Fighting the War of Faith
1 Timothy 1:18-20
Primary Truth Taught- Paul reminds Timothy of the charge to rid the church of false teachers and explains how to go about carrying it out.
What is spiritual warfare? Many view it as doing battle with demons and casting them out etc. Here, Paul shows us that spiritual warfare is really maintaining and persevering in the faith through life’s hardships and struggles.
So, spiritual warfare is not fighting against evil spirits per se, rather it is fighting to maintain a sound faith and a good conscience while living in this sin filled world. That’s the fight. That’s the war. That’s each and everyone’s calling.
Human Need Met
This passage equips us for the battle. Paul doesn’t just charge Timothy with the orders to do the job but also tells him how he’s to carry it out. We too must have a game plan in place. How are we doing in spiritual warfare?
1 Timothy 1:18–20 (ESV)
18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience.
As we look today at the last section of Chapter 1 we notice that the aged Apostle is entrusting the charge to carry the pure Gospel to the next generation just like Jesus had entrusted Paul years earlier.
1 Timothy 1:12 (ESV)
12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,
Timothy, like Paul has been entrusted with the genuine Gospel. The time is getting closer and closer for the Apostle to turn over the care and concern for the churches to Timothy.
Along with the pure Gospel comes the charge to keep it pure and to give it, undiluted to others. Paul doesn’t want Timothy to be surprised or caught off guard. He is telling Timothy in very plain terms that keeping the Gospel pure and maintaining a sincere faith is nothing less than warfare.
The doctrine Paul is referring to here is the doctrine known as perseverance of the saints. What does perseverance look like? It looks like war.
This war of perseverance is a war that, while it is difficult at times, is infinitely worth all the struggle and pain.
Look with me at what he is doing throughout his letters…
Here in 1 Timothy Paul writes to his beloved son in the faith and charges him to keep the truth of God with a good conscience and a sincere faith. He then tells Timothy this charge will be like war…wage the good warfare.
A couple of years before, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians (same church Timothy is now sent to pastor) and what does he tell them?
Ephesians 6:10–20 (ESV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
I hope we’re getting a good feel for what the Apostle is teaching. This is wartime imagery isn’t it? Ready yourself for battle calls the Apostle…
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance,
Now let’s look quickly together at Paul’s second letter to Timothy, this probably written two years after 1 Timothy in AD 64. The Apostle knows his life is short, here’s what he writes:
2 Timothy 4:6–8 (ESV)
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
What he tells Timothy here two years latter is to continue fighting in the war of faith because the reward for the good soldier is more than we can imagine. There is laid up for all of us who persevere to the end a soldier’s crown of righteousness given by our Lord by grace.
not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing
The way in which we do battle and stay consistent is to fight in the Lord’s strength remembering that He is returning. Can you imagine the sight of Jesus while engaged in battle? It takes the struggle of war to long for Jesus. It takes weariness of soul to long for Christ.
In our 1 Timothy text, Paul commands Timothy to never forget Who it is that has called you. Jesus Christ put Paul in ministry and also placed Timothy in ministry.
in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you
What Paul wants Timothy to remember is that it was God who called him.
At Timothy’s ordination into the Gospel Ministry there was evidently a prophetic word spoken over him. Because this is a personal letter, the Apostle does not go into great detail because he and Timothy remember that day.
Sometimes when the warfare gets intense we must remember that Jesus Christ is our Captain and He has called us to be on His service and sometimes that’s what keeps us going.
We must get the thrust of Paul’s concern for his son. Paul is the father watching his son go off to war. He knows that he will be fighting on the front lines. He knows that he will witness those who leave their post in the heat of battle. His heart goes with his son…Timothy fight the good fight of faith, never surrender, never run away, never turn your back on your comrades…fight hard and remember there is a reward that Jesus has waiting for us…
So, Paul as Timothy’s father, instructs him on how it is he is to maintain the pure Gospel in Ephesus. Remember that Timothy was timid by nature, he was young, he had been given an extremely difficult post to stand guard over and Paul was far far away. It was as if Timothy was all alone fighting the war by himself. Have you ever felt as if you were fighting the Christian battle alone?
