There was a man who was involved in political warfare.
He asked these two questions: "How can you stand your ground
when you are weak and sensitive to pain, when people you
love are still alive, when you are unprepared? What do
you need to make you stronger than your interrogator, yes,
and even stronger than the whole trap [designed to make you
give in]? He asked those questions as he was being
carried to prison where he was to be punished by an
oppressive government for his political crimes against the
State. And here was he bone-chilling reply to his own
questions: "From the moment you go to prison, you must put
your cozy past firmly behind you. At the very
threshold, you must say to yourself: 'My life is over, a
little early to be sure, but there's nothing to be done
about it. I shall never return to freedom. I am
condemned to die—now or a little later. But later on,
in truth, it will be harder, and so the sooner the better.
I no longer have any property whatsoever. For me,
those I love have died, and for them, I have died.
From today on, my body is useless and alien to me.
Only my spirit and my conscience remain precious and
important to me.' To the man with this mentality, the
interrogator will tremble. Only the man who has
renounced everything can win the victory over the trap."
The man who spoke those words was the Russian Nobel
prize-winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who had
survived such a prison. What a mentality it took to
wage his political warfare with the Soviet State! The
Christian's enemy is Satan. Didn't Jesus say something
about renouncing everything to be His disciple? What
mentality and actions must we have to wage our spiritual
warfare? The answer to that question is seen in our
text this morning. It's a short text, but it is
packed-tightly with much good advice. Remember that
Timothy was working in a chaotic situation at the church in
Ephesus that Satan and his demons were behind (1 Tim. 4:1).
Several ways are given here as to how we might wage our
spiritual warfare. Let's read the entire text, and
then we'll consider it little by little. "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, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I
delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme."
The first way to wage our spiritual warfare is to be a
responsible Christian. Paul tells Timothy: "This
charge”. The word "charge" is the same word found in
verses 3 and 5. The word "charge" is a military term
and is close to the idea of “order”; there is an urgent
obligation which needs to be carried out. Now in verse
3 Timothy was charged or ordered to tell some members not to
preach another doctrine that the heretics were promoting and
not to give heed to their arguments based on the Old
Testament. Paul is urging Timothy to be responsible in
carrying out this charge concerning other members.
That's a good action for us too. Be responsible as a
Christian! As soldiers in the Lord's army, we should
take our spiritual warfare very seriously. Paul tells
Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:4: "No one engaged in warfare
entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may
please him who enlisted him as a soldier." As good soldiers,
we must constantly keep our focus on the battle and not let
ourselves become entangled in worldly and fleshly matters.
We should also do our Christian duties with a great sense of
responsibility. How seriously are you about your
discipleship? Are you reading the Spirit's Training
Manual daily? Are you praying for God to help you
overcome temptations and to take advantages of all the
opportunities that He gives you to advance His kingdom? Are
you keeping God's kingdom and His righteousness your
priority? Are you standing up and confessing Jesus daily?
Are you helping fellow soldiers in their battles? Are
you trying to help some members who have gone AWOL?
Our Great Commander-in-chief knows if we taking our
Christian orders and duties seriously or not. Be a
The next way to wage a good spiritual warfare is to live up
to your service. "I commit to you, son Timothy."
Look now at 2 Timothy 2:2: "And the things that you have
heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful
men who will be able to teach others also." Entrust my
teachings to those faithful men who can teach others.
The word "commit" or "entrust" is the same word found in
verse 18 of our text: "This charge [or order] I commit [or
entrust] to you, Timothy, my son in the faith!"
Timothy was serving as the evangelist in Ephesus in Paul's
absence. He was to live up to this role by warning
members not to be led astray by the heretics! Live up to
your service! "But I'm just an ordinary member!"
somebody objects. That doesn't matter. Listen,
every soldier in the army is expected to give what he or she
can to help all the other soldiers, whether their rank is a
general or a private! Each private in the Lord's army
is important too. Now notice what Paul admonishes in
Romans 12:6-8: "Having then gifts differing according to the
grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let
us prophecy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us
use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he
who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality;
he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with
cheerfulness." These gifts can belong to privates as
well as to generals. They are all to be used by the
individual member to help all of the church! If you
are not sure about what is your talent and your service is,
then pray to God to help you to discover it. You can
also ask other members what they see as your talent and your
service. You can experiment in several areas of
service to discover which one you really excel in or really
like to do the best. Timothy was to live up to the
role of an evangelist. Wherever you find yourself in
the Lord's army, live up to your service! Use your
talent or skill to be a blessing to others! Don't be just a
pew-warmer. Get involved in others' lives, especially
those of church members! Be active in advancing God's
kingdom! "There are diversities of gifts, but the same
Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the
same Lord. And there are diversities of activities,
but it is the same God who works all in all. But the
manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the
profit of all" (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). Fellow soldier, live
up to your service!
