Fear God, not Mankind


Luke 10:27; 11:33-38

BIG IDEA: Don’t be fearful regarding mankind.


Fear. Worry. Anxiety. These are words that summarize much of the human condition in 2020. All three words are related, but they are not exactly the same. However, there is a linkage between the three words, and lessons that apply to all three.

  • Fear is a response to an actual threat.
  • Worry is a verbal response to a manufactured threat.
  • Anxiety is a mental response to a manufactured threat.

If tomorrow you receive a diagnosis that you have COVID-19, you test positive and the results are confirmed and the symptoms begin to manifest, you may experience fear. It is an actual threat.

Calling a loved one and talking about the risks of COVID-19, the rising numbers, the apprehensions you feel, and the concerns you have is worry. It is a verbal response to a manufactured threat.

Laying awake at night, wondering what will happen next if you are exposed to COVID-19, tossing and turning restlessly in your bed, or breaking out into a cold sweat is anxiety. It is a mental response to a manufactured threat.

Fear, worry, and anxiety are all interrelated. All three are running rampant in our society, our churches, and our families. But 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and a sound mind.” God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear. If God has not given us a spirit of fear, then where does a spirit of fear come from? Our enemy, Satan! God has given us a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind! Fear, worry, and anxiety result in an unsound mind, but God wants us to operate in a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind.

Today, and for the next few times together, we are going to look at a lengthy sermon preached by Jesus Christ. His sermon is so brilliant, so beautiful, and he preached it in one sitting. But for us, it will take us a few weeks to work our way through it, but my goal as we do is that you will grow in your love for God, that you will be given a new sense of power, and that you will operate with a sound mind. Our goal will be to transform fear regarding mankind, our mouth, our money, and our mission into the fear of God.

For a few weeks, we have been using one passage as our launchpad. Luke 10:27, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 

For the next few weeks, we will focus on how to love God with all of your strength. How do fear, worry, and anxiety tie into loving God with our strength? Listen, fear, worry, and anxiety all require energy to be expended. 

  • Fear is the energy expended on a problem that we face that does not fix the problem we are facing. 
  • Worry and anxiety is the energy expended on a problem we have not yet encountered. 
  • Fear, anxiety, and worry are emotional exercises that break us down and do not build us up. They are the interest that we pay on troubles before the bill is due! It is wasted energy.

And so if we are going to love God with all of our strength, we are going to have to put fear, worry, and anxiety to death.

EXPLANATION: Don’t be fearful regarding mankind.

The fear of man produces hypocrisy

Jesus had just completed dinner with some Pharisees. It was an awkward dinner at best. After the Pharisee had confronted Jesus over not washing his hands before dinner, Jesus proceeded to use the moment to confront the Pharisees over their hypocrisy. With strong language, Jesus dissected their lives revealing that the Pharisees cleaned up the outside of their lives but never nurtured a relationship with God on the inside of their lives. They were offended. Their feelings were hurt, but Jesus continued to wield the scalpel, cutting through their hypocritical lives.

After dinner, we read in Luke 12:53, “As he went away from there, the scribes and Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.” They were offended and were looking to set a trap for Jesus. The threat was very real. And those around would have seen their little huddles as they hatched their hate-filled plot. The word on the street would have been, “The Pharisees are mad and looking to make a point of catching Jesus in a mistake.” They were hunting Jesus. They were laying their snares to snatch him.

And everyone wanted to see what was going to happen. Luke 12:1 says, “In the meantime when so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first…” Everyone wanted a front-row seat to the conflict. This was reality TV before there was TV. This was the greatest show in town, and thousands came out to see what was going to happen.

Jesus said to His disciples, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” Having just confronted the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, Jesus now cautions His disciples regarding hypocrisy. “Don’t be like them. Don’t do what they do. Don’t live like they are living!”

The problem with the Pharisees was that they valued favor with men more than favor with God. They were more concerned with how they looked before men than they were concerned about how they lived before God. The Pharisees did what they did so that they could be seen. They prayed so that others could hear them. They gave so that others could see them. They fasted so that others would acknowledge them. It was an act before men and not adoration of God. It was selfish. It was self-serving. It was for their own self-satisfaction.

But Jesus said, “It’s all going to be exposed for what it is.” Look at Luke 12:2. “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on housetops.” One day, everything that you do will be seen for what it is. No gloss. No veneer. No cover-up. Not only will your actions be seen, but your attitude will also be revealed.

So now in the context of this conspiracy against Jesus, He says, in verse 4, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.” There was a very real threat. The Pharisees were looking to eliminate Jesus by killing Him. But He told His disciples, “Don’t be like them. Don’t be afraid of them.” What does this have to do with hypocrisy? Hypocrisy is a lifestyle you foster because you are afraid of men.

The threat was very real, and in fact, most of the disciples that Jesus was speaking these words to would indeed die at the hands of the Jewish leaders! They would actually be killed for their faith! But Jesus said, “Don’t fear those who can kill the body…” Live your faith boldly despite what they can do to the body. Don’t put on an act. Don’t be a hypocrite. Live your faith boldly.

When you are afraid of men, you deceive yourself into thinking that you can hide your sins. You delude yourself into thinking that you can live however you want as long as you hide it well. You attempt to conceal your sins in a cloak of darkness, but Jesus is saying that one day the light will shine on your dark deeds. “Be sure your sins will find you out.”

