Damocles Image






The Sword of Damocles

Do you live in fear?

Hebrews 2.14–15

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • July 29, In the year of our Lord, 2018


  1. Damocles
    1. (b. 370? bc), courtier of Dionysius the Elder tyrant ruler of Syracuse in Sicily.
    2. According to legend given by the Roman writers Horace and Cicero,
      1. Damocles commented to Dionysius
      2. on the grandeur and happiness of rulers,
        1. as we might do about the rich,
        2. thinking they live a carefree life.
    3. Dionysius invited Damocles to a banquet,
      1. where Damocles enjoyed the delights of the table
        1. until his attention was directed upward and
        2. he saw a sharp sword hanging above him by a single horsehair.
      2. By this demonstration, Dionysius made Damocles realize
        1. that insecurity easily threatens those
        2. who appeared to be the most fortunate.


  1. The Swords Suspended Over Us
    1. Many people, whether intentionally or unintentionally, suspend swords over us by a horsehair.
      1. Some people create a crisis out of every news event, 
        1. focusing on the bad news
        2. as though nothing good ever happens.
      2. This breeds constant fear in our hearts.
    2. For example:
      1. Premillennialists use worldwide events as signs of the return of Christ.
        1. During the 1991 or First Persian Gulf War,
        2. the two best-selling religious books held it up as signs of the end.
      2. Health officials frighten us every year.
        1. If we eat this
          1. or do that,
          2. we will die.
        2. If we do not eat this
          1. or do not do that,
          2. we will die.
        3. If we have this in our homes,
          1. or if we do not have that in our homes,
          2. we will die.
      3. Do you remember that during the 1950s through the 80s,
        1. they hung the threat of constant nuclear war over us?
        2. Was it real?
          1. Yes.
          2. However, what good did your fear do?
      4. We hear the statistics every week,
        1. we increase the risk of cancer
        2. if certain factors exist in our lives, and
          1. we increase the risk of cancer
          2. if certain factors do not exist in our lives.
      5. If you live here or there, you increase the risk of being:
        1. murdered,
        2. raped,
        3. kidnapped,
        4. car-jacked,
        5. mugged, etc.
      6. If you have this job,
        1. you will probably catch something
        2. by which your life will be made shorter.
          1. If you have the opposite job,
            1. you will probably catch something,
            2. by which your life will be made shorter.
          2. If you stay at home and
            1. let others support you,
            2. you will not be normal, and
              1. if you get a job and
              2. support others,
              3. you will not be normal.
          3. If you stay at home,
            1. you run the risk of home invasion, but
            2. if you get out of the house,
              1. driving will probably kill you, or
              2. someone’s driving will kill you.
      7. If you use pharmaceuticals,
        1. you will die of their side affects, but
          1. if you do not use them,
          2. you will die.
            1. If you use modern medicine,
            2. you will die, but
              1. if you use the alternatives,
              2. you still die.
        2. What about salt, caffeine, butter, fat, etc.?
      8. Now there is this bottled water craze!
        1. We used to say do not drink the water of Mexico.
          1. However, years ago I saw a television commercial
          2. that had Mexicans say America is a nice place to visit, but
            1. they all said in unison,
            2. “Do not drink the water.”
          3. Who was the master-mind
            1. that persuaded the people with
              1. the cheapest,
              2. most abundant, and
              3. best water in the world
            2. to pay how much per bottle?
      9. If you think I exaggerate about these things,
        1. test me this week.
        2. See how many advertisements
          1. will hold a sword of Damocles over you.
          2. Read the newspaper,
          3. any newsmagazine and
        3. see how often someone tries to frighten you.
    3. Many of these are real dangers.
      1. Some are not real dangers at all.
      2. Even with the ones that are real,
      3. we cannot let fear of them paralyze us.
        1. Another problem of letting fears run our lives 
        2. is that they tend to cover the real dangers.
      4. For example,
        1. Satanism diverts our attention from the real dangers of Satan.
        2. Am I saying that Satanism is not a problem?
          1. No.
          2. However, it serves well as a red herring.
            1. A red herring is a smoked herring (fish)
            2. that creates a red color.
              1. This was used to distract hunting dogs from the scent trail.
              2. Hence, it draws attention away from the central issue.
        3. Satanism draws us away from the central issue,
          1. by making us believe
          2. that if we are not involved in a satanic cult,
          3. we do not belong to Satan.
            1. If you are not a Christian,
              1. you belong to Satan.
            2. If you live in sin,
              1. you belong to Satan.
    4. I am not teaching, and the Bible certainly does not teach,
      1. that if you do not live in constant fear of these things,
      2. that you will not be hurt by any of these things.
        1. Is it possible that you could become so consumed with nuclear war
          1. that you fail to see the more imminent danger
          2. of running a red light?
        2. Is it possible that you could become so consumed with fear of eating apples that might have a trace of alar,
          1. that you never eat another apple or any other fruit and
          2. end up being hurt by not eating properly?
        3. Listen to Revelation 2 for it acknowledges that bad things happen, but
          1. that we should not fear those things.
          2. Jesus gave a message of encouragement:

