Standing Firm in Your Faith even when this means going through the fire.
“Timothy, you are constantly in my prayers. Day and night I remember you before God and give thanks to Him whom I serve with a clean conscience, as did my ancestors. I really want to see you, especially when I remember how you cried the last time we were together. Yes, I know it would make me joyful to see you again.” 2 Timothy 1:3-4 The Voice
Now we hear from Paul in his second letter to Timothy and we see him, again, referring to his own conscience. In other places, he states repeatedly that his conscience is clear or pure. He even says that his ancestors served God with a clean conscience.
Paul in Prison
Paul is writing this letter from prison. He knows he is facing death and this letter shows more of his deep love for and pride in Timothy. At the same time, he feels it is important to reiterate the state of his conscience. Why does Paul’s situation matter? Because this is a man who, in the face of death, is standing firm in his faith.
Remember, Paul was a Roman citizen who had come from a powerful and wealthy family. Had he been willing to compromise, say what people wanted to hear, he would have gone free. Just a little compromise to save your own life. But this was not an option for Paul. He was not being proud and refusing to compromise just to prove a point. In order to compromise, he would have had to renounce Christ as his Savior and Lord, something Paul would never do. Perhaps, this is why he felt it was important to let Timothy know that his conscience was clean.
Paul in Persecution
Paul had gone through a great deal of persecution – multiple beatings and being stoned nearly to death. He had been in prison more than once. This rich, powerful man chose the path of servanthood. Now, he is near the end of his life and can say that his conscience is clean. He continues to write and encourage others, like Timothy, in the faith. He commends Timothy, gives him instruction, points out others have failed and those who have done well, and preaches the truth of Christ in every way he can to the very end.
Here is Paul’s viewpoint on his situation:
“I was appointed a preacher, emissary, and teacher of this message. This is exactly why I am suffering. But I am not ashamed because I know Him and I have put my trust in Him. And I am fully certain that He has the ability to protect what I have placed in His care until that day.” 2 Timothy 1:11-12 The Voice
Paul Standing Firm in His Faith
Paul is very clear in knowing his situation. He is also very clear about his faith and how he is handling his impending death:
“For I am already being poured out, and the last drops of this drink offering are all that remain; it’s almost time for me to leave. I have fought the good fight, I have stayed on course and finished the race, and through it all, I have kept believing. I look forward to what’s in store for me: a crown of righteousness that the Lord—the always right and just judge—will give me that day (but it is not only for me, but for all those who love and long for His appearing).
Come to me, Timothy, as soon as you can. You see, Demas has fallen for this world, abandoned me, and headed off to Thessalonica. Crescens took off for Galatia. Titus has gone to Dalmatia. Luke is the only one left. Bring Mark with you because he is useful in this work and will help look after me. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. On your way here, pick up the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas, and bring the scrolls—especially the parchments.” 2 Timothy 4:6-15 The Voice
Paul in Contentment
Such an amazing life and example. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he stated, “I am not saying this because I am in need. I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances. I know how to survive in tight situations, and I know how to enjoy having plenty. In fact, I have learned how to face any circumstances: fed or hungry, with or without. I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength.” Philippians 4:11-13 The Voice In 2 Timothy, we see him demonstrating this ability to be content.
No one knows how Paul was martyred. It is thought that he was beheaded somewhere around the same time that Peter was crucified. Nero was persecuting Christians, blaming them for the fire which destroyed much of Rome. Because Paul was a Roman citizen, he was protected from crucifixion and so it is supposed by historians that he was beheaded instead. This letter is one of his last. Paul’s situation was far more dire than ever before. He was chained in the basement of a dungeon and his disciples had encountered difficulty trying to find him. All but Luke had deserted him and he appeals to Timothy to come to him as soon as possible.
Paul in Persecution
Yet, he isn’t feeling sorry for himself or complaining. Instead, he is busy making sure that the church is made whole and that the people he loves stand strong, continuing the work he had begun. He knows that the church is being persecuted and he has great concerns about their moral character and the deception they are falling under. He isn’t trying to figure out how to stay alive, just how to keep the church alive.
it is doubtful that you or I will be martyred for our faith. In fact, we don’t even face much in the way of persecution. We do have resistance to faith here in America, but Christians are not generally being persecuted here. There are many other places in the world where persecution and martyrdom are taking place. The war we encounter has a completely different face.
Paul in His Culture
Prosperity and competition are two of the challenges we face. Our culture says that you can never have too much money, a house that’s too big, or a car that’s too expensive. And, in fact, to really be considered successful, you need all of those things. Everything is a competition and being number one is all that counts. If you’re not number one, you’re nothing. We bully, condemn, judge, and never seem to have enough of anything. Our culture knows little of the contentment Paul had. As Christians, we fight every day to carve out the time and space to experience that contentment. Being ‘busy’ is worshipped in our culture and we fight not to be swallowed by it.
Paul seems like a strange anomaly of some sort. How could you be content in prison facing death? How can you be at peace knowing you are about to be beheaded? Why would this guy have given up money and power?
