For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)
Paul was imprisoned and Timothy had a problem: What if Paul were put to death? How would he alone be able to face the difficulties and persecutions arising in the church?
Due to the circumstances Timothy was fearful. That ‘spirit of fear’ in which Timothy was demonstrating was not of God. It may have been part of his natural disposition or temperament (1 Cor. 16:10). It may be part of our natural dispositions. But Timothy was no ordinary person. He was no natural man. He was a born-again, Spirit-filled, servant of Christ!
Now, not to dismiss the immediate context, Paul was encouraging Timothy as a minister of the Gospel. John Calvin writes:
“…here he speaks particularly about ministers, and exhorts them, in the person of Timothy, to arouse themselves actively to deeds of valor; because God does not wish them to perform their office in a cold and lifeless manner, but to press forward powerfully, relying on the efficacy of the Spirit.”
However, though a situation specific to Timothy, this is indeed true of every believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit, of which power is a characteristic. When God saves us he does not remove our natural dispositions. However, he gives us the ability, through the Spirit, to overcome these dispositions, and the fearful and anxious person need to be reminded that the Spirit given is one of power, love, and a sound mind.
Remember the scene in Acts 4, after the bold encounter Peter and John had with the chief priests and elders, and when they were released “went to their own company,” and lifted up the voices to God? It then tells us:
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 (v. 31)
There we see it in action; filled with the Holy Ghost and boldness together. “…the righteous are bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1).
Remember Peter denying his Lord? Contrast that with the same Peter who later was seen boldly preaching to the authorities not fearing death? Surely he still possessed the same temperament that God had given him naturally. What was the difference? He had been filled with the Spirit, the Spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
So let us note the contrast: One is from God, one is not. One is of power, one of fear.
I’ll let the trusted Matthew Henry conclude:
Now God hath therefore armed us against the spirit of fear, by often bidding us fear not. “Fear not the face of man; fear not the dangers you may meet with in the way of your duty.’’ God hath delivered us from the spirit of fear, and hath given us the spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. The spirit of power, or of courage and resolution to encounter difficulties and dangers;—the spirit of love to God, which will carry us through the opposition we may meet with, as Jacob made nothing of the hard service he was to endure for Rachel: the spirit of love to God will set us above the fear of man, and all the hurt that a man can do us;—and the spirit of a sound mind, or quietness of mind, a peaceable enjoyment of ourselves, for we are oftentimes discouraged in our way and work by the creatures o our own fancy and imagination, which a sober, solid, thinking mind would obviate, and would easily answer.