Monday in the Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time

1 Timothy 1:18-20

Holding Faith and Good Conscience

The significance of the “pastorals” is the personal nature of the letters, that they are written from an aging apostle to a younger man in the ministry telling him how he should manage the church.  But even more than that, Paul tells Timothy and Titus how they should manage themselves.  The pastorals speak to the personal integrity of the pastor or minister, a message which desperately needs to be heard today.  Orthodox theology will not spare a man who is living a lie.

Paul begins saying, “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy.”  You can hear the urgency in Paul’s voice as one who will soon have to leave the ranks.  This reminds us that ministerial training should involve some kind of mentoring between an older man and a younger one, the older more experienced minister entrusting to the younger man the wisdom he has gained over the years.  Formal training is necessary, but it cannot replace personal discipleship between men.  This was the way among Reformed ministers in early America.  And what does he solemnly charge Timothy to do?  To “wage the good warfare.”  As John Bunyan so eloquently illustrated for us in his classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress, the Christian life is a war with battle after battle, and if you don’t have battle scars, you’re not doing it right. 

And how is young Timothy to wage the good fight?  He must hold with every fiber of his being faith and a good conscience.  Faith speaks to orthodoxy; good conscience speaks to living in accordance with that faith.  One must believe well to do well.  But if one fails to live well when he knows better, he would have been better off never knowing (Hebrews 10:26-31).  With knowledge comes responsibility.  This is more true in the ministry than any place else.  How many pastors have we seen fall from grace?  In some cases, it was errant theology that was at fault.  But in most, it was an errant life.  The man was not walking with God, was living according to the flesh, and presuming upon God’s grace.  Maybe he could preach a good sermon.  But God will not be mocked, especially by those entrusted to bear his holy name with the same holiness of character.  This is what happens when the man chooses his lusts over his conscience—he makes shipwreck of his faith, either slowly as he secretly lives a lie, or dramatically when it all comes crashing down.  Even worse, he makes shipwreck of the faith of others who looked up to him.  Oh pastor, hear these words from the apostle: Hold fast to faith AND good conscience.  Be vigilant.  You’re in the devil’s crosshairs.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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