The Fear of Man

The Fear of Man

Peter being crucified upside down

The Fear of Man. The first time I ever read Matthew chapter ten, I knew what Jesus meant when He said,

If you are ashamed of Me before men I will be ashamed of you before My Father in heaven, but if you acknowledge Me before men I will acknowledge you before my father in heaven.

I knew that Jesus was saying to me in no uncertain terms, “If you really want to follow Me, there is no such thing as walking the fence. You are either for Me or you’re against Me. You are either part of the problem or you are part of the solution. You are either an asset or you are a liability. In His own words,

You either gather with Me or you scatter!

I knew that if I became a fully devoted follower of the LORD Jesus Christ I would have to tell my family and friends about Jesus. I was afraid of being called a “Jesus Freak” or a “religious fanatic.”

So, I prayed and said, “LORD, if you will take that fear of man away from me, I will never miss an opportunity to speak for you. Wherever I am, if I feel your elbow in my ribs, I’ll say whatever you want me to say to whomever you want me to say it.” I didn’t know at the time that in I John 5:14-15 it says:

 And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us {in} whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

Well, I asked for something that was according to God’s will, and I was sincere. As you may have guessed by now, I am no longer ashamed of the Gospel. In Rom. 1:16 Paul said,

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

So, how do we get delivered from the fear of man? Before I tell you, it may help you to know that none of us are immune from this spiritual disease known as the fear of man.

The Apostles themselves who were eyewitnesses of His majesty, His power, and His glory also experienced the power of the world, the flesh and the devil, the three sources from which the fear of man derives its power.

Deliverance is a Work of Grace

Know and understand, anytime we are delivered from any and every form of sin, it is first and foremost a work of grace. A work of grace is something only God can do. Paradoxically, your part must be factored in.

A work of grace is something God does in you and through you as you learn to trust in, rely upon, and submit to Him. This idea is found in Gal. 5:22 where the Word of God says,

“The  fruit of the Spirit…. is self control.”

The word Grace in English is (khar’-ece) in Greek. Most preachers will tell you that grace means “unmerited favor,” and it does. But, it is much more than that.

Here is the best definition of grace I have found…

1. Grace is the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the   life including gratitude; good will, loving-kindness, and favor. It is used of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, and increases them in the Christian faith, knowledge, and affection. It kindles the exercise of Christian virtue and moral excellence.

2) The spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace.

 Jesus Christ is grace personified

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. Titus 2:11-14

How do I get set free from the fear of man? Here are seven action steps to get you there:

Action step #1:  Pray

2 Chron 7:14-15 says, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

As far as your part is concerned when it comes to prayer, the condition of your heart is critical. You must be sincere. The English word “sincere” comes from two Latin words meaning pure and without wax.

In ancient times, potters would sometimes have their pottery crack during the drying time in the heat. Some unscrupulous potters, rather than throw the flawed piece away, would fill in the crack with wax and paint over it.

A shrewd buyer, aware of this practice also knew that is you hold the finished piece up to the sun, the light from the sun would expose the flaws. The potter would cry, “sincere, sincere!“ Meaning, “without wax.” If you want God to deliver you from the fear of man you must be “sincere!“

1 Samuel says,

“Only man looks on the outer appearance, God looks on your heart!”

Action step #2: Study the Bible

The better you know the Word of God, the better you know the God of the Word. The better you know God, the stronger His presence is in your life. When the presence of God becomes strong enough in your life, you’ll no longer be afraid of what people think.

There is no way around it. The better you know your Bible and apply it, the wiser you become. People need answers to life’s questions and everything we need to live a life of godliness is found in His Word.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12-13

The Word of God is alive, it is constantly bearing fruit, and it is sharper than any other sword. What does a sword do? It separates things. And what does the Word of God want to separate you from? The world, the flesh, and the devil.

Anytime you see the world “world” in the New Testament, it is a code word for “godlessness.” The fashion and the philosophy of the world is all about satisfying the desires of the flesh here and now, giving no though of the after life. The peer pressure from the “everybody’s doing it” mentality is like a raging river.

