Even though I was a once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. 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. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:13-17
Reading through Romans, you might be excused to think that Paul is a highly intellectual man with a brilliant mind. You may have this picture of him as some sort of ‘super Christian’. But does he actually believe the things he is writing about for himself?
Yes, Paul does know that he is still a sinful human being. That is most clearly seen in the passage above, taken from 1 Timothy.
Before becoming a Christian, Paul was responsible for a lot of the immediate persecution of Christians following Jesus’ death and resurrection. He put Christians in jail and voted to kill them when given the opportunity. When Stephen became the first Christian to be killed for his faith, Paul was there watching, giving his approval.
We should not belittle these facts. Paul calls himself the WORST of all sinners. He was only too aware of his sin.
But what comforted him was the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. From his life, we can see that there is no-one who God is unable to save. If Paul, the worst of sinners, is able to receive a righteous verdict then anyone can. There is no-one who cannot receive a God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus.
Paul does not simply know his sinfulness with his head, but also with his heart. In the same way, we also need to make sure that we are not only aware of the sinfulness of all humanity, but also realise our own deep sinfulness. And like Paul, we should show and share the great grace of God, shown to us in Jesus, to our friends, family and workmates. We can be an example to them of the love and patience of God toward us in Jesus.
Read Acts 26:1-23. Reflect on Paul’s story of salvation and mission to the Gentiles. What do we learn about Paul in his testimony? How does Jesus fit into his testimony? How does Jesus fit into your testimony?
Thankyou for your amazing patience and grace shown to me in Christ Jesus. Thankyou that although we are stained by sin, you have saved us and use us to bring salvation to others. I pray for the lost, that you would use me and other brothers and sisters to show to them the your great love and patience like you used Paul.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.