What is man’s greatest fear? It’s not the dinosaurs, they are extinct. It’s not the sharks, grizzly bear, hyenas, crocodiles, lions or the wolves, you really have to get into their territory and even then very few succeed in becoming their prey. The fear that’s most prevalent from the beginning of all creation is the fear of man. Most people don’t admit it, nor do they realise it, but nevertheless, the fear of man prevails in the lives of most people.

Cain killed his brother Abel, and he was fearful that whoever finds him will kill him. Moses fled to Midian because he was afraid that Pharaoh was going to kill him. Elijah was afraid of Jezebel and fled for his life. David was constantly on the run, because Saul wanted to kill him. Jonah went to Tarshish instead of Nineveh because he wanted the Ninevites punished, instead of bringing them the message of repentance.

fear of manThe fear of people manifests itself in different forms, such as approval addiction, pleasing people, co-dependency, bullying, victimisation, criticising, boasting, rejection, insecurity, anger, gossip, slander, compromising, controlling others, unforgiveness, lack of trust, lying, sensibility, partiality, nervousness, guilt, shame, anxiety and depression.

The fear of man is very debilitating and it has the capacity to destroy you. God has commanded us throughout scripture, not to give in to any sort of fear, because fear leads us into bondage, into slavery to the source of our fear. It lays a trap for us, just like a hunter lays a trap to catch animals or birds. The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe (Proverbs 29: 25 ESV).

You might have had some scary encounters with people. You might even have been bullied, threatened, hurt, oppressed and harassed. These incidents might have led you into fearing people or it could be that you have a natural tendency to be liked by others, which most people do, and so you find yourself constantly striving for people’s approval and seeking to please others.

God wants us to esteem others higher than ourselves and to be kind and pleasing to others. However, if we are consumed by the approval of others and seek to please people instead of pleasing God or regard people’s approval of us, higher than God’s approval of us, we miss the point and get into a trap, which leads us in bondage. They loved human praise more than praise from God (John 12: 43 NIV). We become idolisers of people instead of worshipers of the True Living God.

Fear creates for us a trap and that trap leads us into captivity. Do you recall any instance in your life, where you were fearful of people and that fear got you in more trouble? If you had, in those circumstances, refused to give into fear and had trusted God instead, your circumstances would have changed for the better.

Paul and Silas, were beaten up and put into prison. In spite of their circumstances, they did not give into fear of people, but instead they praised and worshipped God. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose (Acts 16:26 NIV).

When you trust in God, it brings freedom and sets you free even if you are in captivity, whereas on the other hand, if you give into fear, it leads you into captivity even if you are a free man. Many people these days are in bondage due to fear of men. I want you to realise, that fear is an evil spirit, and it brings in spiritual strongholds and bondages in your life. God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV).

God’s Spirit is in opposition to the spirit of fear, God’s Spirit brings power, love and sound mind. The spirit of fear brings in cowardice, weakness and a troubled mind. Those that are fearful always make wrong decisions, they are anxious and depressed. Fear causes a series of chain reactions in your body, mind and life, which gets you trapped in a vicious cycle that leads to a series of unfortunate events.

People’s minds are enslaved by the fear of man. Depression and various mental illnesses are on the rise. Fear paralyses the lives of men and women. If you are possessed by constant thoughts of people, especially unpleasant, fearful, anxious and bitter thoughts or if you are constantly brooding over people related matters and are unable to be at peace, please realise that your mind is in captivity to fear.

Anxiety, unforgiveness and lack of peace are major indicators of fear in your life. A fearless person is at peace and able to forgive the offender, because that person has no fear of people who have hurt him. Their trust lies in God and they remain safe. When you surrender your life completely to God, you are able to forgive others and are not controlled by the offenses of others. You know that God is in control of your life and people have no power over you. You are merciful because you know that God is merciful to you.

If you are bitter towards people, that bitterness will set you up to fear those people. Therefore, it is imperative that you forgive people and let go of every offensive thought. At times, you may come across people that are constantly causing you trouble, your need to forgive them, but at the same time distance yourself from such people, they are influenced by the devil, to bring strongholds of fear in your life. Guard yourself against such people, because their actions and words are designed to destroy you. Instead focus on God’s word and his blessings over your life and it will bring you peace and freedom. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3: 17 NIV).

We can overcome the fear of man by replacing it with the fear of God. When we fear God, we surrender our lives to obey His words. Fear of God sets us up to live our lives in freedom and not to be afraid of anyone. We have confidence in God, who loves us completely and keeps us safe. Fear of God is reverential fear that draws us into the awe of God’s mighty power and love. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18 NIV).

Realise that men are weak and just like grass, they die and disappear. They have no power over you, unless you surrender yourself to them, by fearing them. God is all-powerful, He is the only one you need to surrender your life. God is the only one that can keep you safe, rescue you, deliver you and strengthen you in times of trouble. “I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass (Isaiah 51: 12 NIV).”

If you live your life pleasing to God, you are certain to disappoint people, because the ways of God are in enmity with this world. Therefore, set you mind to live a life pleasing to God and focusing on God’s will for your life, even if you face hostility from this world. Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1: 10 NIV).

You have a choice whom you would like to serve this day, mere man or almighty God. The one you fear is the one you bow down and serve. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 1: 28 ESV). Fear God and live. The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short (Proverbs 10: 27 NIV).