Avoiding Spiritual Shipwreck ( 1 Timothy 1:18-20 )

Avoiding Spiritual Shipwreck

1 Timothy 1:18-20 (NKJV)

Fight the Good Fight
18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,

19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck,

20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.




The Titanic Story (1912)


Image result for photos titanic



On April 10, 1912 the R.M.S. Titanic left her berth at the harbor in Southampton, England. This was the maiden voyage for the 882 foot long ocean liner that had been billed as unsinkable. She carried with her 2,228 passengers and crew.

Most of the passengers had paid thousands of dollars to sail on that great luxury liner. Four days into the voyage, on April 14, 1912 severe ice warnings were received for the area through which the Titanic was sailing. These warnings were ignored and the Titanic maintained her course for New York harbor.

At 11:40 PM the Titanic struck an iceberg on the starboard side of her bow. She began to take on water at an alarming rate and within three hours the Titanic and 1,523 of her passengers were at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Only 705 of the original 2,228 persons survived that great shipwreck.

Since 1912, people have tried to figure out what happened to bring about the demise of a ship call unsinkable. Most people would agree that the tragedy was a mixture of many things including negligence, apathy, greed, pride and incompetence.


In other words, the tragedy could have been avoided had all the proper steps been taken by the captain and crew of the Titanic. But, since those steps were no taken, a tragic loss of life occurred on the cold night in the North Atlantic.

Of course, the Titanic is just one of many famous shipwrecks. We could also talk about the Andrea Doria, the Lusitania or the Edmund Fitzgerald. All were tragedies that should never have happened.

The facts behind the great shipwrecks of history makes for a fascinating study, but did you know that not all shipwrecks happen at sea?


It’s true! Most shipwrecks occur on dry ground. Our text speaks of the potential of a “spiritual shipwreck”. In fact, it even records the names of two men in the early church that has experienced such a shipwreck: Hymenaeus and Alexander.


Most of us in this room will never be involved in a shipwreck at sea. However, the possibility exists that we might suffer a shipwreck in our spiritual life. In some ways, a spiritual shipwreck is far more devastating than a shipwreck on the high seas.


Our text reveals something of the nature of spiritual shipwrecks and how we are to go about avoiding them.

I want to help you avoid the danger of shipwreck in you life. With the Lord’s help, I want to preach for a while on this thought: “Avoiding Spiritual Shipwreck”.


Your life does not have to end up badly from a spiritual perspective! You do not have to be shipwrecked in your walk with God. The facts reveals in this passage will help us to avoid the shipwrecks of the spiritual life.





A. As I have already mentioned, Apostle Paul calls out two men who have shipwrecked. We do not know much about these men, but we do know that they became a problem for Paul and for the early church.

This is revealed in 2 Timothy, where it is said that Hymenaeus began to teach false doctrine, 2 Tim. 2:17; and that Alexander caused “much” injury to the Apostle Paul, 2 Tim. 4:14.


B. No doubt, everyone in this room could thing of a person or persons who once walked with the Lord and have now made shipwreck of their spiritual walk. It happens! Several years ago, we saw the highly publicized falls of Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart and many others. Spiritual shipwrecks are to be found all around!


C. What we need to remember this morning is this: spiritual shipwrecks don’t just happen to the other guy, they can happen to you and me! No one in this room is immune to the possibility that we will fall into sin and make shipwreck of our lives. Please don’t scoff at the danger of becoming shipwrecked! It can happen to anyone – 1 Cor. 10:12; Pro. 16:18.





A. Paul tells us the reason that these two men suffered shipwreck was because they “put away” the faith. This phrase literally means “to thrust or push away”. It refers to “an intentional turning from truth to error.”

In the case of Hymenaeus it would appear that he rejected the true teaching of the faith and embraced false doctrine.

For Alexander, it seems that he developed a mean spirit and began to work against the things of the Lord.

Both wound up where they were because they pushed away truth and turned to error.


B. The same process takes place within people in the church! For whatever reason, some people who belong to the church and who profess Jesus Christ as their Savior also push away the truth and embrace error!

The move from truth to error is not made in an instant! No one wakes up one morning and says, “I think I’ll throw away my testimony and influence today. I think I’ll just get out of the will of God.” Oh no! It is far more subtle than that!

We fall away when we allow sin to go unchallenged in our lives. We fall away when we seek to rationalize our sinfulness and backslidden condition. We will begin to allow ourselves a loop hole here and there and before you know it, we are totally gone!


(Note: Backsliding always begins very subtly! The movement away from God is almost imperceptible, but before long, the backslider is miles away from the One Who redeemed their soul!)

(Illustration- A frog in a kettle of water. If he is placed in a kettle of cold water, and the kettle is set on a hot stove eye, he will sit there as the water heats up. Because he is cold blooded, he is oblivious to the temperature changes in the water, until it is too late and he is boiled to death!)


