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Banishing Fear of Man

I awoke this morning with a sense of excitement about something.

(I hope what I'm sensing is correct.)

It seems to me that we are in a season in which people will become less and less susceptible to fear of man.

"The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe." (Proverb 29:25)

The fear (or anxiety) of man almost always seems to have a source and that is satan. He has been successful…sometimes all our lives….by inspiring people to try to control others by sowing fear, dread, anxiety, etc. into their souls. This is nothing more than a tool of the flesh designed to control others by using their emotions against them.

We should never forget that the devil watched God construct people. He knows how to use our design against us. Emotions, designed by God to follow thoughts and then decisions have been under attack for eons as satan has inspired us to live by our emotions and not by our thoughts as we follow our Father in heaven and obey His design for us in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26).

Over the centuries satan has been very successful at tempting people to control others by using their emotions against them. They don’t always consciously do this; they just obey satan’s temptations to do so. This is, basically, a form of witchcraft despite the fact that most of the people who do it to others are not consciously aware that they are practicing witchcraft.

There are several places in the Old Testament in which believers in the real God drift away from Him and the result is witchcraft. Our current world is no different except that satan has become more crafty at playing people for fools in this way. A person doesn’t have to work spells to practice witchcraft; all they have to do is manipulate and control another person’s soul to do it – even if this all happens subconsciously.

The shocking realization is that even in the Church all around the world this is a common practice. Guilt, intimidation, fear, praise, plaudits, promotions, awards, anger….any emotion and any tool is allowable just as long as, in the end, whoever employs it can get someone else to do what they want.

In some way, shape or form it all translates to “fear of man” as it enters the hearts of the ones controlled and I believe everyone has experienced this and almost everyone has done it to someone else.

Why do we employ these tools from satan in the first place? Let’s look at that verse in the Proverbs again for a clue.

"The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe." (Proverb 29:25)

The comma in that verse divides it into two opposing ideas. At the beginning is the fact that the fear of man brings a snare…or a noose that traps. After the comma is a fact that shows the exact opposite of “fear of man”: “trust in the Lord” makes one safe.

What am I saying?

I’m saying that if we practiced trust (literally “ran consistently to the Lord for refuge”) we wouldn’t feel the need to manipulate others into doing things we want them do to by using fear of man.

I don’t wish to sound jaded here (and I truly don’t think I am jaded) but I don’t expect people, even in the Church Jesus started in A.D. 33, to practice more faith in Him and abandon manipulation and control as a tool for things they do (even supposedly in His name.) I would hope that would happen but I just don’t see it happening.

I do, however, sense a current and coming upsurge in real faith.

This is very encouraging to me and I hope it is to you as well.

What this means is that we are in a season in which people will become less and less susceptible to fear of man and I hope it lasts until Jesus returns.

As we become aware of what has been done to us by satan using sometimes well-meaning Christians we will choose to stop allowing it to work in us. We can do that but we will only do it if we realize what has been happening to us all this time and the toll it has taken on us all.

So much damage has been done in hearts of men through fear of man. It’s long past time to deny the devil the joy he gets out of playing humans in this manner.

A word of caution: as we turn to the Lord and actively trust in Him more and more in these things, the people in our lives who are used to enjoying the fruits of their manipulation and control will object to us not taking the bait anymore. It will anger them.

People just do not like losing control over others. There is a real sense of power people get in being able to make other people do what they want them to do and when they lose that power because Jesus is intervening, they resent that. Sometimes the power they wield isn’t the rush of controlling others. It usually is all about controlling what happens in their own lives and they need to make others do things in order to make that happen for themselves.

Here is a case in the Bible where that happened:

“Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, ‘These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.’ And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And he came out that very hour.” (Acts 16:16-18)

Divination, like manipulation and control, come from the devil. They are all forms of witchcraft. As is always the case, people benefit from it at the expense of other people. In this case a demonized girl was demonizing other people with the spirit of divination. It cost her customers spiritual freedom and money. This benefited the slave girl’s owners by bringing in the cash.

