LIONHEARTED: COWARDICE OR COURAGE?
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one… (Ephesians 6:10-16) O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield (Psalm 115:9) The righteous are bold as a lion (Prov. 28:1)
Faith is the opposite of cowardice. Cowardice: δειλία, ας, ἡ deilia cowardice 2 Tim 1:7: “God did not give us a spirit of timidity (δειλίας) but a spirit of power (δυνάμεως).… ” δειλιάω deiliaō be fainthearted, despondent John 14:27: “Let not your hearts be troubled (ταρασσέσθω), neither let them be afraid.” Rev 21:8 includes unbelievers (ἄπιστοι) in a list with cowards.
Courage: [Middle English corage, from Old French, from cuer heart, from Latin cor — mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. Faith in the face of difficulty.
courage implies firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty. mettle suggests an ingrained capacity for meeting strain or difficulty with fortitude and resilience. spirit also suggests a quality of temperament enabling one to hold one’s own or keep up one’s morale when opposed or threatened. resolution stresses firm determination to achieve one’s ends. tenacity adds to resolution implications of stubborn persistence and unwillingness to admit defeat.
Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant (COURAGEOUS) never taste of death but once. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
The War Shield: This shield is not the small round shield worn on the forearm in battle. This was a large shield about four feet high and two and a half feet wide, kind of like a door (from which the word is actually derived).
It must have been the kind of shield the Spartan mother had in mind when she told her son, “Take care that you return with your shield, or on it.” A man could put his entire body behind it as it absorbed the javelins and arrows of the enemy. In the case of flaming arrows, very often the arrow would snuff out as it buried itself in the thickness of the shield. During battles these great shields would often bristle with smoking arrows like roasted porcupines.
This is the picture Paul presents us: As we are battling in warfare, the enemy launches repeated volleys of blazing arrows — temptations, strategies, deceptions — to inflame us and bring our demise. But up come our shields of faith (as we trust God and his Word) into which hot arrows thud harmlessly.
Let’s look at examples of faith, courage and cowardice.
- COURAGEOUS FAITH: Philip and Andrew as Counter Examples
Feeding of the 5,000 John 6:1-13 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat? (John 6:5)
- Faith or reason
- Philip and Andrew were men of reason. Christ tested their faith and commanded them to feed a huge multitude. Immediately their minds told them the impossibilities. They represent the carnal Christian who only sees “below the line.”
In most of our minds, there is a line separating reason and faith. Reason tells us the problems and impossibilities, faith tells us the potential and possibilities. All of us make a daily decision to live in the realm of reason or in the realm of faith. Our participation in faith is so important, it lends our lives an ability to live beyond our mortal limitations as we inscribe on others the lessons we have learned through the Spirit. Faith in this light is the substance of identity.
Jesus saw the multitudes before Him. Faith sees need and produces a miracle; reason sees a need and fears failure. To go back and forth between these two things is to be double-minded, like the 12 spies in Numbers 13:27-33.
Faith, the basis of conquest
- Every test in your life is allowed by God to develop in you the spirit of faith. Without faith, you will never conquer anything. Reason keeps you at or beneath your last level. A challenge, however, helps to develop your faith.
- Jesus knows what He intends to do, “But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.” (John 6:6), but He is waiting for your faith to release His power. For God to do everything for you without your faith increasing defeats the purpose of the test. The faithfulness of the LORD is a response to the faithfulness of His people.
- Addition or multiplication: the test of faith
- Because of Philip’s reasoning, he could see only “addition.” He calculated that it would take about eight months’ salary just to give everyone a little bite, Philip answered Him, Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little (John 6:7).
His “calculator” was his only solution. “Addition” thinks the only way to reach 100 is by adding 2 together 50 times. Reason makes things more complex and difficult than they have to be.
- Andrew’s find exhibits “multiplication.” In the little boy’s lunch, Jesus saw the entire crowd fed. “Multiplication” can see that the best way to reach 100 is by multiplying 2 times 50. Faith makes things easier because it trusts in the power of God.
- The wisdom of a childlike faith (v. 9)
- Children often have an easier time operating in faith than in reason. They live “above the line,” most of the time. Miracles, provision, and solutions come easily to them. Jesus said, “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).
The little boy was excited to give his lunch away. He took no thought of holding and hoarding his possessions because he had no fear of lack. Fear is learned; faith was meant to be our normal. We adults have to relax and surrender ourselves to the Lord so that He can work.
- FAITH PRODUCES COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP: Bold as…
- First Example: Judah, (Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah)
“Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s children shall bow down before you.” (Gen. 49:8)
- Judah as a name means “praise.” Judah was one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Holy Spirit called the tribe of Judah a “lion’s whelp” (a powerful young lion). Jesus is referred to as Shiloh (the peaceful one; He who is to be sent): “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people” (v. 10). This is important, as the kingly anointing was to be upon the tribe of Judah. Paul had peace precede faith, which requires courage.
- David came from the tribe of Judah. The tribe of Judah always led the way into battle, and the lion was its standard. Jesus was totally fearless in the face of the enemy, and we, too, must have the spirit of the Lion of the tribe of Judah… The righteous are bold as a lion (Prov. 28:1)
- Praise/worship is a priority in spiritual warfare. God inhabits the praise of His people. When we praise we carry His Standard into the battle.
