What are you afraid of? What sends shivers down your spine or keeps you up at night?
Marie Curie wrote, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Perhaps if she had of feared radiation a little more, she wouldn’t have died of Aplastic anemia.
You see God has ingrained within us a healthy normal fear, last time I spoke I referenced Leonardo Da Vinci who made this comment, “Just as courage imperils life; fear protects it.”
And so, in life there seems to be a balance between what we think of as a healthy fear and what we think of as unhealthy fear.
This spring our theme has been: After the But Comes the truth, and we’ve discovered that but is the hinge that swings the meaning of a sentence.
Many years ago, I worked with a man whose response to most requests made by the Captain was “Yeah but.” Not helpful.
It was Laurence J. Peter, of the Peter Principle fame who wrote, “Fortune knocks but once, but misfortune has much more patience.”
You might remember from my last message that we started looking at the scripture that was read this morning, in particular we looked at the seventh verse that says 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, . . .
More specifically we looked at the concept of fear, what it is and how it affects our lives. I mentioned that the words fear and afraid are mentioned close to five hundred times in the Bible and in the New Testament there are actually seven different words used in the original language to convey the idea of fear.
And so, the last time we were together we looked at three of those words. The first word is Phobeo and it means to be in awe of, or to revere or respect something. This is a natural fear. In the Bible it is used of the Fear of God, or fear of death.
This is the type of fear that keeps us from doing silly things, like jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. But it is a fear that can be controlled and overcome. Which allows people to do things like jump out of perfectly good airplanes.
The second word we looked at is very closely related to the first one and it is Phobos and it means exceedingly afraid or terror. It’s where we get our word Phobia. And it is natural fear taken to the extreme. If the first type of fear keeps us living, the second type keeps us from living.
If you go online, you can find the website www.phobialist.com which lists over 500 different fears.
Things like Acousticophobia- Fear of noise or Alektorophobia- Fear of chickens.,
Cometophobia- Fear of comets,
Didaskaleinophobia- Fear of going to school. I may have suffered from that.
And finally Homilophobia- Fear of sermons, there would appear to be a lot of people who are suffering from that in our country today.
The third type of fear we looked at was actually the word that Paul used when he wrote to Timothy, and the word he used was Deilia which means, timid or fearful it actually comes from the Greek word Deilos which means faithless.
And the context of this word is being afraid to do things or for that matter even afraid to try things, because you are afraid that you might fail.
This is the fear that makes us live mediocre ordinary lives, never taking chances, never trying to change anything, content to simply drift along.
We see this manifested in the fear of failure, we convince ourselves that if we try something, even something that we feel passionate about, that there is a chance that we might fail, and we can’t tolerate the thought of failing. And because of that we don’t attempt whatever it may have been, and our greatest fear is realized, we fail.
And so, when you embrace the fear of failure or even just tolerate the fear of failure in your life, you become content with the spirit of average. And that mindset and the accompanying behaviour will keep you in a rut and allow you to relish a life of complacency.
And Paul has this to say about that type of Fear: For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity. So, if God hasn’t given it to us then where does it come from?
Let’s listen to what this theologian had to say about the origins of fear. (clip from “The Phantom Menace where Yoda tells young Anikan that fear comes from the dark side)
That’s right fear comes from the dark side, the devil wants you to be afraid to do anything great for God, to say anything for God or to try anything for God.
And we can’t let that happen. And so, Paul continues in his instruction to young Timothy saying 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
So not only does Paul tell Timothy what God doesn’t give, he also tells him what he does give.
This morning we are going to look at the three things that God has given us as believers.
Notice that this is not a God will give you, but it’s a God has already given you statement. You already have these things, you may not recognize it, you may not use what God has given you but as a Christian these things are already yours.
Kind of like someone who has a winning lottery ticket tucked away in their sock drawer. The money is theirs all they need to do is claim it and tithe it of course. That was in no way to imply that I approve of lottery tickets, in your sock drawer or anywhere else.
