Do You Fear God or Man?

Many people today miss out on the Lord’s blessings due to the fear that they live with on a daily basis.  It has never been the Lord’s design for us as believers to live a fear-filled life.

Fear is an emotion that every person has experienced at some point in their lives.  The word of God speaks of two types of fear.  First, there is the fear of man, which can be defined as a feeling that arises with the awareness of approaching danger while in the midst of unpleasant circumstances.  The second type of fear is the fear of God.  It has been defines as a reverence or deep respect that leads us to dread His displeasure, desire His favor, be grateful for His benefits, honor His holiness, submit to His will, and immediately obey His commands.

Interestingly, both of these types of fear are seen in the life of Ananias, who was a disciple of Jesus Christ.  This account has been recorded in Acts 9:10-19 and reads as follows from the New American Standard Bible:

10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.”  And he said, “behold, here am I Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for behold he is praying, 12 and has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.”  13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man how much harm he did to Thy saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon Thy name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to bear my name before the Gentile and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” 17 And Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him, said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales and he regained his sight, and he arose and was baptized, 19 and he took food and was strengthened.

Let us consider the character found in this dear brother as he experiences both types of the word fear we have been examining in this passage.  First, the Lord spoke to Ananias in a vision and commanded him to lay hands on Saul that his sight may be restored.  As we can see in verses 13 and 14, he responds with fear of man.  Now I am certain that the very thought of going near this man had paralyzed him with great fear, since he was well aware of the fact that Saul had obtained legal documents from the Chief priest allowing him to imprison any Christian he found. The Chef Priest of that day may be likened to a judge today in that their decisions were binding.  Therefore, Ananias realized what authority Saul had and was gripped with great fear.

Proverbs 29:25a states, “the fear of man brings a snare.”  Satan takes great pleasure in bringing fear into our lives, for in our fear he may hold us in bondage and prevent us from accomplishing that which God has called us to do.  However, God’s word gives us clear instructions concerning this in Romans 8:15 and 2 Timothy 1:7, where the scriptures declare that as children of God we have not been given a spirit of bondage that we should live in fear, but we have been given the Holy Spirit who liberates us and gives us victory in every area of our lives.  Since God has not given us a spirit of fear it stands to reason that fear comes from our enemy the devil.

Our brother James has some encouraging words for us to follow when the devil is attacking us.  They are found in James 4:7 where he tells us to submit therefore to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Notice the first thing James told us to do was to submit to God.  Once we choose to submit to God or be obedient to God the enemy loses his power over us.  As born again believers, we have no reason to fear any task our Lord may call upon us to perform.

I submit to you my brothers and sisters that being obedient to the Lord immediately is a form of spiritual warfare that the enemy cannot handle because our obedience to the Lord destroys his footing in our lives.  He hates to see us focus our attention on the Lord and obey Him because when we submit to the Lord in this way he must flee.  We have a very comforting promise from the Lord in Hebrews 13:5 that declares, “He will never leave us or forsake us.”

However, at times, being the humans that we are, we may need the reassurance of God’s presence in our lives in order to fulfill the assignment God has given us.  God’s reassurance is clearly seen in the life of Ananias in verses 15 and 16 as he informs this brother of His divine plan for Saul’s life.  After much encouragement and specific instructions from God, Ananias sets out to perform the assignment commanded by God.

In light of the above scriptures, Ananias was clearly afraid of Saul, however, he chose to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  Nowhere in this passage does it say that Ananias overcame his fear before he obeyed the word of the Lord.  Sometimes in our spiritual journey the Lord may call us to a task that is outside of our comfort zone.  During those times, in order to obey the Lord’s command we may have to carry out His will while we’re still afraid.  However, the most important duty we have is to remain obedient to the word of the Lord in spite of the circumstances.

This, my friend, is a living example of walking by faith.  It’s during these hard times that God will mature our faith and trust in Him.  He does this so that in the future, when we’re called upon, we’ll immediately trust Him based on what He’s done in the past.  We learn that God is faithful even when we’re faithless.  He’ll never ask us to perform a task for Him without first enabling us to accomplish what He’s called us to do.  Therefore, we can take great confidence in the Lord’s direction in our lives.

In closing, Ananias clearly demonstrated obedience to God’s instructions in the midst of a fearful encounter because he valued the fear of God rather than the fear of man.  What about you?  How do you weigh in during the fearful, uncomfortable, and seemingly impossible situations in life?

It would be to our advantage to pattern our lives after that of Ananias by committing to a life-style of fearing God rather than man.  Whether God’s task is what we perceive to be large or small we must simply obey the word of the Lord.

God is under no obligation to reveal His plans to us, although He may reveal a portion of His plans to us as He did with Ananias.  Consider the end result of Ananias’ work for the Lord.  God used a common man to perform a great work which brought countless souls into the kingdom of God through the ministry of the Apostle Paul, not to mention the writing of most of the New Testament.

God desires to accomplish a mighty work in our lives just as He did with Ananias.  Therefore, I encourage every believer in Christ to begin this day by allowing the fear of God to govern your life.  Proverbs 29:25b states, “he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.”  Our lives will be enriched as we apply this biblical principle to our daily lives and the Lord will receive all the glory!

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