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Holding On Or Letting Go

1 Timothy 1:18-20
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, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. (NIVUK)

Timothy had a difficult job.  Although most people in the church at Ephesus wanted to hold on to the Gospel which Paul taught, other people were being distracted to believe and teach lies (1 Timothy 4:1-2).  Timothy’s task was to keep the Gospel at the centre of the church, exposing wrong teaching and rebuking false teachers (1 Timothy 1:3-7) . So, it was essential for Timothy to hold tightly to the truth of the Gospel himself.  If the teacher should go astray, the whole church would be led away from Jesus (1 Timothy 4:16).

We do not know what prophecies had been given about Timothy, but God’s intention was to prepare him for the spiritual struggles that lay ahead in ministry.  Paul’s instruction was the same: keep on trusting in Jesus and keep on living a Jesus-transparent life.  The world, the flesh and the devil would try to stop Timothy’s ministry, but Jesus would not let go of him (John 10:28).

Holding on to Jesus is not easy.  The Christian life is a fight, not against people or religions but against Satan’s lies.  False teaching seduces believers into letting go of Jesus to ‘get something better’: but there is nothing better!  When they stop obeying the truth their conscience is hardened and they become blasphemers - like Hymenaeus and Alexander wilfully refused to accept the apostles’ teaching and let go of their relationship with Christ.  We do not know exactly what Paul meant by ‘handed over to Satan’, but it seems that they had been put out of the fellowship – exposing them to Satan’s malice (1 Corinthians 5:5).  Paul wanted Timothy to learn and teach that it is never safe to go away from Jesus (1 Timothy 6:20-21).

All who believe in Jesus, and teach others, have a special responsibility to hold on to God’s truth in the Bible.  We must personally fight off the lies from the world, the flesh and devil, every day.  Failure to do so will result in shipwrecked lives. That applies to parents who raise their children, teachers in schools and universities, Christian leaders and authors, and the lawmakers in government.  If we do not hold on to the Gospel as recorded in the Bible, we will become prey for Satan; and so will those who look to us for guidance.  Instead, our horizon should be the same as Paul and Timothy (2 Timothy 4:6-8) , holding on to Jesus until we meet Him.

God of truth. Thank You for inspiring Your apostles to write about the Gospel so that people from every culture can know the way to be saved and to learn to be a useful part of Your family. Forgive me when I have wandered from the truth and believed lies. Forgive me too when I have led others astray because of my wrong teaching or ungodly lifestyle. Please help me to fight against temptation, holding on to the truth and rejecting lies every day. May I become a good role model and teacher so that other people do not make shipwrecks of their lives. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams