“Preparing To Go Fight”
1 Timothy 1:18-20
There is a spiritual battle all of God’s people are called to fight in this world.
Call to Commitment
Call to Faith & Good Conscience
Call to be Faithful
Call to Commitment
1 Timothy 1:18, NKJV
This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, ...
Apostle Paul is giving this young pastor Timothy a command to be committed to what God has said about him in the past. There is no indication about what the specific prophecies about Timothy were, only that they proclaimed things that God would do in and through his life (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6). This encouragement of Timothy to remain committed to that which was prophesied about how God had gifted and equipped him for ministry was necessary. It is too easy for people to forget or doubt the call of God on their life when great obstacles are encountered or opposition arises.
Timothy was not Paul’s biological son. Their strong connection came from Timothy accepting Christ as Lord of his life through God’s work through Paul (Acts 16:1; 1 Corinthians 4:17). Apostle Paul had a sense of obligation to help Timothy as a parent desires to help their child to achieve their fullest potential in life. Timothy’s mother and grandmother were also great influences in his life growing up which gave him a firm foundation in Scripture and what it means to have faith (2 Timothy 1:3-5). This young pastor desired to serve the Lord by assisting Apostle Paul in ministering in the congregations that Paul established. Timothy reinforced the biblical teaching of Paul and defended against the false teaching that arose later on (1 Timothy 3:16-4:6; 2 Timothy 4:1-5)
Whatever the prophecies were which were spoken about Timothy it is clear what their purpose was to accomplish. Timothy was called to defend the truth of the Gospel against the teaching of others that had seeped into the congregations. This is why Timothy was instructed by Paul to be diligent in the Word of God and prepared in season and out of season to preach the Gospel. Timothy could be faithful to his calling because he understood and was convinced of the calling God had placed on his life. Therefore, challenges to the legitimacy of his ministry or his teaching would be prevented from crippling him spiritually with doubt.
All believers have a call upon their lives to serve God. Many struggle with the idea of calling because most have never had someone proclaim a prophesy over them as it was in Timothy’s life. Yet, this is not completely true since Scripture talks often about how God has called and given every believer something to do in order to reflect the glory of the Lord through their lives.
The first prophesy Christ has spoken over all believers is found in His instruction given just before His ascension into heaven. Go make disciples of all nations, baptize, and teach them what He has commanded (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-48). Everyone who accepts the sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of their sins is proclaiming they will live for Him from that point forward. Living for God means that a person understands this calling of God as a personal charge upon their live. Each child of God is responsible for evangelism in their life. The baptizing of people may be something clergy specifically do, but disciple-making and teaching is something all of God’s people can do.
Christians who are parents are responsible for making disciples of the children God has brought into their lives whether they are biological, adopted, or foster children. Those believers who are hospitalized or confined physically are called to share Christ with everyone who comes into contact with them. Christians who are mobile and active are to share the Gospel with everyone wherever they go and through whatever they are doing. Education, talent, and gifting does not exempt anyone from being a disciple maker. These things identify by what means a person is involved in the disciple making process.
The second thing spoken over the body of Christ which supports individual disciple makers who are followers of Christ is that there are specific things God has prepared for them to do in Christ Jesus. Disciple making is to be a response to eternal life that is received through a person placing their faith in Christ Jesus for atonement of their lives in acknowledgment of Christ’s death on behalf of their sins (Ephesians 2:1-10).
The good works each child of God was created in Christ Jesus to do are good works. These are things that reflect the character of God in their lives and provide ministry to all in the same love with which Christ went to the cross with for all of mankind. These things are seen throughout the Word of God and have been lived out in the ministry of Christ. Learning to do good, seeking justice for those who suffer injustice, and stepping in to aid those who are in need are specific things God spoke to His people about through the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 1:17). The Prophet Micah was also used by God the good work of living a lifestyle of justice, showing mercy to others, and humbly acknowledging a need for God in doing everything (Micah 6:8).
Good works also includes how others are treated. Jesus said that treating others the way you want to be treated sums up the whole law of God and everything God spoke about through the prophets (Matthew 7:12). Specific examples of what this kind of lifestyle looks like is illustrated when God’s people attempt to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ literally (Isaiah 58:6-7; Matthew 25:31-40). The Ten Commandments are a perfect example of what life looks like when a person strives to do good works in their life as a response to the forgiveness and new life they receive through faith in Christ (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21).
The majority of people who submit their lives to God through faith in Christ Jesus will never be world renown or come close to being known by more than the few people who make up their family, friends, and acquaintances. The influence of the children of God happens in the small sphere of people who are encountered on a consistent basis during their daily routine. Dedicating life to the calling to do the good works which Christ has prepared for them to do in following the Spirit’s leading in their life will prove to be a great impact to the kingdom of God even though they will go unnoticed by many.
