Summary: Being called a "coward" can be quite the insult...but being a "cowardly Christian" has consequences that are eternal!
April 23, 2003 Wednesday Evening
Title: "They Would Not Confess Their Faith"
or "Cowardly Christians" or "No Fear"
Text: John 12:42-43
That was one of the most devastating insults in the Old West.
If you told someone, "you have a yellow stripe running up your back that’s a mile wide"
Them’s fightin’ words!
Basically, you were calling that person a big coward.
I don’t really know the origin of the cowardly meaning of the word "yellow"
Another popular way of describing the coward was, "turn tail and run"...
which takes its meaning from a rabbit;
which when scared...
would turn around, stick its tail up in the air...
and take of running.
Today, instead of "Yella" or "turn tail and run"....
it might be, "you scared?"
"Is the little baby scared"?
"Do you need your mommy?"
In fact, people will try to circumvent any thought that they are afraid by putting a bumper sticker on their car that says, "No fear"!
They don’t want anything to think they are afraid of anything.
I think this fear of being considered afraid is pretty ironic...
because if someone feels like they have to put a "no fear" sticker on their car...
well, I just think it just has the opposite effect...
basically telling everyone that they are afraid.
Being CALLED a coward is one thing...
but being a COWARDLY CHRISTIAN is another!
Cowardly Christianity has been a big problem from Bible times until now.
Read Text: John 12:42-43
Many people were coming to Christ...
and it wasn’t just the poor and sick and helpless...
even many of the leaders were coming to Christ!
But then came the real test...
would they be willing to openly admit that they believed Jesus was Lord?
Or would they bow to their fear and keep it a secret?
It wouldn’t be easy to go public.
Because if they did, they would incur the wrath of the Pharisees.
Barclay’s Commentary says, "they were not prepared to take the risk of openly declaring for him.
It would have meant an end of their place,
and their prestige.
They would have been ostracized from society
and banished from orthodox religion.
It was too high a price to pay.
So they lived a lie because they were not big enough to stand up for the truth"
A public profession of faith in Jesus Christ is a requirement in Christianity...
it just cannot be kept a secret.
Romans 10:10 says, "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved"
Jesus Himself said, in Matthew 10:32-33, "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."
A public confession of faith was very costly in the early Church. John 9:22 tells us "the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue"
So these leaders were faced with decision,
would they turn to Christ, in spite of the consequences?
Or would they turn away from Christ?
Our text says, "they loved praise from men more than praise from God" John 12:43 (NIV)
They turned away
They chose to enjoy the praise of men, which is only temporary...
instead of the praise of God, which is eternal!
Jesus reminds us that we need to put Him before all others.
He says that the greatest commandment is to "love the Lord your God will all your heart"!
He doesn’t say, "love the Lord your God; but when things get a little scary, it’s okay if you hide your love for me"
Now, before we judge these leaders too harshly, let me quickly say that...
not only was this a problem in Bible times...
but it is a big problem in the Church today!!
This is a question that ALL Christians must face...
Are we going to confess Jesus Christ, no matter what?
Or are we only going to confess Him in Church, where it is easy?
1. There are many reasons why people are cowardly Christians, (why they are afraid to confess Christ) First, we live with a "herd" mentality.
We always want to be with the "herd".
We don’t want to be separated out...
we don’t want to appear different.
We want to go with the flow...
we want to go with the crowd...
It is so much easier,
going with the crowd,
instead of stepping out on our own and following Christ.
Jesus Himself said, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" Matt 7:13-14 (NIV)