How we fight the spirit of fear
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Tim. 1:7
In this verse, The apostle Paul is addressing his son in the faith, Timothy, who was clearly struggling with the fear that came with opposition to his gospel ministry, for Paul calls him to be a "partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God" (8). The persecution was fierce, which Paul himself experienced, and which he described in terms of suffering (1:12), trouble, and imprisonment (2:9). And with Paul in prison and even awaiting execution (4:6-8), no doubt Timothy was wondering how he would be able to cope with such an uncertain future. Here's how Paul does it. It is instructive for us all.
He points Timothy to the fact that the future of those who belong to Jesus Christ is absolutely secure. How does Paul know this? Because God "hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (1:9-10). In other words, Paul is telling Timothy that our future is secure because death has been abolished in Christ and we have been given eternal life in him (1:1, 10). And this life is not based on our good works or worthiness, but solely on the grace and purpose of God in Christ. There is nothing the believer can do to wrest himself or herself from the love of God in Christ.
The apostle himself demonstrated such confidence with his own life. He says, "For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (1:12). What had Paul committed to Christ? Everything. His past, present, and future. And he knew that God would keep him unto eternal life. As he puts it at the end of the epistle, "And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (4:18).
Fear paralyzes. But with this hope in Christ, founded on the unshakeable rock of God's eternal and gracious election, we can "be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2:1) and "endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2:3). God has not given us a spirit of fear that paralyzes us from courage for Christ - he has given us the strongest hope possible, because this hope is not based on our good intentions or holy works, but on God himself and what he has done for us in his Son Jesus Christ.