Pastor John Rhodes
E. Aggressive Calling
E. The Aggressive Calling 1 Timothy 1:18-20 (NIV) … fight the battle well …
Paul knew Timothy would face serious conflict sorting out the problems over false teaching in Ephesus. The teaching was about genealogies. It sounded good on the surface but it was deceptive and divisive, and not motivated by love. Timothy would have to handle it, at times, aggressively.
I’m not talking about physical aggression but spiritual conflict and assertive leadership. Paul balances affection with his instruction addressing him as “my son” and then charging him to “fight the battle well”. Aggressiveness is for special situations, not for all time; it doesn’t discount being normally considerate and joyful. In the middle of a battle, soldiers don’t say, ‘Please don’t shoot!’ No! They stay protected and shoot before getting shot! I’m not advocating natural war, but there are lessons to be learned for the spiritual conflict we are at times called to be engaged with.
Here’s three things we are called to do –
1. Called to fight the (spiritual) battle well v18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well
Timothy had been prophesied over about his calling. To be successful includes being aggressive in spiritual conflict with the knowledge that it is God’s calling. Paul was on his first missionary journey going through Cyprus (see Acts 13). As he shared the Gospel with a governor, a sorcerer, named Elymas, strongly opposed his message. Paul, aggressively in the Spirit, rebuked him and he was struck with temporary blindness. This is interesting because Paul had been blinded himself at the time of his conversion. Now, his character is being changed, as seen in the narrative name changed from Saul to Paul.
Someone came into our church and started shouting and criticising the speaker. I had to stand up against them in opposition. I didn’t argue against what was they said but against their interrupting at the wrong time and manner. I kept on speaking, but not overbearingly or abusively, just loud enough to counter the shouting until the person gave up and left. Ephesians 6:10 … Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. v11 Put on all of God’s armour so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. v12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against …evil spirits in the heavenly places. Sometimes you will face difficulties where you need to stand up and fight the (spiritual) battle well.
2. Called to hold on to faith and good conscience v19 holding on to faith and a good conscience…
The two things to hold on to are – 1) your faith “without faith it is impossible to please God.” And 2) a good conscience “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful”.
v19….. which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.
Regretfully, a prominent and great Christian leader in Sydney damaged his personal ministry and hurt a lot of people in the process by a relatively minor indiscretion by the world’s standards. This message of Paul is for us all.
3. Called to bring discipline v20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.
This is a challenging passage. It was for a serious, ongoing offense where aggressive action was necessary. To blaspheme is speak about God in a disrespectful way. To 'hand over to Satan' should not be so surprising. Even Job, a righteous person, was handed over to Satan by the Lord! That was fior him to know and respect God more perfectly.
… the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 2 Corinthians 10:3 (NKJV)
We all get knocked down and stumble and fall at times. If that’s you, pick yourself up! Wipe the dust off, renew your faith in God’s mercy, and carry on in the spiritual battle - sometimes aggressively. Stand up and fight the (spiritual) battle well. (See Ephesians 6:10-18).