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There has not been a more crucial time in recent history when Christians have needed to stand firm in their faith. As culture becomes increasingly antagonistic to Christianity, the temptation for believers is to be ashamed of biblical truth, and even to deny Jesus Christ who is Himself the truth (John 14:6). When Christian truth is unpopular and unappealing, there is immense pressure from the world to compromise our witness. However, we are called not to waver or to fear others but to stand unashamed of Christ. And while many may fall away from the faith, our Lord has a solemn warning for those who would be ashamed of Christ and of His truth.

The Call to Follow Christ in Truth

We read the sobering words of Jesus in Mark 8:38: “For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” In no uncertain terms, Jesus promises that all those who live ashamed of Him in this life, He will be ashamed of them at the judgment. This statement comes on the heels of His call for believers to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him, as well as His command for them to lose their lives for the sake of the gospel (vv. 34–35). There is no room for waffling here; it’s a matter of life and death. But the command is clear: Jesus wants disciples who wholeheartedly follow Him—who live in a way that is consistent with His life and teaching. This is more than rigid obedience. Jesus is after transformed hearts and people who are willing to stand unashamed of the truth in the face of opposition.

Living Unashamed

The Greek word translated “ashamed” (epai­schunomai) refers to being embarrassed or fearful of ridicule, but it can also refer to despising or rejecting. When Jesus warns against being “ashamed” of Him and of His words, He has more in mind than simply outward profession. After all, He rebuked the Pharisees and scribes for their hypocrisy, quoting from Isaiah’s prophecy in Mark 7:6: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” In other words, religious people can profess to love God yet deny Him by the way they live (Titus 1:16). To be ashamed of Christ is to speak and live in a way that is inconsistent with His revealed truth. To be ashamed of Him is functionally to deny Him as Lord.

To be ashamed of Christ is to speak and live in a way that is inconsistent with His revealed truth.

Why would a person deny Christ? Jesus makes it clear in Mark 8:35–37 that it is an issue of self-preservation. The error is believing that you can save your own life by embracing the world. And since the world hates Christ and His gospel, they hate all who would pledge allegiance to Him. However, to deny Christ is to try to win favor in the world’s eyes and effectively preserve one’s own life. In this way, saving one’s own life is akin to denying Christ. But Jesus warns against such behavior. In Mark 8:38, He declares that whoever seeks the favor of this “adulterous and sinful” world by denying Him will receive nothing but shame in the life to come. A little joy now for an eternity of sorrow. A few moments of praise from man in exchange for God’s curses forever.

Keeping our Testimony of Faith

However, we have a cloud of witnesses in Scripture who did not deny the faith but lived unashamed of God’s truth (Heb. 11:1–40). The Apostle Paul boldly declared, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). Furthermore, he encouraged young Timothy, “Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord” (2 Tim. 1:8), and he himself was not ashamed to suffer for Christ (v. 12).

Beloved, encourage your heart. In the face of worldly opposition, stand firm. Do not be afraid to “lose your life,” as Jesus puts it. Don’t fear the scowls and scorn of unbelievers. The Lord will judge this “adulterous and sinful generation.” If you follow Christ and lose your life for His sake and for the gospel’s, you will be found safe in Him. Furthermore, not only will He be unashamed of you in the judgment, but He will confess you before the Father who is in heaven (Matt. 10:32).

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From the November 2020 Issue
Nov 2020 Issue