a bit further that sin that so easily besets many of us. That sin is timidity and it is what causes salt to become unsalted and lose its savour. Timidity, when it comes to being fearful and hesitant in spiritual matters before men, is directly related to the sins of unbelief, fulfilling self, and being ashamed of the Gospel. If we believed God and His message as we ought, and if we loved and feared both Him and His message as we ought, then there would be no room in our hearts for such fear. We would think nothing of the disdain and persecution that men bring our way. We would live in perfect harmony with God’s command to “fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).”
After the inner man, Christ in us, there is no such unbelief and timidity. The inner man cannot sin, it can only serve God because it is Holy Seed. However, while in this body of death, we continue to have the outer man (sinful self) stirring up doubts and fears in our minds. As we grow and mature in Christ, by His grace we overcome such impediments and become filled with the Holy Spirit. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is not what the Charismatics and Pentecostals would have you believe. Those Christians who were filled with the Holy Spirit were enabled by Him to speak boldly in the face of persecution. The connection between boldness (or power) of speech and being filled with the Holy Spirit is evidenced by the following passages:
Acts 4:1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put [them] in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide…. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, [even] by him doth this man stand here before you whole…
Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance [apophtheggomai αποφθεγγομαι – H669; (ap-of-theng’-om-ahee); literally to speak out, speak forth, pronounce; usually of a dignified and elevated discourse)].
Luke 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she spake out with a loud voice.
Luke 1:67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying…
Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, [even] Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
One cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit until one is emptied of self; yet no one can empty themselves of self for that is God’s work alone. Moreover, in this life, we are never emptied of self completely; there is no cleaning up the outer man, he is always with us. Though the emptying of self is a life long process, God has called some of His people to be so filled at a very early stage in their regenerate lives (as with the Apostle Paul and John the Baptist). It cannot be said of all Christians, especially those new to the faith, that they are filled with the Holy Ghost. The Corinthian church (in the first epistle) is an example of people who were Christian, but yet carnal in their ways (walking after self, being full of self), and thus not filled with the Spirit. All of us can identify with this self-serving spirit to one degree or another. However, over the years as we look back on our lives, if we are in Christ then we will no doubt see the influence that He has over us. We will see that He has caused us to be less timid before men compared to how we once were. We will cease to be as entangled in this world as we once were, ceasing to care nearly as much about the friendships with, and the acceptance of, the world. God, through trials, tribulations, and other aspects of His effectual working, will cause us to become more and more uncomfortable with fulfilling self, and more and more eager to be filled with the Holy Spirit, His fruit, and His leadings.
With that being said, I state again that I haven’t even begun to arrive. I am writing this to myself just as much as to anyone else. One of the aspects of my life that I bemoan the most is my lack of fervent witness to the outside world; yet I can see the workings of God on my own heart, moving me to want to overcome, and to actually overcome, in this area. My hope is that my words to myself will be an encouragement to some of you.
Note that God sets no quota for us; we do not have “x” amount of people to whom we need to witness each year. However, when God works that great work of salvation in us, one resulting fruit is a desire to tell others about our Beloved Saviour. He plants that desire in us, causing us to be witnesses of the Gospel Truth; He makes that our calling. The word witness in the Greek is the word martus [G3144 – μάρτυς – pronounced mar’-toos] from whence the word martyr is derived. We are to be martyrs in this world, witnessing and dying daily as God enables. By the mercies of God, we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] our reasonable service (Romans 12:1). Part of that reasonable service is speaking the Truth to people no matter what the resulting hardships or consequences may be. Our reasonable service includes, being killed all the day long and being accounted as sheep for the slaughter for the Lord’s sake (Romans 8:36). We are to bear our cross and come after Him dying daily (1 Corinthians 15:31); going forth unto Him without the camp, bearing his reproach (Hebrews 13:13). And what is this dying? It is dying to sinful self; it is caring less and less about what we want and how we feel, and caring more and more about what the Lord would have us to do. It is groaning under the weight of our own sin and foolishnesses. Yet there is more; this dying also pertains to suffering under the looks, words, and acts of ungodly men who revile us, or persecute us, when we tell them of the Truth.
