“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.” (1 Timothy 1:18-20)
Do you believe in personal prophecy? The Apostle Paul did. He told Timothy that there were prophecies previously made concerning him. These prophecies were weapons by which Timothy could “wage the good warfare”. Are these prophecies recorded in the Bible? They are not recorded anywhere in the Bible. There are those who believe that we don’t need the gift of prophecy today, because we have the completed canon of Scripture. Timothy was personally mentored by the man whom God used to pen half the New Testament, but he was still admonished concerning the importance of personal prophetic words spoken concerning his specific calling and destiny in God.
If there are true prophecies on your life, you need to know them, take hold of them and use them to fight your fight of faith. Don’t despise prophesyings (1 Thessalonians 5:20). That verse is in there because you will certainly be tempted to despise them. Sadly not all personal prophecies today are true, and even the ones that ARE from God are generally conditional in their fulfillment and will only be fulfilled after a period of waiting and testing. This means that if you receive a true personal prophecy concerning your life, you will still need to walk in obedience to God if you want the blessings mentioned, and you will still have to patiently endure for a season in many cases before the fulfillment comes. Are you ready for that?
One temptation that comes to us is to be disappointed and offended with God if things we are expecting seem to delay too long. Disappointment with God can arise for various reasons. I have to
add that this should not be the normal state of affairs. We can and should expect answers and blessings from God as we walk with Him in childlike trust and obedience. God does do great things.
But while we are in a waiting season, and experiencing difficulties, that is when we need to choose to affirm to ourselves the promises of God in the Bible and the promises we have received through reliable prophetic ministers. We must remind ourselves of these things and encourage ourselves in the Lord. One of the devil’s greatest weapons is discouragement. A discouraged person can be more easily tempted to be offended with God. But this is not the way to go.
What is the Good fight?
The Bible talks about fighting the good fight of faith. This is the “good warfare” Paul mentions when he says “that by them [the prophecies] you may wage the good warfare. The good warfare is the battle to take down opposing thoughts, draw near to God, and speak as a person full of faith and the Holy Spirit even in tough times.
To fight the good fight we have to remind ourselves of the promises and prophecies because at times we will be called upon to go through hard things. Consider the sufferings Paul himself went through! God is greater than our trials and can sustain us. His promises are sure, but we need to receive them and believe them. Here all the weapons of spiritual warfare mentioned elsewhere in this site are relevant. Using them, we can break the power of personal disappointment and discouragement.
Paul considered his trials light afflictions, which are but for a moment (2 Corinthians 4:17) because he had spiritual eyes to see the eternal realities of God. Deliberately focussing on that which eternal will help us to win the spiritual battles we must fight so we can fulfil our destiny in God.
We are called to “be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:8). To fail here is to miss the mark. Accepting discouragement or offense will cause us to sin in many ways. It can lead to a downward spiral of rebellion, curse and hostility with God. So we have to guard our hearts against this.
We do at times meet people who become enemies of God because their prayers were not answered. People have prayed for the health of their mother and their mother died. People have prayed that their father stop sexually abusing them but it seems God didn’t answer. Things like this happen, but blaming God for not eradicating the evil around us can swiftly lead to blasphemous thoughts and actions done to spite God.
And if you sin against your conscience, your ability to believe God for good things will be weakened. Since “with the heart man believes” (Romans 10:10) if you allow impurity into your heart you weaken your own faith. This can lead to further disappointments and delays. Consider what happened to the children of Israel in the wilderness. If you reject faith in God, and persist in this course, though you be a Christian, you can suffer spiritual shipwreck. What does that mean? It means your faith will not be able to take you where it was designed to take you, because it is broken down. It won’t take you into God’s presence and it won’t take you to heaven. Hard words but true. It is possible for a Christian to fall away. Hymenaeus and Alexander were held up by Paul as examples of people whose faith was shipwrecked because they rejected faith and a good conscience.
Have you suffered spiritual shipwreck? Are things falling apart for you? If you are foolish you will them blame God for it
Hymenaeus and Alexander did this. They then started to attack the character of God. To attack the character of God is to blaspheme. Blaspheming against God puts you in a bad place.
Paul says he delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander over to Satan for this, that they would learn not to blaspheme. How Paul did this we don’t know. He might have just pronounced some words of authority in this respect, he might have somehow excommunicated them from the church. Being outside of God’s protection, these men may have learned just how good it is to enjoy God’s protection from Satan. By experiencing Satan’s curse and harrassment you should learn that it is God who is good – it is Satan who is evil. By sinning and speaking against God you are going to get in a lot of trouble and Satan will harrass you.
This passage therefore contains a serious warning for us. We are called to fight a good warfare, and if we don’t, we can lose our faith and lose our eternal hope. We have been warned. So let us not play the fool before God. Let us keep a good conscience, and keep hold of the promises of God so that we will be people of courage, not discouraged and bitter Christians.