“The saying is sure and worth of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:15-16).
If you are a sinner, this is great news!
If you are a repeat sinner, this is great news!
If you struggle with doubts, this is great news!
Here is the God-honest truth: when God thought of eternity, God could not imagine spending an eternity without you in it. Because sin separates us from the presence of God, God had to come up with a way to get us into a right relationship with God.
God’s solution? Jesus Christ. Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Sinners. First time sinners, regular sinners, repeat sinners. Gay sinners. Straight sinners. Republican sinners. Democrat sinners. Black Lives Matter sinners. All Lives Matter sinners. All sinners.
The Apostle Paul claims the title of the foremost sinner. Not sure about that. There have been others who have tried mightily hard to dethrone the Apostle Paul from this title. But, we’ll just go with that for now.
The Apostle Paul declares because he is the foremost sinner, because Christ came to save such sinners, he has received mercy so that in him Christ might display his utmost patience. Let’s unravel this.
- Paul – foremost sinner
- Christ – came into the world to save sinners
- Paul – received mercy
- Mercy – when we don’t receive what we rightfully deserve
- Paul and all sinners deserve God’s wrath and punishment. But because of God’s love and heart for sinners, instead, we receive Christ’s mercy
- We are saved from what we rightfully deserve because Christ took on God’s wrath and paid the price for our sins
- Christ – displays his utmost patience with sinners
Because we live in the time in between Christ who ushered in his kingdom and the time when Christ will come again to establish his kingdom, we are saved but we are saved sinners who still live in the flesh.
As long as we have this flesh, we will continue to have fleshly problems. There are some sins we will struggle with until the day we die or until Christ returns – whichever comes first. When we are resurrected, God promises to give us new bodies. Until then, we will struggle with our flesh.
That’s why Christ’s utmost patience with sinners is such great news.
So, then does this mean we can celebrate our sin? Enjoy our sin?
No! This doesn’t mean we give into our sins. Keep struggling. But recognize that the struggle itself pleases and honors God.