This message was presented November 17, 2013 as part of the 1 Timothy series.
When a lioness is hungry, she’ll scope out the landscape for easy prey. When she sees an antelope herd, what does she do? She does not go for the main herd. She doesn’t look for the strongest antelope. She looks for the one that is straying or lagging behind, especially if it is wounded. Then she slowly sneaks up to get as close as possible, before the antelope senses the danger.
Once she is close enough to pounce or the antelope takes off, the race to the finish is on. The lion fixes her eye on the antelope and takes every short cut to close in for the kill. If she can get the antelope on dry ground, it’s only a matter of time, especially if the antelope is wounded.
Military commanders do the same thing. They’ll avoid the frontal assault whenever possible. Sometimes there is no choice, but most of the time the wise commander will choose a flanking maneuver, drop in soldiers in a rear echelon, or find whatever weakness the enemy has. The enemy is looking for your weakness to attack also.
Our Scripture reading for today is Ephesians 6:10-18, because of Paul’s warning to the church of Ephesus that every Christian is in warfare. Do you know that less than 7% of those living in America have ever served in the military. Less than .5% are serving today. Relatively few have a military background. Yet, we still have the best military in the world, but we are vulnerable; we are spiritually vulnerable. Are you ready to wage war? Paul charged Timothy in 1:3 to not let others teach false doctrine. “Exhort them to stick with truth,” Paul said. But he also said establish an environment of love from a pure heart, good conscience and genuine faith.
Paul transitions from bursting forth declaring Jesus in the great doxology of 1 Timothy 1:15-17 to the charge for waging warfare. How do you wage warfare? You ARE in warfare. You can be passive, or a pacifist if you choose, but you are in spiritual warfare.
1) Rely on Scripture in your warfare 1:18
Why do you need to wage warfare? The Christian life is not the effeminate Tiny Tim tip toeing through the tulips. We read through the Armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18, because life is a beat down, drag out no holds barred warfare.
18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare (1 Tim. 1:18 NKJ)
All of us have a past, present and future, especially as it relates to warfare. The past has prepared you for today. Paul brought up the past “charge” to Timothy from verse three. This charge is a military term of one in authority. Paul spoke to Timothy with authority from heaven to hold fast to sound teaching. This must be with love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.
In Timothy’s present, Paul wanted Timothy to wage good warfare for God’s kingdom. Notice the words he uses. The word “commit” means “to put alongside” you. It is a sacred trust to remind Timothy that he is heaven bound. The Christian life is for those who are dependent on orders from the Commander – Jesus. The battle is not yours, it is the Lord’s. Another great word is teknon or “Son.” It is used of a biological son but Timothy was not Paul’s biological son. Timothy was his student, or disciple under training. Timothy was his replacement. The key understanding is the importance of humility to learn from one in authority. Timothy was willing to learn from Paul, his authority.
Paul also mentions “prophecies,” which were words of prophecy spoken about Timothy before the Bible was complete. Paul knew Timothy was the man for future based on the prophecies. Did Timothy look and act like it? Obviously not according to 1 Timothy 4:12; 5:23. Paul saw his potential, his lifestyle and laid hands on him to minister for Jesus Christ. Paul put the prophecies alongside of him so he wouldn’t forget them. “Press forward Timothy!
Yet the Christian also keeps his eye on the future. The future is where we look, because one day the future of every Christian soldier is in heaven. In the mean time, he needed to “wage warfare.” The Greek strateuomai pms means “to wage warfare as a soldier.” And notice it is “the” warfare. It is spiritual warfare, that the world, the flesh and the devil fight against every Christian. Additionally Paul described it as “good” warfare. The word is kalos which means it is good of intrinsic value. No war is good, is it? No! Warfare is not good, except that warfare which frees people from sin and Satan to worship God in truth. That warfare resolves the angelic conflict. That warfare demonstrates your dependence on the Commander in Chief – the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul has written, “Timothy, you are in warfare.” All discipleship is warfare. Training people has ups and downs. You are not just concerned about yourself. You are dealing with other disciples, who may or may not show up, may or may not call, may or may not be ready and may or may not get the vision. The enemy does NOT want you discipling others! Some Christians will say, because they have not gotten others to follow them, “Discipling is for others, not me.” Satan has those Christians right where he wants them. God’s warfare is the most exciting thing that a Christian can do.
Men and women, our time is short. Satan is ramping up his actions. I can tell by the people struggling in their marriages and families which have become battle grounds. You must know Scripture. You must rely on Scripture in your warfare. When your heart starts palpitating, sit down and say 1 Pet. 5:7 over and over, “Casting all your care on Him for He cares for you.” What is your action and what is His promise? Do you believe it? Then hold onto Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Rely on Scripture!