Their response was less than gracious.

“But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.” (Acts 16:19)

This resulted in Paul and Silas being arrested, beaten and thrown into stocks in a prison. When our faith comes against someone else’s witchcraft they will often respond in mean and hurtful ways.

As you rise up in your faith and begin to resist the attempts of other people to guilt you or praise you into doing what they want you to do, don’t be surprised if they mock you publicly, gossip about you, call you names, and falsely accuse you. Satan is not creative; he will always respond (even through people who unwittingly obey him) in the same ways over and over again.

How did Paul and Silas handle all this? Their trust was in the Lord. They responded in a manner that was bewildering to everyone around them….maybe even to themselves!

“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25)

When this happens to us (and it will) we must live like Paul and Silas lived: with their eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, the object of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-3).

The thing is…..we don’t realize it…..but all of us who have succumbed to the fear of man have been in obedience to the manipulations of mere humans. That obedience is a prison because it is really faith in our own abilities to save ourselves from the emotional turmoil others stir up in our hearts.

The way to be freed from that prison is to trust in the Lord.

"The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe." (Proverb 29:25)

Paul and Silas had faith in the Lord. They weren’t afraid even though they had been falsely accused, arrested, beaten and imprisoned in a dungeon. They knew He would move on their behalf.

“Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.” (Acts 16:26)

And sure enough, He did free them!

The thing to remember when the heat is turned up on us because we choose to no longer do things out of fear of man is that the resulting discomfort is well worth it. What is happening spiritually is that the Lord is allowing the manipulator’s lack of faith in Him to become evident. This gives that person an opportunity to see it in himself and for him to choose to do what you have done: repent and place trust in the Lord instead of in ourselves.

Someone else having an opportunity to repent is always worth our discomfort.

The other thing to remember when we are persecuted for obeying Jesus and not bowing to fear of man is that the discomfort that comes is temporary.

Either the person will repent and stop trying to control you with fear of man or will crank up the heat in hopes of punishing you until you fold and bow to that manipulation again. Once the person realizes he can no longer use you he will stop trying and will concentrate on all the others with whom that heavy-handedness still works.

There are some wonderful aspects about trusting in the Lord and being safe. One is that it results in a deeper and more intimate interaction with Him. We were designed as Christians for that. Another is that what feels like constant tension seems to melt away as fear of man loses its grip on us.

“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

It’s very refreshing to live like that and I hope to experience more and more of this freedom as I am freed more and more in Christ.

Finally, there is the reality that God commands us to submit to people in various sorts of earthly authority. We actually benefit from this as much as do those to whom we submit. God’s Kingdom is manifested through submission to Him through those who watch over us in various ways.

We also benefit from obeying God’s commands to choose to serve others in humility and grace. I believe we often benefit more from doing this than do the ones we serve.

Satan knows this. He also knows something that most Christians seem to not know: that REAL submission and REAL service are always voluntary and are never coerced.

Voluntary, that is, genuine submission and genuine service are beneficial to those who submit to God in this manner. The devil is always seeking ways to hurt people by twisting God’s intentions for everything. Therefore, he has attacked these voluntary forms of worshiping God by tempting some to force us to do it using fear of man.

When we choose to stop manipulating others and give them a chance to serve out of their own desire to please

God in this way we stop stealing this opportunity from them.

When we stop allowing others to manipulate us using fear of man and choose, instead to serve them because we want to do that, something amazing happens. We begin to enjoy doing it.

Often we will find ourselves doing the very same activities in serving others but no longer resenting them or feeling exhausted after we do them. This is because we will experience the grace of God flowing in the serving instead of the life-draining effects of satanically inspired fear of man.

It seems to me that we are in a season in which people will become less and less susceptible to fear of man.

These are exciting times.

May we walk with the Lord as He frees us from this insidious trap.

Here’s to a future filled with a new freedom and joy!

“Who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners. The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; the LORD raises those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.” (Psalm 146:7-8)

Pastor Mike McInerney

Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.

Decatur, TX 76234

© January 2, 2016

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