The Spirit of Fear
April 6, 2020
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
The following is from the soon-to-be published Way of Life Commentary Series, The Pastoral Epistles:
“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).

First, we see that there are fears.

- Timothy had them and needed to be exhorted about them. Paul had them (2 Co. 7:5). There is the fear of man (Pr. 29:25). Ezekiel was warned not to fear the face of man (Eze. 3:9). The devil tries to cripple and hinder God’s work by imparting fear to Christian workers. See Neh. 4:11-12; 6:9-14.

- The bravest soldiers have fears. A battle-experienced Army Ranger said, “Courage is not being fearless, but courage is moving forward in spite of the fear” (
The Warfighters). In his account of the dangerous job of flying scout helicopters in Vietnam, Hugh Mills, Jr., observed, “In a moment of honesty, I think every scout would have admitted that fear was with us constantly. Our ability to fly, in my opinion, came from our ability to recognize that we were afraid, to understand why we were afraid, and to continue to work through the fear” (Low Level Hell: A Scout Pilot in the Big Red One, p. 239).

- The world deals with fears by carnal means. Mills mentions things such as ignoring the odds, trying not to think about consequences, “illusions of immortality,” humor, and drinking.

Second, we see that fear is crippling.

- The context is the exercise of Timothy’s ministry (1 Ti. 1:6). Timothy was in danger of being crippled by fear so that he didn’t do the work of the ministry. Fear would keep him from preaching God’s Word in the right way - reprove, rebuke, exhort (2 Ti. 4:2), preaching the gospel (2 Ti. 4:5), charging the saints about their duties (1 Ti. 1:3; 5:7; 6:17), exercising discipline (1 Ti. 5:20).

Third, we see that fear does not come from God.

- The believer can be sure that his fear is not of God. The only fear that comes from God is the fear
of God and the fear of sinning against God. Fear is not the voice of God. It is the voice of the enemy.

Fourth, we see that in God there is victory over fear. 

- The believer has resources that the unbeliever knows nothing of. In himself, the believer has no ability to live the Christian life and do the work of the ministry, but everything is available in Christ.

- God gives power, love, and a sound mind. These are His personal gifts to His people to deal with fear in this tumultuous life. These supernatural resources are available and we must seek these things from Him day by day. Seek power every time you are weak; seek love every time you are selfish; seek a sound mind every time your heart is disturbed and mind is confused. Power, love, and a sound mind are obtained from God “in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

- “Power” - God gives the believer strength and encouragement in every trouble. This is the Greek word
dunamis, which is also translated “mighty works” (Mt. 11:20), “ability” (Mt. 25:15), “miracles” (Mr. 9:39), “strength” (1 Co. 15:56), and “might” (Eph. 3:16; Col. 1:11). It is the power to do God’s will (Php. 4:13). It is the strengthening of the inner man by God’s Spirit (Eph. 3:16). “In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul” (Ps. 138:3).

- “Love” - The love of God motivates the believer to serve Him and to endure trials. This refers to the believer’s love
for God and the believer’s love for man. Love is the opposite of self-concern, which is often the cause of fear. It turns one’s attention away from a self-focus to God and to others. If I love God and if I love people, I will not draw back from doing the work of the ministry, regardless of the difficulty. The love of God is victory over fear.

- “Sound mind” - The Greek word is “sophronismos,” meaning “discipline, i.e. self-control” (Strong). This refers to a wise, quieted, disciplined mind that looks beyond difficulties and vain imaginations and fears and trusts in God, a mind that weighs the situations of life wisely according to the will of God, a mind that sees things clearly in light of God’s Word. Compare 1 Pe. 1:13. The sound mind is the opposite of the mind that is shaken and troubled with unbelief and fear. See 2 Th. 2:2. The sound mind overcomes fear (e.g., God is in control, God has given me promises and He cannot lie, the devil is a defeated foe).

Abraham Marshall (1748-1819), son of Daniel Marshall, founder of the first Baptist church in Georgia, was saved at age 22 and called to preach. Over his lifetime he traveled thousands of miles and started many churches, but in 1772, when he was about 24 years old and at the beginning of his ministry, he had a fierce battle with fear. Abraham agreed to preach at a trading post 40 miles into the wilderness. As he thought about the dangers he tried to find an excuse not to go. He wished he was sick. He couldn’t find an excuse. Then he remembered that he didn’t have a way-bill (pass). “While thinking on this, he was aroused as if he had been spoken to, ‘I will find you a bill.’ Filled with doubts and fears, he commenced his journey. When he had traveled about fifteen miles, it struck his mind, ‘It is time you should look for your way-bill.’ Casting his eyes on the side of the Indian trading path, about two or three rods [16.5 feet], lo, there it lay! Instantly he seized his prize, mounted his horse again, these words saluting him forcibly - ‘When I sent you without scrip or purse, lacked you any thing?’ [Lu. 22:35] No, was his answer, and he went on his way, strengthened in faith. When he arrived at his destined place, on the Lord’s Day, a mixed multitude of Indians, Indian traders, Irish, and the uncultivated of all sorts, some who had never heard a sermon before, had collected together. To them he published the word of life. Some gazed, some wondered, and some felt the power of the word, were deeply affected, moved down a little lower in the settlements [nearer to civilization], and shortly after became useful members of a flourishing church” (Thomas Ray, Daniel and Abraham Marshall: Pioneer Baptist Evangelists to the South, pp. 81-82).

- Abraham conquered his fear by obedience to God and by keeping his word.

- We must have leaders who will conquer their fears and do the whole work of the ministry, including the hard parts - preaching with reproof and rebuke, warning, confronting people about their sins, discipline, not showing favoritism, treating relatives and friends the same as you treat others.

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