I hope all is well with you. I wanted to thank you for always answering my questions with sound Bible doctrine. It has helped me a lot.
I have a question about confessing Jesus before men. I was reading Matthew 10:32-33 and I would like to know exactly what Jesus means? I have confessed Jesus before men when I was baptized. I have spoken to friends about Jesus, even homeless strangers, but I still have this innate sense that I am not doing enough, or I am somehow denying him if I don't mention him to people throughout the day, every day. Am I falsely trusting my own judgment and trying to do a false doctrine of works? I feel guilty if I go a couple days in a row without mentioning Christ to people, and I feel like I'm denying Him. Can you clarify please what Jesus is saying?
God requires that we stand for Him and with Him. This is what is meant by confessing Him. You can see this in the greater context of the passage:
"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.'" (Matthew 10:28-36).
Confession is not merely mouthing platitudes about our belief that a man who lived 2,000 years ago was the Son of God. Paul is saying much more when he said, "But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame"" (Romans 10:8-11). Confession is the willingness to stand in the face of adversity and to show unwavering confidence in our God who can and does save us.
Perhaps it is well-illustrated by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Our story of faith begins in Daniel 3:1-7.
Nebuchadnezzar put up a statue on the plains of Dura. It was a very large statue. At 90 feet high, it was about the height of a nine story building. It was also nine feet wide. Covered in gold, it would gleam in the hot sun, dazzling all who saw it.
At the dedication of the statue, dignitaries from around the empire were gathered -- important men from all levels of the government. A herald went out among the crowd and cried out that at the sound of an orchestra, everyone is expected to fall before the image and worship it. As extra incentive, those failing to bow before the statue would be cast into a furnace to be burnt alive.
What would you do if you where there? Worship of an idol was forbidden in the Law of Moses, but the nation of Israel had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. As emperor, Nebuchadnezzar had the ability and power to demand anything he wanted. Notice also the peer pressure. When the orchestra played, everyone did as the king commanded. The thought of our peers is one of the greatest hindrances to faith. So many would rather not make waves, even though they disagree. Would you have caved in and been one of the thousands, or would you be willing to stick out?
The story continues in Daniel 3:8-18. Certain Chaldeans, men of the same nationality as the king, brought it to the king's attention that three Jewish men, namely Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, had defied the king's command. Their refusal to bow was seen as defiance of the king and a disrespect for the king's gods.
But Nebuchadnezzar was a just man. He doesn't condemn the men solely on the word of those who brought the charges. He offers Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego a chance to prove themselves loyal by giving them a second chance. And it is here we notice the strength of these men's faith. They declared that a repeat performance was not necessary. The Hebrew text says they had no need to make a carefully worded answer. They were quite willing to be blunt in what they were about to say. They had full confidence in God.
They believe God was able to rescue them. God had the power and ability to deliver them from harm. What they did not know was if God would choose to save them or not. They were not privy to the purpose of God. Perhaps their death would serve some purpose. If so, they were prepared to die. Even if it meant death, they would serve not the false gods of the king.
Their faith was tested, as the story continues in Daniel 3:19-23. A faith stated is useless unless it is demonstrated with action (James 2:14, 17-18).
Nebuchadnezzar stopped smiling as the three men renounced his gods. In fact, he became absolutely furious. He ordered the furnace to be heated to seven times its normal temperature. He ordered his best warriors to tie up these men and carry them to the furnace -- there would be no escape. They were trussed up fully clothed, which would just add more fuel to the fire. The men carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to the furnace, but the heat was so great that they perished just from getting too close to the furnace. As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell from their grasp, they fell into the center of the furnace, still tied. God could have kept them from the furnace and the flames entirely, but God tests the righteous (Jeremiah 20:12).
As a result, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's faith is rewarded (Daniel 3:24-30).
Nebuchadnezzar was puzzled. He was astounded. Weren't three men were cast into the fire? Yet four are seen. Weren't they bound? Yet they are walking around. The fourth appears to be a son of the gods, a messenger of the most high God.
The king, himself, approaches the furnace and calls for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to leave the furnace and appear before him. The king and all the government officials watch as these men leave the flames. There is no sign of their being in the furnace. They are whole, not even the hairs on their head were singed. Their clothes were undamaged. They did not even smell of smoke!
Nebuchadnezzar recognized that only the Most High God could do such a thing. These men were right to put their trust in such a God and God was right in overturning Nebuchadnezzar's decree.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:35-39).
This is what it means to confess Christ. It is not mentioning Jesus' name daily. It means that when you are pressured to sin to say, "I can't do that. I'm a Christian." When a teacher mocks belief in God, it is willing to state "I have more reason to trust God than I have to trust you." Confession is the courage to declare our faith in the face of ridicule, threats, injury, or even death. We don't face this daily, but the willingness to do it should always be present.