Hi y'all! I hope y'all are liking this, because I love it! Never in a day have I spent three hours studying God's word like I did yesterday and today probably!
7. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
8. 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;
9. Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
In verse seven Paul tells Timothy that God has not given us the spirit of fear. What is the spirit of fear? What is fear? In short, fear is an emotion, and you feel afraid. Dictionary.com defines fear as a "distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid." I think that is the kind of fear Paul is talking about here, not a holy fear, not a fear of God. So Paul says that God has not given us the spirit of fear, but we are afraid sometimes, if God did not give us a spirit of fear, then how do you explain that? Well, there is good fear and bad fear. Good fear is like a fear of heights, if you were not afraid at all of heights then you might be careless on top on something high and fall off. And example of a bad or useless fear is like being afraid of what you will eat tomorrow, you are not trusting in God if you fear that. For God said not to worry what we shall eat or what we shall wear, because since God feeds the sparrows and clothes the lilies, will he not clothe us since we are more important then them? That is the kind of fear that Paul is talking about to Timothy.
What is the opposite of fear? Courage. So if God did not give us a spirit of fear, then we should be courageous. It takes courage to be a Christian, it really does. If you are a Christian then you probably dress, act, talk, and behave differently than non-Christians. To do that, you have to have courage, because you might get teased, ignored, ridiculed, and in some countries, thrown in jail or even killed. So Paul is probably trying to get Timothy ready for what might happen to him later in life, also in the next verse you will see that Paul talks about his being a prisoner, but tells Timothy not to be ashamed. The next part tells us what God did give us spirits of; power, love, and a sound mind. The spirit he talks about is the Holy Spirit. "And you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you." Acts 1:8
Power. A Christian must have the power to cope with being ridiculed, persecuted, and killed. So God helps us. He gave us the spirit of power so that we can "do all things through Christ which strengthens me."* We must keep the faith. We must trust God that He knows what is best. The commentary that I am using for this study says it really good, "A Christian is characteristically the man who could pass the breaking-point and not break."
The next one is love. I am not sure if Paul is meaning right here to love other believers (the brethren) or his enemies, Paul knows that God wants us to love everyone, even our enemies, but I am not sure which Paul means in this verse, and I don't know if Timothy was having any problems loving the brethren or his enemies. But, in William Barclay's commentary, he says that in this verse Paul is talking about love for the brethren. So we will just go with that. We must love each other as Christ loved us, Christ loved the church so we should do likewise.
The last one is a sound mind. In a different version, it says self-discipline. What does it mean to have a sound mind? I think that a sound mind ties in with what we talked about yesterday in verse five when Paul is talking about Timothy's unfeigned faith. To be at peace in your mind, to know what you believe. But it is also put "self-discipline." What is self-discipline? Well, what is discipline? It can mean either punishment or training. So self-discipline is punishing yourself or training yourself. I think Paul is talking about both at the same time! He is saying that God gave us the power to know when we are doing something wrong and correct ourselves, and that God gave us the power to train ourselves to do something. For example, if you shoplift anytime you can, and you know it's wrong, then you have the power to control yourself and stop shoplifting, and in punishing yourself, and getting a clear conscience you have the power to go tell the police and/or the store owner(s) what you have been doing. And now, training yourself. For example, you can train yourself to get up at six o'clock every morning to read your Bible and pray. It will become a habit before long, and you will have trained your mind to set of the alarm at exactly six every morning. Another great example for self-discipline that my Dad thought of, is fasting. To fast something you have to control your desire to eat, do, or use that certain thing. You can fast food, computer, cell phone, sugar foods, etc. All it is is not eating, doing, or using a certain thing so that you can pray and read God's word.
Now verse eight. Paul talks about two things in particular in this verse; the first one is not to be ashamed. He tells Timothy not to be ashamed of the "testimony of our Lord." Or, in another version, "do not be ashamed to bear your witness to our Lord."He is saying that we should not be ashamed to tell others about Jesus Christ. We should be proud to know our Savior personally! We should tell others about Him without being ashamed. It is like having your best friend from school, grow up and become president of the United States, and then be ashamed to admit that he is your best friend.
Then Paul tells Timothy not to be ashamed of him; right now, Paul is a prisoner and criminal in the eyes of most, because he proclaimed the Word of God. Barclay puts it well in his commentary. He says, "For Timothy, it meant loyalty to a man who was regarded as a criminal, because as Paul wrote he was in a prison in Rome." Just put yourself in Timothy's place. He loved Paul, but Paul was a prisoner, a criminal in the eyes of non-Christians. If you are the friend of a criminal, then you are looked down upon; and Timothy did not want that. But Paul tells him not to be ashamed of him, for whatever happened to him, Paul knew it was God's will. He just had to get Timothy to understand that.
Paul says next to "be thou a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God." And in the other version it is put, "but accept with me the suffering which the gospel brings, and do so in the power of God." Paul is simply telling Timothy to accept and partake of sufferings and afflictions that the gospel brings. Paul says clearly that the gospel brings sufferings and afflictions, just like in the beginning of verse seven. In being a Christian, you will face trials and afflictions and sufferings, but God helps us through!
The last part of the verse says "according to the power of God," or "and do so in the power of God." We will obviously not be alone in our sufferings, even if we are not around other Christians, God is with us, and Jesus Christ, his son, already went through pain and sufferings to give us eternal life. God will never leave us, nor forsake us. Isn't that a wonderful thought?! I know it gives me peace, and the courage to go on.
And that brings me to the last verse we will do today. Verse nine starts by saying, "who saved us, and called us with a holy calling." Who is Paul talking about? Christ Jesus! He saved us and then called us to go preach the gospel to everyone!
"Not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace." We cannot earn our way into heaven, Christ Jesus had to come down from heaven to die for us wretched sinners. We cannot do anything, say anything, or earn our way into heaven. So God sent his only Son down to earth to live a perfect life, so that he could be that perfect, spotless lamb, and die in our place. Wow. Read that again. Think about it for a minute. Can you imagine God coming down to take our place? That is so amazing! If God did not come down and die for us, then we would all go to hell, we would have no way to get to heaven. Or, if Jesus sinned one little time on earth, if He fell into temptation, then he would not be able to save us, because he would have to pay for his own sin. The verse says that not by works can we get into heaven, but only "according to his own purpose and grace."
Then the last part of the verse, "which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." So, God already had his huge, ultimate, plan ready long before he sent Jesus to earth. It was purposed, it wasn't an accident. It also says, by His grace. I had a children's church teacher once that told us the meaning of grace. He said it was: God's Redemption At Christ Expense. In other words, God redeemed us and Jesus Christ paid the price.
Well, that's all for today, at least for now. :) Feedback is very welcome, as usual!
*Philippians 4:13, by Paul.