The god of this world wants to steal, kill and destroy you. Sin always promises pleasure but only produces pain. Sin always comes as a mistress, but always ends as your master.

Just like the name of Jesus has power? So the written Word of God also has power. Psalms 119:11 says:

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

And Ps. 119:105 says:  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

The lamp shows you where you are, and the light shows you where to go. The recognition of a problem is half of the solution. First you have to know where you are. I did not know I had a problem with the fear of man until I realized the fact by reading the Bible. I found the solution (where I needed to go) by also reading the world of God.

In 2 Tim. 2:15 we find this nugget:

 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

We are to study and meditate on the Word of God rather than just reading it casually. As you diligently study and think about what God’s Word is saying, God will reveal spiritual truth to you by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is how you grow spiritually.

In John 14:6, Jesus said,

You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.

A fascinating truth revealing this paradox of God delivering you and your part being factored in is found in Gal. 5:22:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,     goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

The fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Here is another great truth with the power to deliver found in Rom. 12:1-2:

I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, {which is} your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

And how do you renew your mind? According to Eph. 5:26 you wash it with the water of the Word of God.

Action Step #3:

Learn to control your mind

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. {We are} destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ ( 2 Cor. 10:3-5).

Every sin began we have ever committed began as a thought in our minds. James 1:14 says:

But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.

James explains the process of sin. He says, “Each one is tempted when he is carried away.” He is speaking of being carried away in our imaginations. A sinful idea enters our mind. We are temped, so we begin to contemplate it, before you know it you begin to rationalize and justify it in your mind. If you don’t catch it right there and take control of your thoughts, it’s over. You cross the line of sin when you continue to entertain the though instead of rejecting it. At that point, you are accountable to God.

Look what Jesus said in Matt. 5:27-28:

You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery”; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

It is not a sin to be tempted, Jesus was tempted yet He was without sin. It is one thing to see a woman, it is another thing to lust after her. There are many verses that talk about controlling your mind. Here is a great liberating truth. It’s found in Phil 4:8-9:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your    mind dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received    and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.

If what you are thinking does not fit through the grid of Phil. 4:8 you have no business thinking it. If it is not true, honorable, pure, lovely, of good repute, and if it’s not excellent and worthy of praise you need to get it out of your mind. Here is one more great verse for you. It’s  in Col. 3:1-6:

If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come.

Action step #4:

Redeem the time

You know how it is when someone has a baby? The family and friends come over, they all look at the baby in the crib and make baby sounds. They’re all looking and going, “Ooooo, ahhhhhh, what a precious baby!” Well, if you come back in five years and the kid is still in the crib, nobody’s going to be going, Oooooo, ahhhhh, what a beautiful baby?

The point is, if you have not grown in the last 5-10 there is nothing cute about it. Something is wrong. You need to grow and the only way to do that is by investing rather than wasting your time.

Have you heard the story of Charles Schwab and Ivy Lee? Schwab was president of Bethlehem Steel and Ivy Lee was a consultant. He was hired by Schwab to show them how to be more productive. The challenge was: “Show me a way to get more things done with my time.” Schwab agreed to pay him “anything within reason” if Lee’s ideas worked. As incredible as it sounds, this was his recommendation:

Write down the most important tasks you have to do tomorrow.   Number them in order of importance. When you arrive in the morning, begin at once on

No. 1 and stay on it until it is completed. Recheck your priorities, then begin with No. 2, then No. 3.

Make this a habit every working day. Pass it on to those under you. Try it as long as you like, then send me your check for what you think it’s worth.

That one idea turned Bethlehem Steel Corporation into the biggest independent steel producer in the world within five years! How much did Schwab pay his consultant? Several weeks after receiving the note, he sent Lee a check for $25,000, admitting it was the most profitable lesson he had ever learned.

 When you are watching TV you are saying, “I don’t have anything better to do.” 

Our ministry has a new service. You can call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we will send a man out to your home. He will remove your TV set, and take it out and shoot for you at no charge! Turn off your TV and turn on great literature.

