I started my day in 1 Timothy 1, again. This time looking at verses 12-17. As I read, I was immediately reminded of God's amazing grace.
1 Timothy 1:12-17...
The Lord’s Grace to Paul
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Paul begins by recognizing his state; by his own admission he was the worst of sinners. Paul, as recorded in the book of Acts, in the Bible, once went by the name Saul. Saul was a member of the religious leadership in the days following Jesus' death, resurrection, and return to heaven. As Jesus followers, the apostles as they were called, began sharing the news about Jesus and the people were placing their belief in Jesus. Saul considered this wrong. It was a threat to the establish tradition of the people. Now everything was changing. Saul determined that he would take it upon himself to elimate anyone who profession a belief in Jesus.
But along the way, Saul encountered Jesus, and Jesus changed Saul's heart. Saul became known as Paul, and Paul began one of the greatest evangelist and church-planter the world had seen. Why? Because Jesus stepped in and change Saul. That's what leads Paul to say, "Thank you."
How is a change like this possible?
Paul says it through Grace. It was the grace of the Lord, poured our abundantly on him. Then with that grace, faith and love that come only from Christ.
So what does this all mean?
Well, I think it means this...
First, I think we have to finally come to grips with the idea of sin. NOBODY likes to hear they are a sinner. Even in the church, when the topic of sin is brought up, many, if not most, will tune out, because we don't like the idea of someone else telling us that how we choose to live is wrong. Especially in a culture where we celebrate sin like it's an achievement worthy of praise and reward. But the Bible is very clear about what sin is, and that everyone man, woman, and child is a sinner.
Here in these verses, Paul says, 'Yes, I am a sinner!" He doesn't hide it or deny it. He instead owns it and makes it known. If fact, you could go as far as to say, that in owner are sin, we bring glory to God because even in our sin, He loved us and sought to save us!
Second, we have to remember why Jesus came to earth little more than 2000 years ago. Paul says in verse 15, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners..." The number one reason that Jesus was born in a stable, grew to be a man, and died on the cross, was to be a sacrifice to sin. Sacrifice? Yeah, I know, it's a scary word. But A sacrifice is the giving up of something for something, usually at great loss to the one giving that something up. In our case, God sends His only son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for mankind.
You see, a long time ago, man was in a good relationship with God. But man chose to disobey a standard that God had set. That disobedience broke the relationship and put a separation between God and man. The damage done was something that man could not fix. He had made is choice and was now left to live with the consequences; this would be sin. That sin has continued to infect us every since that moment. And it has pushed us urther and further away from God.
But here's the deal. God still loved the man and longed for the relationship He had once enjoyed with man. So God made it possible for man to come to God again. The way was through sacrifice. You see, the bible says that penelty for sin is death. Something must die for the wrong things we've done. That death should be ours. It's kinda' like when you own money on your credit card. You made the choice to use the card and buy a bunch of stuff, driving the amount you now own to be tens of thousands of dollars. Now the credit card company comes and say that they want full payment right here, right now. No payment plans, no minimum payments. They want it all. Well there's no way you can write out a check to pay for what you owe. What are you going to do?
Sin is the same. There is no way you can pay for all the wrong you've done.
But what if someone can along, he saw your situation, and because he loved you, he wrote the check. Now you're all paid up. You owe the credit company nothing. And best yet, you owe this person nothing. All he wants is for you to get to know him, have a relationship with him, cut up the credit card never to use it again. You'd be a changed person.
That is what God has done. He sent Jesus to die in your place. He paid your debt. He can forgive your sins. And He wants you to come to know Him, love Him, and be changed through His love and grace. The same grace and love that changed Paul.
So do I believe this?
And I stand with Paul, recognizing that it was the grace of our Lord, that was poured out on me!
How can I know this to be true?
That comes through faith and choosing to believe that Jesus really is who he said he was.
And Church, it's time that we started living accordingly. To engage the world with love, not afraid to call sin, sin, but in love show the world what Jesus did. Let's stop turning a blind eye to the headlines and happening of this world, allowing fear to cloud our own beliefs. Stand on the truth of God's Word, demonstrate grace, and show the world what love looks like.
If you are reading this and you do not know the Jesus who loving died for you, let me encourage you to find a church that teaches the bible, and talk with it's pastor. Or, pick up a bible for yourself, and begin reading it. I suggest you begin with the Gospel of John. You will find it in the New Testament. And as you read, begin by first letting go of what you think you know about Jesus, and let John show you who he really is.
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.