Defending the Faith, Part 1

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.” – 1 Peter 3:15-16

The charge of the Apostle Peter that all of God’s people be in a place of readiness to defend their faith and the hope that is within us is a vitally important passage and message that teaches us helpful things: Primarily, that readiness is essential. Consider a few things:

1) In order to be ready, we need to have taken time to study Scripture and to think through what we believe and why we believe it in order to share our faith clearly.

2) Readiness involves an awareness of other worldviews and truth claims in order to engage others from an informed position.

3) Being ready is also knowing that the work of defending our faith, or apologetics, doesn’t start and stop with absorbing concepts in books and classes, but prayerfully applying that knowledge to life, growing in skill in both our walk and conversation. 

Thinking about this, it’s good to recognize that our defense of the faith really begins in the heart. It begins with honoring God in our hearts. It begins with our fearing the Lord. Therefore, it begins with a Spirit-wrought desire to fear and honor Him, instead of our fearing men, their ideas or opinions, and honor of them. For the fear of man is a dangerous trap, as Solomon teaches us in Prov. 29:25 when he says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” The psalmist rightly proclaims in Psalm 111:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” The fear of man effects our defense. It often subverts it and makes the witness of our walk weak.

Yet, it’s so easy to be lured and to fall into the fear-of-man trap, isn’t it? Some often find themselves in a rut where they want people to like them and don’t want those people to be upset with them. Those thoughts and feelings then drive and change their words and actions. However, that obsession comes with a great cost. If the focus of our hearts is on Christ and honoring Him, His Word will matter to us much more than those from others (Psalm 112:7). If the focus of our hearts and our fear is truly of Him, the blossoms of wisdom will flourish and we will have godly understanding that is evident in our walk.

It’s from this godly fear and understanding that the Spirit then fuels our passion to proclaim, that He fuels our willingness and ability to give an answer and share the glorious Gospel of Christ, and the truth of His enduring Word (1 Peter 1:25). So, we keep studying, learning, growing, and going. As you go, know that defending your faith, and opportunities to do so, go beyond and are outside formal church evangelistic events. Each and every day, your walk should be a witness of the grace and work of Christ (1 Peter 3:1).

Do you fear and honor Christ in your heart? What is being proclaimed from your heart, through your words, and in particular through your walk? Can others see that you fear and honor your Lord? I pray that they can. May God grant you much grace to grow and go in a manner in which your faith in Christ is wonderfully lived out for His glory!

Beloved, as the Apostle Paul exhorts us ­– “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58).

For further reading, I recommend Dr. Greg Bahnsen’s book, Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith.