This morning we preached on the fear of God. Tonight we must consider how the fear of man limits the fear of God in your life and how it bringeth a snare. A snare is anything by which you are entangled and brought into trouble.
When you fear man, before you take any action, you try to gauge how what you’re going to do will be viewed if the other person sees you do it or finds out that you’ve done it. So here are some scenarios to consider.
If you think that the other person won’t like what you’re going to do, you might decide not to do it because you’re afraid of his or her reaction. For example, your dad says, “Don’t hang out with Joe after school.” And so when Joe wants you to stick around, you say, “I’ve got to go home.” Your fear of your father prevails. As parents, we hope that this is how it will go with our children, but it rarely works out that way. Lusts and peer pressure are just too powerful.
But, if you’re like most people who fear men, if you don’t want to look bad in front of Joe, you have a dilemma. On the one hand, you fear your father’s reaction. On the other hand, you fear Joe’s reaction. And, at the moment, Joe happens to be the one standing in front of you, saying, “What are you, some kind of momma’s boy?” So, you hang out with Joe a while and all the way home you try to come up with some excuse you can give your dad so that you won’t look bad in front of him for disobeying him. The fear of God never comes into effect here. The lack of the fear of God is the fundamental problem. Paul said, “There is no fear of God before their eyes,” [Rom 3:18]. You can see men, but you can’t see God. So, most people end up fearing men more than they fear God.
See, with the fear of man, the rules change depending with whom you are. If you fear men in church, you pretend to be a good Christian around here. If you fear peers at school, you pretend to be cool at school, which is to not appear as a good Christian. You’re one person out there and another in here. If you are prone to give into your lust, then you hide what you’re doing from men to keep from being found out. But God knows everything. You must fear him.
The fear of God leads you to check where God stands on any matter. God says, “Children, obey your parents…” [Eph 6:1]. God says, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor,” [Eph 5:25]. He says, “Lie not one to another,” [Col 3:9]. Because of your fear of man, you have really put yourself in a snare with Joe. You disobeyed your father to keep from looking like a momma’s boy to Joe. You lied to your father to keep from looking like a disobedient son to your dad. And in the process you violated two of God’s commandments. You got away with what you did in front of man. But you didn’t get away with anything before God. Yet, because you got away with it in front of man, you are now emboldened to use this technique the next time you are faced with such a dilemma. After all, God didn’t punish you. But what you fail to realize is that he did mark it down.
What if you think you’re a cut above this fellow in our first scenario and you’re about to do something that God wants you to do. If you fear men, you have got a problem, if what God wants you to do is something that another person isn’t going to like. If you fear man, you won’t end up doing what God wants you to do. Or you will change what God wants you to do, so that it is palatable to the other person who will be affected by what you do. And this process of trying to figure it out so that God will be happy and the other person will be happy will put you through all kinds of mental and emotional gymnastics. You will totally lose sight of God in the process.
Look at Moses. In Ex 4:22-23 he was given the message for Pharaoh. In Ex 5:1 his message to Pharaoh was incomplete. In Ex 5:2 Moses was scared of Pharaoh. In Ex 5:3 Moses really botched the message. In Ex 6:10-11 God told him to speak to Pharaoh again. In Ex 6:12 Moses argued that Pharaoh wouldn’t listen. So, in Ex 6:13 God gave him a charge. In Ex 6:29 the Lord told Moses to speak ALL that I say. In Ex 6:30 Moses questioned whether Pharaoh would hearken. Moses’ problem was the fear of man. He wasn’t afraid to argue with God or disobey God or negotiate with God to get out of the charge. But he was afraid to stand before Pharaoh and tell him what God said. He feared Pharaoh more than he feared God.
Look how God handled Jeremiah in Jer 1:6-9. In Jer 1:17-19, I’m with you but you better not be dismayed at their faces; I’ll confound you before them. See that snare of the fear of man. Peter was affected by the fear of man in Gal 2:11-14. His fear caused even Barnabas to dissimulate because they feared what the Jews, who came from James, would think about them eating with Gentiles.
The trouble with politicians is that they fear men. They fear their constituents and they fear their colleagues. Often the constituents want one thing and the colleagues want another. So, the politicians have to tell the constituents one thing to get their vote and they have to tell their colleagues something else to get their bills and appropriations passed They are two faced many times. This fear of man causes some of them to become professional liars.
Emotions also really get in the way. Fear, worry, anger and bitterness affect you. When you feel these emotions, it is often impossible for you to see where God is. You must let the fear of God override these emotions or you will really make a mess of things. In Ps 112:1 the man who fears God is blessed and in Ps 112:7 his heart is fixed.
When you fear God you have just one rule. And then everything else under that fear falls into place. The best order for a family is to have a Dad who fears God, a mother who fears God and who is submissive to her husband, and children who fear God and who are obedient to their parents. Then Dad’s rules will stick no matter where you are or with whom you are. Unfortunately, the typical family today is patterned more after Is 3:12.
Prov 29:25 says, “The fear of man bringeth a snare, but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” In fear, you are looking for safety. Your safety is in trusting the Lord. When you fear God and trust him, these dilemmas in life work out every time. God takes care of you when you do things his way. He works out the solution every time.
Moses overcame the fear of Pharaoh through his repeated meetings and God’s multiple plagues. Look at Ex 11:3-8. Moses went from being scared to being a great man, because he learned to fear God, not man, and he trusted God. He was safe. God protected him the whole way.
Conclusion: If men like Moses and Peter could have trouble with the fear of man, you know that we certainly will have trouble with this, as well. So, do what they did and fear God rather than men to keep from being ensnared.