2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
I. WHAT GENUINE CHRISTIANITY IS NOT. It is not a "spirit of fear." The spirit of fear is that of a criminal and a slave. It haunts the minds of the guilty, and is only a prelude to those awful feelings which harrow up the soul that dies in a state of final impenitence. Such is not the spirit by which Christians are actuated. The great end for which our Saviour came into the world was to deliver men from their awful situation of exposure to the Divine wrath, and the fear consequent upon a knowledge of this state. But how are we to reconcile this passage with others, in which the spirit of fear is highly spoken of? Such as, "Blessed is the man that feareth always"; "I will put My fear in their hearts," etc. They are to be reconciled in this way. That spirit of fear which is not given to the people of God is a fear arising from a sense of guilt, a conviction that God is their enemy. But that fear which is implanted in the hearts of His people is a filial fear — A holy jealousy, lest by sin they should provoke the Lord to anger.
II. WHAT IS THE NATURE OF GENUINE CHRISTIANITY?
1. Genuine Christianity is powerful and efficacious. "God hath given us the spirit of power." In 1 Corinthians 4:20 this apostle says, "The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power" — it is not in anything external, but in the experience of all the powerful effects of the gospel. The gospel is powerful to the salvation of all that believe.
2. Genuine Christianity is benevolent and kind. "God hath given us the spirit of love." This enters most essentially into the system of Divine truth, and also into the experience of every child of God. This spirit is not natural to man. Whatever obtains the name of love is only a selfish principle. But by grace it is overcome, and a contrary spirit is bestowed. "We love Him, because He first loved us." Where this love is felt in the heart, it is impossible but a reciprocal feeling of love to God must spring up within us. And not only love to God, but to all that bear His image — our brethren in Christ. But the love of the Christian is not confined to his brethren in the Lord; it extends to all mankind.
3. Genuine Christianity is in the highest degree rational, and peculiarly suited to the exigencies and circumstances of mankind. When a sinner is called out of darkness into light, he often becomes an object of derision; he is represented as an enthusiast, and beside himself. This was the case with Paul; but with respect and justice he repelled the charge; and this every child of God may do; for He has conferred upon him "the spirit of a sound mind." What is enthusiasm? It is the power given to the mind by some sublime conceptions which have broken in upon it. We praise this in many things — we praise it in the artist; and one once said, when fault was found with him for having employed so much of his time, "Art is a jealous thing, and requires the whole man." And is not eternity, is not religion a jealous thing? Does it not require the whole man? That the Christian is acting a most rational part is evident, if we consider what are the principles by which the prudent men of the world are guided; they are the same as those by which the Christian is guided, only changing the motives and the ends. These are indemnity for the past, enjoyment of the present, security and provision for the future.
(J. Henderson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.