The crazy thing about our culture is there is a great deal of talk about meditating, simplifying our lives, and focusing on the things that really matter. Yet, we see a culture where there is busyness, strain, pressure, and striving, even for Christian families. We want a simple, peaceful life yet can’t seem to find it. The pressure of ‘more’ is always there. Then we read about Paul in prison, at peace, and focused on sustaining the church for as long as he can and it’s hard to relate.
Paul’s Message in Our Culture
But Paul has a message for us. All around him there was the pressure for more, strain, striving and a different sort of busyness. There were culture wars, discrimination, persecution, hardship, and striving. Same problems, just a different setting. It’s easy to read the Bible and forget that a trip to buy groceries meant putting on your sandals, walking through dirt in every kind of weather, and perhaps walking for miles carrying everything. There was no fast food, no washers and dryers, no department stores, and running water might have been your only convenience. What would take us one hour to do could take them days. Yet Paul’s message was one of a clean conscience and a calm peace in the face of hardship.
Granted, Paul didn’t have a wife or children. Instead, he had the brand new bride of Christ and a whole bunch of God’s kids who seem to be as easy to handle as herding cats! He is facing death and all but one have deserted him, others are teaching false doctrines, some have fallen to the world, and others are being killed for their faith. He’s chained in a dungeon – why isn’t he depressed?
Paul in His Last Days
Second Timothy is the last letter Paul ever wrote. It is filled with faith, hope and love. This chapter holds the last written words we have a record of.
“Keep your eye out for Alexander the coppersmith! He came against me with all sorts of evil—may the Lord pay him back accordingly— so watch your back because he has gone overboard to oppose our message.
When it was time for my first defense, no one showed up to support me. Everyone abandoned me (may it not be held against them) except the Lord. He stood by me, strengthened me, and backed the truth I proclaimed with power so it may be heard by all the non-Jews. He rescued me, pried open the lion’s jaw, and snatched me from its teeth. And I know the Lord will continue to rescue me from every trip, trap, snare, and pitfall of evil and carry me safely to His heavenly kingdom. May He be glorified throughout eternity. Amen.
Give my regards to Prisca, Aquila, and everyone over at Onesiphorus’s house. Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus in Miletus because he was sick. Try your best to come before winter blows in. Eubulus says hello and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brothers and sisters. May the Lord be with your spirit, and may His grace be with you. [Amen.]” 2 Timothy 4:14-22 The Voice
Paul in Peace
His faith was strong, as were his admonitions. His love was poured out upon the faithful. This is simply a man who knew His Savior and who had put his entire life into His hands. He was at peace because He knew Whom he had believed. Philippians 3:7-11 shows what Paul believes and what sustains him.
“But whatever I used to count as my greatest accomplishments, I’ve written them off as a loss because of the Anointed One. And more so, I now realize that all I gained and thought was important was nothing but yesterday’s garbage compared to knowing the Anointed Jesus my Lord. For Him I have thrown everything aside—it’s nothing but a pile of waste—so that I may gain Him. When it counts, I want to be found belonging to Him, not clinging to my own righteousness based on law, but actively relying on the faithfulness of the Anointed One. This is true righteousness, supplied by God, acquired by faith. I want to know Him inside and out. I want to experience the power of His resurrection and join in His suffering, shaped by His death, 11 so that I may arrive safely at the resurrection from the dead.“
Paul in Perspective
Paul is thought to have been born in 5 AD, found Christ in approximately 34 AD, making him only 29 at the time. For 32 more years, from 34 AD until his death in approximately 66 AD, Paul relentlessly pursued his Savior’s love and direction. He died at age 61. Over 32 years, he wrote 13 letters, not including the book of Hebrews. Those 13 or 14 letters have survived for over 2,000 years. They helped build the early church and every one since. Yet, Paul began life as a rich, privileged, hate-filled man. Just one encounter with Jesus made him completely new and, from that moment forward, he stood firm in his faith. When his life ended he was rich spiritually and poor in every other way. His treasure was in heaven.
Paul in the End
Paul knew his death was imminent and felt it important to make known his clean conscience, so shouldn’t it be important to us also? I think it should. A clean conscience is a reflection of what is in the heart and mind. I would encourage you to read all 4 chapters of 2 Timothy, and, as you do, keep the context in mind. These are the last words of a man who has given everything he had to sustain the truth of the faith you have today.
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**We use verses from different Bible translations.
To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit our Scripture Citations.
1 – 24 Day Challenge – Renewing Your Mind and Conscience
2 – Living By the Golden Rule
3 – Being Falsely Accused
4 – A Personal Testimony of Salvation
5 – Knowing Right From Wrong
6 – What is the Power of the Holy Spirit?
7 – Submitting to Authority
8 – What is a Weak Conscience?
9 – Living a Life Worthy of the Gospel
10 – Speaking The Truth at All Times
11 – Purity of Heart and Mind
12 – 12 Steps to Overcoming Guilt and Shame
13 – Living With Integrity
14 – The Goal of Unselfish Love
15 – The Shield of Faith
16 – Leading By Example
17 – Being A Good Enough Christian