Hopes and Fears
Every New Year our thoughts are mixed. We look back over the past year with both sorrow and joy, reflecting upon sad events but also the Lord’s kindness to us. We look forward to the year ahead, thankful for God’s precious promises but mindful too of how frail and fickle we are. We need to pray with Christ’s disciples, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).
For each one of us our earthly lives are a blend of hopes and fears. That is only to be expected in a fallen world. But the situation differs greatly depending upon our relationship to God. We may summarise it by saying that for those who reject the gospel of Christ their fears should be greater than their hopes, whereas for those who have believed to the saving of their souls their hopes ought to be greater than their fears.
The unconverted have every reason to fear now. As sinners their guilt before God is great and they are liable to His avenging wrath. If you are outside of Christ then whatever your hopes for the future this is the solemn reality. That is why the Bible warns us to “flee from the wrath to come” (Matt.3:7). Before the gospel came to them the Gentile nations dwelt in darkness, “having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph.2:12). If even under the preaching of the Word the Saviour’s dying love and redeeming blood mean nothing to you then how great is your darkness!
The children of God have no reason to fear in the end. They have their enemies in this life but by His cross the Lord Jesus Christ has conquered them all. So Paul was able to write to the Corinthians: “For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” (1Cor.3:21-23). Victory indeed!
Believer, do you fear the world? You should not. Certainly the world opposes your witness but Jesus says, “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Hoping to share in His triumph you should have the attitude of the Psalmist: “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (Psa.56:11) .
Believer, do you fear your flesh? You are right to do so, for “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer.17:9). Your old nature will never improve but you are “a new creature” in Christ (2Cor.5:17) and hope one day to be like your Lord. In all your striving against sin remember this: “he will subdue our iniquities” (Mic.7:19).
Believer, do you fear the devil? You are wise to be wary of him for he “walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1Pet.5:8). Do not face him in your own strength but “strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Eph.6:10). With all God’s people you have this encouraging hope: “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom.16:20).
Believer, do you fear death? Do not fear it unduly. Though “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1Cor.15:26) it will be destroyed: indeed it has been already, for Christ by His own death has drawn “the sting of death” which is sin (1Cor.15:56). You have the sure and comforting hope of a glorious resurrection to everlasting life.
In the year now begun may we all know a good hope through grace.