The Spirit of Power, Not of Fear

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
 
In 2 Timothy 1:6-76Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. 7For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:6‑7), Paul reminds Timothy to “stir up the gift of God, which is in thee ... for God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Such exhortations are never given unless there are circumstances to require it. They are intended to meet some tendency in the flesh, in order that we may guard against it. We must remember that the Lord deals with us just as we are and takes into account the circumstances we are in.
With regard to our cares and trials, Christ does not take us out of them. He leaves us in the world and liable to all that is incident to man, but, in the new nature, teaches us to lean on God. The thought with us often is that (because we are Christians) we are to get away from trials, or else, if in them, we are not to feel them. This is not God’s thought concerning us.
The theoretical Christian may be serene and calm, with fine books and nice sayings, but when something from God ruffles his placidity, you will find he is a Christian more conscious of the difficulties there are in the world and of the struggle of getting over such. The nearer a man walks with God through grace, the more tender he becomes as to the faults of others; the longer he lives as a saint, the more conscious he is of the faithfulness and tenderness of God and of how it has been applied to himself.
Jesus in Gethsemane
In the life of the Lord Jesus, let us take Gethsemane: What do we find? Never a cloud over His soul — uniform calmness. You never see Him off His center; He is always Himself. But take the Psalms: Do we find nothing within to break that placidity? The Psalms bring out what was passing within. In the Gospels He is presented to man as the testimony of the power of God with Him in those very things that would have vexed man. He talked with God about them, and so we find Him in perfect peace, saying with calmness, “Whom seek ye?” — ”I am He.” How peaceful! How commanding (for peace in the midst of difficulties does command)! When by Himself, in an agony, He could sweat, as it were, great drops of blood; His calmness was not because He had no heart feeling within. He felt the trial in spirit, but God was always with Him in the circumstances and, therefore, He was uniformly calm before men.
We are not to expect never to be exercised, or troubled, or cast down, as though we were without feeling. “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Psa. 69:2121They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. (Psalm 69:21)). He thoroughly felt it all. The iron entered His soul. “Reproach,” He says, “hath broken my heart.” But there is this difference between Christ, in suffering and affliction, and ourselves: With Him there was never an instant elapsed between the trial and communion with God. This is not the case with us. We have first to find out that we are weak and cannot help ourselves, and then we turn and look to God.
Paul
Where was Paul when he said, “All men forsook me”? His confidence in God was not shaken, but, looking around him by the time he got to the end of his ministry, his heart was broken because of the unfaithfulness. He saw the flood of evil coming in (2 Timothy 3-4) and the danger of Timothy’s being left alone, looking at the evil, and feeling his own weakness. Lest Timothy should get into a spirit of fear, he says, “Stir up the gift of God, which is in thee... for God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Tim. 1:6-86Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. 7For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; (2 Timothy 1:6‑8)). If we have the spirit of fear, this is not of God, for God has given us the spirit of power. He has met the whole power of the enemy in the weakness of men, in Christ, and Christ is now set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Was Timothy to be a partaker of afflictions? Yes, but would there not be deliverance from the sense of them? No; he was to be a partaker of afflictions that may be felt as a man, but “according to the power of God.”
This is not to say that we should not feel the pressure of sorrow and weakness. Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12), and did he not feel it? Yes, he felt it daily, and it was as “the messenger of Satan to buffet” him. And what did he say? “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities [in those things in which I am sensibly weak], that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:99And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)). The power of God coming in on our side does not lessen the feeling to us, but we cast all our “care upon Him, for He careth for” us. Not that at the very moment we refer it to God, we shall always get an answer. Daniel had to wait three full weeks for an answer from God, but from the first day that he set his heart to understand and to chasten himself before his God, his words were heard (Dan. 10). With us the first thing often is to think about the thing and begin to work in our own minds before we go to God. There was none of this in Christ. “At that time, Jesus answered and said, I thank Thee, O Father” (Matt. 11). We weary ourselves in the greatness of our way.
That is easily said, but are we not to be careful about the state of the church, or about the pressure of a family? No, we are to “be careful for nothing.” Whatever produces a care in us, produces God’s care for us; therefore, “be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:66Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:6)). In this way “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:77And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)). Notice, it is not that your hearts shall keep the peace of God, but the peace in which God Himself is — His peace, the unmoved stability of all God’s thoughts — shall keep your hearts.
Further, when we are not anxious, the mind is set free; with the peace of God keeping the heart, God sets the soul thinking on happy things. “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest... just... pure... lovely... of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Phil. 4:8-98Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:8‑9)). God is there the companion of the soul, not merely “the peace of God,” but “the God of peace.”
When the soul is cast upon God, the Lord is with the soul in the trial, and the mind is kept perfectly calm.
J. N. Darby (adapted)