The Horror of Shipwreck
This charge I entrust to you, Timothy … wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander... - I Timothy 1:18-20
Hymenaeus and Alexander shipwrecked their faith. This is called apostasy. There are those who claim to be believers, even think they are, but ultimately reject the truths of Christ. How horrifying!
How can this happen? Paul charges Timothy to wage war, holding faith and good conscience. When you neglect your conscience and willfully sin in ways you know to be wrong, your conscience becomes seared (I Tim 4:1-2).
To my horror, I've seen this happen with people I know. I've had bible studies with men that have since left the faith. I can generally trace their shipwreck not first to intellectual doubt, but to willful sinning in ways they knew to be wrong. In time, flawed beliefs about God followed their flawed living. Unchecked moral decay results in doctrinal decay.
As Kent Hughes has said "[If we trample our consciences] in time, our love for God will fade, our heart and conscience will give in, and we will be shells of hypocrisy".
Beloved, may it never be with us! Let's wage war against our sinful nature! As we study his Word, and conviction follows, please do not ignore it! Repent and keep short accounts with God. May our lives match our doctrine! If not - eventually, and tragically, our doctrine will match our lives...