What is your greatest fear? Is it something irrational like Cathisophobia (fear of sitting down) or Neophobia (fear of something new)? Or is it something more rational like Claustrophobia (fear of having no escape) or Acrophobia (fear of heights)? Do you have Anthrophobia? You might not have an irrational fear of the company of humans, but maybe you have a mild case?
This morning we will look at Luke 12:4-7 and learn that the true value of a man lies not in their body but in their soul. Therefore, it is appropriate to fear the One who has authority over your soul and absurd to fear one who does not. Christians rejoice in this because we have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). Let us examine the verses more closely.
Do not Fear Man (12:4)
Why did Jesus feel the need to tell His disciples not to fear man? It makes sense considering the context because Jesus just finished calling the powerful religious leaders hypocrites and they were upset. Luke 11:53-54 told us that “the scribes and the 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.”
Jesus told his disciples “do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.” In other words, do not fear those who can only kill you. Why are we not to fear those who can only kill the body? Because the true value of a Christian lies not in their body but in their soul.
Your physical body cannot continue forever. The oldest person in modern history lived to be 122 but most of us will never live that long. Our body will stop working and either be buried or cremated. There are many ways to die: man may kill you, an animal may kill you, a virus or some bacteria may kill you, your heart may stop, etc. It doesn’t really matter what kills you because something or someone is going to do it.
This is a problem for those who place all of their value in their physical body because they will always be fearful of the day they lose their value. If you place all of your value in the physical body, you will devote your time, talent, and treasure towards the futile maintenance of your body to the neglect of your soul and live in unconquerable fear. Jesus said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).
Fear God (12:5)
Jesus told His disciples not to fear man but to fear God. It is appropriate to fear God because He is the One who has authority over your soul. Yes, your soul is where your true value lies and God has authority over it. Jesus said, “fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” God, the Creator, can not only stop your heart from beating and bring your physical body to an end, but has the authority to forcefully throw your soul away from His presence into the eternal place of fiery torment. God not only has the authority to cast you into hell, His holy hatred of sin and His justice demands it.
Every sin that you commit accuses you before God as a lawbreaker. James 2:9 says that when the royal law is violated “you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” God convicts us of our sins and I pray it brings the fear of God into your heart because the beauty of the fear of the Lord is that it “is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:6).
Fear Not (12:6-7)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and “wisdom cries aloud in the street…how long, O simply ones, will you love being simple…if you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you” (Prov 1:20,22-23). Those who fear the Lord God and like Isaiah cry out “Woe is me!” when they catch a glimpse of the Lord “sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up”; shall soon have the burning coal of grace touch their mouth of faith and hear the words “your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for” (Is 6:7). Those who come to God through faith and receive the free gift of salvation shall be made righteous before God and “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). To these, whom Jesus calls friends, are told: “Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, if you have repented and turned from your sins, if you are living by faith in Christ; then refuse to be seduced by the “fleeting pleasures of sin” (Heb 11:25). Take Paul’s charge in Colossians 3:2-4 seriously and “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
If you are not a follower of Jesus Christ, fear the Lord instead of man. Stop placing your value and worth in this fleeting life, listen to the words of the Lord in Isaiah 55:7:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
If you are a man or woman who has placed all their worth and value in their physical body, then “let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.” If you have become awakened by the fear of the Lord, then “return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him, and…He will abundantly pardon.”
Remember, the true value of a man lies not in their body but in their soul. Fear only the One who has authority over your soul and find “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1).
Heavenly Father, please help us not to fear man. Help us to realize that even though they may kill the body they have no authority over our soul. Help us to remember that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 6:4). Help us to rest in Your goodness as we submit ourselves to You. Help us to humbly follow you.