by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 4 Study # 2 Lincolnton, NC June 20, 2004
19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
1901 ASV Translation:
19 holding faith and a good conscience; which some having thrust from them made shipwreck concerning the faith:
There are no textual variations between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26.
I. Paul puts forward two significant responsibilities for the "fight": "faith" and a "good conscience".
A. The anartharous (no definite article) use of "faith" emphasizes the active attitude of mind, not "the" content of faith as "the faith" (which he actually uses in the next phrase -- "concerning the faith").
1. The KJV actually muddies the waters here in that it makes no distinction between the anartharous use of the word "faith" in the beginning of the verse and the articular use of the same word at the end of the verse.
2. Paul, in the opening of this verse, is addressing how one "wars the good warfare".
a. The first aspect of that warring is "holding faith".
1) What is going on here is the active maintenance of a clear mental focus on what is true.
2) There are all manner of issues that enter into the picture of "mental focus" and all of them must be subjugated in favor of a clear-eyed mental focus upon the active questions, What is valuable? and What is true?.
a) Confusion can come from emotional reactions: emotions typically sidetrack the ability to think clearly.
b) Confusion can come from intellectual debate: being unsettled as to the very facts of a case can unseat clarity.
3) In respect to a clear mental focus, this must be fundamental: what God says is true without debate or hesitation; then there is the issue of the pursuit of the discovery of just what it is that He has said in terms of His wording and His meaning.
a) In order for this to stand, the more critical question (What is valuable?) must be decisively answered in favor of the value system of God so that there is no active competition with God over "values". As long as we do not "want" what God "wants", it will be impossible for us to come to grips with what is true because "truth" follows desire.
b) The issues of what God has said and what He means by what He has said are not simplistic, but we have the active intervention of God on our behalf to get us over the obstacles.
i. Most learning that results in fundamental conviction is not "single text based", but the result of multiple concepts being input over time so that a dawning clarity begins to emerge so that "single texts" begin to take on a clarity which they have not had.
ii. This developing awareness is the consequence of the ministry of God's Spirit as He actively works to produce the mind of Christ in us.
b. The second aspect of this warring is "holding a good conscience".
1) The issue involved here has to do with one's perception of whether/how well one has been actively involved in seeing the will of God accomplished in one's living experiences.
a) When one senses that there is a contradiction between what God has said and what one has experienced, "guilt" sets in and a "good conscience" has departed.
b) When one has no sense that there is such a contradiction, the "good conscience" is present and being maintained.
2) It must be clear that one cannot "hold faith" without simultaneously holding a "good conscience" because a violated conscience undercuts the active trust that is involved in "holding faith".
3) The issue of clarity in terms of conscience is also a result of the ministry of the Holy Spirit as He works within our minds and hearts.
B. With these two requirements, Paul has summarized the entirety of the Christian walk.
II. The Paul sets forth what happens in some cases...people sometimes push aside the conviction of wrong so that they refuse to be honest any longer about their participation with God.
A. There is an order to what transpires...
1. Because of false servant-values, which are rooted in false beliefs, people often begin to resist the sense of failure in their experience because they realize that pursuit in the direction of the Spirit is going to require the death of those servant-values.
a. This realization produces an internal conflict.
b. The conflict is not going to remain unresolved.
c. If it is resolved in terms of maintaining the false servant-value, the "conscience" is violated and life with a "good" conscience is sacrificed.
2. Then, once the conscience has been violated, there develops a method for squelching its objections that can run up to what Paul called a "seared conscience".
a. This "run up" to the seared conscience is fraught with danger.
1) The facts will not change over time and wishful thinking.
2) The longer one resists going back to the departure from faith and a good conscience, the more "silent" the conscience becomes until it finally makes no further objection.
3) At this point, "the faith" becomes a matter for the person to "adjust" so that the lifestyle can be presented to others as legitimate. This is where the shipwreck comes into the picture: the actual content of "the faith" is now being altered from Truth to deception. The result is what Paul calls, in the next verse, "blasphemy".
b. There is no greater issue than this issue of dealing honestly with a violated conscience.