Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 NLT

Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety. Proverbs 29:25 NLT

Many people live in bondage to the fear of man. Various abuses experienced while children, bullying, injustice personally weathered or observed against friends or innocents, hatred, bias or racism. It is easy to see why people live in fear of others, for people can be uncaring, unloving, and just horrible in their treatment of other humans.

Jesus declares that we don’t have to live like that, bound by the fear of people and what they might do to us. Even if our fear is based on a lifetime of belittlement and abuse, we don’t have to be held down by the experience of the past, we do not have to live in fear of man. In fact, this kind of fear is a trap, a snare that will catch us and hold us captive. 

People are the same, in the sense that we are all created by God and will answer to Him regarding how we treated others during our time on earth. Looking at it this way, it is not people that we need to fear, it is God, the righteous judge, who will examine our treatment of others as well as our submission to His majesty. Jesus says basically this when He says, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

And this is where a person begins the journey of knowing God, with the realization that He is Lord of creation and ruler of humanity, both universally, and personally. He is both Lord of all and Lord of me. This is where wisdom begins.

And this is what he (God) says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’ Job 28:28

Your relationship with God may start out like that of a bondservant or slave, with fear, based, crudely, in God’s authority and power over life and eternity. But as we get to know Him we realize more and more the goodness that is included in knowing God, the beautiful provisions that He has made for those in Christ. The virtues of love, peace, grace, mercy, joy and the rest, that can only be fully animated in life by the presence of God—the Holy Spirit in our lives. We learn of the forgiveness of our sin, the treasures of heaven, and the eternal restoration of our soul in life forevermore with Christ.

We move from a fear that is based on authority, like that of a slave, to a fear that is more becoming of an employee, or laborer, that is, based on all He has done for us we strive to please Him. This is where most Christians probably live, in a constant struggle with our flesh and spirit, striving to be a good Christian, living with the hope of eternal life and the quest to conquer life’s demons, falling daily, and getting back up, to serve the One Who died that we might live.

But this is a hard road. Living as a slave is hard, because we know little, in practice, of our Master. We know only enough to fear Him. But living as an employee is hard as well. We know of His benefits, but still don’t feel all that secure in our position or relationship. 

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 1 John 4:16b-18 NLT

Beyond the slave or the worker, there is the son and daughter, and here the fear of God is born of love. God loves people and, through Christ, has made possible our adoption into His family, where perfect love casts out all our fear of not being good enough, or not measuring up. For now, we become sons and daughters of God, joint-heirs with Christ. And the fear which once may have defined our relationship with God changes to reverence for His divine majesty and goodness, and, as we live in God this love grows more perfect. 

Dear one, the fear of man is a trap, by God’s power let Christ set you free from any bondage to fearing people. You are free to know God, the Creator, and Sustainer of Life itself. Then, do not look at God merely as your judge, or even as the arbiter of heaven and all good things, but let your understanding of Him be found in His Son, Jesus Christ, Who revealed God to mankind and made possible our adoption into His family through His death, burial, and resurrection. In Christ, as a son or daughter of God, a child of the King, you are truly safe—are safe to love, safe to be fully known. Safe to live free without any concern that your heavenly Father will ever change His mind about you—He won’t. He loves you, He is your Father, Creator, Master, and Friend. You are perfect in Him. 

May these truths help you live in the freedom for which Christ has set you free, with simplicity and generosity, bringing glory to the Lord in all things.

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