October 15, 2023 Two Essential Directions for Every Christian

Two Essential Directions for Every Christian

October 15, 2023

Scripture reading: 1 Timothy 1:18-19.


In this passage the apostle Paul gives three instructions or directives to his protégé, Timothy. The first one is important and we will look at it presently, but the other two of these directions are absolutely essential to every Christian. If we fail to practice these two directions our lives will be ruined! We will find ourselves in the most miserable of conditions if we fail.


These directions to Timothy are for every follower of Christ.[1]


Let us read verse 18 again:


18 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, [2]


Paul charges Timothy (that means he commands him) to “wage the good warfare.”


This admonition to fight the good fight is a frequent theme in the New Testament. Let’s briefly look at two such passages:


3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,[3]


We should all be destroying arguments and opinions that are against the knowledge of God. This passage is in the context of “waging war!” Paul’s words!


And, Paul tells Timothy again in chapter six of his pastoral letter:


12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.[4]


(See also Ephesians 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7; I Cor. 9:7)


This admonition from the apostle reminds me of one of my favorite songs. It is called “Fight the Good Fight” by the band Triumph, who were from Canada. Now, this is old music, but you have to know that music from the seventies was 10x better than today’s music! It’s quite in the vein of rock music so, if that is not your cup of tea, just appreciate the lyrics.


The days grow shorter and the nights are getting long
Feels like we're running out of time
Every day it seems much harder tellin' right from wrong
You got to read between the lines

Don't get discouraged, don't be afraid, we can
Make it through another day
Make it worth the price we pay

The Good Book says it's better to give than to receive
I do my best to do my part
Nothin' in my pockets I got nothin' up my sleeve
I keep my magic in my heart

Keep up your spirit, keep up your faith, baby
I am counting on you
You know what you've got to do

Fight the good fight every moment
Every minute every day
Fight the good fight every moment
It's your only way


[play song]


Every follower of Christ is to fight the good fight! But, are we? What would you think of a soldier who was getting ready for battle. He has already been trained.  Imagine that he and his troop are in the battlefield and they are about to go into enemy territory to engage the enemy in battle. The soldiers move out and enter into the conflict. But our soldier just stays in his tent. He goes onto social media and searches for things that have nothing to do with the battle. He watches entertaining videos.[5] Is this soldier faithful? Of course he is not. Yet, this is the way many disciples of Christ live!


We are already on the battlefield. All we need to do is enter into the battle.


We all have apprehension about having conflict with others, sometimes even speaking out at all. But our apprehension or fear are not excuses for not engaging.  There was a rather well-known Campus Evangelist named Jed Smock who passed away last year after 35 years or more in daily going to college campuses across the country. He came and spoke at our church about four years ago. When I lived in another state, he was coming to preach at a college campus there. I met him with the pastor of the church I was attending at that time for breakfast. The pastor was not able to go to the college campus with him that day, but I was going to accompany him. I told Jed that I only wanted to observe how he did it and that I was not going to participate that day, only watch and listen. He smiled. I interpreted his smile as agreement. We get to the college.  He begins preaching outdoors near the student center. He was rather dynamic, so when he started preaching a crown gathered, sitting on the steps of a building. There were about 30 or 40 students listening. I was sitting there among them. This was before I had training of any kind. I was just a working man, attending church. He preached for about twenty minutes. Then he said, “Next, I want you to listen to someone. His name is Craig Rogers and he resides here in your community.” He waved me up. I was in literal shock. I stood before the crowd and I thought and felt like I was going to pee in my pants! That is truly how scared I was! My voice was quivering and somehow I managed to talk for ten minutes or so. I did notice that I calmed down after a few minutes. The Lord is not asking very many people to speak publicly. But, you can still talk to people, whether one-on-one or to small groups of two or three.


We must fight the good fight! Each one of us is on the battlefield. The church is the place where you get training. We have classes both on Sunday morning and during the week (Mondays presently). We have a prayer meeting on Wednesdays. (Prayer is one form of fighting.)


When I was attending church with my fiancé in the Philippines I attended a Saturday session that they have every Saturday, where they teach the young people (but all members were invited and some older ones came, too), on how to share the gospel. The name of the church is Jesus Our King (what a great name!). The training was conducted by the pastor, Pastor Alex, and it is a good, thorough training that went for hours every Saturday morning! That is a good church!


 If you have not been in battle then now is the time to either enter into dialogue with others[6] or obtain more training.


Then Paul writes:


19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, [7]


These are the two essential directions he gives to us.


First, every disciple must hold faith. Our faith is in a Person. This Person is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must always hold to the Person of Christ because He is the object of our faith and He even is our faith! Without him we are completely and absolutely lost!


Practically speaking, the faith we are to keep has two directions. We must believe in the fundamentals of the faith. And, we must believe in those things clearly taught in Scripture and held by the universal church since the very beginning. The church has never waivered in believing and proclaiming these things. What are these things? They are made known in the Apostle’s Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy universal[8] church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.


Let us recite that together right now. (If you are reading this sermon online, stop for a moment and recite this creed out loud.)


We must hold, always, to the fundamentals of the faith. Never stop believing them!