Obedience to God is a reflection of trust in Christs acknowledgment of His authority over life, and love for His mercy and grace. The command Apostle Paul gives to Timothy is for the purpose of fighting the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7-8). God’s people are to fight for the souls of people who do not know Christ as Savior and Lord by displaying the love of God through the good works God has prepared for them to do, and revealing His trustworthy character by their conduct and submission to His will over their own. The fight God’s people are engaged in is for something rather than fighting against something.
Christians have fallen into the trap of believing they are fighting against Satan and the demonic forces. God has already won the victory and stripped them of their power to overcome. God’s people fight for the revealing of the saving grace Christ has provided for all who will turn from their sin and to Him for forgiveness of their sins and to be reconciled with their Creator. The world seems to know much about what Christians are against, but little about what they are fighting for. This is due to the tendency of believers responding to the things taking place in the world that is in defiance to God instead of delivering the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Call to Faith & Good Conscience
1 Timothy 1:19a, NKJV
...having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected...
It is dangerous to make faith in Christ anything other than faith in Him for the forgiveness of sins and salvation from the wrath of God. Apostle Paul is referring to more than being persuaded and convinced about who Christ is and what He has done. Paul is specifically pointing out a sincerity of faith in Christ which allows a person to trust God beyond their fears and doubts to share truth with others out of genuine love and concern for them. Genuine faith of this nature is necessary to endure the difficulties and challenges that come with following Christ as Lord of life in a world that is hostile towards Him and His authority.
There is added onto faith here the idea of a good conscience. A good conscience in this context means understanding the difference between right and wrong, and why they are that way. Scripture makes it clear that knowing the good that ought to be done and not doing it is sin (James 4:17; 2 Peter 2:20-22). Being convinced of something being right or wrong and the reason for it being classified in that way prevents that person from the persuasive lies of the enemy. The lack of confidence holds many people back responding to the questions of others concerning their faith. Faith combined with a good conscience allows people to stand firm in the truth of God’s Word without making excuses or apologies for what they believe is true.
Challenges to the truth about Scripture will occur and should be expected by the people of God. The study, memorization, and application of Scripture is for more than personal growth and to be able to clearly see and hear the Spirit of God working in and around the people of God. These things prepare God’s people to endure the hardships of fighting the good fight with the weapons of God rather than those of mankind (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). The end result of the fight God’s people are engaged in is for giving life to those who are dead in their sins rather than in the destruction of life.
Jesus demonstrated this in His claim that He came to give life and provided for fullness of those who would accept that He is the Son of God (John 10:7-10). There are many who promise life and abundance in this world. The promise of wealth and health are empty of any lasting satisfaction since both are fleeting and fail to satisfy over time. The immediacy of pleasure and instant gratification has blinded many to the great gift of sacrifice and self-denial in choosing to wait upon the things of God (Psalm 103:1-5; Isaiah 40:28-31). The lure of immediate satisfaction is a strong temptation for people since it satisfies the sinful nature in them. Waiting on the Lord is something that goes against the flesh. That is why it is so important to have a good conscience.
There are many who know who Christ is and accept what He has done on their behalf but still occasionally cast aside truth to satisfy their flesh. This generally happens when a person falls out of fellowship with God. They are still saved from the wrath of God through faith in Christ, but have grown cold in their love towards God. An indication that this is happening is when Scripture is not read or studied daily. Christ warned the churches in Ephesus and Laodicea about their lack of love and commitment to Him. He spoke to them through John telling them He would bring about severe consequences if they did not make changes in their lives (Revelation 2:1-7, 3:14-22).
This is in no way a rejection of Christ or denial of who He is. It is simply a momentary longing to selfishly satisfy the flesh rather than denying oneself the sinful momentary pleasure that the world thinks nothing of but suffers because of it. The good conscience helps a person to understand why their fleshly desires cannot be allowed to demand their way in life. Rather, the child of God must always acknowledge that it is not them who live any longer but Christ who lives within them (Romans 7:21-25; Galatians 2:19-20). There are times when the flesh overwhelms the child of God when they choose to not turn to the Holy Spirit’s help, or have willfully opened themselves up to the enemy’s lies by neglecting to be in the Word of God and remaining in constant contact with Him through prayer.
There are times when this break in fellowship with God is due to a momentary decision and other times where it can last for a much longer period of time. King David experienced this falling out of fellowship with God during his time of sin with Bathsheba where he attempted to manipulate Uriah to cover up his sin and the murder of Uriah later on when Uriah proved to be more faithful than King David (2 Samuel 11:1- 12:23). It was only when God sent Nathan the prophet to confront him that King David confessed his sin and repented to find out he was already forgiven, but still needed to endure the consequences of his sinful actions. During this time of hiding his sin King David knew the sin he had committed and it convicted him internally until he confessed (Psalm 51:1-19).