What does Paul give Timothy as the means to persevere?? If we are going to persevere, we need these same things…
prophecies previously made about you
holding faith. Here, what is meant is a continuing trust and dependence on Jesus Christ. Trusting Christ is not a one-time event but a continual life of trusting. When life is hard we trust Jesus and when Life is good we trust Jesus.
and a good conscience
By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith,
Not everyone who seems to be a believer is a believer and not all who begin finish. Here is an example of two (Paul finally gives us the names of two of those who were engaged in promoting a false gospel.
The Apostle tells us that these and probably others have rejected holding fast to faith and a good conscience.
It is very interesting here that in using the metaphor of a ship and a shipwreck of their faith, it as if he is comparing faith and conscience to the rudder of the ship that the pilot held tightly to in order to steer the ship through dangerous waters.
His language is that some have rejected or released the rudder and have allowed their ship to drift on its own and eventually it was shipwrecked.
So, using Paul’s analogy, faith and conscience are the two Christian character traits that help guide us along in this life much like a rudder guides the vessel through dangerous waters.
To release the spiritual rudder of faith and conscience is to let your life drift along and it won’t be long until your faith will be shipwrecked just like these two men Paul mentions.
How do we hold tightly to the rudder that steers us through this world? How do we hold tight to our faith?
Most often our faith begins to weaken as we endure some level of suffering. As the suffering continues our faith is challenged and we may even be tempted to let go of the controls and drift.
The first stop I want us to make is to see how Jesus held tightly to His faith through this life…
Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)
2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus had such a strong faith in what God told Him that He could even suffer the pain of the cross still believing everything God promised. The promises of God outweighed all the suffering He endured.
Can we have the same confidence or faith in God’s promises as Jesus did?
Romans 10:17 (ESV)
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
If our faith begins to weaken we need truth. Truth is the fuel that faith runs on. This is exactly why the false teachers in Ephesus had to be silenced; they were not giving out truth to the people so the faith of the people was wavering. Faith in God and all of His promises comes as we take in truth.
2 Timothy 2:14–18 (ESV)
14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.
Your faith needs a regular intake of truth from God’s Word.
It also needs encouraged by other believers…
We see the importance of the local church and the importance of fellowship within the church. We don’t just like to eat around here. Our times of fellowship monthly and then on Wed nights are for the purpose of strengthening each other’s faith.
Acts 14:21–22 (ESV)
21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
The Apostle Paul also gives us another part of this when he writes about a good conscience.
Proverbs 20:27 (ESV)
27 The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord,
searching all his innermost parts.
A good conscience is to practice obedience to what your conscience tells you.
An example of the conscience working is found in Acts 2…
Acts 2:37 (ESV)
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Hebrews 13:18 (ESV)
18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.
20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
2 Timothy 2:16–18 (ESV)
16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.
2 Timothy 4:14–15 (ESV)
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.
Even though these men were teaching false doctrine and greatly opposed the truth presented by Paul and the others, Paul is still showing love for them. Removing them from the fellowship and turning them over to a severe teaching was the best thing for them. I pray we do see that at times the church must remove people who are dangerous to the congregation. These men had more love for themselves than for Christ and His bride.
1 Corinthians 5:1–2 (ESV)
5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
The dynamic that Paul knew about was that within the sheep fold there is protection. Outside the sheepfold the lambs are exposed to attacks. Sometimes it takes a wolf to bite to cause the lamb to be thankful for the fold and to obey the shepherd. This is what Paul knew had to happen in order to restore these people back to the fold.
We’re not told what happened to these who had swerved from the truth. We don’t know if they were really believers or not. If they were believers then they were restored.
We do have an example of one who had removed himself from the sheepfold…
Luke 22:31–34 (ESV)
31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
Peter had to learn the hard way. Satan taught Peter that denying his Lord was a very bad thing.
So whether one removes himself or the church removes them the idea is the same…send the wayward believer out of the fold and into the world and they will return having learned their lesson, send the lost out of the fold and into the world and the fold is protected.
That is how we show mercy to those who are in sin or who are troubling the church.
Paul reminds Timothy of the charge to rid the church of false teachers and explains how to go about carrying it out.
Just as Paul tells Timothy to wage the good warfare, we too must realize that we’re fighting in the war as well. Persevering in the faith in the face of trials and temptations is the war we must fight. We do that as we fill our minds with the truth of God’s Word, learn it and obey it…that is what being a good soldier looks like.