Another way you can wage our spiritual warfare is to let
past victories and saints motivate you! Notice was
Paul says: "according to the prophecies previously made
concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare."
In Acts 13:1-3, we see how the Holy Spirit appoints Paul and
Barnabas to go on the first missionary journey. Hands
were laid on them to show the seriousness of their task, and
they were sent away. Something similar must have
happened to Timothy. Note what Paul says over in 1
Timothy 4:14: "Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which
was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands
of the eldership." It looks like Timothy had been
appointed to be an evangelist, and some elders laid their
hands on him to show the seriousness of this task. You see,
Paul wants Timothy to look back for a moment so that he can
remember how he was blessed and appointed. Now the
text states "that by them [by the prophecies made in the
past] you may wage a good ware." Braced or
strengthened by the remarks and actions made in the past
about him, Timothy can take courage and get back to his
spiritual battle as a good evangelist! There is a good
principle here for us: sometimes we need to draw strength
and motivation by looking back. We can remember our
past spiritual victories and we can also think of those
faithful saints who made a significant impact on our
Christian lives! Let past victories and saints
motivate you! Sister Naomi Scott, Sister Granny
Kemplin, Brother Winfred Carter, Brother Ken Davis, Brother
Charles Moore, Brother Joe Combs, Brother Don Shackelford;
now those names may mean nothing to you, but they are some
of my spiritual heroes! And you could certainly
provide a similar listing of those who have been your
spiritual heroes. Thinking about them spurs you on to
be a better solider! Past spiritual victories often
help us to take courage because we know that Christ was with
us then, and He will be with us now, no matter what
spiritual battle we might face. Let past victories and
saints motivate you!
Another way we can wage our spiritual warfare is to keep
fighting the Christian battle! Paul did not want
Timothy to quit and give up in the chaotic situation in
which he found himself. Yes, heretics had and were
wrecking havoc in the congregation at Ephesus, just as Paul
had predicted they would (Acts 20:29-31). It was
indeed a difficult situation, but Paul never tells Timothy
to retreat. No, indeed, he is fulfill his role as and
evangelistic and strive to keep as many faithful members as
possible dedicated to "the faith" and to the healthy
teaching of the true gospel! Jesus challenged us with
these words in Luke 9:62: "No one having put his hand to
plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." You
see, we must keep on plowing, we can't seek the world, the
flesh, and the bigger barns (all those things we left when
we became Christians) because when we start seeking those
things, we often abandon our plowing! We must keep our hands
on the plow, keep our eyes looking ahead, and keep our minds
on working our field until the very end. Listen to
these passages and see if you can find the common theme. "If
you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15).
"Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
peace" (Ephesians 4:3). "Keep yourself pure" (1 Timothy
5:22). "To keep oneself unspotted from the world"
(James 1:27). "Keep yourselves from idols" (1 John
5:21). "Keep yourselves in the love of God" (Jude 21).
You see, “Keep on keeping on!” may sound cliché’, but it is
really scriptural. We must keep fighting the Christian
battle so that we too can say with the apostle Paul: "I have
fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept
the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Our spiritual warfare is
very real, and we must continue to battle all our lives.
Don't give in and don't give up! Keep fighting your
The next way to wage our spiritual warfare is to be armed
with faith and a good conscience. Paul encourages
Timothy: "having faith and a good conscience". This
armor has already been mentioned by Paul earlier in the
chapter. Remember how he said in verse 5 that the goal
or purpose of his charge to Timothy was to produce love
among the members that came from a pure heart, a good
conscience, and a sincere faith. The heretics had lost
their faith in Jesus to save them. They were preaching
the lie that people could save themselves by through the
denial of food and of marriage (4:1-5). Jesus told the
Jews in John 8:23-24: "You are from beneath; I am from
above. You are of this world, I am not of this world.
Therefore, I said to you that you will die in your sins; for
if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your
sins." Jesus was saying in essence: "You must believe that I
am from God, I am about God, and I am God!" Remember
how God had told Moses that He was the great "I am"!
Jesus was the "I am" made flesh; the Word that was God
became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1 & 14). If we
do not put our trust in Jesus and obey His gospel, then what
is the consequence: "You shall die in your sins!" It
is the shield of faith that help us to avoid Satan's fiery
arrows (Ephesians 6:16)! Jesus' blood has cleansed our evil
conscience (Hebrews 9:14; 10:22). Therefore, we strive to
keep them pure (1 Timothy 3:16). If our consciences
become defiled, Titus 1:15 states that we can soon lose our
bearings: "To the pure all things are pure, but to those who
are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but even their
mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God,
but in works, they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient,
and disqualified for every good work." Be armed with
faith in Christ and a good conscience!
