• Pastor Brad Harris

Efficient Cause

Bible Study Lesson and Devotional #7: 2nd Timothy Chapter One


Please read through the first chapter.

"A Spirit of Power, Love and Self-Discipline"


So Far we have learned that:


1.    Paul is writing to Timothy from prison in Rome.  He (Paul) is about to be executed under the notorious Roman Emperor Nero.


2.    Timothy is struggling, in his assignment, as a leader and a pastor at the church in Ephesus.


3.    Paul is writing to Timothy to remind him to perform his duty, "discharge all the duties of your ministry" (2 Tim. 4:5 NIV).


4.    Paul reminds Timothy to return to walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh, "I remind you to fan into flame the Gift of God" (2 Tim. 1:6 NIV).

5.    The Holy Spirit is Fully God, endowed with all wisdom, inexhaustible resources, endless love and compassion.  Thus, each of us should learn to "walk by faith and not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7 NIV).


6.    Paul is calling Timothy to Boldness not timidity!


7.    The walk with Christ victoriously we must walk, "by the spirit and not by the flesh."


Today's Concentration:  2 Timothy 1:7      "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" 


The Theme:  "Power, Love, and Self-Control"


1.    Now as we concentrate (meditate) on verse 7, which is the central passage here, we see Paul telling Timothy that in the Christian's life, power has replaced timidity or fear.  Added to power is love and self-discipline


2.    Paul writes in Romans, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28 NIV).


3.    John writes, "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them" (1st John 4:16 NIV).


4.    Now what Paul and John are reminding us of is the principle of "outgrowth." or "causality."

5.    The principle of causality says that: "by which one event, process or state, a cause, contributes to the production of another event, process or state, an effect," namely the principle of cause and effect."


6.    The bible talks about it this way, "a man reaps what he sows" (Galatian 6:7 NIV).


7.    But, the genuine nature of Christian love does not come by way of our sowing, but by what has been sowed in us.  Look at the definition again, ""by which one event, process or state, a cause, contributes to the production of another event, process or state, an effect," namely the principle of cause and effect.  The operative word here is not based on the action of the individual (agent) but on his/her state of being as the cause which produces the effect.


8.    The most famous saying in ancient Greece was, "know thyself, this is the beginning of wisdom."  In many ways this is correct, but to truly know ourselves we must first know God.  Jesus taught this principle in His Sermon on the Mount when He said, ' But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you"  (Matthew 6:33 NIV).


9.    Aristotle called this the "efficient cause."  Aristotle wrote that the efficient cause, "it is that power that causes changes in substances other than those in which they reside."  Thomas M. Tuozzo: Aristotle and the Discovery of Efficient Causation.


10.  Theologians say that the Holy Spirit is efficacious, meaning whatever is started by the Holy Spirit will be finished according to the preordained will of God the Father, God The Son and God the Holy Spirit.  


11.   An example of this principle is the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation.  Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit"  (John 3:6-8 NIV).


12.    Jesus is saying that the Holy Spirit, whom you cannot see, is the efficacious cause of salvation.  Aristotle would say that the Holy Spirit is the Effective Cause of salvation.


13.    Now this brings us to the Christian, who is efficaciously "effected" by the Holy Spirit.   Paul is writing Timothy to say that if he would begin to start walking daily in the spirit, he would find his life filled with; "power, love and a new found self-discipline.


14.    Power:  Strong's defines this as having; inherent power, moral power and excellence of soul.  Vine's says its; "power in action."  Albert Barnes says this is, " Power to encounter foes and dangers; power to bear up under trials; power to triumph in persecutions. That is, it is the nature of the gospel to inspire the mind with holy courage."  Because of the work of the Holy Spirit, in the believer's life, we should be compelled to walk "in the Spirit and not in the flesh."  We must cooperate with the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in refining, shaping and guiding us.  We must cultivate this dependence by daily prayer, "yielding" when prompted, becoming more and more conscious of sin which dilutes the energy and power available to us.  My friends if you want to know the power of your new life in Christ, it will only come when you see yourself as a person under orders.  A person daily walking with another Person from whom you receive everything that really matters.


"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own"  (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV).


15.    Love:  John Gill says this Godly love " is a fruit of the Holy Spirit; and such who have it, seek not their own ease and credit, but the glory of God, the interest of Christ, and the good of souls; and having such a spirit, and fired with such love, they are not easily intimidated by the adversary."  Again, we see an "Effective Cause."  This is a love that comes from the Spirit and is not natural to fallen man.  Unregenerate persons only think about themselves.  They are self-possessed instead of being possessed of the Holy Spirit.  This love takes us beyond self, or kin or country.  This love is a love that loves that which is unlovely.  Thayer says that this love (like God's) is determined and set on the act of love that loves, " to take pleasure in the thing, prize it above other things, be unwilling to abandon it or do without it."  There is a determination not to give up on the object of this love.  Guided by the Holy Spirit, we should be dogged in our determination to love others, especially those who have hurt or offended us.  We should be like our savior, Who said these words under the worst of abuse, "Father forgive them for they do not know what they do."  Moses reminds us to:


"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD  your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

16.    Self-Discipline:    Paul is saying here as evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in a person, there will be an ever-increasing presence of self-control.   The Greek word Paul uses here is related to a sound mind, moderation and discipline.  The real-world, practical implications are immeasurable in a believer's life.  Here is where the "light can shine."  Here is where we benefit from walking in the spirit, it will be evident in our lives:  health, wealth, relationships, and mental well-being.  Here is where the problem lies with the whole Corona virus discussion.  Jesus said, " a man must be born again."  The best prevention a man or woman can have to minimize the potential threat of Covid-19 is not isolation but conversion.  A man or woman filled with and walking in the Spirit will have a life of self-discipline which will at minimum insulate him or her from the typical ailments that plague mankind.  Walking in the Spirit is the greatest "life plan" any believer can have to find Godly victory in this life and the life to come.


May God Richly Bless You My Beloved,

Pastor Brad


P. S. For example:


On April 8th New York University issued a position paper for peer review indicating that obesity is the single largest "chronic factor" New York City's hospitalizations.  (Medrxiv: Factors associated with hospitalization and critical illness among 4,103 patients with COVID-19 disease in New York City, April 8, 2020).


The World Health Organization Published Article on March 2, 2020 states:


*    Worldwide obesity has tripled since 1975

*    In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older were overweight.  Of these over 650 million were obese.

*    39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2016, and 13% were obese.

*    Most of the world's population live in countries where overweight and obesity kill more people than conditions related to being underweight.

*    40 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2018.

*    Obesity is preventable.


The Center For Disease Control Summarizes the Health effects of being overweight and obese on its website:


People who have obesity, compared to those with a normal or healthy weight, are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions, including the following:

  • All-causes of death (mortality)

  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)

  • High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Coronary heart disease

  • Stroke

  • Gallbladder disease

  • Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)

  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems

  • Many types of cancerexternal icon

  • Low quality of life

  • Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders

  • Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning

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