So one came and told them, saying, “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!”
We considered last week that the fear of God is necessary among believers. After the death of Ananias and Sapphira for their deception, we saw that “great fear came upon all the church”. (Ac 5:11) This fear was of tremendous benefit because it purified the church. No one was attracted to join this assembly for the wrong reasons (v. 13), and true believers were added by the multitudes! (v. 14) But the purifying effect of this fear was not the only beneficial result. As a proper fear of God increased, improper fear was cast out!
The scriptures teach us that when we fear and reverence our holy God as we should, all other fears will be removed. In Is 8:12-13, the Lord instructed his prophet to teach the people, “Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’ concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.” I’ve met Christians today that live in such fear of conspiracies (in the government, large corporations, other countries, etc.) that I don’t know how they sleep at night! I’m not saying that men don’t have wicked motives. Man’s heart outside of Christ is bent on doing evil! (Rom 3:10-18) But, when we live in the consciousness and confidence that God is reigning over all other powers, fear will be properly applied ONLY to Him. (Mt 10:28)
The New Testament echoes these thoughts of the Old. We are encouraged not to fear man in 1 Pet 3:13-14: “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.’” With improper fear removed, the next verse tells us that we must maintain the fear of God in our lives to have an effective witness in this world: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear“. (v .15) And, isn’t that fact exactly what we see in our text today? When the believers feared God, they didn’t fear men and had a powerful boldness in declaring the word of God! Even when beaten and threatened to not preach Christ, they simply replied, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Ac 5:29)
So what is crippling you today, child of God? Are you fearful? You have no doubt forgotten who you are! You are a child of the High King of heaven and abide in the perfect love of Christ!! “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 Jn 4:18) We once lived in fear as death loomed over us, but Christ has delivered His children “who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb 2:15) All improper fear is cast out when we rest in the love of the One who set us free, and we are further encouraged to know that NOTHING can EVER separate us from that love! “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:37-39)