Summary: Christians today are different from non-Christians and should not fear because we have a spirit or power, love, and a sound mind.
We’re working a little bit differently this morning in that we’re working from two passages. It may seem like two passages, but if you read through 2 Timothy, it’s really all one passage. We’re just concentrating on these verses because in them, Paul has given Timothy a clear contrast between a person with the spirit of the age and the Spirit of Christ.
2 TIMOTHY 1:7 and 3:5-7
In the 1800s, German philosophers invented a word that was brought over into English and is used to describe the times in which we live. The word is Zeitgeist—which means “spirit of the age.” For example, the spirit of the age was much different in the early 1950s than in the late 1960s. The spirit of the age is much different today than it was even a few years ago. The evidence is only as far away as the TV in your living room. In the 50’s, Lucy and Ricky had separate beds. Look at it now! Just a few years ago, homosexuality was rarely talked about and was always shown in a negative light. Today, nearly all sitcoms parade homosexuals around like it’s perfectly natural. The problem with the spirit of the age is that we live in it. We’re surrounded by it. We can’t get away from it. Just like a tea bag in water, we’re steeped in it. The problem is, since we spend our entire lives in our culture, we might not see a clear contrast between the spirit of the age and the Spirit of Christ in our own lives. Which spirit do you have? How do you know? Can you recognize the difference? That’s what we’re going to talk about this morning. In the verses we just read, Paul answers the question, “What are three differences between the spirit of the age and the Spirit of Christ?” The first difference is where you look for power. Look with me in 2 Timothy 3:5:
The spirit of the age seeks its power in many places. It looks to money, science, and education among others. Those can all be good things. But there’s one thing that turns them from good tools to bad theology. It’s the whole idea of progress. For the past 150 years, our society has been captivated by the idea of progress. Even to the point of worshipping it. The spirit of the age says that society can progress away from evil toward perfection. It promises that if poverty is eliminated we’ll live in utopia. (So we don’t need God as Sustainer) It promises that evolution, science, and medicine will continue on to make a perfect race. We can just help it along a little with abortion, genetic manipulation, and euthanasia. (So we don’t need God as Creator and perfector) It promises that with ethics based education, people will no longer do bad things. (So we don’t need God as the source of goodness and wisdom) Worshipping progress is a form of godliness, but it has no power. When God is pulled off the throne and the powerless god of progress is worshipped society sinks into a world of fear. When God isn’t on the throne of economics, progress calls for the government to redistribute money—taking money from those who have it and giving to those who don’t. That’s what Marx called for and Lenin did. When God isn’t on the throne of science, progress calls for killing people to make society better—it’s called abortion and euthanasia. That’s what Hitler did. When God isn’t on the throne of education, progress calls for lining up people according to their test scores. Those with low scores are forced to serve those with high scores by working menial jobs. That’s what Mao Tse Tung did. Seeing how the spirit of the age seeks power by worshipping progress is a frightening thing. But contrast the spirit of the age to what Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:7:
In contrast to the spirit of the age, which seeks its power in progress, God gives us a spirit of power. The last words Jesus said before He ascended into heaven promised the disciples in Acts 1:8: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” As a Christian, you have nothing to fear because your power isn’t something generated by you, society, or anybody else. It’s the very power of God Himself. God does not progress—He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is not something you work toward or hope to attain. He gave of himself freely, sacrificing Himself, His Son on the cross. He is all-powerful and gave his Son so you can have power. So what is the power of God? Power over your circumstances, power over sorrow, power over sin, power over worry, power over fear, power over Satan, even power over death. It is realizing that you have no power in and of yourself. You can progress to the best person you can possibly be and still be lost and bound for an eternal hell. But the power of God says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” So how do you think? Do you use money as a power base? Do you try to control people by giving or withholding money? Do you see science as a power base? Do you look to science and medicine for the answers to all your questions? Or do you look at man’s science through the lens of the infallible Word of God? Do you see education as the key to society’s problems? Do you think people can be taught to be good? Or do you know that ethics without God is idolatry. The only cure to our society’s problems is the gospel of Jesus Christ. And the only way society will hear the gospel is from you and me. So the question is: Is your power based in the empty hope of human progress or is it supplied by the Holy Spirit? The first difference between the spirit of the age and the Spirit of Christ is your power base. The second difference is how you seek love. Look with me to 2 Timothy 3:6: