“Timothy… fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme”
(1 Timothy 1:18-20, NIV)
(1 Timothy 1:18-20, NIV)
To me, the last words of this chapter are sad indeed – a honest reality – and it tell a story which has been repeated over and over again both in the Old Testament and especially in the New Testament: a story of people who were once believe rejecting or putting away or “made a thorough mess of their faith” in Christ (v.19, The Message). How many there have been who have started out well (think of your ex-classmates, campus fellowship friends, church youths and family members) but have gone off from the faith and into doctrinal error and subsequently not only their relationship with God but their whole lives as well can be summed up in one word: “shipwrecked.”
If you’re not familiar with the word “shipwrecked” as I do, simply put, it mean “wandered away from the truth” (see 1 Timothy 2:17). From what I read, it seems that Hymenaeus and Alexander are wilfully turned their back on the “sound doctrine” (1:10) that came to Paul from God. They wilfully rejected their “faith” and ignored “good conscience.” As a result – shipwrecked. Hymenaeus then referred again in 1 Timothy 2:17 and we learn that at least part of his error was in teaching that “the resurrection has already taken place.” This and other errors that we can only speculate led to shipwrecked lives.
And here is a mystery. Paul says that he has delivered or “handed” them “over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.” Honestly, I don’t know for sure what it means. I remember reading 1 Corinthians 5 where Paul instructs the church of Corinth concerning a man who was living in incest to “hand [him] over to Satan”. Same treatment here. And why? “…so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord” (v.5). I don’t believe that this shipwrecked faith will mean that they will lose their salvation and go to hell – maybe or maybe not – for I interprets it as Paul’s direction to Timothy to discipline them severely even excommunication so that they would see their error and will repent. Church discipline, have you heard about it before? You must. And as Christian leader, you must take disciplinary action against those who “blaspheme” God and His name by teaching false doctrines.
Three questions to ponder:
How can you avoid or defend yourself from “shipwreck” of the faith?
Are you and your church equipped with “sound doctrine”?
As leader, do you practice church disciple?
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.