Watered Down Wine
For the past two days, I have been sharing on Proverbs 29:25, which refers to “the fear of man” as a snare. The Passion Translation says, “Intimidation is a trap that holds you back,” and The Message Bible reads, “The fear of human opinion disables.”
Indeed, the fear of human opinion leads to people-pleasing, compromised values, yielding to peer pressure, and bowing to political correctness. A desire in the church to be viewed by the world as progressive and tolerant is a snare Satan has used to conform people into his way of thinking. The need to be liked and accepted outweighs the Word of God to many believers, causing compromise, lukewarmness, and a lack of fruit. The damage has been catastrophic to our nation, causing the spiritual decay of three generations.
I was ready to move on from this subject but felt the Lord prompting me to do one more post on it. Today, I’m going to share three references that give us pictures and further insights into this trap called: “the fear of man.”
The first is in Exodus 32. Moses had been on Mount Sinai for several weeks, receiving the laws and ordinances of God for Israel. After being gone so long, the people began to think he might never return (verse 1). Perhaps we need another god to help us, since Moses, who represented Yahweh, is evidently not coming back, they thought. Aaron, whom Moses had left in charge, was then persuaded to fashion a golden calf for the people to worship (verses 2-6). Pathetic!
God was understandably angry and sent Moses down the mountain to deal with it. Upon arrival, Moses’ choice of words to Aaron made it clear that God was holding him responsible for this sin:
“Moses said to Aaron, ‘What on Earth did these people ever do to you that you involved them in this huge sin?’ Aaron said, ‘Master, don’t be angry. You know this people and how set on evil they are. They said to me, “Make us gods who will lead us. This Moses, the man who brought us out of Egypt, we don’t know what’s happened to him.”’” (Verses 21-23 The Message)
God’s summary statement in verse 25 is VERY telling: “…Aaron had let them run wild disgracing themselves before their enemies” (The Message Bible). Another translation says, “…Aaron had let them get out of control to be a derision among their enemies.” (NASB)
Aaron was intimidated by the uprising of the people, which caused him to compromise. The language of verse 25 - “Aaron let them get out of control” - makes clear that had he stood his ground, God would’ve backed him up. Leaders in the church must refuse to be intimidated by rebellious people; giving them what they want will never be an acceptable excuse to God.
Another example of an Israelite leader yielding to the fear of man is in First Samuel 13. King Saul had been instructed to wait seven days for Samuel, a prophet and priest, to arrive and offer the necessary sacrifices for securing a military victory (1 Samuel 10:8). In that day, only priests, not kings, were permitted to offer these sacrifices.
Israel’s enemies, the Philistines, made their move, amassing a great army with which to attack them (1 Samuel 13:5). Without God’s help, things weren’t looking good, and without the sacrifices, they wouldn’t have this help. Saul waited almost the entire seven days for Samuel to arrive, but at the end of the 7th day, with his army “scattering from him,” he disobeyed and “offered the burnt offering” himself (verses 8-9). And who showed up just as he was finishing the sacrifice? The prophet and priest, Samuel.
The delay had been a test from God, and Saul, snared by fear of the Philistines and the scattering of his people, had failed. God's response to him through the prophet was essentially, “I need someone to rule as king who will obey Me, regardless of what circumstances, enemies, and the people dictate. I need a man after My heart,” (Verses 13-14). A couple of chapters later, God said to Saul,
“Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of Rams… Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being King.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23 NASB)
How many leaders in the church have compromised God’s Word in attempts to prevent people from scattering?
THE JEWISH LEADERS
There is one final passage I want to mention. As Jesus taught and performed miracles on one occasion, many people - including Jewish leaders - believed He was the Messiah. Yet, because of their fear of man, they would not acknowledge their belief in Him:
“These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke about Him. Nevertheless many, even of the rulers, believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees, they were not confessing Him, so that they would not be excommunicated from the synagogue; for they loved the approval of people rather than the approval of God.” (John 12:41-43 NASB)
What an indictment - loving the approval of men more than the approval of God! Interestingly, the Greek word translated “approval” (doxa)(1) is also the New Testament word for “glory” and is translated as such in this very passage (verse 41): “Isaiah…saw His glory.” Therefore, the indictment against these leaders could be translated, “They loved the glory of men more than the glory of God.”
What a striking contrast! Isaiah saw God’s glory and prophecied of His greatness. To these leaders, however, the glory they were receiving from man outweighed the glory of God.
Sadly, this could be said of many leaders in the church today: popularity, approval from people, and large crowds - these mean more to them than the glory of God. And sadly, Holy Spirit has written Ichabod (“the glory has departed”) over the doors of many churches in our land.
However, God is about to change this. Many leaders have found that the praise of men no longer satisfies. They’re also realizing that “powerless Christianity” is a contradiction of the Bible. They are awakening to the fact that we have lowered the standard and watered down the wine. We traded the glory of God for men’s applause, sound doctrine for storytelling, the power of Holy Spirit for personal comfort, and prayer for innovative ideas. Three lost generations and an apostate nation later, we have realized it isn’t working. It’s time to go back to the pattern found in the book of Acts. Our prayer comes from there today.
Pray with me:
“And now, Lord, look at their threats, and enable Your bond-servants to speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great [megas - mega](2) power, the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant [megas - mega](3) grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:29-33 NASB)
We decree that Jesus is building a church the gates of hell cannot overcome.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
James Strong, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990), ref. no. 1391.
Ibid. Ref no. 3173.