Consider the lands mentioned in the New Testament; places like Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Rome, Tyre and Sidon. These city-states were teeming with idolatry and idolaters. Corinth, a major sea port and center of world trade and commerce, was one one of the largest cities in ancient Greece. The number of false gods and goddesses named amongst the traders, sailors, and inhabitants therein would have been too numerous to count. Athens had idols for countless gods as well, even one for the unknown god in case they missed something. The worship of a mixed multitude of idols was as common place as trees in a forest.
It is important to note that, for the most part, these idolators got along quite well together. The worshipers of Diana were not trying to crucify the worshippers of Mithra, who were not trying to beat and scourge the worshipers of Mylitta, who were not out trying to oppress the worshipers of Anubis or Krishna. Yet many wanted the Christians dead! Why? because the Christians declared boldly that the false gods of these pagans were lies, figments of their own wicked imaginations. Christians declared that they (all mankind, both themselves and the pagans to whom they spoke) were hell-worthy sinners and that their only Hope was in the person of another; namely the Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone. The pagan idolaters could tolerate anything and everything except godly Christian intolerance. They could not stomach being told that their eternal hope was baseless; that all of their religion was a sham; that all of their loved ones (who died believing in their idols) were lost; and that all of their perceived good works and righteous intents were but dung. So they persecuted God’s people; some “…were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith (Hebrews 11:35-39).”
God gives the necessary grace to suit the times that He has ordained (no more, no less); yet that should not keep us for praying for greater faith, even faith like these brethren of old. What God has not given us, however, is the spirit of timidity (2 Timothy 1:7). Instead, He has given us the Spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. We read that whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of the Lord Jesus and of His words, the Lord Jesus shall also be ashamed of them when He cometh in the glory of His Father (Mark 8:38). The fearful and unbelieving shall have their part in the second death, the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone (Revelation 21:8). We are not called to be fearful, or lazy; nor are we called to hide our talent, digging into the ground of our naturally stony hearts (Matthew 13:20-21) and burying it therein unto our own satisfaction and complacency (Matthew 25:14-30). We are called to share the Truth with the world wherever God opens the door, seeking to edify others and not just ourselves (1 Corinthians 14:5-6). Whether we remain silent before men because we are content with our own personal growth, or whether we remain silent because off our natural cowardice, it is all vile sin.
We are also warned to not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of his prisoners; we are called to be partakers of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began (2 Timothy 1:9). Sometimes we may argue “I am not ashamed of the True Gospel, the True Christ, and the True Church, but I am ashamed of those false professors who give “Christianity” such a bad name; I am embarrassed to be seen as one of them. I do not want to be identified with the Arminians, Arians, and Sacramentalists (those whom the unsaved world call Christians).” We can argue this and there is nothing wrong with it in my opinion. However, if being afraid of being identified with those in the Babylonian church keeps us from carrying out our own Christian duty, then that fear becomes sin. If we fear being identified with the deceived, the best step we can take is to become skilled at distinguishing ourselves from them.
To sum up this portion of the study, if anyone claims to be a Christian, but the course of their entire life is one of shirking their duty to be a faithful martus/martyr/witness, they prove that they are not a disciple of Christ and are none of His. They are the ones who discard their cross; not counting it as a divine favor and act of kindness, in the behalf of Christ, to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29). We can go to a faithful church, read our Bibles often, speak accurately of profound truths before other believers, but if we forever remain silent before men (to avoid persecution, embarrassment, loss of opportunity, etc.) then our religion is vain. No one can be a True Christian and forever hide his talent. If we savour the word of God unto our own edification, never seeking to warn and share with the world at large, our profession is a lie. New and/or immature Christians will often remain silent when they should speak up (as will many of the more mature Christians from time to time); but woe unto us if year after year, decade after decade, we never grow in Christian courage. We are warriors, our weapons are not carnal but spiritual; if we never pick them up to defend the cause of God and Truth, then we are worse than the enemy. May God give us boldness and clarity of speech, opening opportunities for witness, and keeping us from cowering and shrinking back. Remember, if God be for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)? We can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us (Philippians 4:13).
To God be the glory, forever and ever.