Psalm 56:11. in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
Do you fear man? Most likely you’re not afraid of being physically harmed today. But most of us still live with an existential fear of man – the fear of what others can do to us, or at least what they think of us. Are you a people-pleaser? Are you over-committed? Are you giving in to peer pressure? Are you destroyed by criticism? Are you preoccupied with what others think of you? Do you avoid people that have hurt you in the past? Do you lie in order to make yourself look better to others?
Or another way to get to the bottom of your fear of man is to ask what the psalmist asks, “what can man do to me?” What would your answer to that question be today? They could reject me. Ignore me. Shame me. Disrespect me. Or as the psalmist says in this same psalm, they might injure my cause.
Now if you’re thinking “I don’t have a fear of man,” you’re lying to yourself. What you should be thinking is “how can I overcome my fear of man?”
Psalm 56 offers us two gospel truths for overcoming the fear of man:
Psalm 56:9. Then my enemies will turn back
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
Psalm 56:13. For you have delivered my soul from death,
yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.
Gospel truth #1: God is for us. David refuses to live in the fear of man, not because he has discovered an inner strength, or been true to himself. He can live beyond the fear of man because he knows that God is for him. God will never reject him. God will hear his cries. He can walk before God. God is committed to him.
Here’s how the Apostle Paul says the same thing:
Romans 8:31-32. If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:39. [nothing] in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
How do we overcome the fear of man? How do we know that God is for us? We trust that if God did the hardest thing in the world for us, if God sent his only begotten Son to suffer and die for us in order to obtain for us freedom from fear and sin and death, if the Trinity would experience separation from each other in order to be joined to us, if these things are true, then we can be sure that God will never let any mere person separate us from his love.
Faith in the indescribable love of God for us removes all fear of man.
Gospel truth #2: The light of life. David also did not fear man because he did not fear death. God delivered his soul from death. But is David only referring to being saved from physical death? Or does he have a deeper meaning in mind? Could he have eternal life in view when he says he will walk before God in his light of life?
John 8:12. Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Whether or not David was thinking about eternal life, we know that Jesus was. He claimed to be our light of life. Because we are in Christ, he has removed the darkness of sin and death that lived in us. Jesus is the light of life that no darkness can overcome. Especially not the darkness of any man. Nothing that man can do to you, say to you, or keep from you can remove the light of Jesus’ eternal life from you.
Faith in the indestructible life of God in us removes all fear of man.
“To live is Christ” removes all fear of man. As we more and more trust that God is for us and that the light of his life is in us, we will be released from being controlled by the actions, opinions, and acceptance of others.
What can man do to me? Nothing that God in Christ hasn’t already overcome.
In what ways do you live in the fear of man?
You in Christ
How does knowing that you are in Christ allow you to break free from the fear of man today?
Christ in you
What is one specific area of your life where you can ask for the grace to break free from being controlled by others?
Playlist: No Fear 2.
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