The lottery is a tax on the mathematically challenged.
If you are a Christ Follower, this is for you. God has not given you a spirit of fear, But . . . You Have Been Given the Spirit of Power. At this point Paul is writing from the perspective of thirty-five years down the road from the Day of Pentecost.
You’ll remember the promise that Jesus made to the Apostles before he returned to heaven. It’s recorded in Acts 1:8 But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
But you already knew that because it’s one of my favorite verses and I’ve only used it five gazillion times in the past twenty-five years.
And ten days later on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came and the church became synonymous with Power.
Most scholars agree that Paul wrote this letter to Timothy about 66 AD. And because of that Paul was able to look back at the power that had been released on the Day of Pentecost. Paul was able to say; “This power, the power that could take eleven unlikely men and turn them into the champions of Christianity is still available to you today.”
“The power that took a trembling Simon, the swaying reed who shook at the questions of a harmless maid and turned him into Peter the Rock, able to stand up to the very leaders who had Christ crucified, that power is yours for the taking.”
You see, up to the day of Pentecost the followers of Christ had his teachings and his words to guide them and give them direction, but it was with the coming of the Holy Spirit that the power was released.
The teachings of Christ were good, but the disciples needed the Power of the Holy Spirit to reveal those teachings as the words of God himself.
It was Al Capone who said “You can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” Well you can get more with the Gospel and the Power of the Holy Spirit then you can with the Gospel alone.
The power that is offered to the believer is first of all the power to conquer our fears, because as a believer we know that God is in control. Psalm 34:4 I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me, freeing me from all my fears.
Can we say that together? Let’s try it: Psalm 34:4 I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me, freeing me from all my fears.
Notice that God didn’t erase David’s fear he simply freed David from them. He gave David the power over his fears. I believe that when David stood in front of the giant Goliath and looked him up and down that he was afraid. I believe that when they tossed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace that the three boys were afraid.
I believe that when Daniel was invited to attend dinner with the Lions that he was afraid, that when Peter stepped over the rail of his fishing boat and placed his foot on the surface of the Sea of Galilee that he was afraid.
And hold onto your seats because I believe that in Luke 22 verse 42 when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane Luke 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me.” That Jesus Christ the son of God was afraid. He was afraid because he knew that he would be beaten, humiliated and hung on a cross to die a long painful death.
And if he wasn’t afraid then he wasn’t a hundred percent human and that wouldn’t be fair.
But that wasn’t the end of Jesus’ prayer. Keep listening Luke 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Fear said, “Please take this cup of suffering away from me.” But the power over fear said, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Fear says, “I can’t.” the power over fear says Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.
Personally, I will probably always be afraid of snakes, and I will probably always be afraid of heights. And yet with God’s help I will never let my fears keep me from doing what God wants me to do. Why? Because I have not been given the spirit of fear but the spirit of power. And to quote Margaret Thatcher “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
Secondly God has not given you a spirit of fear, But. . . You Have Been Given the Spirit of Love.
You do understand how important this is don’t you? Love is the key identifying mark of the Christians. Time and time again we are commanded to love. To love God and to love one another. And the bottom line is recorded in John 13:35 when Jesus told his followers “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” The reciprocal of that is “Your absence of love for one another will prove to the world that you are not my disciples.”
The greatest definition of Love is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Now we all know that Jesus is love incarnate. Jesus was love in a physical form, John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
Logically then if we have a definition of love and if Jesus is indeed love then Jesus should fit into that definition. Let’s try it.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Christ is patient and kind. Christ is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Christ does not demand his own way. Christ is not irritable, and He keeps no record of when He has been wronged. He is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Christ never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
The word Christian means follower of Christ or little Christ, and if that is the case then would it be fair to say that we need to be exhibiting the same Characteristics as Christ? Dare I say we need to be more Christlike?
And I know that some of you are thinking, “I’ve heard this before.”
