HOW TO OVERCOME THE FEAR OF MAN
Luke 12:4 12
What will other people think? How will my parents react? What will my family think? What will my friends think?
How will this affect my job? These are the kind of thoughts that keep people from doing what they know God
wants them to do. The "fear of man" is a serious obstacle to obedience to the Lord God. All of us to some degree
are affected by our need for the approval of others. Our actions are often determined by the group that we want
Jesus knew the seriousness of this problem. This is the reason that He singled it out for this discussion. He gives
four very helpful steps to overcoming the destructive fear of man. If you will follow these four steps, it will bring
you to the place that you can do the thing God wants you to do regardless of what others may think or do. If you
are serious about obedience to the Lord and eternal life, you should be interested in what Jesus has to say on
overcoming the fear of man.
I. LIVE BY THE HIGHER PRINCIPLE OF LIFE
Jesus addresses the problem of the fear of man head on. "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill
the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing
of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.'' (V. 4,5)
Jesus does a very practical thing. He calls our attention to the folly of allowing a fear of man to control our
actions. What is the worst thing that another human being can do to you? If you were to do what God wants you
to do, and the displeased, upset person did the very worst thing they could do, what would it be? You probably
answer, "kill me". Because of the value that we place upon the preservation of our lives, that would probably be
the answer most of us would give. We will do most anything to protect our lives. The question we must then ask
is, "Is this the worst thing that could ever happen to me?" The answer is obviously "no".
There is something worse than just losing your life. The worst thing would be to stand before God some day and
have the eternal God throw you into Hell. No other human being will have any part in your eternal destiny, but the
eternal God will. When you consider the implications of this, it becomes rather obvious of whom you should be
most afraid. This is the reason that Jesus twice admonishes, "Fear him who has the power to throw you into hell.''
The Old Testament has a helpful illustration of this principle in opera¬tion. The three Hebrew friends of Daniel
found themselves confronted with a terrible choice. They were told that they must either bow before the image of
the king in worship, or be cast into the lake of fire. Their conscience told them that it was terribly wrong to bow
before any image in worship. They knew that only the eternal God deserved the worship of man. Yet they were
very much afraid of a furnace heated red hot. What would they do? As you will remember these three men were
cast alive into the furnace. Not because they were not afraid of fire, but because they were more afraid of God
than they were man. They knew that all the king could do would be to destroy their physical lives, but they also
knew that God had the power to impose an even greater punishment upon them.
Modern man is no longer afraid of God. Man has convinced himself that God is a God of love and that there is no
reason to be afraid of God. You do not have to deny that God is a God of love in order to affirm that man should
fear God. The One who most perfectly revealed the love of God in His word and deeds, says to you, "Fear Him".
The reason we are to rear him is that ulti¬mately He will have the last word about our eternal destiny. It is utter
folly to allow some earthly creature, or group of finite beings to so intimi¬date us that we would displease the One
being who will have the final word for US. If you want to overcome the fear of man, you need to learn to live by
this higher principle. Get your values right. Just remember that in the end what God thinks is all that really
II. TRUST IN THE HEAVENLY PROVIDENCE’S
We should take note of the balanced view of God that Jesus presented. He presented a God who is not only One
to be reverenced and feared, but also a God who is to be trusted. In a most beautiful way our Lord presents the
providential workings of God on our behalf.
He points to nature. "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?'' Sparrows were eaten by the poor. They
counted them as a delicacy. You could buy them in the market place two for a penny. The coin in question was a
Roman coin worth about one cent in our money. They were two for a penny, but if you bought four of them, they
would give you a fifth one free. This indicates that they were counted as being of very little value. "Yet not one of
them is forgotten by God." Even the one that is thrown in free is not forgotten by the Creator. He takes note of
where and when it falls to the ground. He takes note of who buys it and when. This indicates that the providential
care of God is very detailed.
"Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered." In that day this would appear to be an impossible thing.
Modern man has found ways to count the hairs on your head. It has been computed that a red head will have
about 90,000 hairs on the head. A black headed person will have about 120,000, and a blond about 145,000.
But Jesus assures us that God knows exactly how many there are on your head. He knows because they are
valued by Him. Most of us do not take any notice of the hairs that fall from our heads daily, but God does.
“Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Just to remember God's providential care in our lives
should keep us from giving into fear. God knows where you are right now. He will always know where you are. He
knows everything that can be known about you. He places great value upon you. He will turn this world upside
down to make sure that His purpose for your life is accomplished. Surely the exclamation of the Apostle is in
order, "If God be for us who can be against us?" The answer is that many can be against us, but all of their
efforts will come to naught! God will take care of us for we matter to Him.
III. SEEK FOR THE HAPPY PROFESSION OF THE SON
Our Lord’s concern was that we not allow the fear of man to keep us from identifying ourselves with Him. There
has always been some pressure not to really acknowledge Him as the Lord of life. You can imagine how much
pressure that was in that day. The whole establishment had decided that Jesus was not the true Messiah, and
that He was worthy of death. They were convinced that He was guilty of blasphemy. They discouraged everyone
from becoming one of His disciples. It is this situation that our Lord addresses.
"I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of man will also acknowledge him before the angels of
God." Our acknowledging Him before men is to publicly confess that Jesus is our saviour and Lord. It is both
some¬thing we say and something we do. Jesus promises that these will be acknowl¬edged by Him before the
angels of God. This is the judgment scene. On that day in which the eternal fate of men is decided, Jesus will
give the important profession. He will confess to the Father and the angels that we are His disciples, that we are
to share with Him in His eternal order. What a happy profession!
But there is another side to this. "But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God."
The older version reads "deny". It means to deny that we have any relationship with Him. It means to
deliber¬ately refuse to have any part with Him. The consequence will be that on that dreaded day of judgment
before the angels of God, He will deny that He has any relationship with us.
This makes the issue pretty clear. If we want to overcome fear of man, we need to clarify the issue. Which would
we rather have the approval of man, which is pretty worthless, relationships with man, that are at their best
temporal, or a relationship with Christ that will lead to His happy profession that He knows us before the angels.
You overcome the fear of man by putting first things first. Nothing is more important in the life of man than having
a relationship with Jesus that will assure him a place of participation in the eternal order. Seek this first!
IV. DEPEND 0N THE HELPFUL PROVISION OF THE SPIRIT
Jesus gives a solemn warning about blaspheming the Holy Spirit. This is a sin that will lead to a person being
eternally lost. It is the unpardonable sin. But all of this leads to a wonderful word about this helpful provision that
the Holy Spirit is in overcoming the fear of man.
“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers, and authorities, do not
worry about how you defend yourselves or what you will say.” Suppose you do
obey God, and your worst fears become true. Suppose you are arrested for
becoming a Christian, and carried into court. This would later happen to the
first men who heard these words. Tradition says that ten of the original
twelve Apostles would die for their faith. All of them would stand trial one
time or another. In just this circumstance, the Holy Spirit is our helper!
"For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.'' This does not mean that He will give you the
words to say so that you will be acquitted. Rather it means He will give you the words to say so that you can be
faithful to God. Your fear is that you could never stand the test if you lost the approval of others, if they turned
their back on you, or imposed punishment upon you. In just that kind of situation, you will find that God has given
to you a completely adequate Helper. He will give you just the words to say, and the strength to say them.
If you want to overcome the fear of man, you do not trust in your own courage and wisdom. Rather you trust in
the Holy Spirit who lives in you.
Will you admit that the fear of man is a factor in your life? How much does it control you? If you will take seriously
these words of Jesus, you will be on your way to freedom from the fear of man.