Sermon: The Key to Enduring to the End: Fear God Not Man Matthew 10:24-33

Truth Taught- Jesus teaches us that fearing God leads to eternal life

Introduction

Last time we looked somewhat in depth at the verse…

Matthew 10:22 (ESV) 

22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 

The main thrust of this entire section, last week and today,  is that we would stand strong when faced with persecution for the name of Jesus.  Our Lord is concerned with our endurance through trying times of hardship resulting from our faithfulness to Jesus.  He knows that as we follow Him in obedience the lost world will hate us and persecute us as a result of our commitment to Jesus and because we are not committed to the things they are.  When you don’t worship the same idols they do you will be hated.

So, in our first section today we are going to see the continued reality that disciples will be persecuted for the name of Jesus.  The next section is made up of a number of Jesus’ sayings almost like Proverbs on whom we should fear and whom we should not fear.  In our Lord’s explanation to us we learn that there is an appropriate fear, which strengthens us to endure to the end.  So, Jesus is about to tell us that fear is good as long as it’s directed to God.  All other fear, according to Jesus, is sinful fear.

Matthew 10:24–33 (ESV) 

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. 

26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. 

1.  As We Follow Christ Lost People Will Malign Us

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. 

First, Jesus addresses His followers as His disciples and His slaves.  This is our Lord’s parallel statement concerning His followers.  We are to be His students/disciples and a title less used today, His slaves.  
Many times when the Apostles began their letters they addressed themselves as the doulos of Christ, literally bondservant to do His will.  If you truly are a Christian today you to are a learner/disciple and a slave/ bondservant of Christ as well.

Romans 1:1 (ESV) 

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 

James 1:1 (ESV) 

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, 

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: 

Greetings. 

2 Peter 1:1 (ESV) 

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, 

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 

Jude 1 (ESV) 

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, 

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: 

So, a true believer is a learner of Christ and a bondservant of Christ.  This is true from the lowest in society to the Apostles like Peter and Paul.  Jesus is Lord and we are His servants.  In serving Him we are called to obey Him in all He teaches us in the Bible.  

The point Jesus makes is that if they treated Him badly and we follow His teaching to be like Him then they will treat us badly as well.  Here’s rub, our goal as believers is to be like Jesus knowing according to Jesus that the closer we are to being like Him the more we will face persecution and slander.

Romans 8:29 (ESV) 

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 

Romans 13:14 (ESV)

14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. 

1 John 3:2 (ESV) 

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 

Since our goal is to be more and more like Jesus and since God’s goal is to make us like Jesus we should not expect any better treatment than our Master.

Hear our Lord tells us we will be maligned or slandered as we seek to be like Him.   If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. 

Beelzebul- Hebrew name for Satan.   

They called Jesus, Satan and other names.  His point is if they treated Me this way you won’t be very popular either.  

Our greatest challenge as believers when persecution or slander comes is fear of man.  Jesus knows this.  He is our Wonderful High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses and knows what it’s like to be human.  We will see Jesus’ repetition of don’t be afraid…

It’s important here that we see that even in times of non persecution the fear of man is one of our great enemies.  Because of our sin nature we have misappropriated fear of God to the fear of man.  Jesus knows this and is here to help us overcome the sin of the fear of man.

2.  Fear God Not Man Because God Will Make All Things Known

26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.

We do not need to fear man because God is fully aware of the truth.  When lost people slander us and speak to us like we are stupid for believing what we do it’s okay because God knows.  When we are maligned and treated badly God knows and He will make all things right in the end.  
Jesus wants us to understand that not being afraid of man is not enough.  That’s the negative response to the do not fear command but look with me at what He wants us to do while not being afraid…27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.

While we are promised God will uncover everything and if we’ve been treated badly because of Jesus, He will uncover and make known and make all things right in the end.  Their sin will be punished so we don’t have to get even, seek vengeance or get our pound of flesh God will.  God uncovers all things that may be currently hidden.  Notice, we too are to uncover truth.  We are called not to cower in fear of man but to proclaim truth from the housetop.  

That’s what they did in Jesus’ day.  An announcement of great importance was shouted from the housetop so all in the community could hear.  

Don’t fear man but offer bold proclamation.  This is true for all Christians.  We must be bold for Jesus.  Our greatest hindrance is the fear of man isn’t it?  What will my family think or say?  What will my friends or coworkers think of me?  If I proclaim the Gospel then I’m going to have to live out my faith before them from then on.  

3.  Fear God Not Man Because He Has Authority Over Your Body and Soul

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Now Jesus moves from being slandered to being martyred.  He raises the stakes doesn’t He?  On the first level we can understand Jesus’ logic here.  His thinking goes like this: Don’t be afraid of man or lost people because they can only kill you.  That’s what He’s saying isn’t it?  Worst-case scenario is that people could kill you for your faith in Jesus.   So, let’s make sure we understand this hard saying of Jesus.  We must not fear those who can only kill the body…people and even Satan.  We do not need to fear the devil because he can only kill us.  

