Two Ways to Shipwreck Your Faith
"May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. Hymenaeus and Alexander are two examples. I threw them out and handed them over to Satan so they might learn not to blaspheme God." 1 Tim 1:18-20, NLT
Would you like to win the battles you face? Do you want to know how to avoid a shipwreck in your faith life? Would you prefer that Satan not have access to your life?
Do what the Apostle Paul advised, “Cling to your faith in Christ. Keep your conscience clear.” Pretty simple, right?
Yet, sadly we all know people who were at their spiritual prime—on-fire for the Lord, studying for ministry, leading worship, teaching the Bible, living on the mission field, praying night and day, feeding the homeless, caring for the elderly, sharing the gospel in bar parking lots, serving on a church staff, pioneering churches…and on it goes—yet, today their fire is dim. Their Christian testimony lacks Christ and their influence for the Lord is a cruel joke—on them. They have shipwrecked their own faith. What happened?
How does a person shipwreck their faith and open the door to the enemy’s work in their life—and what should they do about it? Let’s see what we can learn from Hymenaeus and Alexander.
Check Your Chatter: God-Filled or godless? “Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have departed from the truth.” (2 Tim 2:16-18, NIV)
Check your chatter—in your relationships, on your Facebook or Twitter posts or in your day-to-day living—do you spend a lot of time talking about godless nothings? Hymenaeus did. Are people bored with your repetitive, dishonoring talk about perverse things? Does your conscience bother you when you boast about unethical or immoral things? Do you realize the shallowness of constant conversations about pointless things? Do you smell the gangrene when you grumble about everything, scorn and mock others or champion things that offend God? So much chatter and the Lord is not in any of it.
C’mon—pay attention—if you can’t drum up regular, heartfelt conversations about the Lord, His Word, His goodness in your life or His heart for a lost world—you might really want to check your spiritual pulse. In fact, it should be a huge wake-up call!
People talk about the things that fill their hearts —for out of the abundance of the heart, our mouth speaks. So, if the Lord, His Word or His workings are not regularly coming out of your mouth—it’s a sad sign that He does not fill your heart these days. It’s a danger sign that a cancerous gangrene is running rampant in your life and you have departed from the truth. Warning, Warning: You are heading for a shipwreck!
Check Your Agenda: Supporting or Opposing? “Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.” (2 Tim 4: 14-15, NIV)
Check your agenda. Do you smile on the outside, but cut people up on the inside? Alexander did. Do you pretend to play a supportive part, but secretly desire the downfall and failure of those you envy? Are you working behind the scenes to undermine the authority of the God-appointed leaders in your life? Do you think you can get away with bloviating, dissing and opposing people at parties, on Social Media sites or behind their backs? Are you doing a great deal of harm—with your words or actions—to someone God has called? Beware. You are heading for a shipwreck and opening the door to the enemy in your life. You won’t get away with it. You will have to pay the consequences of opposing the Lord and His delegates. Warning, Warning: You are heading for a shipwreck!
We know too many people that thought they could say what they want, denigrate others, do harm and oppose God and His messengers and get away with it. They didn’t. The sad reality is these “Alexander-types” ended up on the “spiritual has-been junk heap.” Their once vibrant Christian life of influence has been reduced to a laughable, microscopic level.
I hope you DON’T see yourself in either Hymenaeus or Alexander; but in the event you do or you know someone on the slippery slope—what can you do to avoid a major, long-lasting and possibly permanent shipwreck?
Cling to your faith and clear up your conscience by starting with these two things…
Throw Down An Anchor: Anchor yourself before the Lord. Get on your face before God and repent your guts out. Pray and cry out to the Lord from the depths of your being and tell Him how sorry you are for how ugly you have been towards Him and others. Don’t get up until you have a genuine broken and contrite spirit that is grieved by the way you have treated and dishonored the Lord and His people. Ask the Lord to break up the hardened soil of your heart until it is pliable again.
Paddle Like Mad: Get your paddles in the water and take yourself to every person you have offended, dissed, dishonored, mocked, blamed and misrepresented. Apologize your face off. Demonstrate true humility by owning up to your selfish, ungodly behavior and beg people to believe you and to forgive you. Ask God to help you do whatever you need to do to validate your true godly sorrow. Do everything in your power—over and over again—to rebuild love and trust with the God-called people in your life.
Say It: “Father, help me cling to my faith and clear up my conscience. I repent. Help me ‘throw down an anchor’ and ‘paddle like mad.’ I don’t want to shipwreck my faith. I don’t want to open the door to the enemy in my life. I don’t want to depart from the truth. I ask You to work a broken and contrite spirit in me, Lord, and restore my life and my calling. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”