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Summary: Have you ever felt as if you were too sinful to be a Christian? Kinda like, all these other shiny-happy people have it all together, but me?

1 Timothy 1:12-17

“Are You Too Sinful to be a Christian?”

By Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, tn

Several years ago in a large city in the far West, rumors spread that a certain Catholic woman was having visions of Jesus.

The reports reached the archbishop.

He decided to check her out.

“Is it true, ma’am, that you have visions of Jesus?” asked the archbishop.

“Yes,” the woman replied simply.

“Well, the next time you have a vision, I want you to ask Jesus to tell you the sins I confessed in my last confession.”

The woman was stunned.

“Did I hear you right, Bishop? You actually want me to ask Jesus to tell me the sins of your past?”

“Exactly. Please call me if anything happens.”

Ten days later the woman notified her spiritual leader of a recent apparition.

“Please come,” she said.

Within the hour the archbishop arrived.

“You just told me on the phone that you actually had a vision of Jesus.

Did you do what I asked?”

“Yes, bishop, I asked Jesus to tell me the sins you confessed in your last confession.”

The bishop leaned forward with anticipation.

His eyes narrowed.

“What did Jesus say?”

She took his hand and gazed deep into his eyes.

“Bishop,” she said, “these are His exact words: ‘I can’t remember.’”

Salvation happens when we accept with unwavering trust that our sins have not only been forgiven but forgotten, washed away by the blood of the Lamb!

Have you ever felt as if you were too sinful to be a Christian?

Kinda like, all these other shiny-happy people have it all together, but me?

Ugggh!

I am horrible.

I’ve just done too much.

I’ve sunk too low.

I’ve sold out too many times.

I’m too soiled.

I’m too jaded.

I just couldn’t possibly fit in!

Other folks may say they are sinners, but if they could know what I’ve been up too…

And what about the crushing load of guilt?

Now that can be like a weight tied around your neck…so heavy you can’t even look up to see the sun.

You may feel done for…

…done in…

…already gone…

In our Scripture Lesson we read that the Apostle Paul was once, well, he was what we might consider today not the greatest guy!

Hard to believe, but the man who God used to write much of the New Testament, the man is arguably the most influential evangelist and theologian of all time…

…was once a “persecutor, blasphemer, and a violent man.”

Acts Chapter 9 informs us that Paul was “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.”

And in Acts Chapter 22, we see that he persecuted Christians, all the way to their deaths…

…and when Stephen, a disciple of Christ, was martyred…

…Paul “stood there” giving his approval “and guarding the clothing of those who were killing him.”

On his way to Jerusalem, with murder on his mind…

…Paul, whose name was Saul before his conversion, explains, “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me.

I fell to the ground and heard a voice say, “Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.

“I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied.”

This changed Paul for the rest of his life.

His entire direction changed, and he began preaching Christ, all the way to his own death as a martyr!

And this offer of new life and meaning is the same thing God is doing for anyone and everyone today…

…everyday for everyone who will listen!!!

Because God is bigger than evil…

…love is stronger than hate…

…and love ultimately wins!!!

Now, notice, in verse 13 that Paul says, “I acted in ignorance and unbelief.”

That is key.

And don’t we all!

Who hasn’t?

If we all had to name our sins before one another, well, we would all be shocked!!!

But we might also be a bit relieved as well.

We have all acted in ignorance and unbelief, but God loves us anyway!!!

Glory to God!!!

God understands.

And God forgives!

Paul knew God had forgiven him, and thus Paul was able to forgive himself and get on with it!!!

Are you able to forgive yourself, and thus get on with it?

Are you interested in living into being the person God has created you to be?

We are told in Ephesians that God has saved us by grace through faith, and this comes not from ourselves…there is nothing we can do to deserve it…

…it’s a gift from God…

…and we are saved to do the good works God created for us to do!!!

My friends…

…we are all sinners, and we are all God’s canvas…are you waiting and ready to be painted upon in order to become God’s masterpiece!!!?

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