Your Personal Role in the Spiritual Protection of Our Church Family.

1 Timothy 1 is all about ministry balance. Paul emphasizes three things necessary for Timothy's ministry and every local church:

  • teaching sound doctrine,
  • maintaining an evangelistic heart, and
  • defending the faith.

Every member must take responsibility for all three. A congregation that only teaches sound doctrine or only evangelizes will know success for a while, but a flock where each saint embraces the challenge of learning to defend the body of faith entrusted to them will know the eternal blessing of God.


What is required of each believer as we learn how to defend our faith?


A good athletic team never approaches a competition with no knowledge of their opponent. Christians have an enemy seeking to destroy them – Satan, the devil, along with his band of fallen angels. We must know our opponent to effectively guard against his tactics. Satan is called the "god of this world" who does all he can to hinder the message of Christ and redemption (2 Corinthians 4:4). In the church, he seeks to ruin leaders, break up marriages and homes, and introduce false teaching.

Paul commands Timothy in military terms to "fight the good fight" (verse 18). One way to defend against the devil's temptations is to use the resources available to us in the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).


God has given each Christian a set of unique and specific skills, called spiritual gifts.

Paul reminds Timothy of "the prophecies previously made concerning" him. When the New Testament had not yet been completed, some believers had the gift of prophecy, including the ability to declare the presence of spiritual gifts. These believers had recognized in Timothy a gift that made him able to shepherd the church at Ephesus.

Your spiritual gift leads the way to your individual appointment to service. Every believer has a duty to fulfill the gift God has given them. There is something for you to do right where you are. Loyal commitment to God’s gifting through His local church is necessary for the defense of the faith.


One author said, "Bad doctrine usually begins with bad personal conduct." Paul does not typically call out people by name, but in 1 Timothy 1:20, he names two men who had rejected the faith. They were likely leaders who had allowed worldly choices in their own lives and began to rationalize away sound doctrine.

The most active way a Christian individually defends ministry integrity is through personal choices in daily living. Two commitments will influence our activity in "keeping faith and a good conscience" (verse 19).

A Commitment to Maturity

Growing in Christ-likeness is a progressive pursuit that comes as we learn more of God's Word. We must hold firm to the whole Scripture, not be specialists in one area at the expense of another. This will develop in us a tender conscience led by the Spirit as we make day-to-day choices.

A Commitment to Purity

The foundation to properly defending our faith is a clean conscience, and a good conscience is the result of a pure life. Our conscience is a God-given sense that either excuses or accuses us depending on our behavior. Our life and doctrine go together. A conscience guided by the whole of the Word will pursue the holiness and purity of God.

Personal purity becomes the foundation for the purity of the whole church. Doctrinal error quickly follows when we decide to bypass the truth of Scripture in one or more areas of our behavior. The first step toward falling to temptation is taking our eyes off the Bible.

Application Points

  • Are you fulfilling your duty to exercise your spiritual gift? Embrace spiritual service in the family of God according to your gift. There is something for you to do right where you are! Find one area of spiritual service and do it faithfully.
  • Our consumer culture often creeps into our attitude toward church. Do you pick a church for how it benefits you? God gives us spiritual gifts to benefit others. If you are not using your gift, you leave our church without a needed level of protection.
  • Are you committed to maturity? Are you holding firm to a whole understanding of the Bible? How can you pursue that at a greater level? The first step toward sin is to stop reading your Bible.
  • Are you committed to purity? Do you run all your decisions through the filter of God's Word and prayer? Pray that God would direct your heart, and use the resources God has placed in our church. Ask your spiritual mentor and believers who have been in the Lord for years whether a particular choice would be honoring to God.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Galatians 5:16-24, Romans 7:14-25 – We have an enemy within.
  • 2 Timothy 2:4, Luke 9:62 – Duty is heavy on the heart of the gifted saint.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:3 – God's will is our progressive sanctification.
  • 2 Peter 1:3 – God has already provided guidance for every situation in life.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-20, Colossians 3:1-17, Ephesians 5:1-21, Philippians 4:8 – The Holy Spirit is interested in your daily choices. God has a right to demand holiness.
  • 1 John 2:15-17, 1 Peter 1:15-17 – The purity of the whole church is built on the personal purity of each individual.

Know Your Enemy:

  • 1 Peter 5:8 – A description of Satan, our chief enemy.
  • Ezekiel 28:11-19, Isaiah 14:12-14, Genesis 6:1-5, Matthew 2:16, Matthew 4:1-11 – Satan's history, goals, and activity. Satan and his angels' chief target has always been Christ and His redemptive purpose.
  • 1 Timothy 3:7, Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 3:18-21, 2 Peter 2, Acts 20:28-32 – Satan's designs in the church age are to disrupt the institutions God has established.
Quotes to Ponder

“Doctrinal purity must be accompanied by purity of life. There is an inseparable link between truth and morality, between right belief and right behavior.”

“If Jesus is not Lord over all, then he is not LORD at all.”

A Hymn to Encourage: "Christian Hearts in Love United"

Christian hearts, in love united,
Seek alone in Jesus rest;
Has He not your love excited?
Then let love inspire each breast;
Members on our head depending,
Lights reflecting Him, our sun,
Brethren His commands attending,
We in Him, our Lord, are one.

Come, then, come, O flock of Jesus,
Covenant with Him anew;
Unto Him who conquered for us,
Pledge we love and service true;
And should our love’s union holy
Firmly linked no more remain,
Wait ye at His footstool lowly,
Till He draw it close again.

Grant, Lord, that with Thy direction,
"Love each other," we comply,
Aiming with unfeigned affection
Thy love to exemplify;
Let our mutual love be glowing,
Thus will all men plainly see,
That we, as on one stem growing,
Living branches are in Thee.

O that such may be our union,
As Thine with the Father is,
And not one of our communion
E’er forsake the path of bliss;
May our light forth with brightness,
From Thy light reflected, shine;
Thus the world will bear us witness,
That we, Lord, are truly Thine.