Summary: Thankfulness, witness, attitude, praise
THANKFULNESS ON DISPLAY
1 Timothy 1:12-16 (p 839) Nov. 6, 2011
If I asked you to name the “Worst” person whose ever lived…what names would you throw out…”Hitler” Sure! Nero? Saddam Hussein, Osama Ben Laden?
Maybe one of the terrorists on September 11, 2011….Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacey, How ‘about Ted Bundy?
Anybody here this morning put themselves in the same category as these individuals?
“No way, man…they were responsible for the death of millions…they butchered people and did unspeakable things…I’ve never done anything nearly as bad as them….!”
King Herod was responsible for the deaths of most of his family and the annihilation of thousands of babies under 2 years of age….
The Apostle Paul knew all this and yet he wrote….”Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners---of whom I am the worst”
We know Paul’s post isn’t a flattering one! He summarizes it like this: “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.”
The first time the Bible mentions “Paul” was when he was still called Saul…a man of Tarsus, and he is holding the cloaks of those who are stoning a man named Stephen to death…He is in full approval of this death. He even takes a leadership role in the persecution of Christians…He’s breathing out threats…He’s going from house to house and dragging them out and off to prison….Paul believed he was fighting a “Holy War”. He believed he was doing God’s will….
And then he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus as he was on one of these missions. He not only encounters Jesus, but is transformed. Scales would fall from his eyes, physically and spiritually as he is baptized into Christ…Saul dies….Paul arises anew in Christ…the terrorist has become an instrument of the good news.
Jesus Christ has appointed Paul to His service….we know all this…or at least we are somewhat familiar with the story…but how is Paul able to write he’s the worst…He’s not as bad as Nero, right?…King Herod was much more evil, right?
Here is one of the most essential truths when it comes to understanding God’s grace and living out our salvation on that grace…It’s the only way our thankfulness can be put on display.
I WHEN GOD SAVES US HE DOES NOT COMPARE US TO OTHER PEOPLE (Neither should we!)
Because of the way God’s justice works Paul was correct in saying “I am the worst sinner.”
And by the way this phrase is written in the present tense…which means he wasn’t just referring to the past…but still “I am the worst sinner”
When God calls us to give an account for our thoughts, our words, our actions he does not compare us to Nero or King Herod, or Ted Bundy…He compares us to Himself…
And what does God expect?
“Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect” (Matt 5:48)
Every one of us wants to minimize our sin…every one of us wants to make the blackness of our evil look more charcoal grey. And we want our good deeds to appear to be brighter than others…our 100 watt bulb is certainly brighter than his 25 watt bulb.
But what if you compared that 100 WATT bulb to the face of the sun…and then realized that’s just the creation of the one who is real light!
So when Paul writes to his son in the faith Timothy…and with gratitude for his salvation oozing out of every pore in his body…he’s telling the truth when he says….”When it comes to sin…I’m the worst.” Because he’s not comparing his life to Nero…He’s not comparing his evil to King Herod…He’s looking at every thought, deed, motive, and word in comparison with the holiness of God.
When we approach sin in light of God’s holiness, repentance becomes possible in His grace…When we approach sin by comparing it to the sin of another we feel proud that we are not like them…we’re pretty good really…I don’t even need that much grace…like they do!
Comparing our sin or our goodness to others is the most worldly way of thinking possible…2 Cor 5:16 says “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.”
How did the world and Paul view Jesus at one time “A Worthless, illicit child of a carpenter from the back water town of Nazareth? A false Messiah with a few deluded disciples…”
Paul on the other hand…A Hebrew of Hebrews….A leading Pharisee, member of Benjamin’s tribe, a devout keeper of the law, A zealous fighter against this so called “False religion of Jesus”.
In Paul’s mind “He was awesome”…”Jesus a Loser, as well as His followers!” This is what is going through his heart, mind and mouth