WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
JULY 21ST, 2021
TOPIC: FAITH AND A GOOD CONSCIENCE
BY T. O. BANSO
“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, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck” (1 Timothy 1:18-19 New King James Version).
The Bible deals with so many topics and people that, without the help of the Holy Spirit, it’s easy to gloss over some things. Sometimes, you can read a verse and it looks as if you have never read it before. The Holy Spirit causes such scripture to come alive. The impact could be such that it demands specific actions.
Faith is a dominant topic in the Bible. It runs through the Bible. Sometimes it is mentioned along with other things that Christians must possess. In 1 Timothy 1:18-19, it is mentioned along with a good conscience. Between the two, Christians talk more about faith than a good conscience. Nevertheless, it must be very important for the Bible to have mentioned it. Therefore, we need to pay attention to it.
Writing to Timothy, Paul said, “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, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck” (1 Timothy 1:18-19 New King James Version). Take note of the phrase “having faith and a good conscience.”
Paul told Timothy how important it was for him to have faith and a good conscience in waging the good warfare. In other words, faith was not enough in waging the good warfare or fight well in the Lord’s battle. A good conscience or a clear conscience was also a necessary weapon.
2 Peter 1:5-9 says, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins” (New King James Version).
This passage gives a list of what must be added to faith and must abound for the Christian not to be unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. A good conscience is not on this list. However, in 1 Timothy 1:18-19, it is mentioned as a companion of faith in waging the good warfare.
A shipwrecked faith is a ruined faith. The people spoken about here did not cling tightly to their faith and so made a “thorough mess of their faith” (The Message). Hebrews 11:6 says without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Verses 1-2 say faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, for by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
But what caused the faith of the people whom 1 Timothy 1:18-19 talks about to suffer shipwreck was not lack of faith alone. They thrust away faith and a good conscience. They didn’t keep a clear conscience. “They have willfully cast away a good conscience, and, as a natural consequence, concerning faith have made shipwreck; for he who allows his conscience to be defiled by sinful practices is prepared to reject the faith of the gospel, which opposes itself to every form of ungodliness” (Family Bible Notes).
2 Corinthians 10:4 says the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds. Paul focuses on two weapons needed to wage the good warfare: faith and a good conscience. You need both. Hold fast to faith and a good conscience. “Whoever does not keep a good conscience, loses also by little and little, the gift of understanding” (1599 Geneva Bible Notes)
1 Timothy 1:20 gives two examples of those who thrust away faith and a good conscience: Hymenaeus and Alexander who, obviously, had professed Christ before. “Hymenaeus and Alexander are two examples of this. I turned them over to Satan so they would learn not to blaspheme God” (1 Timothy 1:20 New Living Translation). From what Paul said, their sin was blasphemy. Because of this, Paul turned them over to Satan so that they would learn not to blaspheme God.
The only place Hymenaeus is mentioned again in the Bible is in 2 Timothy 2:17-18, and he’s mentioned alongside Philetus. The Bible says both of them were teaching heresy, saying that the resurrection was already past thereby overthrowing the faith of some.
There’s one Alexander mentioned in Acts 19:33 but some Bible scholars suggest that the Alexander whom Paul handed over to Satan in 1 Timothy 1:20 alongside Hymenaeus is the same Alexander the coppersmith whom he said did him much evil and he declared that the Lord should repay him according to his works (2 Timothy 4:14).
But other Bible scholars differ that the reference was to a different Alexander. Whatever be the case, the Bible says Paul handed them over to Satan. Hymenaeus and Alexander who suffered the shipwreck of their faith also engaged in blasphemy.
The phrase, “turned them over to Satan”, is similar to the phrase, “deliver such a one to Satan”, in 1 Corinthians 5:5 where Paul asked the church to deliver the man having sexual immorality with his father’s wife to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
The two phrases, “turned them over to Satan” and “deliver such a one to Satan”, mean the same thing. Paul said he had excommunicated Hymenaeus and Alexander from fellowship. This was to make them repent of their sin and be restored to Christ.
Excommunicating a Christian excludes him or her from the protection of the church and all the blessings God releases to the church and exposes him or her to the assault and activities of the devil. But the essence of ex-communication is to make those so punished learn their lessons, repent, and be restored.
It means to excommunicate from fellowship so as to punish his flesh and save his soul. Concerning the man in 1 Corinthians 5, the church obeyed Paul and excommunicated him. But after some time, Paul wrote again to the church to forgive this sinful Christian, and receive him back. (2 Corinthians 2:5-11). The ex-communication wasn’t supposed to be permanent; otherwise, it would have been a victory for the devil.
As we have seen in 1 Timothy 1:19 and 2 Timothy 2:17-18, Hymenaeus and Alexander suffered a shipwreck of faith and became heretical teachers, blaspheming God. It does seem that they started well but along the line, they derailed. Every Christian must cling tightly to his faith in Christ and a good conscience to be able to continue to wage the good warfare.
Paul said in Acts 23:1 that he had lived in all good conscience before God until the time he stood before the Jewish Council. In 1 Timothy 1:5, he also talked about love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.
Also, the apostle Peter says Christians should have a good conscience so that if people speak evil against them, they will be ashamed when they see the good life they live because they belong to Christ (1 Peter 3:16). Verse 21 also talks about a good conscience toward God. Furthermore, the writer of the book of Hebrews says, “Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honourably” (Hebrews 13:18 New King James Version.
Paul told Timothy to use, in faith and with a clear conscience, the prophecies previously made concerning him to fight the good warfare. Faith and a good conscience are crucial in waging the good warfare or fighting the good fight. They are necessary weapons to fight well in the Lord’s battles or fight like a good soldier. Hold fast to faith and a good conscience as you fight the good warfare. Don’t let your faith suffer a shipwreck.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, help me to wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience. Help me to cling tightly to my faith in Christ, and always keep my conscience clear as I wage the good warfare. I shall not reject faith and a good conscience; I shall not make a shipwreck of my faith in Jesus’ name.
(For over 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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