“so that… you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience…” (1 Timothy 1:18-19, NIV).
What does it mean to “fight the battle well”? The Apostle Paul wrote to his young protege, Timothy, that victory in the Christian life means holding on to faith and a good conscience. Fighting the battle well doesn’t mean winning every battle, never making a mistake, being a special ops-Christian, or knowing all the right answers. It doesn’t mean you never doubt, never question, and always obey the first time. It simply means that you don’t lose trust in Jesus and you listen to your conscience.
God gave us a conscience to serve as an inner moral compass, guiding us to what is right. That doesn’t mean our conscience is always correct in its guidance. Sometimes my conscience, which has been trained by a legalistic upbringing to be overly strict at times, bothers me about things that are not wrong. Other times my conscience doesn’t convict me because it doesn’t recognize that something is wrong. It’s also possible to sear your conscience by ignoring its protests repeatedly over time. After a while, you don’t even hear it anymore.
I once heard a pastor say, “Your conscience isn’t always right, but it’s always wrong to violate it.” I think that’s excellent advice! And, the fantastic thing with following Jesus is that over time His Holy Spirit actually instructs your conscience. The more your trust in Jesus grows and develops, the more your conscience becomes in tune with the Holy Spirit.
God speaks to me quite often through my conscience, convicting me of areas in my life that need His attention. But this didn’t develop overnight. It takes time. Following Jesus happens one day, one step at a time. Fighting the battle well means trusting in Jesus today, and asking Him to reveal to your conscience today any sin that needs to be confessed (see 1 John 1:9). Hold on to faith, and deal with whatever your conscience convicts you of, and in so doing, you will find that you are fighting the battle well.
My prayer for the week is a simple one:
Lord Jesus, “who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep Your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgressions. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:12-14, NIV).