There is this verse in 2 Timothy that I hear tossed around from time to time to encourage people in times of fear.I know I have used it for that purpose myself at times.The other day I began to look at it again and realized that perhaps I had gone awry with the interpretation I gave it and how I had applied it.This verse upon closer examination appears to have an entirely different purpose than what it is commonly quoted and used for.Paul was of course writing to Timothy from prison.Persecution of Christianity was on the rise.Paul had lost some close associates who had stepped away from ministry and maybe even from the Lord as a result of this persecution and hardship.So Paul in writing this letter to Timothy was endeavoring to encourage him and keep him connected to the Lord and to remind him of what this was all about.Paul’s word to Timothy was this: “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Now the greater context of this passage has to do with remaining true to faith and the calling of God even in the midst of suffering and persecution which is clearly affirmed in vs. 8.Thus vs. 7 speaks of the two spirits that war against one another; one which desires to flee from the hardship and the other that provides the appropriate giftedness to overcome timidity, cowardice and fear.Paul declares boldly that only one of these spirits is God given.The spirit of timidity is not that which comes from God.There are ultimately 2 possibilities as the source of this spirit:It’s either our fleshly nature (which I will remind us has already been nailed to the cross and the death blow delivered) or the demonic.Both are viable places that timidity can originate from.The fleshly nature is self conscious, self serving and ultimately looking for the path of least resistance.When that fleshly nature is allowed to rise up and rule the roost, the devil doesn’t even have to get involved.He’s laughing all the way to bank.The lie that is being propagated by the flesh sounds like this: “I am not good enough- I can’t share the gospel clearly enough- my life is a shambles, what difference can I make- what if people think I am crazy- It’s too hard- the price is too costly - the reward is not so rich.” Sound familiar?The attack of the enemy on the other hand is far more insidious.He will not only capitalize on the lies that the flesh has dragged up, but having studied each one of us individually, he paints the target of our weakness and drops the spiritual smart bomb of doubt and confusion with deadly accuracy.When the smoke and fire have cleared often we are not sure where we are or what we are doing or where we are going.
Why is this spirit of timidity so pervasive?Why does it dominate us so much?In part the answer has to do with what we have allowed ourselves to believe.Notice the subject of lies that I mentioned earlier.In most of the cases the subject of the lie is “I”.God has been removed from view and all we see is ourselves.Somehow we begin to think that it is up to us; that on our own we are able to live this life of faith.Why do we always come back to the thought that is about what we can do or what we bring to the table, as if most of the ability to live a life of faith and to fulfill God’s calling on our lives was within our power and responsibility to bring about.In essence these lies have hijacked our programming.Our wires have been crossed as it were.In Timothy’s case his mentor had been put in prison.People around him were suffering and being put to death for their faith in Christ.In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he had already encouraged him to not let people look down on him and discriminate because he was young.Others were falling into behaviors that were sinful and not standing for the truth which Timothy was endeavoring to live.It’s crazy that so often we put these biblical figures on pedestals and fail to realize that they are as human as we are.I think it is perhaps a reasonable speculation that part of the reason that Paul was writing to Timothy was to encourage him because he may have been dealing with all sorts of temptation to shrink back and fall away from living on the edge and remaining in the charge that God had given him to boldly defend the gospel and live the life of righteousness.With all of the factors that were impacting Timothy during this time, perhaps the life of faith looked impossible for him.This is in many respects no different for the believer today.Sometimes the life of faith looks impossible. Our eyes have been taken off of God and put squarely on the problems and challenges that we are encountering.God seems small because our focus is not on Him.Whether it is the flesh or a demonic attack the results are the same:When timidity is given rule- the believer shrinks back from God’s calling; sometimes one even doubts their own faith.Diagnosis: onset of spiritual paralysis.Fortunately Paul’s discourse to Timothy doesn’t stop at saying that fear is not from God.He continues by speaking of 4 spiritual gifts that God has given to the believer to overcome and destroy the symptoms of timidity.These gifts also stop the timidity from taking hold over the life of the believer.These will be discussed in subsequent parts of this blog.Blessings
God grant thy people a holy boldness so that we may preach the word in the power of the Holy Spirit and see people saved for your glory
Pro 28:1 The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
Phl 1:14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
1Th 2:2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
Act 4:13, 29, 31 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. ... And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, ...And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
Phl 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.