Summary: There is not a sin that God cannot erase.
On Thursday, America commemorates THANKSGIVING. It was when the Pilgrims sailed out from Plymouth, England on board the Mayflower in search for a land where they could have the freedom to worship God. They landed on the shores of Cape Cod on the southeastern part of Massachusetts in November 1620. The following year, the Pilgrims invited neighboring Indians to join them for a three-day festival of recreation and feasting in gratitude for the bountiful harvest and other blessings of the past year. However, this event was never officially declared a national holiday until Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it in 1863.
Thanksgiving is giving thanks for something good that we have received. Paul in his first letter to Timothy emphasizes deep gratitude for the mercy and grace God has given him through Christ Jesus. Although he did not deserve to be given a ministry that is to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles but he was appointed to His Majesty’s service. In verse 11, it takes a gracious and merciful God to entrust the glorious gospel of the blessed God to someone who was the chief of all sinners.
In our previous study we said that “the law without the Gospel is a diagnosis without remedy.” Now Paul stressed the importance of the Gospel in the following verses for “it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Rom 1:16) It is the dunamis, the miraculous power that is mighty to save anyone who would believe. And to give credence to the powerful Gospel, Paul goes into a territory where he is very familiar with — his personal testimony:
“Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy . . . The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” (1:13,14)
“I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many of the believers in Jerusalem to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. Many times I had them whipped in the synagogues to try to get them to curse Christ. I was so violently opposed to them that I even hounded them in distant cities of foreign lands. (Acts 26:9-11)
Let us look into the life of the apostle Paul:
1. WHAT PAUL WAS
1.1 He was a blasphemer - impious, irreverent, profane. He spoke evil concerning the Christians and their Leader, Jesus Christ. He denied the deity of Jesus Christ. He did not believe that Jesus Christ is God who came down from heaven. The Bible says “he was breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” (Acts 9:1) He was so eager to destroy the Lord’s followers.
1.2 He was a persecutor - The Bible says that Paul was going everywhere to devastate or destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into jail (Acts 8:3) for what reason? Because they were followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Stephen was being stoned to death, Paul watched in approval.
1.3 He was a violent man - Paul took delight in committing violent and outrageous act against the believers. He was injurious which means proud and insolent. A modern equivalent might be “bully”. It conveys the idea of a haughty man “throwing his weight around” in violence. But Paul means little. He was a man of little stature. Because he was a Pharisee, he used his authority and power vested in him by the high priest. The Bible says that “he went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:2) When Stephen was being stoned to death, Paul watched in delight.
Leaders who were violent and usurped their authorities by committing violent crimes against those who opposed them: Adolf Hitler between the year 1942-1945 systematically killed about 3.5 million Jews in concentration camps. That is approximately killing about 3,200 Jews a day or 133 Jews per hour.
Saddam Hussein began hating the Kurds when during the Iran-Iraq war and the Kurds sided with Iran that he used chemical weapons against the Kurdish tribe and killed thousands and thousands of them.
Back in 1972 when former President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law, political leaders, government officials and students who were opposed to his leadership used force by rounding them up and throwing them into jail which included Ninoy Aquino who passionately stood and fought for the truth.