Read great books of great people who have done great things. Here is a wonderful principle for spiritual growth found in Prov. 13:20

He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Watching TV in and of itself is not a sin unless the program itself is immoral. And much of what spews out of it is pure unadulterated sewage. Your mind is not a garbage dump it’s a temple! The real problem of too much TV is twofold

#1. It’s the cumulative effect it has on you over the years.

The world, the flesh, and the devil want to dumb you down and keep you there. The TV is one of the best ways ever devised to waste a perfectly good life. It is an escape from reality.

The truth is, you are not your own, you have been bought with a price. As a child of God, you have a responsibility to  God and to your neighbor. In Eph. 5:15-17, we read:

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

People are destroyed every day because they lack wisdom and knowledge. Most people don’t read. The average person spends 9 years of his or her life watching TV and 4 months in church. In Ps. 90:12, God’s Word says:

 So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.

Life is too short and eternity is too long to waste your life. As a general rule, you won’t get any smarter watching the TV, movies or playing video games. God gave us a manual for successful living, and He expects us to at least know the basics. Why? Because that is the primary way you grow not only in your relationship with Him but in spiritual wisdom and discernment.

Picture a madman throwing one hundred-dollar bills into the Atlantic ocean or diamonds over-board into Lake Michigan. This gives you a rough idea of how foolish it is to waste the golden vials of time which your Creator places in your hands every morning.

#2. TV dulls your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. 

This from Susanna Wesley the mother of John and Charles Wesley:

“Would you judge the lawfulness of a pleasure? Take this rule: Whatever  weakens  your  reason,  impairs  the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your vision of God, or takes away the relish of spiritual things or   increases the authority of your body over your mind, that is sin.”

Action Step #5:

Develop an eternal perspective

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of    Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering   the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. Heb. 11:24-26

I have a friend who went deer hunting very early one morning. He was consumed with getting a prize, Buck. When he got to the woods it was all he could think about. He was so consumed with his goal he completely lost tract of time and space. As the day was coming to an end he realized he was lost in the woods. He had no idea where he was or where his car was.

Since he was not prepared to spend the night in the cold woods his priorities immediately changed. He forgot all about deer hunting, now he was consumed with another idea finding his car so he could go home.

Priorities can change quickly depending on your circumstances. If I were to offer you a bucket of diamonds or a bucket of water you wouldn’t think twice about which to choose. But if you were crawling in the desert dying from dehydration and I offered you a bucket of diamonds or a bucket of fresh cold water it would mean the difference between life and death, you’d take the water!

Now imagine your life is over and you are standing before the judgment bar of God facing eternity. You have never read the Bible, you blew off church, and never led a soul to Christ. What will be important to you then?

Take your children to a junk yard. Show your son one of the cars on top of the pile and say to him, “You see that car, son? That was once a man’s pride and joy. Most likely, the first man to own that car actually found his significance as a human being in that hunk of junk. Many of these men even stayed home from church on Sunday just to polish those things, and look at it now!”

I don’t care if you drive a car worth $100,000. If you drive it every day, ten years from now it’s going to be on a junk pile, and Jesus Christ will still be reigning in power and in glory unchanged.

Is Jesus Christ, His work, His church, His kingdom, your number one priority in life? Is Jesus Christ your favorite thing to talk about and spend your money on? If you didn’t know any more about your business or profession than you do about the Bible after the same number of years of exposure, where would you be in your business or profession today? Would you be bankrupt or fired?

If it were against the law to be a Christian, and you were charged with being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you in a court of law? Would your neighbors testify against you?

Does anyone else know you are a Christian or are you the only one? Because, if you are the only person who knows it, there is a good chance you may not be one. Do you have a passion for lost souls? Charles Haddon Spurgeon said,

If you do not have a passion to see people get saved, you can be sure you are not saved yourself.

2 Tim. 1:7-8 is clear

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and   discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with {me} in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.

 Action Step #6:

Learn how to present the Gospel

One of the contributing factors that cause us to fear man is the inability of Christians to defend the faith. Most Christians do not know how to explain why they believe what they believe. Knowing how to present the Gospel the way God intended it to be done is like bringing a gun to a knife fight. It gives you courage.

