Open your Bible to 1 Timothy 1:18, we are going to read to verse 20.
So here we have Paul finishing up his charge to Timothy. His charge is to protect the church from false teachers. Encouraging people to stay close to the gospel, to stay away from false uses of the law and other things that take our focus and our faith from Jesus. He is exhorting Timothy and us to maintain our hold on sound doctrine that accords with scripture. There are really two distinct parts to these three verses, the first part Paul speaks very fondly and affectionately to Timothy, at one point calling him “My child”. This tells us that he is not speaking to him as a task master, or grumpy manager. He is speaking to him with the type of affection that a father would have towards a son. He reminds him of some of the particulars of his calling. The second part of the section here is a warning. He reminds Timothy of a couple false teachers who have been removed from fellowship in the body because they rejected the thing that Paul was exhorting Timothy to do. They wandered from the gospel, and became false teachers. Now many commentators believe that these men may have been elders in the church in Ephesus, and are now on the outside. They have been put out of fellowship in the church with the hope that they might repent and return to sound doctrine.
Now, what we are going to focus on today. Is the nature of Timothy’s calling. Who it is from, and what it is to.
Timothy’s calling is from the Lord:
a. There were prophesies made about Timothy that Paul is reminding him of. Timothy’s confidence lies in what God has said about him, and nothing else. There are many times in our lives when we are tempted to doubt God’s hand in a situation. It may be a hardship, or opposition, but when we are reminded of what God has already said over us, we can be encouraged to keep pressing on. Romans 8:26-32. Are you facing adversity right now? are you wondering where God’s love is in the midst of a trial, remember that if you are in Christ, He foreknew you, which means He fore loved you. God, in His infinite wisdom and power, set His affection on you.
Timothy’s calling is to warfare: Thorough scripture the life of a believer is compared to a war. 2 Corinthians 10:4, Ephesians 6 and later in both 1 and 2 Timothy, we will see our Christian life compared to warfare, or struggle. Lets be honest, most of us do not live in a wartime mentality. Myself included. When people are in a war, their entire lives are shaped by that war. Don’t think of present wars, where they have been fought on other nation’s soil. Picture German occupied France, or Poland, or even the pictures of other European cities during WW2. People were rationing, and working hard for the war effort, often doing things they would not otherwise do to support the war effort. Here, the idea that Paul is reminding Timothy and us of is that when you are engaged in warfare, you must be vigilant, and prepared. The weapons of this warfare are noted in v. 19, he is to hold Faith and good conscience. This is referencing again to the gospel. We maintain faith in Christ’s Finished work, which is what cleanses our conscience from sin. Now the catch is this, Paul’s charge to Timothy is not war against outside forces, and faceless troops. it is warfare that includes false teachers, those within the body. a. Warfare is personal: This is a compelling thing for me to read. Imagine being Hymenaus and Alexander. These were people that Paul was speaking out against. He wrote down their names, called them out for all of Ephesus to read, and hear, and for all of Christianity from that moment to read. Now, the thing that gets me is that it is very likely that many of the hearers of this original letter would have known exactly who they were. More than that, they probably would have known them personally. Now, the thing that I see very easy to do is to speak about people in an abstract way. I find it very easy to talk about groups of people, or false teachers in a blanket way. I have seen throughout my time in ministry that when you talk about a particular sin, or issue, the easiest way to interact with it is to talk about “those people” who do it. Those politicians, those racists, those people over there. I have found in my own heart that the reason it is easy, and even more comfortable to think of things in those terms is that it protects me from the realization that they are people, and I might have to interact with them face to face. It is protective because it places a buffer zone between us and them. When in reality, the charge that Paul gives Timothy is to wage warfare not with those on the outside, but to wage it on the inside. Contending for the faith against false teaching that may come from within the body. Furthermore, the reality is that those names could be yours or mine. Think about soldiers in battle, when they are going into the field of battle, there is a real understanding that today could be their day. No one is excluded from going astray and making a shipwreck of their faith. b. Warfare is corporate: Now, in this wartime mentality, while there is a personal nature to it, there is also a corporate reality to the war that we are in. Here we see the church’s authority put into practice with two false teachers. Hymenaus and Alexander were put outside of the fellowship of the body. Their drifting from the faith were taken so seriously that Paul calls it being handed over to Satan so that they would learn not to blaspheme. This is where we see that the church has a responsibility to study, and to test teaching against the Word to see if what someone is saying lines up with sound doctrine. We are together on the front lines.
One final reminder, as we engage in this warfare, remember that there are three main enemies that we face: the world, our flesh, and satan. We must be diligent to fight against all three of these forces.
So, what do we do to protect ourselves in this battle?
Watch your heart.
Cultivate a wartime mentality: hold fast to the Gospel, to faith and good conscience.
remember who called you.