Those who have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior will struggle with these times of falling prey to the lies of the sinful nature that promise immediate momentary satisfaction. God is faithful and will cause His child to be convicted over their sin and bring them to the place of repentance. Those who are true followers of God will accept and return to fellowship in Christ with the Father once again and find the Savior’s death was payment enough for their sin. It is them that they will experience the extreme and lavish love of the Father as the prodigal son did (Luke 15:11-32).
Fellowship with God is easily maintained if His child takes the time to make faith in and love for God a priority that is ranked above all other things. This can only be accomplished when Christ is loved more than anything or anyone else (Luke 14:25-27). Jesus proclaimed this fact when He spoke to the large crowds that followed Him. There is a danger of losing the first love in life when the first love is neglected and is no longer what all other things are submissive to and is scheduled around.
Call to be Faithful
1 Timothy 1:19b-20, NKJV
...concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Faithfulness is more than what is needed at the start of following Christ and at the end of life. It is the consistency of a person to obey the Lord and allow Him to form them into what He has created and designed them to be now and throughout eternity. Those who begin following Christ faithfully must continue to do so in spite of the difficulties and weariness that threaten every believer during their lifetime.
Hymenaeus and Alexander had at one time made a confession of faith since they were involved in the early Church. Yet, they had attempted to conform the miraculous work of Christ and make it fit into their own understanding (2 Timothy 2:16-18, 4:14-15). Faith in Christ is not based upon a person’s ability to comprehend and explain all things, but their willingness to accept that God is truthful and righteous in all He does. Truth does cease to be true simply because it does not fit into the scope of mankind’s ability to make sense of it all.
Apostle Paul says they shipwrecked their faith. These men caused much suffering to themselves and to other believers around them. They are not the type of believers who are unproductive as Jesus spoke about in His Parable of the Sower when He referred to the thorny soil (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23). The third soil in Jesus’ parable says the crops were unfruitful because of the deceitfulness and cares of this world choked it and prevented fruit from being productive.
These people Jesus refers to as making up the thorny soil make a verbal confession of faith. They may even get baptized and be leaders in a congregation, but they refuse to allow the Lord to change their lives continually from that point on. Their faith is something that happens briefly during the week and is separated out from their lifestyle Monday through Saturday.
No one can know the heart of another person to identify someone else as a child of God or not. The only indication is what is being produced in a person’s life (Matthew 7:15-19; John 15:1-2). In the Parable of the Sower those who believe are referred to as producing a harvest of thirty, sixty, and one hundred fold of what was planted. Those who belong to God will find their lives are producing the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 which reveals the character of God living in them. This is completely opposite of what is produced in the life of those who reject God’s authority over their lives (Galatians 5:19-21).
Paul is telling Timothy he delivered them over to Satan to teach them not to blaspheme. There is no indication of what they were speaking against, but the indication is that it was against Paul and his ministry more than against the Holy Spirit which is unforgivable (Matthew 12:32; Mark 3:28-29). Discipline is reserved for the children of God; condemnation is reserved for those who reject God. The context here is one of discipline rather than casting out as someone who does not believe in Christ as the Son of God.
There are many times things are quickly spoken against to the point they receive more focus, time, energy, and resources than the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is good to speak out against abortion, abuse, and things that are lies being proclaimed and pushed upon society. These things must not be allowed to draw the child of God away from reading, studying, and sharing the Word of God and the plan of salvation with others. Instead of protesting about what is wrong with society, God’s children need to be sharing the reality of Christ’s forgiveness for sins and the joy of salvation through faith in Him.
Fulfilling the call to be faithful is to remain focused on fighting for truth to be revealed in the world at any cost. The enemy is constantly attempting the people of God to be consumed by doing good deeds like protecting the innocent, defending the poor and helpless, and feeding the hungry in order for them to neglect personal study and sharing Christ with those they are serving physically. These acts of service need to be happening. Yet, the reason for serving is to have the opportunity to share the word of God with those who are receiving the help. Depending upon an organization to do that is good, but it does not remove the individual child of God from personally sharing Christ with those they are helping right in their community and family.
It is critical for the followers of Christ to remain focused on the commission Jesus gave the Church and to focus all their energy, time, and resources to the promotion of Christ in the world. Jesus made it clear that if people would seek His kingdom and His righteousness, all their necessities would be met (Matthew 6:25-34). So much is wasted on good and noble things when the material world is given higher priority than the need for people to come to faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
The Church is engaged in warfare. Those who belong to God will be tempted to waste much time, energy, and resources addressing the symptoms of sin rather than starting with the problem of sin in a person’s life. All the problems of the world start with the sinful heart. God is the only one who can change the condition of the heart. Therefore, abuse of substances, criminal activity, the breakdown of relationships can all be traced back to the sinfulness of mankind. The only way to overcome what is happening in the world is to lift up the name of Jesus Christ and His overcoming power. Then, and only then, as people accept Christ as their Savior and Lord will the sinful nature lose its control and free the person from its bondage to change their lives for all eternity.