Another way to wage our spiritual warfare is this: "Don't
reject "the faith" or healthy teaching! Paul wrote:
"which some having rejected, concerning the faith have
suffered shipwreck". The heretics had rejected faith
and a good conscience. In fact, the next part of the
verse also shows that they have allowed "the faith" to
become destroyed. "The faith" refers to all the
healthy teaching that Jesus wants us to put into practice.
"Teaching them to observe [or put into practice] all things
that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20). All that
Jesus commanded is now found in the New Testament. One
commentator noted that the verb “reject” shows "shows a
positive spurning of conscience, and not a mere
carelessness" (Kelly). This means that the heretics
had violated their consciences over and over again.
Jude admonishes us to "contend earnestly for the faith which
was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
Fight earnestly to defend all that Jesus taught, which has
been preached to the brethren. Don't let false
teachers turn you away from the truth with their diseased
and cancerous teachings! Remember the healthy
teachings and hold fast to them! Don't reject the
faith or healthy teaching!
The next way to wage our spiritual warfare is this: Avoid
shipwreck and heretics! The text again says: "which
some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered
shipwreck". We see with this metaphor that Paul not only
wants us to be good soldiers but good sailors as well (Gutherie)!
Shipwrecking the faith means a person has become so enamored
with falsehood that they have caused their true faith to be
destroyed. Doesn't what Paul is saying here put the
final nail in coffin of the false teaching "once saved,
always saved"? You see, when a Christian, even one who
may be an elder, begins to reject sincere faith in Jesus, a
good conscience, and all that the Jesus teaches over and
over and over again, his ship gets so far out of the harbor
of safety that it eventually crashes on the rocks of
rebellion! One commentator makes this good
observation: "If [one] refuses to be taught better and
persists in his misunderstanding, he is an opinionated
heretic (Titus 3:10). If he reaches a point where he
is no longer sensitive to the truth, his conscience is
seared (1 Tim. 4:2)" (Spain). The apostle Peter put it
this way in 2 Peter 2:20-21: "For if, after they have
escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of
the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled
in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than
the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to
have known the way of righteousness, than having known it,
to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them."
Listen, if some good brother, or sister, or elders come to
you and try to show you scripturally why they think you are
doing something wrong, don't take that as an insult!
You should realize that these members in the Lord's body are
concerned enough about your Christian life that they don't
want you to get further and further out of the harbor and
eventually shipwreck your faith! Listen to heretics
can really lead you astray! And there’s one preaching
on almost any channel these days. In fact, the first
challenge to Timothy in this letter is to tell faithful
members not to heed the mistaken teachings of those leaders
who had become heretics (1:4)! Avoid shipwreck and
The next way that you can wage our spiritual warfare is to
exalt God's will. Our text concludes: "of whom are
Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they
may learn not to blaspheme." Hymenaeus and Alexander
were probably leaders in the church at Ephesus, and they had
shipwrecked their faith! What else do we know about
these men? Look at 2 Timothy 2:17-18: "And their message
will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of
this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying
that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow
the faith of some." We learn here not only learn more
about Hymenaeus but also about the heresy that he was
teaching. He was saying that the resurrection had
already taken place, so Christians were mistaken if they
thought that there would be a bodily resurrection when
Christ returned. You see how this heresy would kill
any Christian's hope to gain victory over death?
Hymanaeus not only had shipwrecked his own faith but also he
was shipwrecking the faith of other members as well.
Now look at 2 Timothy 4:14: "Alexander the coppersmith did
me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works.
You also must be aware of him, for he has greatly resisted
our words." We not only learn more about Alexander but also
we see that he had hurt Paul in some way, and he was openly
opposed to Paul's teaching. Since these two men were
greatly upsetting the church in Ephesus, Paul delivers them
over to Satan or excommunicates them (a similar expression
if found in 1 Corinthians 5:5, and it definitely is linked
to cutting off a member from the body of Christ). One
commentator rightly noted: "Because of the serious state of
these men and threat they presented to the health of the
church, Paul pronounced upon them his 'anathema' [or
condemnation]" (Spain). What did Paul do here?
He was doing God's will. Any discipline is not an easy
action to put into practice, but this especially true of
church discipline. For the health of body of Christ,
Paul had to cut out the cancerous elements. By
contrast, Timothy must continue to exalt God's will.
Jesus told us very clearly in Matthew 7:21: "Not everyone
who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of
heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven."
To wage our spiritual warfare, even when it's very
difficult, exalts God's will!
"Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war. With
the cross of Jesus, going on before. Christ, the royal
Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle see His
banner go! Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms
rise and wane, but the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never against the church prevail; we have
Christ's own promise, and that cannot fail" (Baring-Gould)!
If you’re not a soldier in the Lord's army, you need to
enlist today by getting out of the sinning business and
getting to Christ through immersion in His name!
Abandon Satan's camp and be loyal to Christ and His church!
If you've become a weary soldier or are drifting from the
safe harbor, get back in the battle and return to the safe
shore! Let us pray for Jesus to help you.