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.
1 Timothy 1:18-20
Paul’s exhortation to Timothy is simple: “fight for the gospel”. Firstly Paul reminds Timothy that this charge to defend the church from false doctrine had been confirmed by the words of others about Timothy, given by the Holy Spirit. This would aid Timothy in continuing on in his task, waging “the good warfare”. To do this, Paul says, he must hold faith and a good conscience.
To wage the good warfare we need to “hold faith”. This is more than simply “having faith”. It is the constant mindfulness that as we seek to fight for the truth of the gospel we must do so believing that God’s promises are true, and then preach these promises to ourselves. Why? because Revelation 12:10 says that Satan is our accuser and when we try and fight for the truth of the gospel we can expect to come under counter attack. This, of course, can be tremendously discouraging and why Paul exhorts us to:
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one
Perhaps those accusations are a mind filled with regret, or hearts heavy with sorrow. Maybe you’re hearing “you’re not loved, you’re not forgiven, you’ll never change, you’re a fraud”. That’s the enemy’s counter attack. Don’t let the fight, don’t let the war get to you. Cling to the reality that you have a Good Father who gave everything for you. Paul cries:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
Hold faith in His character. Hold faith in His promises. Preach these things to yourself daily.
To wage the good warfare we not only need to “hold faith”, but we need a “good conscience”. This simply means that we do not have any secret or hidden sin that can be used by Satan to launch a counter attack. This seems as though this was the problem with two people who are mentioned by Paul as men not to imitate. “Don’t be like Hymenaeus and Alexander who neither held faith or had a good conscience”. Their failure to appropriately handle and apply the Word of God result in them shipwrecking their own faith. They wouldn’t listen to Godly counsel. They weren’t able to apply God’s Word to themselves and in their lives, as they are listening to ungodly counsel, amounted to blasphemy against God. Paul is therefore exhorting Timothy: “don’t copy these men, instead, ensure your sins are confessed before God, all disputes and misunderstandings with others have been cleared up and trust the truth of the Bible to your life”.