2) Rely on faith and a good conscience in Jesus Christ 1:19
19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck (1 Tim. 1:19 NKJ)
How do you rely on faith with a good conscience? Here Paul focuses on two things – faith and a good conscience. Paul keeps these together in 1 Timothy 1:5; 3:9.
Paul uses the expression “having faith.” The word means “having and holding” faith. Faith is your relationship with Jesus Christ. Faith is dependency on Jesus Christ. We saw that faith was everything last week in 1 John 5:5. That is the passage that says, “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5) The enemy wants you focused on the here and now, so you become a casualty from worry, anxiety, frustration, anger, resentment, lack of forgiveness or purpose, holding a grudge, etc.. God wants you to focus on Jesus and the hope of the future. That requires faith. Paul directed the Christian to present himself to the Commander, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom. 12:1 NKJ) It really is not a choice for the Christian. It is the expectation of the Commander. It happens by faith and a “good conscience.”
This is very interesting. The phrase “good conscience” has the same English word “good,” but it is different in the Greek. The word good in verse 18 was kalos which meant good of intrinsic value. This is the Greek word agathos, which means a “beneficial good.” There is a benefit to the person and to others from the conscience of a Christian who is filled with Scripture and trusting in the Lord. We’ll not take the time to look at Romans 2:15, but I’d encourage you at home and at home groups to examine it. The conscience is the inward judge that bears witness of our actions. It is the frame of reference. It’s like having a library stack of information stored and ready to use and apply in any warfare situation. It takes the right and wrong of any situation and brings your frame of reference to bear. That is why it is essential to fill your mind and hence conscience with Scripture. Martin Luther said, “Here I stand; I can do no other, so help me God!” We begin with a pure conscience at salvation. If we do not fill it with Scripture, it can become a defiled conscience, which becomes a seared conscience that we will see in 1 Timothy 4:2.
What is next is most interesting and important. Paul wrote that some reject the faith and a good conscience. The word “reject” means “to put or push aside.” The concept is found in many passages.
15 This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. (2 Tim. 1:15 NKJ)
Many were walking and supporting Paul, but now they have pushed Paul aside, because they had itching ears (2 Tim. 4:2-4).
4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (2 Tim. 4:4 NKJ)
What is the result? A Christian who is tossed about in his life,
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. (Jam. 1:6 NKJ)
14 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, (Eph. 4:14 NKJ)
How does this happen? Christians start living like unbelievers as Paul wrote,
17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the1 Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. (Eph. 4:17-19 NKJ)
The passage in Ephesians 4:17-19 describes the Christian in a downward spiral, which can result in the Sin Unto Death. There are three passages that describe the Sin Unto Death status of the Christian.
Paul wrote that the Sin Unto Death is for the destruction of the Christian’s flesh so he can be delivered,
5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Cor. 5:5 NKJ)
James wrote that the Christian in the Sin Unto Death is multiplying sins awaiting death,
19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soulfrom death and cover a multitude of sins. (Jam. 5:19-20 NKJ)
John wrote there is a Sin Unto Death and it should not be handled casually,
16 If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. (1 John 5:16 NKJ, emphasis added)
You cannot win the battle rejecting what God gives you, because rejection leads to shipwreck. You are familiar with the Titanic. That was the ship that a few said, “Not even God could sink.” You know the story when it was on its first voyage. Consider:
- They did not consider the danger
- They did not think it would happen to them.
- They did not take precautions.
- They saw that day as any other.
The same is true for any Christian who rejects God. He does not consider the danger of rejecting God. He does not think anything bad can happen to him, even if he is rejecting God. He does not take precautions to pursue the Lord. And he looks at each day like any other day.
How do you wage good warfare? Rely on Scripture in your warfare. Rely on faith and a good conscience in Jesus Christ.
3) Pray for those who reject Truth 1:20
20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Tim. 1:20 NKJ)
Hymen and Alexander were believers. Alexander may be Alexander the coppersmith from 2 Timothy 4:14, who caused Paul, “much trouble.” Paul delivered them to Satan, just as he delivered the young man committing incest with his step-mother in 1 Cor. 5:1-5. You don’t deliver to Satan those he already has as Paul clearly taught in 2 Corinthians 4:4. They were believers who rejected truth and Paul gave them up to Satan and put them out of the church. Why?
Paul delivered them up so they would learn not to blaspheme. The word “blaspheme” means “to make light of who Jesus is what he can do.” In other words, living as if Jesus is not important or irrelevant. That is when the Christian chooses to avoid studying his Bible. It’s not just a GD this and 4 letter that. It’s any action the believer takes that denies the Lordship of Jesus.