            10 “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev 2.10).
    5. Isaiah 66 shows if we live in constant fear, and
      1. do not listen to the Lord,
      2. He will cause us to experience our fears:

        4 “So will I choose their delusions,
        And bring their fears on them;
        Because, when I called, no one answered,
        When I spoke they did not hear;
        But they did evil before My eyes,
        And chose that in which I do not delight.”
        (Isaiah 66.4)
    6. Job declared:

      25 “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me,
      And what I dreaded has happened to me.”
      (Job 3.25)
  2. Things We Should Fear
    1. Do not be naïve in relation to things that might hurt us.
      1. Just do not let those fears paralyze you; and
        1. do not let those fears
        2. keep you from doing the things that God wants you to do.
      2. Do not let fear distract you from living by faith.
    2. In Luke 12 Jesus put things in perspective for us,
      1. again not denying that things will happen to our bodies, but
      2. that there is Someone with whom we should have greater concern:

        5 “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12.5).

        1. If you fear all the things the world tells you to fear, but
        2. you do not fear God, what have you gained?
    3. Acts 5 shows the early church fearing sin.
      1. If you avoid all the problems I stated earlier, but
      2. you live in sin,
        1. you have a greater problem than all those other things combined:

          5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things (Acts 5.5).
        2. After his wife died, Luke wrote:

          11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things (Acts 5.11).
    4. Romans 13 commands us to fear punishment from the government for sin:

      3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil (Rom 13.3–4).
    5. Hebrews 4 explains that you should fear being lost.
      1. You can gain the whole world by not suffering
      2. from any of these other fears, but
      3. in the end if you neglect or forget to become a Christian:

        1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it (Heb 4.1).
  3. A Fearless Life in Christ
    1. Second Timothy 1 explains what we have received from God.
      1. Live the way God intends.
      2. It really is a wonderful life:

        7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2Ti 1.7).
    2. Listen to Hebrews 2, for it says
      1. that Jesus released you from the fear of death!
      2. He demonstrated that death is not as bad as the world tells us.
        1. Is it really so bad for the Christian to die?

          14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Heb 2.14–15).
        2. Do not live in constant fear, but listen to what Jesus did!
    3. Deuteronomy 28 is part of the promise of God
      1. as to what He would do to the Israelites
      2. if they forsook Him.
        1. It shows people living under the sword of Damocles.

          65 “And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul. 66 Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life. 67 In the morning you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were morning!’ because of the fear which terrifies your heart, and because of the sight which your eyes see” (Deu 28.65–67).
        2. How many people today suffer from those problems?


  1. Turn to Jesus for a fear-free life.
    1. Not a naïve life, but
    2. one free from fear.
  2. Be free from the fear of
    1. death and
    2. of eternal condemnation.