The faith we are to keep goes beyond just the essentials. We are to believe all the promises of God in the Bible. If the Bible has been created by the inspiration of God, that is, by the out-breathing of God Himself (2 Tim 3:16) then we must believe each word. This is the greatest challenge. When things are going well for us, all the promises of God are easy to believe. But, when our lives are turned upside down by tragedy, by rejection, or by disease, then be begin to doubt his promises. Our faith waivers. I am ashamed to admit that when I am faced with anguishing circumstances in my life I begin to doubt God’s promises. I am sorry that I am a poor example in this regard, but I am a human being with many faults.


We must believe in all of what God has spoken. The way I try to overcome my doubts in difficult times is by crying out loud to the Lord over and over, knowing that He is my only hope. King David had this same experience, of doubting God’s care and love for him. Yes, David had great faith (more than me!), but he doubted often. At least 19 times he expressed great anguish because he felt as though God were ignoring him.[9] Nineteen times!! Have you had this experience? We must keep calling out to him in the midst of such feelings of being forsaken. Hold faith!


Last, the apostle Paul charges Timothy to keep a clear conscience. We must have a clear conscience. If we do not we will surely fall away. How do we have a clear conscience? We must know, of course, that our sins are forgiven judicially. Christ paid the penalty for us on the cross. Thank you, Lord! Here, though, the apostle writes about those who are in the household of faith already holding onto a clear conscience. He refers to our ongoing relationship with the Lord.


There are three ways to hold onto our clear conscience and I am only going to tell you what they are in the briefest of ways:


[1.] We must always resist and fight temptation, with all that we are. Near the very beginning, when Cain slew his brother Abel, God tells him:


    6      Then Yahweh said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?

    7      “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is lying at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”[10]


Sin is at your door! God said it. Would you permit me to emphasize it?


  • Sin is at your door! It’s not just a salesman. It’s not just a student trying to collect money for her education. Sin is at your door!
  • Sin is at your door! It’s not just a theory. It is really there!
  • Sin is at your door! It’s not just at the door of the alcoholic. It’s not just at the door of an addict. It’s not just at the door of the one who cheats on their spouse. It’s at your door!
  • Sin is at your door! It’s not just in some big city, far away from you. It’s not just downtown, miles away. It’s not just over on the next street. It’s not just at your neighbor’s house. It’s right at your door! God’s word says it is.


We keep a clear conscience by resisting and denying sin at every temptation. This is ruling over sin.


[2.] Whenever we do sin, we confess it immediately to the Lord. (I John 1:9)


[3.] We repent. What is the difference between confession and repentance? To confess is imply to agree with God against ourselves. We never make excuses for our sins. We simply tell God that we have sinned and he will graciously forgive.


Repentance is a whole-hearted change of mind and heart about a sin.[11]


Repentance for those who already belong to Christ means that we not only recognize the sin that we have committed (confession), but that we see, as never before, its degradation and grievousness. We turn from it and renounce it in the depths of our heart.


Those three actions will keep our conscience clear:


  • Always resisting and fighting temptation,
  • Confessing our sins
  • Repenting


What have we learned today?


  • We are in a war. We battle our own carnality, but we must also engage with those who are against God and his kingdom. This includes people and even spiritual forces. To do this we must get out of our easy chairs and couches.
  • We hold on to faith. This means that we hold on to the fundamentals, but also to all the promises of God in the word.
  • We keep a good conscience. We do this by fighting against sin with all that we are, confessing, and even repenting.


If we fail to fight the good fight of faith, that is, engage in the battle, we will lose rewards at the Judgment Seat. But we will still be saved (I Cor. 3:12-15). However, if we fail to hold faith and a clear conscience, we may discover that we experience the ruination of our lives even now. And, possibly, that we were never saved to begin with! It appears that the two that Paul names who made shipwreck of their faith did not actually belong to the Lord (see 2 Timothy 2:17-19 and 2 Timothy 4:14)!


The two essential directions for the Christian are these: Hold on to faith and hold on to a clear conscience. We can do these two things because he has given us his life inside of us!




[1] Some of Paul’s instructions to Timothy are only for church leaders, but these are for every believer because he lists two unfaithful ones to whom the two essential directions applied and the two men failed (verse 20).

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Ti 1:18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 10:3–5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Ti 6:12). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5]  We are permitted entertainment. I would even say that we need a little entertainment. It is a from of rest for our minds and hearts.  However, is it not obvious that many people spend far too much time on entertainment? God’s guidance for rest is 1/7th of our time. We ought not to make this some kind of unyielding rule, but it ought to help us see that we may be spending too much time on entertainment.

[6] The war we are in is a war of ideas.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Ti 1:19). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[8] The word here that is often recited is “catholic.” But this is not meant to designate the Roman Catholic Church which did not yet exist at the time of the creed’s formulation. Rather, the word, catholic, is just the Latin word for “universal.” That is, the church is over the whole earth.

[9] See Psalm 6:1-3; 13:1-2; 22:1-2, 11; 27:9; 28:1; 38:21; 44:24; 51:11; 55:1; 60:10; 69:1-3, 17; 77:7-9; 85:5; 88:14; 89:46-47; 102:1-11; 143:7

[10] Legacy Standard Bible (2022). (Ge 4:6–7). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[11] Our initial repentance, when we first come to the Lord, is not about just one sin. It is about our entire life! We recognize that our lives have been against God and we repent of our whole rebellious life.