Living in the Awe
of the
Holiness of God

Fear not man


Joshua 1:10

The fear of man leads to poor leadership.

No matter what our good intention, we areFear of God brings a snare, Proverbs 29:25 in the end intimidated and give in to what other people want or expect of us. Fear of man leads to a life weakened with hidden sin. Along with any attempt to break this yoke, the evil one comes and taunts us saying that we have already shown ourselves to be a 'good for nothing.' Proverbs is right when it says that "the fear of man brings a snare." Once caught, it is hard to get out. One becomes like a perpetual weak boy running for the one who shouts the loudest whether it be his wife, boss or another.

A godly man needs to stand firm in his decisions which affect home, business and church life. If we regularly accommodate others, then we need to examine ourselves to see whether we have a lack of the fear of God. We need a greater awareness of God's holiness, justice and might to instill in us a greater fear for disobeying God's command. This fear must rise greater than the fear of man.

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God was training Joshua for a long time under the mentorship of Moses. Even still, the command to listen to God rather than the people was the big issue he needed to confront. We remember God's words to Joshua,

"Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous!
Do not tremble or be dismayed,
for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:10)

God promised to give Joshua everything that he would need. However, if he let circumstances or people's opinions cause him to be distracted from God's ways, then everything would be unfolded into a sea of chaos. Moses found out that the people could intimidate him. He didn't capitulate into submission; however, he would get mad. One incident when he was mad led him to disobey God at one strategic point and that resulted in him not being able to go into the Promised Land.

Weakness comes from being intimidated by man because the wishes of others dominate our lives. Strength comes by the fear of God because God's own standards and preferences shape our lives. We need a clear break with any fear of man. Each time we fear man, we are actually preferring our own safety, respect and security over the Lord's will.

We can develop this fear by

  • standing amazed at God's mighty work
  • humbling ourselves and getting a better picture of God's grace in our lives.
  • reading about others who feared God.

But we first must reject our own sinful inclination to follow man's expectations over ours. The pattern of confession of sin is the same here as in other places.

Dear Father, I have made compromise the way of life. I am not seeking you but my self. I keep making excuses for my poor decisions. I need you now to come and reveal your holiness to me. I confess my sins (name them one by one). I have done wrong. I have disobeyed you. It is not the fault of others but my own fault.

I further know that you want to remake me into a godly man. I cannot do it on my own. I have already tried that. I will look forward to how you will be dealing with my soul. I realize I might lose my job and make others mad at me. This will be better than for you to be mad at me. Help me be loving and truthful like Jesus. Give me wisdom to know what to say so that I can give a good testimony for you. In Christ's blood, grace and mercy I pray. Amen.

After this prayer, we will need to pay constant attention to the advice God gave to Joshua in Joshua 1.

  • Be strong and courageous
    We need to be ready for a fight. Being strong and courageous will help us face confrontation. That is okay and to be expected. However, we must muster together our inward determination into clear cut decisions. This will be much easier after facing our weaknesses and pleading for strength in the prayer above.

  • Accept God's strength
    God told Joshua "for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them." Although the task itself is intimidating and the people's voices will often complain and tell him to give up, he must keep faith in God's promise of success if he obeys. God will help him.

  • Focus again on our determination to be strong and courageous.
    Again the Lord tells him, "Only be strong and very courageous." We need to face our willingness to confront and fight. Don't focus on the strength of the opposition. It seems that a special strength fills us when we put our mind to do what God desires.

  • Careful obedience
    The Lord then told him, "To be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go." The fear of the Lord is present when we obey Him. If not, we will listen to other voices. We must not slip in one or two 'little' areas. There are no 'little' areas of compromise. Whenever we break the law once, we break the whole law. Whenever we accommodate someone, then we have given in to the evil one.

  • Regular meditation and obedience to God's Law
    "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success." In order to develop this fear of God, we must have our minds be on the things of God. We must submerge our minds and hearts in thinking through God's Word. When God speaks, we must obey. When we obey the Lord in small ways, then we will see a special strength and guidance come into our lives.

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

By Paul J. Bucknell