A Shipwrecked Faith (1 Tim. 1:19-20)
A Shipwrecked Faith
1 Tim. 1:19-20
We are living in a day of wrecks. Almost every paper carries one or more articles of wrecks of cars, planes, and trains. We read about and personally see marriages that are wrecked and lives of individuals wrecked.
It is a tragedy to see a home wrecked. Just imagine feeling the pain of broken hearted children left on the mercy of the world crying out for help. The mental hospitals, the jails are full of folks whose lives have been shipwrecked. As we read in Romans 14:7, “not one lives to himself.” Every home, person or child whose proper place in life has been thrown in turmoil affects its surroundings. All of our actions whether intentional or not have an influence.
But then there is another tragedy in life that is yet more heart breaking. And that is a “shipwrecked faith.”
The most tragic laden person on earth is one who has wrecked his faith and is left without God.
We have a good example of one in the Bible who wrecked his faith (Rom. 15:4; 1 Sam. 28:15-16; 1 Cor. 10:1-12).
1 Samuel 9:2 and 11:13 tell us that Saul started his life as a choice young man. Let’s look at his life and follow him to see how he wrecked his faith.
HOW SAUL WRECKED HIS FAITH:
His first downward step was impatience under trial (1 Sam. 13:8-14).
He was careful to maintain an outward rite, but spiritual focus and faith were wanting. He failed to see any relation between the command given and God. He thought it had to be done, but did not think of God as being the one on whom success depended. Expediency set aside principle. It would have been far better to risk losing the battle than fail in obedience to God.
His second step downward was self-willed and power-mad (1 Sam. 15).
His sin was not one of ignorance. He failed to remember he was under the law of God. His obedience was only partial. Saul wanted the approval of man rather than God (15:24). Saul tried to justify his obedience, by substituting sacrifice for obedience (15:15), by putting the blame on someone else (15:21).
He was impenitent.
He did not hate his sin but the results (ver. 30). Saul was more interested in his honor than God’s (ver. 30). Who is king in my life? My will or God’s?
Saul’s third step downward was a lack of appreciation for a good and loyal friend.
He did not appreciate the value of Samuel as a friend. Saul was blessed by having Samuel as a friend and counselor. When Samuel heard of Saul’s failure, it broke his heart. He cried all night to the Lord (15:11). What a privilege to have a friend like that.
Samuel not only talked to God about Saul’s sin, but he came to Saul. But when he found Saul, only Samuel’s face was stained with tears. Had it been David, he would have broken down in tears and asked Samuel to pray for him. But not so of Saul.
His fourth step downward was when he let jealousy, envy, and hateful passions engulf him (1 Sam. 18:7-8).
At first, he was jealous occasionally (18:7-8). He let jealousy become an evil habit (ver. 9). He ought to have been horrified at the thought, but instead he nourished and added fuel to the flame. He let jealousy lead to cunning pretense (1 Sam. 18:17, 21-22). Religion can become just a sham or imposture. There is no relation between religion and life. Look at the difference in the action of Saul and David during this time. Saul was jealous, envious; David, loyal and a useful servant.
LOOK AT THE DESPERATION OF A MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS FAITH:
1 Samuel 28:15 says, “that God had departet from me.”
When Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was sore afraid - his heart trembled (28:5). Battles had been won before when the odds were against them, but God was with them and Saul knows now he must go without God.
Saul called on God only to receive no answer. Decisive battles to be fought and only silence from God. We read of the silence of the desert, the silence of midnight, the silence of the grave. We’ve seen people stand beside the dead and talk to them and the dreadful silence. But this is more dreadful - the silence of God, when the appeal is made by one facing the battle of life or the battle of death. This is not the silence of indifference, or inability to hear, nor of weakness, but the silence of rejection, of refusal (Prov. 1:24-28).
The God Saul needs and the only one who can help, is now his enemy (28:16). Some have the idea that God must help everyone regardless of life. God’s response to man depends on man’s response to God.
In desperation, he turns to the witch of Endor (1 Sam. 28:8). Seeking counsel from the very source that he had tried to drive from Israel (28:3). Saul asked counsel of Samuel that he had consistently rejected while Samuel lived. He seeks what he once could have had but too late. The sentence of death is passed by the very one whose counsel he had rejected in the past (28:18-19).
Here is a wrecked man without God. See him as he lies prostrate on the ground, strength gone, God forsaken (28:20). The man who once had won battles in the name of God now without God, doomed to defeat. A man without hope, who cannot hope because he cannot pray.
Saul had willfully set aside God’s law in 1 Samuel 15, only now to find that God’s law of retribution cannot be set aside. He had sown and now must reap. This law he couldn’t set aside or alter (Gal. 6:7-8). What a picture of a man without faith. A man without faith because he destroyed it. That is enough to make the angels weep. It’s enough to make men humble and anxious above all things to nourish and cherish their faith.
Look at what he might have been… His role in life was self-chosen. Look at his life against the background of his associates. He could have been a man of prayer like Samuel. He could have been a man with a loving heart like his son Jonathan. He could have been a man after God’s own heart like David.
But he was not. They nourished their faith. He destroyed his by nourishing his jealousy, envy and pride. Shall my life end like Saul’s? The answer to that question depends on me!
the late Wayne Holland, Sr.
a sermon preached at:
Hayesville, NC (11/7/1982)
Roxboro, NC (11/19/1989)
Seibles Road church of Christ in
Montgomery, AL (11/26/1989)
South Boston, VA (12/10/1995)