Contrary to popular opinion, God did not leave us to fend for ourselves when it comes to explaining the Gospel. He left us a perfect systematic theology of evangelism that cannot be improved upon. It consists of three simple points that any 12-year-old can learn. Remember, these are God’s arguments, so they cannot be improved upon.

#1 The general revelation that God exists is found in creation itself. Here is what God Himself says in Romans 1:20.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Here it is again in Psalms 19:1-3:

  The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

In other words, creation itself is proof positive that there is a creator. The Mona Lisa is proof positive that there is a Leonardo Deviancy. Anything so orderly, so majestic, so complex, so perfectly designed and well-balanced as is our world and our universe could in no way have made itself, and only a fool would say in his heart, there is no God.

That’s number one. I told you this was easy!

#2  The Word of God Living and Written. That is Jesus Christ and the Bible. Both are without peer. 

Jesus Christ is the living Word of God.

I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of  people would die for Him.  Napoleon Bonaparte

The Bible is the written Word of God.

Wilbur Smith, who compiled a personal library of 25,000 volumes, concludes that “whatever one may think of the authority of and the message presented in the book we call the Bible, there is world-wide agreement that in more ways than one it is the most remarkable volume that has ever been produced in these some five thousand years of writing on the part of the human race.

“It is the only volume ever produced by man, or a group of men, in which is to be found a large body of prophecies relating to individual nations, to Israel, to all the people’s of the earth, to certain cities, and to the coming of One who was to be the Messiah.

“The ancient world had many different devices for determining the future, known as divination, but not in the entire gamut of Greek and Latin literature, even though they use the words prophet and prophecy, can we find any real specific prophecy of a great historic event to come in the distant future, nor any prophecy of a Savior to arise in the human race. . . .”

“Mohammedanism cannot point to any prophecies of the coming of Mohammed uttered hundreds of years before his birth. Neither can the founders of any cult in this country rightly identify any ancient text specifically foretelling their appearance.”

#3 Is conscience, also known as the Moral Law. This is found in Romans 2:15:

 … in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them.

Even if a man has never heard of Jesus or ever even seen a Bible, the fact is, every man knows instinctively in his heart it is wrong to murder, it is wrong to steal, its wrong to lie, it’s wrong  to have another man’s wife.

Every man knows there is a God in heaven because the sun and the moon and the stars declare His glory! The Ten Commandments are written on every man‘s heart.

In summary, no man will stand before God with any excuse for ignoring or denying Him for three reasons.

  • 1. All of creation cries out that there is a Creator.
  • 2. Jesus and the Bible stand above every other so-called religion. The Bible because it is the only book ever written that predicts the future in spectacular detail with 100% accuracy. No other so-called holy book can make that claim. And, between Jesus Christ and every other person, there is no possible term of comparison. Jesus stands alone in his person and His work.
  • 3. God’s moral law is written on every man heart. You won’t find it recorded in any other book.

The moral argument using the Ten Commandments is so powerful, in Luke 16, Jesus said,

“If they won’t believe Moses, neither would they believe you someone were to rise from the dead.”

Action Step #7: 

Go out and do it!

For many if not most people life is empty and basically boring, that’s why they sit around watching TV. Glorifying God and advancing the Kingdom are two of the reasons you were created.

When you tell someone about Jesus it is a win, win for you even if they reject His gift here is why. In Luke 6:22-23, Jesus said:

Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. “Be glad in that day, and leap {for joy,} for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way their fathers used to treat the  prophets.

And in 1 Pet 4:14 we read

If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

Like I said, you can’t loose. Find someone in your church who is involved in real front line evangelism such as a nursing home ministry, a jail ministry, or a street witnessing ministry.

Find someone who is involved in passing out tracts, or going to the local rescue mission or hospital and ask if you can go with them. If there is no one in your church who does that? You probably need to find a new church. Short term missions’ trips are also life changing!

