I remember watching a documentary about the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. It focused on a small company of American soldiers who were situated on an outpost on the top of a mountain. It was 2015, and therefore the war was in its 14th year.
The soldiers were under daily attack from Taliban snipers and rockets, but could never see where it was all coming from. They were regularly losing their buddies in these attacks but were making no progress. They were sitting ducks and were totally demoralized by it all. Although they fired back at times, it was half-hearted as they had no hope of accomplishing anything.
It’s easy for us to get into the same defeatist mindset as Christians, especially when we’re in a long war. How do we maintain a fighting spirit?
Let’s see how Paul encouraged Timid Timothy, in 1 Timothy 1:18-20, to maintain a fighting spirit when he was losing heart for the battle.
WE HAVE A GOOD COMMISSION
“This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you.”
This charge: This is the command, the duty, Paul laid upon Timothy in verse 3, which was to confront the false teachers.
The prophecies: Paul reminded Timothy of his wider call to the ministry which he received by direct prophecy.
The call of God and the confirmation of that call by God’s people is a powerful motivator and encourager in difficult times.
If we forget our call to fight, we’ll forget to fight when we’re called.
So what’s the cause?
WE HAVE A GOOD CAUSE
“…that by them you may wage the good warfare.”
“Timid Timothy, this is worth fighting for, worth suffering for. You cannot remain neutral. You’ve got to get into this fight and go all in. War is war, it’s all or nothing, do or die, life or death. The eternal destiny of souls and the glory of God rests on the outcome.”
Fight with all your worth because this is a cause worth fighting for.
What weapons do I have?
WE HAVE GOOD WEAPONS
“…holding faith and a good conscience. “By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith.”
Hold faith: Keep clinging to the truth of the Gospel and keep believing in the Gospel especially in the midst of war.
Hold a good conscience: Conscience is like the rudder on a boat. But some have discarded the rudder in the storm. Their hulls hit the rocks and now their lives and cargo are strewn across the water.
A good Christian must be a good soldier and a good sailor. A good sailor has a good rudder, a good conscience that is informed by God’s Word, sensitive and responsive to the Spirit’s promptings.
Ignoring your conscience in the storm is throwing your rudder overboard.
What’s the purpose?
WE HAVE A GOOD AIM
“…among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”
I delivered to Satan
This is one of the most solemn and serious lines in the whole Bible. “Delivered” involves the idea of the removal of protection and the exposure to great hazard and danger. No protection or shelter from Satan.
This is the final step of church discipline of a church member. It’s excommunication, disassociated from God’s people and their privileges and protections. It must be made clear that they are no longer part of the family.
To be turned over to Satan then is to take that believer or that unbeliever who is in the family of the redeemed, at least outwardly, and push them out into the full fury of Satan’s world (Macarthur).
That they may learn not to blaspheme.
Here is the good aim at the end of this awesome process. The end is not damnation but reclamation. It’s chastisement with a view to correction. Paul wanted his discipline to have a saving effect. He wanted to rescue the ship-wrecked.
The aim of church discipline is to rescue the shipwrecked, not to sink their ships.
LIVING THE BIBLE
We will lose heart for the battle if we forget our orders, if we forget what we’re fighting for, if we forget our weapons, or if we forget the ultimate purpose of it all.
We have a good commission, a good cause, good weapons, and a good aim.
Remember God’s good call, and use good weapons to wage a good war with a good aim