Fear of God or fear of man.
Galatians 2:1-16 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2 It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain. 3 But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. 5 But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. 6 But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me. 7 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised 8 (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), 9 and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do.
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
15 “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.
Proverbs 1:7 says: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 9:10 says: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 29:25 says: The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted. In yesterday’s meditation, looking at what Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-4: The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables, we saw that because of the fear of man, in order to please and satisfy the desires of people, some will compromise the truth and preach a different gospel. In today’s text we see another example of the negative affects that the fear of man can have regarding the gospel. Paul says: When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. We should neither let the fear of man lead us to compromise God’s word or to exhibit false righteousness and so compromise the demonstration of God’s love and grace.
Jesus taught us to pray saying: Your kingdom come, Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven. We are supposed to pray that the realities of heaven would be manifested on earth and even more, since as Jesus says in Luke 17:21: Behold, the kingdom of God is within you, we should be those who bring the realities of the kingdom of heaven to earth. We cannot do that though if because of the fear of man, we are trying to make the kingdom of heaven align with the world. James 4:4 says: Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Surely the last thing that any of us should want is to be an enemy of God. We cannot allow the fear of man or the pressure to conform with our society and culture to cause us to compromise God’s word and to embrace the immorality and unrighteousness of the world. We cannot allow the fear of man or the pressure to conform with others in the church to keep us from demonstrating the love and grace of God to the world. Some say it is cliché, but if we love and fear God, then we need to find the way to love sinners and hate sin, just as He does. As with all things, we cannot do this in our own strength or by our own abilities. We cannot love without first receiving the love of God. 1 John 4:19 says: We love because He first loved us. That love, the love of God with which He first loved us, is demonstrated in the cross, as we see in John 3:16 and Romans 5:8. The love we have for others should also be that same love. It should be the demonstration of the grace and the forgiveness of God through Christ and the cross. 1 Corinthians 1:18;23-25 says: The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. Our words, our lives and our love should be, like God’s, demonstrated in the grace, forgiveness and redemption of the cross. We cannot do it on our own, but Romans 12:2 says: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 says: The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. When we no longer try to conform to the world or to the ideas and ideaology of man, but rather are yielded to the Spirit, we are transformed. Our minds are renewed; restored to what God intended from the beginning, that we would be made in His image and likeness. We have the mind of Christ so we can prove and demonstrate the perfect will of God.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; may I do all things according to the renewed and restored mind You have given me through Christ. May I never let the fear of man keep me from speaking or living Your truth, but may I always demonstrate Your perfect love; the power of the cross to forgive and redeem. Amen.