- Second Example: The Gadites, men like lions: Bold as… Some Gadites joined David at the stronghold in the wilderness, mighty men of valor, men trained for battle, who could handle shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as gazelles on the mountains (1 Chronicles 12:8)
David’s faith and courage attracted men of faith and courage. The Gadites were a Jewish tribe who sent 11 of their top warriors to serve under David. They illustrate the type of believer it will take to turn the tide in our region.
- “Men trained for battle” These men were skilled in knowing how to fight the enemy. Today, many believers are unsure of themselves in handling “shield and spear” (God’s Word).
- “Faces … like the faces of lions” Satan tries to imitate a lion (scary), on the prowl, like a roaring lion, but hear me friends, our faces must be just as ferocious as a real lion in order to overcome him. The lion face is one of the faces Ezekiel saw on the cherubim, As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle (Ezek. 1:10).
- “Swift as gazelles” Speed wins battles. These were men who did not get bogged in tedious deliberation, nor did they procrastinate. The Gadites were in top shape; they were not thick and lethargic. They could handle leading up to 1,000 soldiers each and could cross the Jordan River at flood stage. Satan trembles at believers who rise up with this kind of strength of authority These were from the sons of Gad, captains of the army; the least was over a hundred, and the greatest was over a thousand. These are the ones who crossed the Jordan in the first month, when it had overflowed all its banks; and they put to flight all those in the valleys, to the east and to the west (1 Chronicles 12:14-15).
- America, we are in serious trouble. We are rapidly being taken over by Hollywood; the gay agenda; and the anti-Christian spirit of wealth, entertainment, and uncleanness. God is looking for spiritual lions that will counterattack with their spiritual weapons in hand. Rise up and roar! Let your faith be seen and heard!
III. FAITH IMPARTS COURAGEOUS AUTHORITY (Acts 13-19)
- You have Authority to overcome demonic powers (Acts 13:4-12)
- You have to understand that satan’s generals are guarding the political, economic, and media power bases. Paul was brought before the Roman governor of Cyprus to preach the Gospel. His entire message was disturbed by a male witch who tried to hinder the governor from turning to Christ.
- Cities and regions are ruled by demonic powers. It takes apostolic authority to directly face and challenge these spirits. Paul was filled with Holy Spirit, the key to spiritual authority, and commanded the occultist to be struck blind, stripping the principalities of a major stronghold (v. 9) Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.’ And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
- The power of courageous authority will bring a revival to our area.
- You Have Authority to speak the Word (Acts 13:13-52)
- Paul and Barnabas sat down in the synagogue, and the synagogue rulers called upon them to share a word: “And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on (v. 15). Paul preached, and his message is recorded in the next 25 verses of this chapter. The result was that many were saved, and the next Sabbath nearly the entire city came out to hear the Word of the Lord proclaimed On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God (v. 44).
satan hates God’s Word. It has the Father’s seal of approval on it (authority). Paul quoted five direct Old Testament Scriptures in his message. Hear me friend, your authority in the Lord is tied to your knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures. This is why weak preaching, powerless churches will never get the job done.
- God’s Spirit and His Word is the shaping element of your destiny. Remember, “faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).”
You Have Authority to bring deliverance as a faith expression
And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked. (Acts 14:8-10)
- Paul cried out with a loud voice and commanded the paralytic at Lystra to stand upon his feet. This was apostolic authority moving in the gift of faith. Peter had done the same thing at Lydda “And Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.’ Then he arose immediately.” (Acts 9:34), and as a result, an entire city had turned to the Lord.
- Healing and deliverance flow from conquering faith. We must be bold to command the sick to be healed and the demon-possessed to be delivered.
- You Have Authority to overcome opposition
“Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.” (Acts 14:19)
- Here is another truth: wherever there is apostolic authority, there is also demonic opposition. Paul was stoned and dragged out of the city; however, he got up and just went back into the city “However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.” (v. 20). No opposition ever succeeded in stopping the apostles from fulfilling their mission.
- Paul faced trouble everywhere he went. He was beaten with rods, imprisoned, and stoned, but still he continued to “turn the world upside down” (Acts. 17:6). He destroyed the worship of Diana in Ephesus (Acts 19:26) and burned magic books worth millions of dollars.
- We must be bold as lions! God is looking for spiritual warriors who are fruitful, multiplying, filling the earth, subduing it, and taking dominion.
Having taken up, ἀναλαβόντες, aptly chosen here: the shield of faith.—Τον θυρεόν (from θῦρα, originally that which closes an entrance) is chosen by the Apostle because he has in mind the scutum, which was four feet long and two and a half broad
Addition or multiplication: the true test of faith. Because of Philip’s reasoning, he could see only “addition.” He calculated that it would take about eight months’ salary just to give everyone a little bite, Philip answered Him, Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little (John 6:7). His “calculator” was his only solution. “Addition” thinks the only way to reach 100 is by adding 2 together 50 times. Reason makes things more complex and difficult than they have to be. Andrew’s find exhibits “multiplication.” In the little boy’s lunch, Jesus saw the entire crowd fed. “Multiplication” can see that the best way to reach 100 is by multiplying 2 times 50. Faith makes things easier because it trusts in the power of God.