Saturday, 18 November 2017
…having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 1Timothy1:19
Paul’s thoughts about faith and conscience are rather consistent, having stated almost the same thing as he did in verse 1:5 –
“Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.”
He unites the two again here in relation to the “good warfare” of the previous verse. One cannot enter into the spiritual battles of Christian life without “having faith and a good conscience.” If one lacks faith in what he is battling, the battle is already lost. Imagine a group of soldiers knowing that their commander is a drunk and is going to lead them to certain death. They have no faith in him, and they have no will to fight. They will be quickly defeated.
Likewise, having a good conscience is necessary in order to fight the good warfare of Christianity. If one has been engaged in the very sins they are supposed to be fighting, his conscience will be defiled, and he will be ineffective in his conduct. If a soldier is treasonous, and assists the enemy, how will he effectively fight the battle in which he is engaged? He will not! Rather, he will be harmful to the side he is on, and destructive to his own person if the battle comes directly to him. Such a person is like those spoken of by James when he says that the demons believe there is one God, but despite believing, they tremble. Their conscience is defiled, and they are set for a bad end.
Paul next gives a real life example that Timothy would be aware of. In doing this, he highlights the failings of others, and the inevitable result of their failings. He begins to describe them by saying, “which some have rejected.” Obviously this is so, because he has already said that Timothy is to “charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (verse 3). He is speaking of those passing on false words instead of sound doctrine. Because of this, he concludes the verse with words which directly reflect their state, “concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck. “
Here he returns to the same metaphor that he used when writing to the same church Timothy is at now. In his letter to the Ephesians, he implored them to hold to proper doctrine. In so doing, he says “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Ephesians 4:14). He equated our life in Christ as a ship on the seas. We are to hold to the fair winds of sound doctrine which will carry us along safely and smoothly. However, when we introduce crazy, nutty, unsound, or theologically bizarro doctrine into our lives, then we are like ships on a sea, tossed to and fro. This is what was occurring at Ephesus, and it is what resulted in those who held to such doctrine as, “concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck.”
Their faith was misguided, having held to the law rather than to Christ, and their consciences were defiled because they were fighting alongside an already defeated foe. With Christ’s completion of the law, salvation and a right walk before God can only be found in Him. Anything else will result in shipwreck. In such a case, there are sad consequences which result. This will be seen in the coming verse.
Life application: How incredibly sad that people get duped into crazy theology. There are those who hold to parts of the Law of Moses as still binding. There are those who add in unbiblical doctrines such as praying to Mary and the saints. There are those who hold to single versions of the Bible as being the only “inspired” and correct translations. On and on it goes. These things are not sound, and they lead to disharmony, dysfunction, and unsound conclusions about what is right and what is wrong. Be wise, be discerning, and test all things. Hold fast to what is good. Don’t suffer shipwreck because of crazy theology.
Lord God, the epistles of the New Testament are given to instruct us in proper church-age doctrine. They argue against bad doctrine, and even heresies, which cropped up even at the earliest times of the church. And yet, how many people feel they can do without reading, studying, and applying these books to their lives. These comprise less reading than most people do on news websites in a couple of days, and yet they never take time to read the most important news of all for happy living. What a crime. Help us to not be so fruitless in our walk before Your presence. Help us to be sound in our theology, right in our doctrine, and well versed in Your word. Amen.