Fan It into Flame
2 Timothy 1:3-7 ESV
“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.”
Genuine & Honest Faith
Biblically speaking, what is a “sincere faith”? Well, for one, this implies that we can have “insincere faith,” does it not? So, it is sincere as opposed to insincere. So, what is sincere? It is genuine, honest, and unpretentious. So, insincere would be hypocritical, dishonest (a lie), and pretentious (fake).
And, what is faith? The Greek word for faith (pistis) means belief, trust, confidence, fidelity and faithfulness. It (pistis) means to be persuaded, to come to trust. And, to be persuaded means to be convinced, to convert, to change someone’s mind. And, this faith is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8-10). So, this sincere faith is God’s divine persuasion, which is birthed in us by God.
So, if this faith is coming from God, and if gifted to us by God, and if we are being persuaded by God to be converted (to change from one way of thinking to the other side, i.e. to change course), then this faith is going to be in submission to God, it will leave the former way of life of sin behind, and it will walk in obedience to his commands (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).
The Gift of God
So, God’s grace to us is the gift of God. And, this sincere “divinely persuaded” faith is the gift of God. Thus, our salvation from slavery (bondage) to sin is the gift of God. And, the indwelling Holy Spirit is the gift of God to those who have sincere faith. And our eternal life with God, and the gifts and the fruit of the Holy Spirit, are the gift of God, too.
But, we have to apply them to our lives. We have to put them into practice, by God’s grace, and in his power and strength, and in the wisdom and counsel of the Holy Spirit. We have to leave our former lives of sin behind us, and we have to allow God to change us in heart and mind. And, we have to now walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. And, we now have to follow our Lord in walks of obedience, by his grace.
For, although God’s grace, our faith, our salvation, our eternal life with God, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit are God’s gift to us, we have to receive them. We have to take ownership of them in our lives and apply them to our lives.
For, receiving Jesus Christ into our lives is not just an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we leave this earth, but it is a complete turn-about; it is a transformation of heart and mind away from sin to God and to his holiness (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
So, if we are to “fan into flame” the gift of God within us, this means that we fire it up. We are passionately and consistently living in this divinely persuaded faith which God gifted to us. Thus, we are walking (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit, and we are not living to fulfill the sinful desires of our flesh (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).
And, we won’t give way to fear and discouragement when we are persecuted, either. But, we will keep on in the faith, doing what our Lord says, despite all that is going on around us, even in the midst of the tears.
Share in Suffering
2 Timothy 1:8-12 ESV
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do.”
Don’t Be Ashamed
What does it mean to be ashamed of the gospel? It means to be disgraced by it – “properly, disgraced, like someone ‘singled out’ because they misplaced their confidence or support (‘believed the big lie’); to be ashamed (personally humiliated)” (1). So, it is like you feel that what you believed is a lie and so you don’t want to be identified with it. You are embarrassed by it.
This definitely comes into play when we are presented with an opportunity to share our faith, if we back down out of fear of what other people might think about us. But this embarrassment goes much deeper than just that. For, if we don’t leave our sinful lifestyles behind us, and if we continue to live in sin and for self, while claiming faith in Jesus Christ, then that says that we feel we have believed a lie. And, so we don’t want to identify ourselves with the truth of the gospel which calls for repentance and obedience to Christ.
And, that is exactly where many professing Christians are today. They have forsaken the right way of holiness and righteousness to follow after the wrong way, the way of man, the way of the flesh. They are living lives separate from God, outside of God’s boundary lines, in insincere faith which is hypocritical, dishonest and fake (a forgery).
They have rejected the truth of the gospel, setting it aside, and they have created in the minds of people a condensed version of the true gospel which appeases the flesh and which does not call for death to sin or to self. It requires no suffering, for they have turned God’s grace and his gospel message into something easy and pleasant that makes no demands. In fact, they discourage people from believing in the true gospel of grace.
But, this is intentional. It has a purpose, and that design is of Satan, not of God. And, its goal is to turn everyone away from sincere faith in Jesus Christ so that they will reject holiness and righteousness, and so that they will follow after their flesh instead, while promising them heaven when they die.
So, this leads professing Christians one of two ways. Either they will proudly proclaim their “freedom” in Christ to keep on in their sinful practices without guilt, because they believe God’s grace covers it all, or they will be what I call “closet cheap grace gospel people.” Their lifestyles will support the cheap (diluted, condensed) grace, but their outward profession will be of the true gospel of grace, but it is all for show to look good to other people.
They will pretend that they are in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, but it is dishonest and fruitless. 1 John 1 speaks of this when it says that if you say that you have fellowship with God, but you walk in darkness, you are a liar who does not live by the truth. They will portend a life change, while secretly they are living in sinful rebellion against God when no one is looking. Jesus scolded the Pharisees for this type of behavior.
They will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of their lives, but self is still on the throne, and they are still being ruled by the flesh. Their foundation for their lives is not Christ and His Word and His holiness, but it is what is dishonorable, sordid, immoral, impure, faithless and dishonest. So, they just use God and their “relationship” with him as a cover-up for evil.
And, they are hurting other people by their lies, by their hypocrisies and by their immorality, too, and they are dishonoring God and are treating him as though they are ashamed of him.
So, many of those who are living in and who are spreading this cheap grace gospel, which is ashamed of Christ and his true gospel, are also persecuting those who are living in sincere faith, and who are sharing the truth of the gospel, which is the whole counsel of God – not the condensed version of the gospel, which leaves out the parts they don’t like and that they don’t want to accept.
Be Not Ashamed
2 Timothy 1:12-14 ESV
“But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”
But, even if we have many people coming against us, because we are living in and we are sharing the true gospel of grace, which is a gospel of repentance, obedience to Christ, and submission to Christ as Lord, we need to not back down. We must not be ashamed of the sincere faith gifted to us by God, which is divinely persuaded as to God’s holiness and righteousness.
Song lyrics taken from Psalm 19 KJV
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul:
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart:
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever:
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold:
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
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