1 Timothy 1:18-20 True men and women of God are moved by divine directives
1 Timothy 1:18-20
This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, 19 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 20 Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.
Paul charges Timothy to uphold the culture of faith and good conscience in the church. He reminds Timothy of his divine ordination as a shepherd and not to succumb to the devices of those who have left the faith. In today’s devotion, we understand the distinctive of a divine call (as opposed to personal ambition) and is focused on building a community of faith and good conscience. True men and women of God are led by divine directives to uphold faith and good conscience in all their endeavours.
This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies…
The ordination of Timothy into service (as in the case of Paul) is given by prophecies, with each prophecy validating and reinforcing another. Prophecy is a divine directive spoken through a prophet. As a result of these prophecies, Timothy can be assured of God’s faithful providence and empowerment for his role as superintendent of the churches. The prophecies ordain Timothy as a soldier engaging in battles over the souls of man and in keeping the values system of the church. Therefore, by divine appointment, Timothy has to fight a good warfare and fulfill his commission. What is Timothy up against in his fight? As evident in the later portion of his letter,
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
Satan, the enemy of the church is set on enticing churchgoers to fall away from the faith. The falling away specifically refers to those who do not live according to the truth, who having an appearance of godliness play church in a cloak of hypocrisy. Put in a nutshell, Satan’s goal is not to take people away from the church, but to turn their hearts away from the truth.
Keeping faith and a good conscience…
In order to fight a good and an effective warfare, Timothy must keep the virtues of faith and a good conscience. Paul lays down the strategy of keeping faith, which is to persevere in teaching the truth without compromise, and to discharge his duties as superintendent in spite of oppositions and challenges. Keeping faith or perseverance is necessary in order to build an enduring foundation consisting of leaders who are steadfast in the truth and mature in stature. Good conscience pertains to the ability to discern truth from falsehood and to make wise decisions, to give good counsel, being exemplary in their manner of life. In fact, it is from a life of good conscience that believers develop stature and respect amongst the people.
Paul warns Timothy of people like Hymenaeus and Alexander who have left the faith and as a result, suffered great losses (shipwrecked). For such, Paul disciplines them by withdrawing his covering over them as spiritual guardian giving Satan free access to do to them as he pleases.
A true man of God is led by divine directives.
A divine call and ordination begin and end with God; it is all about God’s vision, God’s plans and God’s timing. One who is ordained by God operates by divine revelation, hence, he is not preoccupied with his own mental conception of what his ministry may eventually become. He works not out of his own capacity, for God charts his course one day at a time. Hence, as his path is established by God, he does not waver once the plans are set in motion. Like Timothy, a divine ordination may begin with one prophecy, and in being substantiated by other prophecies, it develops into a holy calling and commission.
The reverse is true for one with personal ambition. He begins by idolising certain ministers while deriving a romantic extension of himself. He is often preoccupied with a self-conceived vision of the future, constantly musing about what God’s kingdom may entail with him involved. As personal ambition begins with the person, so is his strength and his days. Hence, he is given to wavering between opinions and is constantly perturbed by external circumstances. The psalmist wrote concerning the path of a man ordained by God,
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24
Although he falls prey to his own immaturity and personal ambitions, he will not be crushed. Because God holds his hand and his steps are accompanied by the favour of God.
The church is often a mixed bag comprising self-proclaimed ministers and ordained ones, hired hands and good shepherds. Hence, believers must discern for themselves what they hear and who they consider as men and women of God. Jesus lays down the distinctive of a good shepherd, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.” John 10:11-12.
By taking heed to the characteristics and distinctive of a good shepherd, we can discern correctly. A prophet ordained by God is solely concerned about the readiness of the people to receive God’s kingdom. A self-proclaimed prophet, on the other hand is given to pompous prophecies and being excessively concerned about his own standing. A teacher ordained by God is focused on impacting lives through the teaching of the truth. While a self-appointed teacher seeks to capture the attention of the hearers sacrificing clarity and truth for personal glory. A divinely ordained pastor gives his life for the wellbeing of the flock. An ambitious pastor uses the flock to increase his own profile. Such ministers often leave behind a trail of broken lives because they could not constrain their destructive tendencies.
A culture of faith and good conscience reflects the true church of God.
Paul charges Timothy to be true to his calling and not to relent in the fight to uphold the culture of faith and a good conscience in the church. Without faith and good conscience, the church becomes an empty shell devoid of the essence and character of Christ. What truly makes a church of God is not the numbers or the correctness of her doctrine, nor the efficiency in which she draws the crowds, but her culture and the values she stands for.
Many churches today immerse themselves in extracting the benefits of the gospel and using it as a tool to mesmerise the crowds. Their purpose is primarily to help people prosper in the world as opposed to growing in the likeness of Christ. Hence, their congregations are continually bombarded with messages pertaining to the promises of the gospel but having no ability to obtain them. They are taught to claim all things in Jesus’ name, but having no knowledge as to how they can discern God’s will and obey Him. Apart from knowing Jesus as Saviour of the world, the giver of good things, they have no impression of how Jesus lives his life and the values He stands for.
If Jesus is to return to His church today, will He find Himself coming home to the Bride He has always known and desired? Or is He coming home to a materialistic and self-absorbed woman waiting for the next hand out?
Is your mind constantly musing about the future while lacking in clarity and confidence? First, believe that you are created with a divine call and purpose. The psalmist wrote,
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalms 139:14-16
You are designed and woven together by the hands of God: Your workmanship is marvellous. Your external appearance and personality makeup is conscientiously and fearfully formed. And God has already conceived a plan and purpose for your life: Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. And He will reveal His plans and call you into service when you are ready.
Therefore, your goal is to seek God’s face through which you begin to understand how He sees the world. You cannot receive God’s plans and work with Him without first knowing His mind and His ways. By disciplining yourself to read His word, your mind begins to take on Christ’s mindset and wisdom. Before God makes the ministry, He makes the minister. Pay special attention to the gospels, through which you can know and emulate Christ in His wisdom, His love and His power. Our heartbeat and calling is always to emulate Christ in all that He says and does.
Dear Lord, I desire to walk in the calling that you have ordained me for. Prepare me and mould me into a vessel fit for your use. Help me in my present capacity to serve in faith and good conscience. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.