Summary: All Christians should be far more concerned with what God thinks about them than what men and women think.
Replacing Fear of Man with Fear of the Lord
June 11/12, 2005
MAIN IDEA: All Christians should be far more concerned with what God thinks about them than what men and women think.
AIM: Those who hear this message will be convicted of their fear of man, and will be released from the fear of man which cripples their spiritual growth.
I need to be honest. I am a man pleaser at heart. From my earliest school days I wanted to please those in authority over me. My coaches. My parents. My teachers.
I wanted to impress the other students, that they might think I was a good student, athlete, friend.
As an adult I’ve realized how much I’ve craved approval from my wife, my father, my boss. And this desire to receive affirmation from men, though it motivates a certain level of fervor and responsibility in my life, can also be a hindrance to serving God completely.
For I want my neighbors to like me. I want people to think I’m intelligent, cultured, cool, modern, with-it.
I want you to like me.
But when seeking approval from men is the motivating factor in our lives we are heading down a path that is spiritually dangerous. Prov. 29:25 says…
Prov. 29:25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.
Fear of man is a constant battle for me. For 36 years I’ve been battling its effects in my life. So today, for me and any other self-proclaimed manpleasers out there, we’re going to take a look at what the word of God says about fearing man – and more importantly to receive instruction from the Lord and the empowerment and motivation to replace this fear of man with the fear of the Lord.
“The fear of man is being more impressed with man’s reaction to our actions than with God’s reaction. That’s bondage. When we have the fear of God upon us, we are impressed only with God’s reaction. We are freed from the concern of what people think. That’s freedom! That’s release! That’s great relief!”
-Joy Dawson, “Intimate Friendship With God Through Understanding the Fear of the Lord”, p. 33.
Fear of man can take many different forms:
-obeying earthly masters who instruct us to disobey God’s word (bosses, governments, family members)
(Use Acts 4:16-20)
Acts 4:16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it.
Acts 4:17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”
Acts 4:18 ¶ Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
Acts 4:19 But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.
Acts 4:20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Schools may outlaw prayer or evangelization. Keep praying. Keep evangelizing. Keep sharing the love of Christ and speaking of his gospel.
Your workplace may ban evangelism. Keep praying. Keep telling those who will hear of Christ’s love, acceptance, and forgiveness.
You may be asked to do something unethical by your boss. You may be self-employed and have the opportunity to increase your profits by being unethical. Fear God!
You may receive pressure from unbelieving family members to quit being “so spiritual”. They may pressure you to engage in activities which you can’t do and honor God at the same time. Your response shows whether you fear man or if you fear God.
Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.
Fear of man can also manifest itself this way:
-not speaking the truth to Christians who are wandering from the narrow way. (We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.)
Eph. 4:15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
2Cor. 5:9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
As the body of Christ we are responsible to each other to help each of us stay on what Jesus called the narrow way. As a pastor sometimes I discover that members of our church family are straying. They have compromised and are living in sin in some area of their lives. At those times it would be far easier to simply pray for them – it’s far less offensive. But if I truly love someone – I will not want them to fall under God’s judgment – I will want to do everything possible to warn them and to encourage them to turn around so they can come under the blessings that come from obedience again.