C. Sometimes tragedy comes to the great ships when they are allowed to drift, or when they are overloaded. At other times, the loss of momentum can cause a ship to flounder. Things like torn sails and broken rudders also contribute to the demise of the great ships.

(Note: This would be a great time for you to look closely at your life. What are you tolerating in your life that needs to go? Where have you slacked up? What have you ceased to do? What small changes have taken place in your life since that time when you were close to the Lord and on fire for Him? They can and will lead to shipwreck if they are not dealt with immediately!)





A. For these two men, they were “delivered to Satan”. This was the most extreme punishment available for church people who went away from the Lord. In effect, they had been excommunicated from the protective umbrella church and has been delivered to Satan’s hand to teach them humility, love for God and obedience to His Word!

(Note: This is what Paul commanded the Corinthian church to do with a guilty member in their congregation – 1 Cor. 5:5.)


B. Every believer in this world needs to understand this : no one sins in a vacuum! Your sins have consequences and you always reap what you sow, Gal. 6:9. When a believer allows his or her life to become shipwrecked by sin, there are terrible consequences to pay for that. Chastisement is assured – Heb. 12:6-12, death is a possibility – 1 Cor. 5:5; 1 John 5:16; 1 Cor. 11:30.

Besides that, the loss of one’s testimony, one’s influence and one’s usefulness is a tragedy beyond description! This was Paul’s fear, 1 Cor. 9:27, and it should be our’s as well! In addition to that, there is the loss of reward that will be suffered, 1 Cor. 3:10-15.


(Note: There should be a bold return to the methods Jesus advocated for the cleansing of His church, Matt. 18:15-17. This is what is being practiced here by Paul. It was also advocated by him – 2 Thess. 3:14.)

(Note: What if we were to have a return of the days of Acts 5:1-11?)


C. Is your present condition really worth all that it is costing you? Is it worth not being able to pray as you should? Is it worth not having any influence with your family, friends and coworkers? Is it worth the immense spiritual cost attached to it? Of course not! Thank God, there is a remedy for those who are suffered spiritual shipwreck!





(Ill. Apostle Paul lays out a five step prescription that will help you and me recover from a spiritual shipwreck if we have already suffered one, and will help us avoid one if we haven’t.)


A. V. 18 Lies In Following – Paul tells Timothy that he is giving him a “charge”. This is a military words and it refers to a superior issuing commands to a subordinate. In other words, Paul is telling Timothy that he has the responsibility to obey his words! He has a duty to listen to and carry out the orders of the Apostle!

(Note: The same is true for the believer! The first step in walking with God as we should lies in our willingness to obey His revealed will as it is written in the Word of God! We have a mandate to obey the Word, James 1:22-25. Our obedience proves we love the Lord – John 14:15; 21. Our obedience proves that we are saved by the grace of God – 1 John 2:3-5. Where is your life in relationship to His Word, the BIBLE?)



B. Lies In Fulfilling – Paul reminds Timothy of the “prophecies” that had been issued concerning his life. Prophecies, no doubt, pointed of his success and blessing in the ministry. He is to lived out those important prophecies through his life and ministry for the glory of God. Amen!

(Note: You and I have been the object of divine prophecies as well. We have been told that we are “more than conquerors”, Rom. 8:37. We have been told that we can constantly walk in victory, 1 Cor. 15:57. We have been told that  our precious faith in the Lord is our key to overcoming everything in this life, 1 John 5:4!)


Just as this charge was “committed” to Timothy, your life and mine has been entrusted to ourselves personally! Our duty to God, the church, our fellow man and ourselves is for us as believers to live up to our potential in Jesus Christ. Let’s face it, many believers in this day and time are falling far short of their God-given potential. Are you living up to your fullest potential in Christ Jesus?



C. Lies In Fighting – Timothy is reminded that he has not enlisted in the Lord’s army to play on the playground. He is reminded that the Christian life is a battleground. From the moment the believer comes to faith in Jesus Christ, he or she is in the middle of spiritual conflict.


Our enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil all try to cause us to become shipwrecked on the jagged rocks of sin. Thankfully it is a battle that we can win, if we appropriate the spiritual resources provided for us by our Heavenly Father.


We are to recognize the nature of the battle we fight: it is spiritual – Eph. 6:12. We are also to understand that the weapons with which we are to fight this battle are also spiritual in nature – 2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:10-18. Are you lining up for battle, dressed as the Lord has commanded? Are you earnestly contending for the faith?



D. Lies In Faith – Timothy is charged to “hold” the faith. This word means “to lay hold of a thing, to own or possess for oneself”. Paul is telling Timothy to stand in and for the truth! Defend the faith at all costs. Keep the doctrine of the church free from error and absolutely pure at all times.


(Note: The same mandate applies to you and me! We are not to listen to the enticing words of slick communicators. We are not to be moved by the oratory of a noted man. We are to get a good grip on the Word of God and fight error tooth and nail whether you know it or not the truth is under attack in our day!