Very few, if any, of us in this room will ever die for our faith. Very few, if any, will ever be martyred. So how does this passage apply to us? Jesus is saying, the fear of man produces hypocrisy. When you are afraid of being found out, you nurture and develop a double-life. You live one way when those you fear are looking, and another way when their backs are turned to you.

Be careful not to be infected by the sin-disease of the Pharisees. Men, do not come to church so that you can be seen but live the rest of the week like the devil. Women, do not serve the church so that you can be seen but serve yourself the rest of the week. Children, do not honor your parents when they are looking but dishonor them when they are not looking. Do not live a lie to be seen in public then live a life to be selfish in private.

Your holiness should not be driven by a desire to impress men, to avoid punishment, and to deceive others. Your holiness should be driven by a desire to love God with all your strength! It requires more energy to live in hypocrisy than to live in holiness. You waste time trying to hide, conceal, and lie. You waste energy fearing being found out. You expend emotional energy seeking to deceive. You worry because you have to work so hard never to be found out. Your motivation is driven by fear of what people will think of you. Instead of fearing what people will think about you, how about you just chose to do the right thing! This will free you up to have so much more energy to do the things that really matter!

Face the fact that the fear of man has led you to be fake. Stop hiding and come out into the light. What’s the worst that can happen to you? I guess that your spouse, your parents, your child could kill you. But Jesus says, in verse 4, “After that, they have nothing more that they can do to you.” And while being killed is horrible, Jesus is about to tell us there is something even more horrible

The Fear of God Produces Honesty

Look at verse 5. “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” Instead of fearing the ones who can harm our bodies, Jesus says, fear the One who controls your eternal destiny.”

This is a wonderful play on words. Jesus is not saying that you should live every day expending verbal energy worrying about what God might do. He is not saying that we should spend every day expending mental energy anxious about what God might do. Instead, He is saying, “Come to grips with the reality that you may hide your sins from every living human being but do not be deceived, God is not mocked. Whatever you sow, that is what you will reap.” He is confronting His disciples with the reality that God sees all, knows all, and He will punish sin. It is not imagined. It is not something created in the mind. It is a reality that should motivate you to live honestly before men and before God.

I define the “fear of God” like this: have a right-sized view of you, and a right-sized view of God. Fearing God begins with the recognition that you are not God. Fearing God continues with the realization that He is God, and that He is the Judge of the Universe, and that He is Holy, and that He will punish sin, and that He has the authority to cast a soul into hell.

When you have a right-sized view of you, it should cause you to tremble in the presence of an Almighty God. When you have a right-sized view of you, it should cause you to shudder at His strength and majesty. Yes, He is a loving God. Yes, He is patient and merciful. But He is also a Holy God Who can not turn a blind eye upon sin.

Having a right-sized view of God is placing the proper value upon God. This is the very heart of worship. Worship is acknowledging the “worth” and the “value” of God. It is putting God in His proper place. For too long we have soft-sold the fear of God like it is merely some pious practices and diligent duty. It is time for the Soldiers of the Cross to shudder in the presence of their High Commander. It is time for the Church to cower in the presence of Christ. We have spent too much time sitting in our comfortable seats and living our comfortable lives, and too little time crawling on our knees back to the Cross of Calvary.

This is why our worship is weak. This is why our mission is motionless. This is why our people are powerless. We fear man who can harm the body more than Christ who can damn the soul. We have valued mankind and devalued God. We have fostered hypocrisy and forgotten honesty because we have a “size problem.” The prayer of the church today should echo that of John the Baptist, “I must decrease so that Christ may increase.”

But my friends, this will never happen, your hypocrisy will never give way to honesty until you know God. I mean, truly know God. And you will never truly know God until you learn to be with God, to abide with Christ, to be led by the Holy Spirit. This transformation does not take place in public; the deeds done in public merely expose the disciplines taken in private. That is why I am pressing you, pleading with you, to nurture the private disciplines that are found on the other side of the door. After you have met, learned about, and served Christ, to press through the door and develop the discipline of being with Christ.

I fear for you that, as Christ said, “you will gain the whole world but lose your soul.” This is not some simple pre-packaged, easy to follow, 10 quick steps for spiritual dummies. This is a life that is disciplined in the secret places, in silence and solitude, bathed in Scripture, seasoned with supplication, while sitting at the feet of Jesus. 

Once you have disciplined the inner life, you will see the death of hypocrisy and the birth of honesty, and you will simply live to please God and not men. Whatever it takes! Crawl to Jesus. Cry out to Jesus. Bow before the LORD your God, your Maker. Enthrone Him. Dethrone yourself. Shudder. Tremble. Shake. Mourn. Wait. Weep. Worship. Whatever it takes.

APPLICATION:  Do not be fearful regarding mankind.

  1. Do not be fake.
  2. Do not be fearful of mankind.
  3. Fear God.


All of this boils down to a proper perspective. What is your perspective of mankind? What is your perspective of God? If you have a right-sized view of God, you will have a right-sized view of mankind. If you have a wrong-sized view of mankind, you will have a wrong-sized view of God.

“Worship recalibrates our hearts, giving us a right-sized view of ourselves, particularly in relation to God. Ideally, it removes us along with our worries, fears and ambitions, from the throne of our lives and puts God back on it.”  (Keri Wyatt Kent, GodSpace.)

That is why I am pleading with you to have twice daily Divine Appointments of God. For as you sit at the feet of Jesus, your perspective is transformed as you realize how small you are and how big He is. And you realize how small your love for him is, and how great His love for you is. Do not fear mankind, who can kill the body but nothing more. Fear God, who can condemn your soul to hell.


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