What a tragic verse of Scripture! John 12:42-43, “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
These men came to believe in Jesus (they believed He was who He said He was) but they wouldn’t confess Him openly because they were afraid they’d be put out of the synagogue (excommunicated).
Their habit was so formed in them to love the praise of men, and their identity became so tied up with it, that they could not lay it down when Christ came. Here was the Promised One. They’d studied the prophets words about Him. They had taught others about the promises. Here He was at last – and they began to believe it! Time and eternity were in the balance – but they were still afraid to lose their standing, their reputation. They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Proverbs 29:25 says “The fear of man brings a snare (a trap)”.
What a great stronghold it is! Once the fear of man has its vice-like grip on you, it’s a very difficult thing to break free from. It can take many forms:
2) An over-concern with popularity
3) A fear of rejection
4) A fear of persecution
5) A fear of being in a minority
It occurs to me that one of the key characteristics of a truly revived heart – a mark by which you can know that God is making progress with you – is when the fear of man is broken. You see, the revived heart cares ONLY to please God.
The antidote to the fear of man is the fear of God. When you have a true reverence for God there’s no room any longer for the fear of man.
Listen to these words of the Apostle Paul: 1 Corinthians 4:3-5, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.” AND Galatians 1:10, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”
This is not Paul being arrogant. But he has only one real concern – pleasing God. He’s truly living for an audience of One. What a liberating way to live!
And this is how God wants US to live. Not afraid of men nor devils. What does the Word say? 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”