The Christian cannot wage good warfare if he rejects Scripture and dependency on Christ. That Christian is a lone soldier with no training, no supplies and no orders from Headquarters.
Let’s make some application. The closer to the truth you get, the harder it is to see the difference. Satan does a phenomenal job of doing some very wicked things, but he also has people who are so close to the truth, that you cannot tell the difference very easily. He has ministers of righteousness that look like the real thing, but cloud the truth (2 Cor. 11:13-15).
The devil is brilliant and has more experience than anyone. Don’t think you can figure out all of his tactics. He distracts without firing a shot.
Satan’s Ploy story.
The devil and his minions were struggling when the pilgrims fled from England to Holland, and then back to Southhampton before sailing to America. “Those pilgrims who want freedom to worship the Lord will be destroyed in the new lands by the Indians!” But when the pilgrims made friends with the Indians, the devil and his minions said, “We’ll send the redcoats on them through taxes and regulations. We’ll choke them out under government bondage.”
But the pilgrims became a resilient people ready to stand and fight for freedom and worship. It was more important to have liberty than it was to be in bondage. The colonists proved their desire for liberty in the Revolutionary War. When the 56 men gathered over several years to write the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, the devil was caught off guard. How could they think they could be free from Mother England? What will we do now?
The colonists were more concerned about Jesus Christ than ever. The people were spreading west and every state had in their constitution a recognition of God, morality and constitutional authority. The demons offered hundreds of ideas. Let’s get other countries to attack. They caused the British to attack in 1812, but the Americans called out to God and He blessed them. Satan said, “We have to be more subtle.” They plotted and planned. They devised a plan only to be told by the devil, that’s too obvious. No, this is what we will do. First, get them into sports, they will be less concerned about helping others get saved. Get them into entertainment, and they will be less concerned with equipping new Christians on how to walk with Jesus. Get them comfortable, because then they won’t charge into the unknown. They’ll stay home, set up their own castles and close their garage doors before they make contact with neighbors. “Yes, Yes,” the demons shouted. And the devil said, “Get them to want world peace, because they won’t choose God’s peace. They’ll want to be comfortable instead, and enjoy worldly entertainment and be filled with competitive sports, so they can live out their personal desires of victory vicariously.” “Yes, yes,” screamed the demons! And…so…it…happened.
How can you become equipped to wage warfare?
- Get into a home group in order to learn discipleship and to disciple others.
- Lead your family with devotions. This is not an option for the Christian. I know it is difficult for families. Television has something for everyone, but little hope. Spend your time declaring Jesus at home.
- Some people will depart because they will not rely on Scripture. Men and women:
Wage good warfare through His Word by faith!
- Satan is fighting for your heart. Do what Jesus did at every temptation. He said, “It is written.” (Luke 4:5,8,10) He wants your relationships, your marriage, your children and your church.
- You must take the charge and wage good warfare. It is a lifelong warfare. It requires resolving everyday conflict. We all need good Army training.
- The stakes are life and death. Are you on alert? Are you training? Are you asking God to “steel” your mind? This is not a walk in the tulip garden. Christ’s reputation is at stake and He directs His Spirit to strengthen you through any battle.
Let me close with this Soldier poem:
I’m a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.
Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
By faith’s discerning eye.
When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all Thy armies shine
In robes of victory through the skies
The glory shall be Thine.
Message Based Discussion Questions
1) Do you have any relatives who served in the military? Did you ever learn about life from their experiences?
2) How did Paul know that Timothy was going to carry the baton into the next generation (1 Tim. 1:18) ________________ How would they be made regarding Timothy (cf. Acts 13:1-3)? Remember to think of this dispensationally and the answer becomes more simple.
3) Paul commits Timothy to wage the ____________ warfare (1 Tim. 1:18). What does Paul teach about soldiering in 2 Tim. 2:3-4 (cf. Phil. 1:6)? What does that look like?
4) When a person becomes a Christian, does he make good decisions for the rest of his life? _____________ What do the following passages teach that is similar (2 Tim. 1:15; 4:4; Jam 1:6; Eph. 4:17-19; 1 John 5:16; 1 Cor. 5:5; Jam. 5:19-20)?
Making application of the message to life:
5) In what areas of the Christian life do many Christians have trouble waging warfare? How about in discipleship?
6) What would God have you strengthen in your life to wage good warfare or be prepared for spiritual warfare?
7) How would you exhort brothers and sisters around you to be better equipped for warfare and how to avoid shipwreck.