PJ’s Daily Devotional for Thursday, March 2, 2017.
I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be literally shipwrecked. I guess the closest I come to understanding that is from watching “Gilligan’s Island” growing up.
Paul uses this language, and trust me when I tell you that this is a man qualified to use this term: He had literally been in a shipwreck. [Geek note: it is widely accepted that the Apostle Paul wrote this letter to Timothy after arriving in Rome, so it would date post-Acts 28.]
Listen to these hard passages, “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:18-20).
Have you ever shipwrecked your faith? You may say, “I don’t know. How does that happen?” Paul teaches us that you shipwreck your faith by “rejecting” the importance of “holding faith and a good conscience” (19).
Earlier in the beginning of Paul’s letter to his “true child in the faith” (2), Paul exhorts Timothy in the target of their spiritual leadership: “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).
The three sources of godly love, which is the aim of spiritual leaders so that people won’t shipwreck their lives:
- Pure heart: The heart is a deep cistern of your personality and life experiences. For it to be pure, it must be sanctified (purified!) by a supernatural source—the blood of Jesus Christ through faith! Without the purification of the Holy Spirit indwelling your heart, you are bent by the deep wounds of betrayal, bitterness, relational heartache, and the consequences of the ongoing disappointments of living in a broken world with fellow fallen human beings.
To avoid shipwrecks in your life, you must continuously and consciously engage the Holy Spirit’s purification work of your heart: the deepest places of who you are and how you respond to people and life’s situations. This is an ongoing daily choice for each of us and trust me: if you take a couple days off from a “pure heart,” you don’t stay on course, you shipwreck!
- Good conscience: The conscience is the part of you that God created into you as a person made in the image of God. You are an Image Bearer which means you have the capacity for moral reasoning and autonomous choice. [Geek note: Although some schools of theology minimize this aspect of being an Image Bearer of God in the name of sovereignty, they do so at the peril of their understanding of God and themselves; these themes of Scripture are not mutually exclusive, rather they are mutually dependent.] The key word here is “good” which in its original language places the emphasis on “as being from God.” This means, that to avoid being shipwrecked your conscience must be redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, because the conscience fits into one of three categories: seared, skewed, or sanctified. The Bible says that living for yourself will at worse sear your conscience from choosing the ways of God (we sometimes generalize this as the hardening of your heart or as God giving over of a person to their own choices). If not seared, your conscience can become skewed which leads to fuzzy thinking: the inability to consistently discern the difference between right and wrong.
To avoid shipwrecks in your life, you must daily shape your conscience to be good by the Spirit’s work through the Word of God. You are born-again—made new through faith in Jesus Christ—but your conscience must be engaged and actively sanctified for it to know and choose the will of God (Romans 12:1-2). Without the redeeming of your morality, you will be at a minimum skewed, if not seared to the ways of God and His commandments. In other words, you may feel something is OK according to your conscience, but it is not according to God’s Word, leading to a feeling of dissonance (confusion) inside of you: like I know the right thing to do, but my heart tells me something else! Does this sound familiar? This is an ongoing daily choice for each of us and trust me: if you take a couple days off from a “good conscience” you don’t say on course, you shipwreck.
- Sincere faith: Faith is our convictions of what we believe about God and how we then should live according to those personally-held genuine beliefs. As a Christian, this is the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God to bring us into a true understanding of God through a faith-based relationship in Jesus Christ. It is possibly to say you have faith, but it not be “sincere.” It could be your parent’s faith, your church’s faith, your pastor’s faith, your culture’s faith, but is it sincerely your faith? That is the key: is your faith sincere?
There is nothing more important than what you sincerely believe about God and what you do with His Son Jesus Christ. To avoid shipwrecks in your life, you are invited to ask the Holy Spirit to lead you—mind, body, soul, and strength—to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. The true azimuth of your life that will avoid shipwrecks is faith in Jesus Christ, who teaches us to love God and to love our neighbor as yourself.
Without love our lives will be shipwreck. Love in us flows through us from the source of the One who is Love: God!
Is your heart pure?
Is your conscience good?
Is your faith sincere?
How you answer these questions, will help you determine whether you are heading for a shipwreck.