War a Good Warfare 1 Tim. 1:18-20 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
The Christian life is a fight and the ministry is war. Therefore, Paul charged Timothy to war a good warfare. Paul’s charge was that Timothy:
War a good warfare according to the prior prophecies – 1 Tim 1:18 – when Timothy entered the ministry, Paul and the presbytery [other pastors, Acts 20:17] laid hands on him [1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6]. Someone, probably Paul, prophesied to Timothy at this ordination [he “preached a charge”] which manifested a gift of God that was imparted to him. Since Timothy was ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians [2 Timothy postscript], this gift was probably a pastoral gift [Eph 4:11].
This process of laying on hands, imparting a gift and prophesying was seen in Moses day. When Moses knew that he would not be leading Israel into the Promised Land, the Lord told Moses to take Joshua and set him before the congregation. When Moses did this he laid his hands on Joshua, gave him some of his honour and gave him a charge [Num 27:18-23]. When Moses transferred the leadership of Israel to Joshua, he prophesied that Joshua be strong and of good courage to go into the land and inherit it [Deut 31:7-8]. Similar prophecies would have been preached at Timothy’s ordination.
Paul’s charge to Timothy, in 1 Tim 1:18-20, was to war a good warfare. After all, we are soldiers of Jesus Christ [2 Tim 2:3-4]. Following Paul’s example, Timothy would have to keep his body in subjection [1 Cor 9:27] and he would have to fight a good fight [2 Tim 4:7].
War a good warfare by holding faith – 1 Tim 1:19 – our fight is a fight of faith [1 Tim 6:12]. That is, we cannot fight in our own strength; we must be strengthened by the Lord. Paul said, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might [Eph 6:10-18]. Our armor includes the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. In Ps 71:16, David said, “I will go in the strength of the Lord God.” In 2 Tim 4:7, Paul said, “I have kept the faith.” In this age of apostasy, we must hold the faith.
War a good warfare with a good conscience – 1 Tim 1:9 – Paul’s testimony was that he lived in all good conscience [Acts 23:1], always had a conscience void of offence [Acts 24:16] and served God with a pure conscience [2 Tim 1:3]. Like Paul said in 2 Tim 2:5, “if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” Our fight, therefore, is not a fight of our own choosing. We obey our commander and fight his battles, his way [ Sam 15].
War a good warfare without a shipwreck – 1 Tim 1:19-20 – Hymenaeus [2 Tim 2:17-18] and Alexander [2 Tim 4:14] shipwrecked the faith by putting away a good conscience and erring from the truth. They got off course and crashed. Paul was determined to finish his course with joy [Acts 20:24] and so he did. He said, “I have finished my course,” [2 Tim 4:7]. He charged Timothy to stay on course.
Paul delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander unto Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. This is the same thing that he did to the fornicator in 1 Cor 5:5. The purpose was to teach them through Satan’s brutal dealings and to destroy them if they didn’t learn. As you can see, teaching false doctrine is blasphemy [1 Tim 1:20].
Conclusion: So, Paul charged Timothy to fight. Likewise, we are to fight the same way today. We are in a fight. I am reminded of the lyrics of an old song about our fight:
“Now the boys wouldn’t bow, and the king got mad, he said, ‘Turn the furnace up high, tie them up let’s throw them in, the Hebrew boys are gonna fry.’ Then a little while later, he looked in the flame, and he heard ole Shadrach say, ‘Pull up a chair boys and warm your hands, ‘cause we came here to stay.’ Run if you want to, run if you will, but I came here to stay. When I fall down, I’m gonna get right up, because I didn’t start out to play. It’s a battlefield, Brother, not a recreation room, it’s a fight and not a game, run if you want to, run if you will, but I came here to stay.”