The Best Remedy Against the Fear of Man

I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.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! – Luke 12:4-5

One thing that demands our attention in these verses, is Christ’s warning against the fear of man. “Do not be afraid,” He says, “of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.”

But He not only tells us whom we ought not to fear–but of whom we ought to be afraid. “Fear Him,” Jesus says, “Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into Hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!” The manner in which the lesson is conveyed is very striking and impressive. Twice over the exhortation is enforced. “Fear Him!” says our Lord. “Yes, I tell you, fear Him!”

The fear of man is one of the greatest obstacles which stand between the soul and Heaven. “What will others say of me? What will they think of me? What will others do to me?” How often these little questions have turned the balance against the soul, and kept men bound hand and foot by sin and the devil! Thousands would never hesitate a moment to storm a breach–who dare not face the laughter of relatives, neighbors and friends.

Now if the fear of man has such influence in these times–then how much greater must its influence have been in the days when our Lord was upon earth! If it is hard to follow Christ through ridicule and scornful words–then how much harder must it have been to follow Him through prisons, beatings, scourgings, and violent deaths! All these things our Lord Jesus knew well. No wonder that He cries, “Do not be afraid!”

What is the best remedy against the fear of man? How are we to overcome this powerful feeling, and break the chains which it throws around us? There is no remedy like that which our Lord recommends. We must supplant the fear of man by a higher and more powerful principle–the fear of God. We must look away from those who can only hurt the body–to Him who has all dominion over the soul. We must turn our eyes from those who can only injure us in the life that now is–to Him who can condemn us to eternal misery in the life to come. Armed with this mighty principle, we shall not play the coward. Seeing Him that is invisible–we shall find the lesser fear melting away before the greater, and the weaker fear before the stronger.

“I fear God,” said Colonel Gardiner, “and therefore there is no one else that I need fear.” It was a noble saying of martyred Bishop Hooper, when a Roman Catholic urged him to save his life by recanting at the stake, “Life is sweet and death is bitter. But eternal life is more sweet–and eternal death is more bitter!”

– J. C. Ryle, 1816-1900, The Gospel of Luke

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Published in: on November 26, 2017 at 2:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Light Thoughts of Sin

“Sin… exceeding sinful.” — Romans 7:13

Beware of light thoughts of sin. At the time of conversion, the conscience is so tender, that we are afraid of the slightest sin. Young converts have a holy timidity, a godly fear lest they should offend against God. But alas! very soon the fine bloom upon these first ripe fruits is removed by the rough handling of the surrounding world: the sensitive plant of young piety turns into a willow in after life, too pliant, too easily yielding. It is sadly true, that even a Christian may grow by degrees so callous, that the sin which once startled him does not alarm him in the least. By degrees men get familiar with sin. The ear in which the cannon has been booming will not notice slight sounds. At first a little sin startles us; but soon we say, “Is it not a little one?” Then there comes another, larger, and then another, until by degrees we begin to regard sin as but a little ill; and  then follows an unholy presumption: “We have not fallen into open sin. True, we tripped a little, but we stood upright in the main. We may have uttered one unholy word, but as for the most of our conversation, it has been consistent.” So we palliate sin; we throw a cloak over it; we call it by dainty names. Christian, beware how you think lightly of sin. Take heed lest thou fall by little and little. Sin, a little thing? Is it not a poison? Who knows its deadliness? Sin, a little thing? Do not the little foxes spoil the grapes? Doth not the tiny coral insect build a rock which wrecks a navy? Do not little strokes fell lofty oaks? Will not continual drippings wear away stones? Sin, a little thing? It girded the Redeemer’s head with thorns, and pierced His heart! It made Him suffer anguish, bitterness, and woe. Could you weigh the least sin in the scales of eternity, you would fly from it as from a serpent, and abhor the least appearance of evil. Look upon all sin as that which crucified the Savior, and you will see it to be “exceeding sinful.”

– Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834-1892, Morning and Evening, March 11, (Morning)

The Word of God

Next to praying, there is nothing so important in practical religion as Bible-reading.
By reading that Book, we may learn . . .
what to believe,
what to be,
what to do,
how to live with comfort,
and how to die in peace.

The Bible alone is “able to make a man wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:15. It alone can . . .
show you the way which leads to Heaven,
teach you everything you need to know,
point out everything you need to believe,
and explain everything you need to do.

It alone can show you . . .
what you are–a sinner,
what God is–perfectly holy,
the great giver of pardon, peace, and grace–Jesus Christ.

The Bible applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit, is the grand instrument by which souls are converted to God. In this way the Bible has worked moral miracles by thousands! It has made . . .
drunkards become sober,
immoral people become pure,
thieves become honest, and
violent people become meek!

The Bible has wholly altered the course of men’s lives!
It has caused their old things to pass away–and made all their ways new.
It has taught worldly people–to seek first the kingdom of God.
It has taught lovers of pleasure–to become lovers of God.
It has changed the stream of men’s affections–to run upwards instead of running downwards.
It has made men think of Heaven–instead of always thinking of earth.

The Bible can enable a man . . .
to bear afflictions without murmuring, and say, “It is well.”
to look down into the grave, and say, “I fear no evil.”
to think on judgment and eternity, and not feel afraid.

Is a man drowsy in soul? The Bible can awaken him.

Is he mourning? The Bible can comfort him.

Is he erring? The Bible can restore him.

Is he weak? The Bible can strengthen him.

Is he in company? The Bible can keep him from evil.

Is he alone? The Bible can talk with him. (Proverbs 6:22)

All this the Bible can do for all believers;
for the least–as well as the greatest;
for the richest–as well as the poorest.
It has done it for thousands already–and is doing it for thousands every day!

It is in Scripture alone that infallibility resides. It is not in the Church. It is not in the Councils. It is not in ministers. It is only in the written Word.

All other books in the world, however good and useful in their way–are more or less defective. The more you look at them–the more you see their defects and blemishes. The Bible alone is absolutely perfect. From beginning to end, it is “the Word of God.”

A man must make the Bible alone his rule. He must receive nothing, and believe nothing, which is not according to the Word. He must try all religious teaching by one simple test: Does it square with the Bible? What do the Scriptures say?
The only question is: Is the thing said Scriptural?
If it is–then it ought to be received and believed.
If it is not–then it ought to be refused and cast aside.

The churches which are most flourishing at this day, are churches which honor the Bible.
The nations which enjoy most moral light, are nations in which the Bible is most treasured.
The godliest families are Bible-reading families.
The holiest men and women are Bible-reading people.
These are simple facts which cannot be denied.

Every one who cares for his soul ought . . .
to treasure the Bible highly,
to study it regularly, and
to make himself thoroughly acquainted with its contents.

– J. C. Ryle, 1816-1900