Avoid the Snare: There Are Snares Everywhere
a. Is seen as good. The world and probably a majority of those that call themselves Christians see the fear of man as a virtue, it is good. Indeed, fear itself is not evil. God has created fear in humans to prompt action when in physical danger. And we are commanded to fear God. So the problem is not fear but the object of fear. Charles Spurgeon said, “Nothing can be worse than this sinful fear; it hath slaughtered its myriads and sent thousands to hell. But yet it may seem a paradox; fear, when rightly employed, is the very brightest state of Christianity and is used to express all piety, comprehended in one emotion. “The fear of God” is the constant description which the Scripture gives of true religion.” So we need to be careful not to fall into this trap. Fear of man is a sinful fear and will only lead us to hell.
b. Leads to greater sin. This trap is like a mousetrap with a door. They climb into the trap but as they go farther in the door closes behind them. The fear of man is a sin that usually leads to greater sin. In Exodus 32, we see Aaron caught in this trap as he bends under the requests of the people. He takes the gold from the people and creates an idol. Then he builds an altar to the idol. Then he declares a feast day for the idol and says the will be worshipping God. The trap was set and the door closed behind Aaron. The fear of man will often lead to a rockslide of sin that begins with the shifting of the smallest pebble.
c. Keeps some from Christ. The fear of man is what hardens many peoples’ hearts against Jesus. What will my friends say? Will my family talk to me if I become a Christian? Will I lose my job if I follow Jesus? The possibility of annoying someone or receiving ridicule or, at the worst, persecution is a trap too hard for some to look past. In the end, they would rather be numbered with the “defiled and unbelieving.”
d. Keeps some from testifying. The fear of man keeps many of God’s children from claiming to be God’s children. Remember Romans 10:10, “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved.” Jesus said to go into all the world and make disciples. That necessitates talking to people about Jesus. The fear of man causes people to think more about a person’s feelings than their soul.
e. Lowers dignity. The fear of man drives many to act in a way that they would normally not act or would want to act. David acted like a lunatic in front of the king of Achish because he was afraid of him. Abraham told Sarah to say she was just his sister because he was afraid of the people. Abraham had to be rebuked by the pagan kings.
f. Leads to vagueness. This is one of the signs that we see in the pulpit these days. How do you know that a preacher has fear of man? What he says is vague and ambiguous. He doesn’t step on anyone’s toes. He steers away from standing firmly on the word. Instead, you hear something that is more or less a pep talk with Scripture sprinkled in. They’ll use the Bible but take the edge off. They blunt the sword of the word of God so as not to offend. The word of God is offensive.
g. Keeps some from usefulness. They won’t speak up or take the lead in anything because they are afraid of what others might think or say. When you serve in the church you do become a target of criticism and lies. That’s just how it is. And so those that get a little taste of this then back down and stop teaching or serving in some capacity because they care more about what others might say than being obedient to God.
h. The cause of much weakness in the church. Why? Because fear of man is sin. If we tolerate it in ourselves and our leaders then we only contribute to the weakness. We must examine our hearts and actions. Why do you do the things you do? If it comes from the fear of man then you must cut it out and get rid of it.