If you have ever been involved in Vacation Bible School (VBS) the words conjure up many memories. Some remember that it is usually hot. Some remember crafts, games, and Bible stories. I remember Kool-Aid and cookies and gathering together with my friends and loved ones to learn about Jesus.
This VBS (June 23-27, 2013) we have the honor of hosting our annual VBS. It will be hot, there will be crafts, games, music, cookies, food, and most likely Kool-Aid. But, most importantly there will be friends and loved ones teaching children about Jesus and modeling His love for them.
Specifically, this year the theme is “Facing Fear! Trusting God!” and it is based on 2 Timothy 1:7, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” This verse is powerful because in it God tells us that we do not have to be afraid. Did you catch that or did it fly right past you? Let me say it again, God tells you that you do not have to be afraid. But what about sickness? What about death? What about terrorism? What about the economy? What about my job? What about my house? What about my family? The list could go on and on because there is no limit to situations that tempt us to be afraid. While all of these things are important, none of these situations mentioned or not mentioned is cause for the Christian to fear. Let’s discover together why this is true.
Not a Spirit of Fear
First, notice that God does not take credit for the spirit of fear. “Spirit of fear” speaks of fearfulness and timidity. It is cowardice in the face of hostility. In Timothy’s case it was the fear of an unknown future that did not include Paul helping him in the ministry. Paul wrote this letter to Timothy shortly before he was executed for preaching the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ. Timothy, no doubt, was fearful of losing his father in the faith, Paul. He was afraid of ending up in a prison similar to Paul and afraid of receiving the same sentence of death as Paul. Timothy felt as if he had much to fear. Paul writes to Timothy, speaking the truth in love (Eph 4:15), to tell him that the fear he is experiencing is not from God therefore it must be resisted.
Spirit of Power
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 5:5). One characteristic of the Holy Spirit is power. This power is mighty and strong. The Holy Spirit was powerful at the moment of Creation as He “was hovering over the face of many waters” (Gen 1:2). It was “by the Spirit of God that [Jesus] cast out demons” (Matt 12:28). It was by the Spirit of God overshadowing Mary that she was able to conceive Jesus without ever knowing a man (Luke 1:35). It was the Spirit of God that rushed upon the timid, fearful disciples and transformed them into bold apostles. Peter, for example, went from being fearful and cowardly in the presence of a servant girl to being bold and powerful before the Jewish religious leaders as he proclaimed “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). The Holy Spirit brings power, not fear.
Spirit of Love
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit. Another characteristic of the Holy Spirit is love. Jesus said in John 15:12, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” This point is very important and 1 John 4:13-21 explains it perfectly:
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
The Holy Spirit, who is given to us, gives us confidence (not fear) in this world because He gives confidence in the Day of Judgment. This perfect love of God casts out all fear because “there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1).
Spirit of Self-Control
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit. The last characteristic of the Holy Spirit mentioned here is Self-Control (or Sound mind). The Spirit of God gives power and love and also brings self-control by transforming you to become more like Christ. Romans 8:29 tells us that those who are foreknown by God are “predestined to be conformed into the image of His Son.” The Holy Spirit works in us to preserve us daily and help us to live a life that is pleasing to God. We read in Jude 1:24, “to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.” We are not afraid but work boldly and confidently knowing that if we are united with Christ “we are more than conquerors” (Rom 8:37) because “He who is in you is greater than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Martyn Lloyd-Jones said fear is “our failure to realize what God has given us, and is giving us, in giving us the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Let’s be intentional this week in refusing to be afraid and having faith.