Who should we fear?   Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  Fear is a very very good thing when it’s directed at God and a very very bad thing when focused on people, situations, or Satan.

One character trait of the reprobate is no fear of God.  
Romans 3:18 (ESV) 

18        “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 

The god of this world has blinded their eyes to realize that they should be afraid of their enemy who has their death in His hands and has the keys to the bottomless pit where they will be punished for all eternity for their sin against the holy God.  For the most part there is no fear of God in their eyes.  

Martin Luther made an important distinction concerning the fear of God. He distinguished between servile fear and filial fear. He described servile fear as that kind of fear a prisoner has for his torturer. Filial fear is the fear of a son who loves his father and does not want to offend him or let him down. It is a fear born of respect. When the Bible calls us to fear God, it is issuing a call to a fear born of reverence, awe, and adoration. It is a respect of the highest magnitude.[1]

The flip side of what Luther taught is the fact that God punishes and pours His wrath out on all sin.  We are confident as believers that Jesus bore all God’s wrath for His people.  So we don’t fear eternal punishment but there is always consequences and earthly punishment for our sin.  
Ephesians 2:3 (ESV) 

among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 

We know that to trust Jesus in salvation is for God to pour our wrath on Him.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 (ESV) 

10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. 

So, for the believer we fear God because we want to avoid His displeasure and discipline in our lives.  
2 Corinthians 7:1 (ESV) 

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. 

1 Peter 1:17 (ESV)

17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 

Notice here what else Jesus tells us about our God whom we are to fear…
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Our God whom we are to fear also loves us greatly, knowing everything about us. 
30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

 This is good news because when we are disciplined it is done in love.  The God who can destroy in hell is also our Father who loves and cares for us.  If He cares for the smallest bird then what should we deduce about us?
Matthew 6:26 (ESV) 

26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 

God loves us more than sparrows.  
Now in context Jesus is specifically telling us that God knows when every sparrow falls to the ground (death) and He knows when each of us will fall to the ground as well.  So, the death of His beloved is another thing God is sovereign over.
Does the fact that as His people, He knows us intimately, will never forget about us, cares for us and has even our deaths in His hands give you confidence to endure to the end and be saved even if that end means our death?
As hard as these sayings of Jesus are for us to hear and think through they should bring us confidence, God has everything in control.
So, the question of whom to fear really becomes very clear as Christians.  Fear God not man because God has control over all things.  God alone has power over your soul.  Men can only kill us they cannot touch our souls.  

Jesus reaches His divine conclusion to who it is we are to fear…

4.  Fear God Not Man and Acknowledge His Son, Jesus Christ  

32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. 

Now, whom we fear whether God or man will be made manifest by our bold acknowledgment of Jesus.  If we stand for Christ in this world we show that we are one of His and that we fear God.  If we do not acknowledge Christ before men then we fear men and not God and the Romans text is true for all the lost…
Romans 3:18 (ESV) 

18        “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 

The dynamic at work is if we are born again God will give us fear of Him and boldness in proclaiming Christ and enduring whatever comes our way as a result.  Acknowledging Jesus before others does not save us but shows we are saved.  The opposite is also true.  If we do not acknowledge Jesus before others and do not have a fear of God but the fear of man we show that we are not saved.  The result is to deny Jesus before others is to be denied a standing in heaven.  The truth is hard to process sometimes.  If we will not share Christ and deny Him He will deny us.

We see the eternal result of priorities.  Whom do we fear?  Where does your loyalty lie with Jesus or with people?

Conclusions/Application

Probably many if not everyone here has denied Jesus before men at some time or other.  Probably most everyone has had the fear of man and in that moment denied Jesus.  If you have seek God’s forgiveness.  
Matthew 26:69–75 (ESV) 

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. 

John 21:15–17 (ESV) 

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 

Peter had denied Jesus before men but Jesus forgave him and restored him and Peter made it a goal albeit not perfectly but never deny Jesus before men again.  

Perhaps you have failed in your witness and have denied Jesus before men.  Ask God to grant you repentance to never sin in this way again.  Ask God to make you bold and courageous for Jesus and no matter if through peace or persecution your stance for Christ would not change. 

May God grant us all endurance to the end for His glory.

*Resources Used:

Matthew by D A Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary

A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles

A Gospel of Matthew by France

Matthew by Craig Bloomberg

Matthew by Doriani

Matthew by Charles Price

Matthew by Leon Morris

Blue Letter Bible


[1] https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/fostering-fear-god/

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