When Jesus sent out His disciples to bring the message of salvation to a lost and dying world He sent them out is pairs. There is strength and courage in numbers. Here are the words of King Solomon in Eccl. 4:9-12:

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm {alone?} And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three {strands} is not quickly torn apart.

I have taken hundreds of people with me to the local jail and provided a chapel service. It’s like a church service but a lot more personal and informal. I’ve had many people over the years come along just to see what its like. Many have asked me on the way to just let them observe because they don’t want to say anything.

Well, I understand that most people are afraid of public speaking. However, I’m also aware that if you don’t know you are going to be called upon you don’t have the pressure of worrying about what you are going to say.

So, I almost always bring folks down and in the middle of the service turn to the person, hold out my arm and say something like, “has God ever done anything good for you?” They always answer in the affirmative, so at that point, I ask them to come up and stand next to me and say, “Like what?”

Virtually every time I have done this, on the way home they were so excited that they spoke up for Jesus in a room full of people, it’s truly exhilarating!

I have gone to the jail many times dragging my feet but I have never not walked out clicking my heels! Find someone who is doing it and tag along. You’ll be glad you did. Each time it gets easier, and it’s always exhilarating.

 The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered. Prv. 11:25

A profound truth and a true story

I was out-of-town sitting in a hotel watching the Discovery Channel when I saw a spectacular illustration of the fear of man. There was a teacher telling what looked to be about a sixth grade class of students that they were going to do an experiment.

The teacher said, “I’m going to hold up two cards. One with a long line and the other has a short line on it. We are going to bring in a student who is unaware of our experiment to see how he or she will react. When I hold up the cards I want you to purposely answer incorrectly. I’ll show you both cards and ask, “How many of you think this is the shorter of the two lines when it is really the longer one. Okay?”  Everyone agreed.

The student was brought in and shortly thereafter the test began. The teacher held up the two cards. With the long line in her right hand and the short line in her left hand, she waved the long line and asked, “How many of you think this is the shorter of the two lines raise your hands?” Everybody instantly raised their hands. The child who was unaware of what was going on also raised his hand. They tried it again and again and each time the child raised their hands knowing it was the wrong answer.

When I got home, I related this story to my wife and children. I said to my kids, “I would like to think if one of you were that experimental child, knowing everyone was answering incorrectly, you would have stood up and asked, ‘Does anybody have a ruler?’”

 Jesus said there are two roads. One is broad and has a wide gate and that’s the one the world is on. It leads to destruction. The other road is straight and has a narrow gate precious few find it. That road leads to eternal life. Will you be like the child in the story above and go along with the crowd on the wide road when you know the narrow road  is the right one?

What does it mean to believe in Jesus?

I can honestly say with Paul, I am no longer ashamed of the Gospel. I know it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe.

I “believed” in Jesus when I was fifteen years old. I “believed” so strongly, I “believed” I would have died for Jesus rather than renounce my faith. My problem was, I wasn’t living for Him. I realize now that ours is not the “god of the dead; He’s the God of the living (Mk. 12:27).” He didn’t want me to die for Him (necessarily); He wanted me to live for Him. He’s not looking for dead sacrifices anymore, He‘s looking for live ones.

Some people do think I’m a “Jesus Freak,” and some do think I’m a “Religious Fanatic,” but God calls me son!

Prayer is the first ingredient in this deliverance from the fear of man. In John 15:5, Jesus said:

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.

In other words, we draw our lives from Christ. A branch broken off from the vine can produce no fruit, it can only die. He is our creator, sustainer and redeemer.

So, step number one is, talk to God, admit your weakness, and ask Him to deliver you. Luke 1:37 tells us,

…nothing is impossible with God.

The name of Jesus can clear out a room faster than any other name in the world

You can mention the name of any other leader in history and nobody gives a flip. But, if you mention the name of Jesus in public you better be ready for a fight. Its called “spiritual warfare.“

Just hearing the name of Jesus Christ can cause every imaginable emotion to rise to the surface. I have seen grown men begin to shake, perspire, cry, and come under deep conviction. No other name has that kind of power. Being able to use the name above every other name is where the rubber meets the road.