“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it…” Nelson Mandela
Have you ever felt bound by fear, and worked really hard to be free from it? Fear seems to be something that creeps in often unknowingly. Many Christians do not even realize that their struggle actually is fear. I have fought it myself, and I have enjoyed the freedom that comes with being at rest in the arms of my Daddy God. What I have learned is that to focus on the fear is to remain in bondage to it. To focus on Jesus is to be free and brave.
I love the word BRAVE. Bravery is a much nicer, richer word than fear. Fear is heavy and intense and it denotes darkness. The more that I study God’s Word the more I realize that fear is actually a much more complicated subject than we realize. To unpack fear is a heavy undertaking, and one that I find keeps me unintentionally focused on darkness. And yet bravery – for me, learning to be “brave” rather than “unafraid” has been to learn more about Jesus.
Bravery = Childlike trust. Trusting in Jesus as a child trusts their hero. It all points to Jesus. 1 John 4:18 says that “perfect love casts out fear.” And to quote one of my current favorite worship songs from Bethel, “You have made me brave…no fear can hinder now the promises you’ve made” (http://youtu.be/6Hi-VMxT6fc).
One of my favorite passages of scripture is Romans 8. As I have fought for my freedom in the area of condemnation/guilt/shame, Romans 8 has come alive to me! And I firmly believe that everything we need to make us brave is found in that chapter.
So for those of us who struggle to be courageous and brave rather than afraid – I present to you my CASE FOR BRAVERY, based upon Romans 8. Ten reasons why we can live BRAVE lives.
- YOU ARE FREE FROM SIN AND GUILT (vs. 1, 2).
You are free. Period. And verse 1 says there is no condemnation for you, even if you still make a bad choice. You are no longer guilty…you have been made completely “right” with God.
- YOU HAVE BEEN MADE RIGHT WITH GOD (vs. 10, 30).
Verse 10 says that the Spirit gives you LIFE. The Life of Christ, who did it all for you. When God looks at a born again believer, He sees you as pure, holy and RIGHT with Him. Still don’t believe me? Then re-read verse 1. NO CONDEMNATION!
- THE RESURRECTION SPIRIT (WHICH ROSE JESUS FROM THE DEAD) LIVES WITHIN YOU (vs. 11).
The same Spirit that was at work in Christ to bring His very dead body, mind and soul back to life – that is the same Spirit that resides within a born again believer. That’s powerful…..so why be afraid?
- YOU ARE GOD’S CHILD, AND AN HEIR TO ALL HE HAS (vs. 14-17).
We’re not just “adopted.” Romans 11 says that we’ve been grafted in. He sees us as HIS. And as the King of the Universe and Creator of everything – our inheritance is pretty awesome!
- YOU HAVE HOPE (vs. 23-25).
I’m all about hope right now. Bravery and Hope are my two favorite subjects. When you know that you have a hope…how can you NOT be brave?
- THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS YOU AND PRAYS FOR YOU (vs. 26, 27).
You’re not alone. Not only is the Holy Spirit guiding you, comforting you and teaching you but He is also interceding for you regularly. To know that the most powerful force in existence is praying for me and helping me is more than enough to give me courage!
- HE WORKS EVERYTHING OUT FOR YOUR GOOD (vs. 28).
He doesn’t work out just a few things for your good. Romans doesn’t say that He works things out for you based upon your works or attitude or even obedience. It just says due to our right standing with Him and being His children and having the Holy Spirit, He will work out EVERYTHING for our good. Enough said.
- HE IS ON YOUR SIDE TO SUCH AN EXTENT THAT NO ONE ELSE CAN STAND AGAINST YOU AND SUCEED (vs. 31-24).
Verse 33 in the New Living Translation even uses the words, “who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own?” Strong words! No one can dare to come up against those whom God loves. NO ONE.
- YOU ARE OVERWHELMINGLY VICTORIOUS (vs. 37).
A few versions say “more than a conqueror” and the New Living Translation says that we have “overwhelming victory.” They mean the same thing: We have an overwhelming victory because of Christ. Overwhelmingly victorious!
- YOU CANNOT EVER BE SEPARATED FROM HIS LOVE FOR YOU (vs. 35-39).
Read it for yourself – it’s pretty self-explanatory. It gives me such a great peace to know that God loves me, despite absolutely anything (even my own rebellion).
When something in you “clicks” and you realize that everything listed above from Romans 8 is for YOU to grab a hold of, then there is no reason to live your life afraid. Anxiety has no place. Fear has no place. Bondage has no place. Where courage takes root, fear wilts and dies. Even in this past week I had to practice being brave a few times by reminding myself of these promises in Romans 8 – perhaps this is what Paul meant in Romans 12 when he spoke of daily renewing your mind. Bravery is sometimes a daily choice, but a life altering one.
Being brave means that I can step out and KNOW God and who He is. It means understanding that He always keeps His promises. It means really believing that nothing can hinder His love for me or remove His promises from me (Psalm 33:4, 146:6 NLT). It looks like childlike trust. As corny as it sounds, Jesus is the true superhero that our hearts long for.
So let’s begin to focus on Romans 8. You and I were made for this! Let’s be BRAVE.