Updated: Sep 6
2 Timothy 1:7
By Drew Zuverink
"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self discipline."
Have you ever noticed in yourself a nasty character flaw that you did not like? Maybe you're quick tempered or not so great at watching what you say. Maybe, as a young person, you started turning to alcohol or pornography for stress relief and now you're afraid that you might be addicted. Maybe you're afraid that you're not as smart as other students, and so you cheat your way through assignments. Maybe your dad had major flaws and you're afraid that you might be repeating some of them. Or maybe you are discouraged because although your heart longs to share your faith with others, your fears keep you silent. If you are human and have self awareness, you can think of something that you'd like to change about yourself. In fact, you probably already think about it quite a bit.
It isn't fun to notice our shortcomings and it's discouraging when we constantly repeat them. We want to change but how? What is the solution to our brokenness? Contrary to popular culture, the answer is that we aren't capable of fixing ourselves. We need help. Jesus is that help. He died in our place so that we can be forgiven of our sins and then he indwells us, through his Holy Spirit, in order to help us break free from our vices. God wants us free from addiction and other sins that we do that hurt ourselves. He also wants us free from selfish ambition and other sins that hurt other people. He wants this for us enough to give us his Spirit! As you can imagine the Spirit of God is not a wimpy spirit that makes us timid, but he is emboldening, because he is God.
2 Timothy 1:7 informs us that we should expect three major changes once we receive God's Spirit.
Whether we are fighting to free ourselves from the grasp of sin patterns, or trying to convince someone of the gospel, the Holy Spirit empowers us with the same power that spoke the world into existence. We might immediately break free from a sin that has owned us for years, and we might not. Maybe it will take a while. Maybe we will break free from one sin immediately while another sin takes a couple of years to kill. Either way, God is going to help us battle and that's great news. I know of people who have broken free from years long porn addictions, and others who used to hide their faith and now they share it with boldness. Praise God for giving us the power to kill sin and proclaim his good news! Who knows where we would be without it! On our own we were once like a car operating from the energy of a AAA battery, but with God it's like we are operating from a 900 hp engine.
Loving others enough to sacrifice some of our own wants does not always come naturally - while loving ourselves enough to sacrifice other people's wants and needs does come naturally.. The indwelling of God's Spirit starts to change this. Many new Christian's have commented on the new found love for God and others that they did not have before. All who become children of God experience a new excitement and love for his word and for prayer. They also want other people to experience this love and healing. I know people who volunteer to put on a worship service for strangers at a local jail even though they find it sometimes awkward and uncomfortable. I know of people who adopt not so young children who very well might have behavioral problems because of their troubled upbringing. And I know of others who continually give of their time, energy, and money to help and bless other people. Why do these people do these things? Because the Spirit inside of them is God's, and it changes them to love more like he does.
3) Self Discipline.
Controlling ourselves is hard isn't it? Especially when no one else is forcing us. My desire for lust wants me to look at the attractive girl at the gym wearing yoga pants. Nobody would know if I did or didn't do it, will I look? Studying takes a lot of time. If I just cheat off of my friend I could do something fun instead, will I cheat? Spending time in prayer and in the scriptures takes a lot of time and focus. As long as I go to church no one will question my spiritual health though. Will I do it still? There are a million different decisions we make every week that add up to shape who we are becoming. Most of us want to be mature, godly adults that are like Jesus, but the disciplines that will get us there take effort. God's Spirit produces inside of his children an ability to control themselves so that they can become the kind of people he wants them to become.
For those who have not seen any change in their lives, who remain in bondage and long for freedom, doesn't all of that sound amazing? The freedom and self improvement that you desperately long for is found in Christ Jesus. He not only forgives us of our sins but he empowers us to begin to experience freedom from them in this life as well. You have the virus of sin in you, that is what's destroying your life. God doesn't want that for you. He wants only good things for you and that starts with a reconciled relationship to him. Ask him for forgiveness. Repent of your sins and ask him for his Spirit to indwell you so that you can experience his power, love and self discipline.
For those who have repented and trusted in Jesus but are discouraged by your lack of growth, take heart. God is working to make you more like Jesus but that takes time. Some sin patterns run deeper than others. Don't give up. Lean into God's Spirit and keep up the fight. Do more things for God and for others, and rest in God's promises for you.
For those who can look back on fears, sins and addictions that God has freed you from, don't tire of thanking him. Always keep your grateful appreciation. Also, use your freedom to help a brother or a sister get there too.
Let us praise God for accomplishing exactly what he came into this world to do - to save sinners from their sin. Oh the sweet sweet taste of freedom! Lord give us more!