You’re right and hang around long enough and you will hear it again.
Let’s try it. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Christians are patient and kind. Christians are not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Christians do not demand their own way. Christians are not irritable, and they keep no record of when they have been wronged. They are never glad about injustice but they rejoice whenever the truth wins out. Christians never give up, never loses faith, and are always hopeful, and endure through every circumstance.
Sound tough? Of course it’s tough. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. The great thing is that you’re not expected to do it alone.
In the first point, where were we promised our power would come from? The Holy Spirit.
Well listen to Galatians 5:22-23 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
The very first characteristic that we are supposed to exhibit when the Holy Spirit is in control of our lives is love. And Paul tells Timothy that we have not been given a spirit of fear, instead we have been given a spirit of love. This is reiterated in Romans 5:5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
On our own we will never be able to love people the way love is described in 1 Corinthians 13, just not going to happen, and God doesn’t expect it to.
That’s why we have access to the power of the Holy Spirit and the Love of the Holy Spirit.
And then thirdly, God has not given you a spirit of fear, But. . . You Have Been Given the Spirit of Self-Discipline
Actually, if you are following along in a different translation of the Bible “Self-Discipline” may have been translated “a Sound Mind”. And that bothered me for a while because I wasn’t sure where I stood if sanity was a prerequisite of salvation.
However, my fears have been eased because I’ve discovered that the word used in the original language is kind of tough to translate and this is actually the only spot it is used in the New Testament. In the Greek it could mean self-discipline or a disciplined mind.
Both translations are pretty close to each other and the word never implied a connection between your spirituality and your mental health, so you can go back to muttering to yourself under your breath.
What it does imply though is that we have the power to control ourselves and that might be even more disturbing then the mental health issue.
If you go back to Galatians 5, the first characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit is love and the last characteristic is self-control, or perhaps self-discipline.
You may have discovered that in 2019 it’s not necessary to accept responsibility for our behaviour.
We are told that we behave the way we do because of society, or because of our upbringing, or because of other areas outside of our control. In other words, it’s not our fault if we exhibit behaviour that is unacceptable or hurtful to ourselves or to others. We are simply a victim and we can’t help ourselves. But that isn’t what the Bible says, the Bible tells us that we are responsible for our behaviour and that if we can’t do it on our own that we can do it with the help of God.
And that is why one of the defining marks of being a follower of Jesus Christ is self-control or self-discipline. And before we can gain control over our actions, we need to gain control over our thoughts.
And here Paul tells Timothy that he has already been given a disciplined mind. I had a professor at college, by the name of Bill Burbury who used to tell us over and over again, “You aren’t what you think you are, you are what you think.”
Motivational speaker Napoleon Hill said “Self-disciplined begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do.” And thankfully as believers we have already been given the spirit of self-discipline
And so, the battle for self-discipline and self-control must first begin here. First of all, you have to want to have self-control.
The problem a lot of times is we are too busy enjoying sin and self-destructive behaviour to actually want to stop.
And the assurance from the Bible is that if you are a Christian and if you’ve allowed the Holy Spirit to have control of your life that you have already been given the spirit of Self Control and the spirit of Self Discipline. And yet many of us are like the story you hear every once in a while, about the person who dies in poverty and it is discovered they have horded away a fortune, all the while screaming poverty.
Listen to me please right now, if you are a Christian, if the Holy Spirit controls your life you have the spirit of self-discipline. You may choose to use it, or you may choose to not use it, but it is there for you.
So where are you at today?
Now, I would like you to bow your heads and close your eyes.
Remember last time I had you cup your hands in front of you and we imagined that we were holding fear in our hands. And then I had you open your hands and release that fear. For God has not given you a spirit of fear.
This morning I want you to hold your hands open in front of you while I prayer, I want you to claim that which God has given you.
He has given you a spirit of power, a spirit love and a spirit self-discipline. Let’s pray.