by Mike Ratliff
25 The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted. Proverbs 29:25 (NASB)
Our enemy is pretty smart. He has been around long enough that he believes he knows us. He knows that lost people are enslaved to him via their sin nature. He knows that the little flock, our Lord’s sheep, may be new creations via the washing of regeneration, but they still have their flesh and a deep, overwhelming need to be fulfilled. Their salvation has changed them so they now have the ability to be fulfilled in God the more they take on Christ’s character. Our enemy, on the other hand, does all he can to neutralize those sheep by attacking them in innumerable ways so that they walk according their flesh instead of according to the Spirit.
Satan has always wanted to be God. He caused a war in Heaven by attempting to usurp God’s throne for himself. Ever since, he has been hard at work attempting to fool people into believing that he is God or at least driving a wedge between people and the Living God by enticing them to be gods unto themselves through their self-will.
Through our enemy’s work of deceit, false teachers and false prophets, who serve “another Jesus” and a “subservient God,” have overrun the Church. When God wakes up His people to what is going on and they follow through by proclaiming the truth against the lies, the apostasy, and the outright heresies of these workers of lawlessness, the backlash can be quite severe. The counter-attacks can take many forms including intimidation, straw-man attacks, ridicule, and any form of deceitful attacks that people are capable of. Interestingly, the usage of God’s Word in these attacks always takes the form of taking passages out of context in an attempt to justify whatever false doctrines they are protecting.
Those who do follow through by standing in the gap, sword drawn, armored up in their total submission to and reliance on God, will experience unbelievable spiritual attacks. Why? Different evil spirits inhabit different lies or strongholds or whatever they are. Some are more protected than others. In any case, the spirits of despair, discouragement, doubt, and fear, among others, will attack to defend their territory. The people they use in these attacks will always try to insinuate that they are the ones doing God’s will and the one being attacked is the “Pharisee” or “hypocrite.” When the evil spirits get involved along with the deceitful attacks from these professing Christians, a sense of fear and foreboding and helplessness and despair can overwhelm the warrior. What are we to do?
We must start by staying immersed in God’s Word as we seek His face at His throne of grace. If we remain content to suffer and sorrow while being assailed by darts and arrows from our enemy and his warriors, we can stand and not fall into despair and discouragement. How? If we trust God we shall be safe, but if we fear man we will fall into the trap our enemy has set for us. We do not have to fall into it. We do not have to run in fear of him or his seed. Our eyes must be on our Saviour, not the enemy, not his seed, and not our circumstances.
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)
The proverb I placed at the top of this post is very powerful and we need to take it to heart. Here it is again.
25 The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted. Proverbs 29:25 (NASB)
This is a double proverb; each half is true by itself; and, put together, the whole is forcible and full of teaching. He who fears man is in great danger from that very fact; he who trusts in the Lord is in no danger of any sort; trusting in the Lord is the great antidote against the fear of man. Some may bring up martyrs. I have read Foxx’s Book of Martyrs several times. It made me weep as I read of dear saints of God being burned at the stake, beheaded, and exiled by those in power who claimed to be working for God. However, in the fires of physical death, God caused His Church to be built up, not torn asunder as our enemy had planned. Such is the fact that God’s ways are not man’s ways or His thoughts man’s thoughts.
What does it mean that the fear of man proves to be a snare? It leads men into great sins at times, snaring them, and holding them like birds by a fowler. Aaron yielded to popular clamor, tumult, and pressure by making the golden calf. Saul cared more to be honored among the people than to please God. Pilate feared that charge would reach Caesar, and so he delivered up our Lord though he knew it was wrong. Peter denied our Lord Jesus Christ, his Master, for fear of the accusations of servants in the house of the High Priest.
This fear of man keeps many from conversion; their companions would ridicule, their friends would be annoyed, they might be persecuted, and so they are numbered with the “fearful and unbelieving.” It also prevents others from proclaiming or avowing their faith. They try to go to Heaven through the back door. This is a violation of Romans 10:10.
10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. Romans 10:10 (NASB)
Those who fear man also lower their dignity. For example, future King David made himself to resemble a fool when he feared Achish. Abraham feared for his life and denied that Sarah was his wife. They also are hindered in any duty that requires courage like Jonah refusing to go to Nineveh because he may be thought a false prophet if God forgives that wicked city. The book of Galatians in the New Testament was written by Paul to reproach the Galatian preachers who had gone aside to false doctrine to be considered wise. I’m sure you could add many more biblical examples here as well as ones from our own time who have fallen into apostasy in order to please men.
On the other hand, if we stand in the gap, sword drawn and ready to fight the good fight because we trust in the Lord, we are more than safe. Instead of fearing men (taking our eyes off of Christ and putting them on our circumstances and the howling dogs all around us) we put childlike trust in the Lord. In this, we are protected and can run the race set before us, fight the battles against seemingly overwhelming odds, yet not fall into Satan’s snare of defeat. We may take hits. We may be dragged through the mud and have our reputations besmirched. Others who should be fighting alongside us may shun us, but none of that matters because we know the following to be true.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:10-12 (NASB)
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,
“FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG;
WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:28-39 (NASB)
“The truster is safe from fear of man. God is with us, therefore we are strong, and need not fear. We are determined, and will not fear. We pray, and lose our fear. We prepare for the worst, and fear vanishes.”–C.H. Spurgeon
“After all, what is there to fear? What can man do unto us? God being with us, our safety is perfect, continuous, eternal, even through the whole human race should besiege us.”—C.H. Spurgeon
“The soul that cannot entirely trust God, whether man be pleased or displeased, can never long be true to Him; for while you are eyeing man you are losing God, and stabbing Christianity at the very heart.”—Manton
“Fear of man. Grim idol—bloody-mouthed—many souls he has devoured and trampled down into hell! His eyes are full of hatred to Christ’s disciples. Scoffs and jeers lurk in his face. The laugh of the scorner growls in his throat. Cast down this idol. This keeps some of you from secret prayer, from worshipping God in your family, from going to lay your case before ministers, from openly confessing Christ. You that have felt God’s love and Spirit dash this idol to pieces. Who art thou, that thou should’st be afraid of a man that shall die? Fear not, thou worm, Jacob. What have I to do any more with idols?”—M`Cheyne
“One fire puts out another. Nothing so effectually kills the fear of man as abundance of the fear of God. Faith is an armor to the soul, and clothed with it, men enter the thick of the battle without fear of wounds. Fear of man deadens conscience, distracts meditation, hinders holy activity, stops the mouth of testimony, and paralyzes the Christian’s power. It is a cunning snare which some do not perceive, though they are already taken in it.”—C.H. Spurgeon
What we must do is stop fearing what men say and do. Jesus told us that we will know false teachers by their fruit. (Matthew 7:15-20) Does that mean we simply know that their false and don’t warn others about them? That would be the epitome of fearing men! No! We cannot take that route. That is why the Church has become overrun with these ravenous wolves. No one will call them on their false doctrines because they fear the backlash or fear being open to criticism. My Bible very clearly says that we must not do that. We tell the truth and there is only one truth. There are not multiple versions of it. One of our enemy’s favorite weapons is compromise.
Therefore, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, confess our sins, repent, then in the strength of our faith and trust in our Lord, empowered by His joy through His grace, take up our armor, stand in the gap, and enter the battle according to our Lord’s will.
Soli Deo Gloria!