The apostle Paul names three overwhelming experiences that come to all who seek and find the Lord. These are the chief marks of conversion. Named as power, love and a sound mind, here is the form in which they come to believers in Christ.
Three central experiences of power and love and a sound mind. I ought to say of course that in this epistle you have a very senior preacher instructing and encouraging a junior preacher. In this verse he mentions some of the results of the work of God in a soul, the work of the Holy Spirit. He puts it like this, for God hath not given us the spirit of, and he mentions fear, power, love and a sound mind, but it’s these three, power, love and a sound mind we’re interested in.
He hasn’t given us a fearful spirit. Our King James translators translate or put the word spirit with a small s. So they have decided that what Paul is referring to here is a disposition. God has not given us a disposition of fear, but rather a disposition or characteristics of mind and soul which are power, love and a sound mind. [Some modern translations have decided they can do better than this and they’ve given spirit a capital S. For God has not given us The Spirit. He gives the Holy Spirit to people and the Holy Spirit is now said to be the spirit of power and the spirit of love, but that doesn’t work. (I know this is a little technical for a start!) That doesn’t work because you can’t very well speak of the Holy Spirit of a sound mind. Of course the Holy Spirit can have nothing other than a sound mind, a safe mind. So I think our King James translators are quite right and most who follow them and they’ve translated it with a small s. God by the Holy Spirit obviously has not given us a disposition of fear, but the disposition or personal characteristics of power and love and of a sound mind.
Three features of conversion. I want to begin by saying this and I hope you’ll bear with me because it might sound unreasonable at first, but it’s absolutely true. And it’s this, other than by conversion to Christ, you can never have these features of disposition. Other than by experience of conversion, you will never really taste or know power. Never be powerfully influenced without conversion to Christ. Is this not an outrageous thing to say? That thousands and thousands of people, even among them the most clever, intellectual, the strongest, the most astute, will never have known a real experience of power without conversion? But it’s true. This comes only by conversion, real power. We can speak about power experiences quite easily. It’s often said that young people, and this is true to a point, may have an experience which greatly influences them and shapes them and sets them up in life. Maybe you come under the influence of someone. Maybe it’s at the university, certain things are formed in you. And can you not call that an experience of power? No, you can’t.