In reflecting on Tom Ascol's posts on cowardly anonymity and ministerial courage, I started to mull over the nature of cowardice. Cowardice is essentially the fruit of idolatry, fear of men, and legalism. Cowards believe that by doing something wrong or by not doing what is right, other men will approve of them and they will have greater happiness in their lives. It is a form of legalism, which says if I "do" or "work hard for" what other men "approve," then I will be "acceptable" (justified) in their eyes, and they will make my life happier for it. Conversely, cowards fear that if they do what is right and in accordance with God's laws, men will disapprove of them and make their lives miserable. These are actually the terms of the covenant of sin, the Satanic covenant, that promises acceptablity in the sight of others and happiness on the basis of sin. Cowards believe those Satanic promises and sin accordingly.
The antidote to cowardice is a clear understanding of the gospel covenant, particularly of justification and sanctification. God's people are acceptable in God's sight only for what Christ has done in their place. Thus, they do not have to work for the approval of anyone and should not try to win the approval of men. God approves of them, and God is for them. So, why should they try to work for anyone else's approval? Furthermore, if God's people obey God's laws, God will bless them and protect them. Obedience is certainly sometimes costly in physical terms, but it always brings about happy fellowship with the Father through Christ in the Spirit. How do we know? God has already given us His Son. How will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Cowards don't believe the promises of God. They work for the approval of men. The solution is to trust Christ and to believe His promises that He will perserve, sanctify, and reward His own who obey Him, even though that obedience may cost them their very lives.