Last Sunday, I preached a message on the fear of man from Matthew 10:26-33. Of all the sermons I have preached at WBC since we moved here 4 ½ years ago, this one seemed to resonate the most, and probably because it is such a common problem with the average Christian.
Fear of man is simply when we replace God with people. Fearing God and fearing man are mutually exclusive, which means you cannot fear both God AND man at the same time.
The “put off” is “fear man” and the “put on” is “fear God.” And here are 5 prescriptions for cultivating a Theo-phobia.
- Remind yourself that you are always in the presence of God. God is omnipresent, which means we can never able to flee from His presence. God sees every motive, every so-called secret sin, every action we perform alone, and every word muttered under our breath. Remember in Genesis 28 when Jacob had a dream where a ladder went to heaven and angels were ascending and descending from it? After waking from that dream, Jacob said, “’The Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.’ And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven’” (Genesis 28:16-17). It was as if Jacob was “in church.” God is never absent. The more you meditate on that truth, the deeper your fear of Him will become.
- Dwell on the meaning of the forgiveness of your sin. Think on the words Jesus uttered from the cross – “It is finished”. The slate is washed clean! The psalmist said, “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared” (Psalm 130:3-4). Knowing your own forgiveness of all the wretched sins you have committed will help lay a foundation for fearing God. God could release His fury against us, but He, instead, released all His forgiveness. That will get you moving to fear Him.
- Daily commune with God in His Word. Here is what God commanded of each king that ascended to his throne. “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, THAT HE MAY LEARN TO FEAR THE LORD HIS GOD by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel” (Deuteronomy 17:18-20). You can’t help but cultivate a fear of God as you grow to know Him and His deeds from Scripture. Those who fear God know His word and they know it well. They don’t have a causal understanding of it or barely read it every now and then. They know it like a king should know the laws he enforces.
- Invest time with others who fear God. When you choose friends, choose God-fearing ones. Good friends with good convictions can become contagious, which is why Scripture warns us about bad company corrupting good morals (I Corinthians 15:33).
- Petition God to deepen your fear of Him. That is a request God is “dying” to grant. James 4:2 same the reason we often lack things in the Christian life is because we don’t ask for them. If you lack a fear of God or your fear of God is weak, ask God to bolster it. I guarantee He will direct you the spiritual resources necessary to honor that request.
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