Devotion @ 5 June 2021
1 Timothy 1:12-20
Holding onto faith and a good conscience
Once saved, always saved? Or can we lose our salvation? Do we need to work at our faith? Today’s reading touches on these issues.
Paul begins by giving thanks and marvelling at the grace and mercy and faith and love of Christ Jesus. Paul praises Christ’s “Immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” (see verse 6).
He instructs Timothy in verse 18 to “Fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience”
These appear to be crucial, for in verses 19-20 two named individuals Hymanaeus and Alexander who “Have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.” These two did not hold onto faith and a good conscience.
Questions about salvation have generated theological controversy for centuries.
Note Paul instructs Timothy in verse 18 to “fight the battle well”
That is, the process of keeping our faith strong requires our intentional effort. We should not take our faith for granted. Our broken, marred natures unfortunately do lead us astray. We need to intentionally draw near to God in prayer to correct this flawed tendency. The love and grace of God is huge, as Paul indicates in verse 14, but we still have freewill and a sinful nature. The biggest issue is not whether we can lose our salvation, but rather the biggest issue is we have a need to hold onto faith and a good conscience to have the best relationship we can with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Paul declares in verse 17:
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Paul clearly is amazed by Jesus, His patience and grace. He has a heart of gratitude for his salvation. He is so enthusiastic and thankful. He does not take his salvation for granted and loves to spend time with his King. This is an example for us to follow,
just as Paul encourages Timothy to follow him I can’t pretend to completely understand what Paul means in verse 20 when he discusses the discipline of Alexander and Hymenaeus.
“Whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.”
It appears that their hearts were so bad that they required some severe mysterious punishment, so they would not self-sabotage their faith and lose their salvation. This is extremely serious. We need to be careful not to damage our discipleship under Christ so badly! A broken sinful nature and the capacity to make really bad life choices are dangers we need to be aware of and fight against in our own lives.
We should remember this when we like Peter (as recorded in John 21:21) want to look around and say:
“What about him, Lord?”
We should heed Jesus reply which makes clear our responsibility to guard our own
hearts and follow Christ. See John 21:22. Peter said “what about him?” Jesus replied
“what about you?” It may be difficult to discern what went on in Alexander and Hymenaeus’s lives a long time ago, but we have a responsibility to “fight the good fight” as Paul declares in 2 Timothy chapter 3. We need to make our calling and election sure. We should take time and effort to read the Bible, pray and draw near to God.
Father God, may we love You and cherish our time with You. May the fear of God fill our hearts and guide us to remain in Your righteousness and Peace. May you help us avoid idols and evil in our lives and fight the good fight in our faith to stay strong in You to the end. In Jesus Name. Amen.