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Shipwreck Faith: How to Be In the World, Not of It

Updated: May 5, 2020

Our faith in God's ability overrides every circumstance on earth. This is a timeless lesson, applicable to the problems we are currently facing. We do not worship events, rather we worship the God Who works within and far beyond them. We reverence the Creator of it all, the One Who decides every matter under the sun, and we honor His scope of dealings and mastery of time.

God alone is good.

Despite the mocking of the contemporary world (similar to the doubters in biblical times), we understand the spiritual aspect of every matter is remedied first, then the natural follows course. This process is easier on us when we rest in God and release our choke hold on the world. We float on water rather than fight it.

God will use our physical surroundings and occurrences to capture our spiritual attention and direct us on the path He desires we travel for His good and everlasting purpose. To get us to move forward, He has to release us from the world, and ask us to cut all anchors but hope in Him (Zech 9:12).

A solid ship remains a ship from shore to shore,

but an unsound vessel grounds like a sponge to the ocean floor.

The biblical intent is for us to sail regardless of storm. We are to overcome every single challenge in life, not become that challenge, and therefore succumb to it (John 16:33; Rev 2:7). We are in the world, but not of it (John 17:14-16).

D. L. Moody has said...

“Christians should live in the world, but not be filled with it. A ship lives in the water; but if the water gets into the ship, she goes to the bottom. So Christians may live in the world; but if the world gets into them, they sink.”

We have all heard the phrase, "water off a duck’s back,” in reference to evil coming against us--we are to shed it and leave it behind. This negativity can be in the form of an insult, the evening news, stock market fluctuations, or fear or rejection of any kind. We are not to take it to heart, but simply use it to move us. When we know God is navigating a much broader course, we can easily trust Him with our very lives. When we are faithful to do maintenance on our souls, to care for ourselves as vessels filled and flooded with the love of God Himself, we come to know:

  • We are not to let the cares of this world enter our souls and sink us down.

  • We are to guard our hearts diligently, for out of them flow the issues of life (Prov 4:23).

  • We are to responsibly rest and refurbish our souls, taking the time necessary to seal our lives with the oil of the Holy Spirit Who protects us in every way.

We serve an eternal God, and our faithful service is to last a lifetime. Our faith on this earth requires patience for long distance, and bravery for high seas. It takes expert craftsmanship to solidify our belief system, making it foundational to everything else in life. Many people have "flash in the pan" convictions, but when circumstance drags out or events rattle their nerve, they give up the venture as if their faith never was. They suffer a shipwreck of faith. But those with solid faith and enduring hope tend their souls diligently. They fill their spirit with the Word of God and they take time in prayer, ensuring a full supply of oil. They are sealed and branded in the Holy Spirit of God--undaunted, movable and useful. These saints are fully aware of God's ability residing within them. His power is more than enough to take on any challenge!

1 Timothy 1:18-19 (NASB) says:

This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.

From this we know:

  • It is better to suffer a natural shipwreck than a shipwreck of faith.

  • Keeping one's faith in tact is fighting the good fight.

  • Spiritual warfare, or the battle between good and evil, happens today.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary reads:

The ministry is a warfare against sin and Satan; carried on under the Lord Jesus, who is the Captain of our salvation. The good hopes others have had of us, should stir us up to duty. And let us be upright in our conduct in all things. The design of the highest censures in the primitive church, was, to prevent further sin, and to reclaim the sinner. May all who are tempted to put away a good conscience, and to abuse the gospel, remember that this is the way to make shipwreck of faith also.

Water in Paul's day is mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:25-26 (NASB) where he writes of his challenges:

Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren.

Danger, or peril, means very high risk with one’s natural life. But this is simply used to press believers to their destiny. In Acts 27, we see Paul's account of an actual shipwreck, where external events mirrored what was happening in his soul.

In Acts 27:23-25 (AMPC), we read...

For this [very] night there stood by my side an angel of the God to Whom I belong and Whom I serve and worship,
And he said, Do not be frightened, Paul! It is necessary for you to stand before Caesar; and behold, God has given you all those who are sailing with you.
So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith (complete confidence) in God that it will be exactly as it was told me.

Though some journeys are more perilous than others, and take longer than we originally planned, we can trust God through them all. Like Paul, we listen to God's still, small voice and we trust Him (1 Kings 19:12; John 10:27-28). As believers, we take care not to ingest the world’s sin and calamity as we go on our way. Crisis and turmoil in the natural world presses us to our destined shore. We simply use swirling, rising and falling water to allow the Holy Breath of the Lord to move us to greater things.

In 1 Timothy 1:18-19 we are charged to keep our faith, guarding it by keeping a good, clean CONSCIENCE, or suneidésis (SOON i DAY SIS), which means being morally jointed with God. This prevents spiritual shipwreck, and calms the natural sea of change.

Helps Word Studies defines suneidesis as:

"Together with [God], joint-knowing, a conscience which joins moral and spiritual consciousness as part of being created in the divine image. All people have this God-given capacity to know right from is an innate discernment, a self-judging consciousness."

A joint-knowing, or an inner, moral connection with God, keeps us well balanced. We are tuned in to God's directives as He captains us. When we reject and ignore our own faith, we are failing to do the soul maintenance necessary to navigate life safely. We are venturing into the deep waters without adequate preparation to face a high degree of difficulty. We are being spiritually irresponsible. Therefore, we succumb to worry, anxiety and doubt, taking on the water and calamity of the fallen world, risking a shipwreck of faith. We need faith to float, or panic sinks us. We lose our bearings, go off course and lose hold of our divine purpose when we fight against God's methods of movement.

Jesus pulled Peter out of the sea and said,

you of little faith why did you doubt?

Matthew 14:31

You see, God created us to believe, to utilize great faith, and to have a higher perspective on natural circumstances--so much so, they do not control our reactions, emotions or decisions. Like a migratory bird knows the direction to fly every winter and every spring, God has placed a compass inside every created soul.

You do hear from God.

Follow His still, small voice, follow the Light, and you shall be saved. You will be able to walk on water with GREAT FAITH and, God through you, will accomplish GREAT THINGS.

We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7 NASB).


God bless you.


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Bible Translations:

Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (La Habra, CA: The Zondervan Corporation and the Lockman Foundation, 1987). Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified Bible (AMPC), Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation


Helps Word-Studies, "Suneidesis," accessed May 4, 2020,

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