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March 24, 2008 / beidson

Heaven: No Place for Cowards

coward1.jpgIf you ask people what kind of things could keep a person out of heaven, you are sure to get a million answers.  But perhaps an answer you would not likely hear is cowardice.  But this is exactly the kind of thing that Scripture tells us will most definitely keep people out of heaven, and even more, damn them to eternal punishment.

Though not usually suspect like sins such as rape or murder, cowardice is equally as condemnatory, because it stems from the root of faithlessness, and ultimately, it is faithlessness that will be condemned by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Revelation 21 tells of a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells and death and pain are no more.  The Apostle John tells us that God says, “The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (vv. 7-8).

So then, heaven is for conquerers, not cowards.  Heaven is for those who through Christ have overcome the judgment of God against sin.  It is for those who have hoped in the One who conquered the grave by the power of God.  Heaven is for those who, like Paul, have beaten and bullied their flesh and brought it under submission to Christ.  It is for those who have waged war against the principalities and powers of darkness, and have resisted the devil, even sometimes at the cost of their own lives.  Their faithfulness to Christ is evident, and it is revealed in their refusal to refuse Christ.

Cowardice, on the other hand, is revealed at the level of orthopraxy.  Though cowards may be brave at the level of orthodoxy, they will most certainly be exposed as phonies when they are called to practice the Scriptures, especially to the point of death.  Here is where their faithlessness is revealed.

Postmodern thought, though attempting to produce neutral, free-thinking, autonomous individuals, has instead produced a society of cowards, individuals that may acknowledge truth in an abstract sense but are too timid to lay their lives down for it.  There is no honor or bravery in acknowledging truth without consequences.  Confessing truth must be accopmanied by practicing truth.  Judas is not despised because he denied Christ, but because he pretended to love him when in fact he did not.

But cowardice shows up in much smaller ways too.  It shows up when a teenager refuses to be identified with Christ because she fears the opinion of her classmates.  It shows up when a young father won’t forsake his sin, because he refuses to be held accountable by other men for fear of what they might think of him.  Cowardice shows up when an elderly lady clings to her self-righteousness and will not come to Christ for fear that church members will not esteem her so highly any more.  And it shows up in the darkness of night, when a young man lying in bed considers his career track to be better than the call of Christ to forsake everything and follow him.

Cowardice isn’t about weakness; it’s about faithlessness.  Confessing Christ and showing affectionate desire for him do not make a person brave; even Judas did these things.  These must be done, but done to the point of death.  We must be faithful to the one who is called Faithful, lest we be found to fear man more than God and condemned to the lake of fire.  This is a place for those who kiss Christ to save their own lives.  It is a place for murderers, yes, but for cowards too.

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