Undoubtedly, the evidence is, for Christians this world is becoming more dangerous on a daily basis. Persecution of those who have a true faith in Jesus Christ has increased by an estimated 400% worldwide in the last 24 months alone. Yet, the True Church continues to grow, and is doing so in the places of greatest persecution. North Korea, over the past decade, has consistently been documented as the most hostile toward Christianity, yet it is estimated that the Church has grown from 200,000 to 400,000 faithful, during that same length of time. These numbers are not anomalous, almost the same type of growth has been experienced in China, India, Iran, and much of the African continent. The Church of Jesus Christ is alive, growing, and in spite of the suffering and persecution is living expectantly, longing and looking for His imminent return for His bride.
However, not everyone who claims the name of Jesus Christ are boldly making a stand for Him in these Last Days. Many Christians (especially in the US), for divergent reasons, are “playing it safe” hoping to “slip under the radar” and avoid suffering and persecution. Rather than trusting God, they have developed a fear of man which is by extension, a fear of Satan. Jesus Christ promised that He would neither leave us nor forsake us, and that we should have no fear of what man might do to us. (Hebrews 13:5-6) In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus promised that we would be blessed and rewarded for having suffered persecution in His Name. (Matthew 5:10-12) Jesus also told us that we can expect persecution because He was persecuted. (John 15:20) And, Paul told the Christians in the Philippian church that it was granted to them not only to believe in Jesus but to suffer for Jesus. (Philippians 1: 29) If you are granted something, it means it has been given to you or gifted to you, in other words, it is a privilege that you have received. So, we should count it a privilege when persecution comes, but rather than trusting God for their lives, many are caught in the snare of fearing man. (Proverbs 29:25)
Fearing man results in a failure to do what is right, what the Lord desires, in being obedient to His call on your life. It is yielding to your human nature rather than trusting in the Holy Spirit to protect and empower you in Jesus Name. Oftentimes a fear of man is the result of sinful pride in our lives. It manifests itself in thoughts like; “if I try to share my faith with them they will make fun of me,” or “I could lose my job if I don’t compromise,” or “Jesus understands that I’m not that type of a Christian.” These examples of prideful thoughts or actions show a concern for self, and fear of what man might say, rather than a fear of God.
Del Fehsenfeld Jr., the founder of Life Action Ministries, said there were 12 warning signs for the believer that they fear man rather than God.
• They are unwilling to pray aloud.
• They wear immodest or suggestive clothing.
• They become defensive when confronted about their actions.
• They are unwilling to be honest about their failures.
• They are critical of others; trying to find fault.
• They are greedy, seeking material wealth and reputation.
• They are unable to make clear decisions.
• They are harsh with their children and family in public.
• They are constantly fishing for compliments and commendation.
• They are always trying to “one-up” other people’s stories.
• They are unwilling to follow Christ in believer’s baptism or to verbally witness for Him.
• They display different behavior depending on whom they happened to be with.
Fear of man is quite simply a denial of Christ, weather it is a result of pride, or willful disobedience in giving Christ His rightful place in your life. The tent evangelist, Dr. Dolphus Price, said; “Many will go to hell because they are afraid of what their friends might say if they give their life to Christ.” The English preacher William Gurnall wrote; “We fear man so much, because we fear God so little.”
Today, the Church of Jesus Christ needs to return to a healthy reverence for, and fear of God. (Psalm 89:7; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14) We need to remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, about who we should fear and why. (Luke 12:4-9) Ultimately, the man who puts his trust in Jesus Christ is eternally safe no matter what he might face.The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy wrote; “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12) Again, this is a promise of a privilege given to the one who has given his life to serve Jesus Christ, and it is certainly no reason to fear man.
Paul goes on to encourage Timothy; “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For 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. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4: 2-5)
These words to Timothy in that day, are the words of Jesus Christ to us for today. Because the evidence is clear that we are living in the Last Days, we need to set aside the fear of man, and share Jesus Christ with absolutely everyone we can in obedience to His call on our lives. We need to convince people of the Truth of Jesus Christ in our lives, we need to rebuke those (false teachers and false prophets) who are not teaching the Truth of the Word of God, and we need to exhort new Christians or weaker Christians with patience and sound teaching of the Word. Many in this world have already turned away from the truth, many will not be redeemed because they have already given themselves over to Satan. But, we still need to evangelize everyone, because only God knows the condition of a man’s heart. We need to fulfill the calling God has placed on our lives, and continually watch, long for, and love the imminent appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds as He Raptures His Church!
Remember, a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8) and the crown of life (Revelation 2:10) awaits. So put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-16), and having done all to stand; Stand Therefore!