Friday, January 21, 2011

The Spirit of Fear

2nd Timothy 1:7 … "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

By using the phrase … "the spirit of fear" … the Apostle Paul alludes to the fact that there is a spirit that can cause believers and others to have an un-natural fear. If this spirit is not from God, then it must be from the enemy of our souls … Satan … the one who delights in attacking man and will do so every chance he gets.

So let's break this verse down as it was written in Greek. The word spirit is "pneuma," meaning … breath … by analogy or figuratively it is … a spirit or by implication, a mental disposition. (Pneuma is the same word often used for our human spirit.)

The word fear in this verse is "deilia," meaning … timidity … implying fearfulness or a cowardly spirit, so as to be afraid of men or devils, of what they will say or do. Fear is a type of bondage; fear within causes the flesh to fear. A spirit of fear then could cause you to draw back, being afraid to step out and walk by faith as you should.

To keep this from happening, Paul is reminding Timothy that God has given us power"dunamis" … a spiritual force, an abundance of might; power to bear up under trials and even persecutions; a strength that can do violence to the enemy. But this abundance of might is to be used, operated and controlled by love"agape" affection, a disposition to do good, showing kindness and charity.

The purpose of this love is also to "cast out" fear (1st John 4:18 below) and to make the mind bold; to inspire courage, to make a man fearless or ready to endure persecution if need be.

And then for balance, God has also given us a sound mind … "sophronismos" … meaning discipline and self control. The Greek word denotes one of a sober mind, well balanced and not under the influence of fear.

Used in context, verses 6, 7 and 8 read, speaking to Timothy …

"Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. 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 (accordingly) 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 …"

In other words … don't be fearful to speak out about the Lord no matter the result.

1st John 4:18 … "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."

The word fear in this verse is not the same word that is in Timothy. The word John uses is "phobos" … (to be put in fear); alarm or fright: to be afraid, be in terror.

By John saying there is no fear … he is literally saying … "fear is not; fear has no existence." In reality, fear is like darkness, it is nothing. As darkness is the absence of light, fear is the absence of that perfect love or complete trust in God.

"Fear hath torment" … the word torment in this verse is a faulty translation.

The word is "kolasis" and means … "infliction" (punishment) causing pain or damage. Note the present tense, hath, which means it "possesses in the present." The punishment is present in the fear. Fear … by anticipating punishment has it even now. The phrase hath punishment indicates that the punishment is inherent in the fear. Fear carries its own punishment. Fear itself is the "torment."

Augustine, commenting on the main point of this verse, expulsion of fear by love, presents a new thought when he says …

"As in sewing, we see the thread passed through by the needle. The needle is first pushed in, but the thread cannot be introduced until the needle is brought out. So fear first occupies the mind, but does not remain permanently, because it entered for the purpose of introducing love."

The Amplified Bible says it this way …

1st John 4:18 … "There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love's complete perfection]."

Romans 8:15 … "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear …"

The word bondage is "douleia" and means slavery which is the opposite of what God gives you. God's spirit is "a Spirit of liberty" and freedom from fear in all its forms.

The Amplified says it this way … "For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear …"

The spirit of a slave produces only fear. The slave is under constant worry … anticipating punishment ... real or imagined; fear owns him.

"There is no fear in love" … when you learn to trust God's love, there can be no fear. What can anyone or anything do to cause worry or fear when you know that God is in total control of all things? And if He's not … when did He lose it?

Comments welcome.


Maggie@MaggiesNotebook said...

Today I am linking an article on Pakistani Christians converting to Islam to keep their families safe. There are such frightening areas of the world to live, I pray God has a special place in his heart for these tortured peoples who know the terror of Islam.

Whatever is happening in their lives, I hope they hold the peace and love of Jesus Christ in their hearts as they try to protect their children, no matter what their lips are saying.

Another fine article!

Following Him said...

Thanks Maggie ...

I say amen and stand with you in your prayers for those Christians who are being persecuted in their Islamic homelands.

Thank you for your voice proclaiming Jesus through "Maggies Notebook" each Sunday.

I feel honored that I am included in your blog. I hope I can live up to the honor you have given me.

May the Lord continue to bless your work.

Anonymous said...

This was really helpful to me and I thank God for using you to help others understand his word! Thanks

Following Him said...

Well thank you for your kind words. I hope what I share will help other believers as well ... that's why I write.

Blessings ...