Sincere Faith Produces Spiritual Power

It occurred to me one day, that I give my bank a great deal of trust every time I slip my cash into the ATM. I am making a deposit of resources. I am entrusting it with some important and practical belongings of mine—my money. And, I expect that when that money is needed, it will be available just like it was before it was deposited. In other words, I am trusting the bank to guard my money.

This is the way Paul talks about the Gospel and the gift of God—the resources of the Holy Spirit. “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you” (2 Tim. 1:14). The word “guard” means to keep safe and pure. The “good deposit,” in a technical sense, is the Holy Spirit, but in a literal sense is all the resources that come with the Holy Spirit at the moment we are born again (Eph. 2:8-9). When the Spirit is deposited into us, all that the Spirit has is now within our use. This is Paul’s reminder to Timothy and the Lord’s reminder to all of us: sincere faith produces spiritual power.

I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim. 1:3–7)

The Reality of Sincere Faith

Paul’s logic is inspiring. He begins by pointing to the reality of sincere faith. By “sincere faith” he does not mean honest faith, but genuine faith. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul calls this faith a gift of God. It is a foreign faith, a faith given to us by God and a faith that leads to genuine belief and true salvation. It is an effective, finishing faith.

Notice how every sentence has a form of the word “remember” in this passage. “I remember you” (1:3). “I remember your tears” (1:4). “I am reminded of your sincere faith” (1:5). And, “for this reason I remind you” (1:6-7). Obviously, the idea of remembering is critical to understanding the text.

Further help comes from the original language. Verses 3-5 are actually just one long sentence infused with a lot of asides—very common in Paul’s writings. When you strip it down to its base, it says this: “I thank God as I remember your sincere faith.” This is the first part of Paul’s logic—recognizing the reality of sincere faith. It is a gift of God. If you have it, you have all that God gives.

The Resources of Spiritual Power

Following the Greek text, Paul’s second sentence is prompted by the first. “I thank God for your sincere faith” gives rise to a consequential reality. It is this: All who have the Spirit of God have the resources of God. Sincere faith produces spiritual power.

Notice again how Paul’s notions of “remembering” progress. In verse 3-5, he remembers the reality of sincere faith in Timothy. In verses 6-7, he reminds Timothy of the resources of spiritual power in Christ. On what basis are these connected? On the basis of God’s shaping work of the Gospel. When He saved us, he deposited in us the Spirit of God and all that the Spirit of God has—including “power and love and self-control” (1:7). The existence of sincere faith is a clear indication of the existence of spiritual power. They go hand-in-hand.

This consequential reality launches all that the Lord has to tell us in 2 Timothy. God is stimulating us to fight the good fight of faith. This means that we should prioritize the gospel in every part of our life by waging war on gospel negligence. When the fight gets tough, we can remember the reality of our sincere faith and wage war on sin with the confidence of our spiritual power.

Christian, be encouraged. Evidence of sincere faith indicates spiritual power. You are equipped to win the good fight of faith.

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