Fear of man is a shapeshifter. It may take the form of braggadocios cockiness; the sort of guy that–– while walking down the street––flexes in the shop windows to admire the ripple of his own muscles. It may take the form of a dietary regimen disguised as “health-consciousness,” but in reality is a lust-filled pursuit of a beauty standard derived from air-brushed Instagram models. It may take the form of talking too much, and it may take the form of talking to little. It may speak up when it should shut up, and keep quiet when it should speak up. It may sit when it should stand, and stand when it should sit. It may look like confidence or it may look like insecurity. It may seem like timidity or like bombast. In some people the fear of man turns them into a quaking leaf, in others it turns them into a raging bull.
But the Word rebukes pride in all its forms. The promise is that pride will fall. Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall (Pr. 16:18). Here’s why pride––in all its guises––always falls: it is raw unbelief.
Pride thinks self is sufficient for righteousness and salvation. It thinks it can be good enough. Conversely, if it takes the façade of self-loathing, it talks itself into believing that it hates itself more than God hates its sin; and thus, it thinks it can punish the sinner more effectively and with fiercer wrath that the Holy Judge of the universe. Pride appropriates to man what only God is capable of. You will never loathe your sin as much as God. You will never be as good as God’s law requires. You will never deliver yourself. Pride will always fall.
Which is why the fear of God is the antidote to the unbelieving pride of the fear of man. It opens our eyes to the sheer glory of God’s holiness, the ugliness of our sin, and the preciousness of the Gospel. The glorious Gospel delivers us from all our sin––in all its insidious faces––and clothes us with righteousness of Christ, so that God looks on us and sees the face of Jesus.