“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck” (I Timothy 1:18,19).
We find in our text for today Paul’s commission to his young disciple Timothy. As any pastor today knows, shepherding a flock is a most difficult task, and opportunities for discouragement and defeat are many.
The word “charge” is a military term, a command from one in authority. The same word was used in verses three and five regarding the teaching of the truth in love and opposing any form of false teaching. Paul reinforces the charge here, reminding Timothy that the truth committed unto Paul by Christ was now being entrusted to him. Such a responsibility must have been expected by Timothy, for it had been prophesied of him (I Timothy 4:14).
“War a good warfare,” Paul charged, using a verb tense implying the war would be an ongoing one. Paul knew from experience the vicious nature of the enemy and the brutal nature of the fighting. Of course the battle would not just be between Timothy and false teachers, this would be only symptomatic of the great conflict of the ages between the forces of evil and the forces of light.
Notice the two tools at the good warrior’s disposal. First, he must hold on to sound “faith.” Such faith is the result of the truth taught in love (v.5). Our faith is well founded, for our commander has assurred us of ultimate victory. He is just, and our cause is a just cause. We also need “a good conscience,” unencumbered by unconfessed sin or unmended relationships. We must be obedient in all respects to the teaching of God’s word. To abandon these weapons leaves us open to “shipwreck.” JDM