“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices, and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Colossians 3:5-9
The other day I posted a prayer of confession. In it I detailed some of the specific out-workings that the fear of man has had in my life. Some may wonder why I did that. Someone might ask a question like, ‘Isn’t it humiliating to publicly own such a low and cowardly sin as that of man-fearing?’ Or, someone might wonder “Doesn’t she feel any shame or embarrassment about admitting that her fear of man has given birth to a multitude of other sins in her life- sins like those of sulking, self-pity, murmuring, complaining, and gossip?” And, the answer to that question is, well, yes, actually, it is very embarrassing to publicly confess my sin- and, in large part, that is why I posted Confessions of a MAN-PLEASER.
John Owen wrote, “Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.” The public confession of my man-fearing was one of many personal attempts to kill my sin of people-pleasing. For me, embarrassment is a very effective tool in the practice of the mortification of sin. When I feel embarrassed by something- I want to get away from it. Or, to put it in Bible language, embarrassment over my sin makes me want to “…put off the old self with its practices…” and to “…put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” I have also found that for me, genuine intentional self-abasement is a pre-curser to humbleness of mind; and humbleness of mind prepares my heart to receive the grace of Christ- His grace to overcome my sin; His grace to walk in the new life that He has called me to; and His grace to receive more of His grace.
Grace empowers me to “…put to death whatever is earthly…” in me (like, my fear of man), by teaching me how to “…put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” That is, grace enables me to put on the life of Christ, and be renewed by the promises of the Word of God which reveal all of the perfections of Christ; His person, His character, His image, and His glory.
The following are four verses that I am praying over in the continuing effort to put my man-pleasing tendencies to death, so that I can live in the joyful, victorious freedom of living in the fear of God. I might be battling this particular sin for the rest of my life. Although, Monday’s public confession proved to be a decisive victory in the on-going battle with this particular sin. No less, I am certain that John Owen was right. I need to “…make killing sin my daily work – I better be always at it while I live; and cease not a day from this work. I better be killing sin or it will be killing me.” So, in the end, I am okay with feeling the shame of my sin. Actually, I welcome it. If by feeling it more acutely, I can more earnestly welcome and more powerfully experience the grace of God – why wouldn’t I?
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” Psalm 18:10
“Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” Isaiah 2:22
“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.” Jeremiah 1:17
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10