Churches and church people have begun a concerted move away from doctrine into the realm of personal experience. How a person “feels about a text” carries more weight that what the text says. This is dangerous and must be guarded against at all costs!)



E. Lies In Faithfulness – Paul reminds Timothy of the value of a “good conscience”. We all know that when we go against our conscience, we experience feelings of guilt, shame, remorse, fear, doubt and insecurity.

But, what we don’t often realize is that following our conscience may be one of the biggest mistakes we will ever make. There is some confusion regarding the nature of the conscience.


The following from Ray Stedman sheds some light on is for us: “I find a great deal of misunderstanding, even among Christians, on what the conscience is. Many feel that the conscience is given to us to teach us the difference between right and wrong. But nothing could be further from the truth. No, the conscience is given to us, rather, to resist any deviation from the truth, from the right and the wrong that we know. If you think it is given to us to indicate what is wrong or what is right, you will begin to rely upon your feelings to determine right and wrong. That is where many go astray — many young Christians, especially. They think their conscience is their feelings; and if they feel something is right then they do it.


You have seen the bumper stickers that say, “If it feels good, do it.” People actually believe that is following their conscience. Because of that philosophy thousands and thousands of lives are being warped and twisted.


The conscience is given to us so that when we know what is right and what is wrong, it insists that we do the right and avoid the wrong. But it is the Word of God (the BIBLE) that teaches us what is right and what is wrong. Conscience is like a gyroscope, set in a certain direction, which resists any tendency to deflect it. Conscience, however, can be set in a wrong direction, then it will guide us wrongly. Revelation, the Word of God, is what tells us what is right and what is wrong. Conscience is given to us to help us know when we are beginning to fail, or fall away from that right path.


In other words, a good conscience is s synonym for an obedient heart which wants to do what God says is right. That is what Paul is talking about. Wherever God speaks, and you know what he tells you to do, regardless of what your flesh or your feelings say, obey; do what God says. That is the way to maintain a good conscience. If you fail, correct it instantly by the provision that God has made: confess, repent, set it straight, then go on with God.


A good conscience works with faith, that which lays hold of the resources of God in dependence on him. So a good conscience is the discipline of the mind and the will that says, “I will follow my Lord and do what he says to do.”


Jesus Christ spoke of this. He put the Christian life in a nutshell when he said, “You in me, and I in you,” {John 14:20b}. “You in me” — that is our definite determination to follow him; “I in you” — that is the resource he commits to us to enable us to follow and to obey him.


The Christian life is these two things working constantly: to know what is right, and, by the power and grace of God, to resolve to do it. That is waging a good warfare. How beautifully that maintains the biblical balance between the sovereignty of God and the free will of man! Here is the secret of Christian vitality. When God tells you what is right, by his grace, relying on him, choose to do it.


This is so important that Paul expands on it. He says, “By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith.” These are people who know the truth, but because they have not chosen to obey it, they not only have wandered away, they have eventually damaged their faith. They start believing wrong instead of right. They know what is right, but they are no longer able to do it.”


Simply put, it is dangerous to operate on feelings apart from the leadership of the Word of God. This is a recipe for disaster. A life that is not centered in the Word of God has no spiritual framework to guide the conscience. Therefore, if you do what you think is right, based on your conscience, without a clear Word from God, you will be headed straight for shipwreck.


(Note: We had better be careful about operating in a mentality based on “This is what I feel…” or “This is what I think…” We need to base our lives upon and guide our consciences with the Word of God. Furthermore, we need to be careful about violating a good conscience. It can become “seared” making sin easier and repentance more difficult, 1 Tim. 4:2.)

Is that how you live your life?





In 1912, the world was amazed at the R.M.S. Titanic. She was the most spectacular boat afloat. Handsomely appointed and decorated with all the best the world had to offer, people believed that she had the potential to return years of faithful service to her passengers and mountains of money to her owners. Yet, because of errors, some small and others large, she became a shipwreck and when she sank, she took many innocent lives with her.


What will be said about your life?

Will men be able to quote the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” and apply them to you? Or will your life stand as a memorial to those who veer off course, only to be wrecked upon the jagged reefs and rocks of sin?


You may scoff at this message, but the fact of the matter is this: there is an iceberg out there with your name on it. If you are unprepared when you arrive at its location, you will sink like a rock. What will be the outcome of your life?


You say, “Preacher, we just don’t know what will happen to us!” You are right, but regardless of what comes your way in life, regardless of the tragedies, regardless of the temptations, you can safely navigate the seas of life and land safely in the pristine harbor of glory with your testimony intact. I pray you will!


This altar is open to receive all who will come. If you are lost and need to be saved, you come. If you headed for shipwreck and it is clear to you, you come. If you want to prevent that from happening in your life, then you come. There is help for you in the presence of the Lord!


Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!









Spiritual Warfare









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