Sermons

Christ's Mercy For Sinners

June 27, 2021 Speaker: Reid Strahan Series: First Timothy - Guard the Deposit

Topic: Salvation Passage: 1 Timothy 1:12–1:17

If we measure ourselves against God’s law, his laws, show us to be sinners! The law condemns us.  If Christianity was only God’s laws, we would be hopeless, and miserable, stewing in our guilt before God. The law cannot remove our sins OR free us from sinning!  Christ can do both! Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, FROM their sin!  Paul said, I was the worst sinner of all!  But EVEN I found mercy. His grace overflowed for ME.  I am proof that ALL who believe in Christ will find mercy and grace in abundance just as I did! 

Christianity is like being in the worst possible disaster, then having someone step in and rescue you. It is like finding out you are going to hell, then being lifted up into heaven. It is finding out you have broken God's law and are facing SEVERE penalties, then having God show you mercy. It is finding that you are a sinner, then finding that Christ saves sinners. 

What Christ does for us is deeply personal. It is deeply moving. God showed us love, grace and kindness, like we never find in the world.  God pulled us out of impending doom, and showered us with mercy! So we overflow with gratitude and praise! We say “all honor and glory be to God”!  This becomes our theme song for the rest of our lives.

Of course, you will not hear a message of salvation from the world! The world says, the universe just happened.  We are just highly evolved animals. There is no absolute moral standard, especially in the area of our sexuality. There is no God to tell us right and wrong, no God to hold us accountable, no God who will judge us. We make our own rules based on the current popular social ideas.  We don’t “need” God, to tell us what to do OR to rescue us from judgment.  We are not in any kind of mortal danger from God for our sin.  Or.. Even if there is a God he only loves and wants us happy and is not upset in the least over however we chose to live.  He wouldn’t condemn anyone or hurt anyone. 

But the Bible tells us that we ARE in grave danger; we are on the brink of eternal death.. And in the most desperate way imaginable, we need someone to SAVE us. 

God created us to be a part of his family, to enjoy Him, and all he created. But the first man and woman acted against God’s command.  And we lost the perfect pleasure, happiness and communion with God we had in the beginning. We presently experience evil and conflict and misery; we have a deep sense that things are not as they should be!  All that comes from our sin and separation from God. We live in the pain of that to some degree every day!

But..Our sins also brought us into serious trouble with God, our Maker. We became a race of people under judgment.  In the most ultimate way human beings are headed for destruction.  Without understanding that this is our status before God, “Salvation” is just a religious word.  It doesn’t make any sense or seem wonderful at all.  But if we understand the misery and the peril our sin has put us in, then here is the best announcement in history “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”!

JI Packer “Salvation always means being rescued from jeopardy and misery, so that one is now safe”. Jesus saves us from the horrible effects of sinning and the penalty for sinning. We are safe! Safe with God!! We live under the smile of God.  Our future of full of hope NOT condemnation!  

Many churches today deliberately do not use the word sin and sinner, because they don’t want to offend people.  But this only withholds the true diagnosis of what is wrong is us, and keeps people from finding true healing and salvation in Christ. 

Paul openly calls himself the foremost or chief of sinners.  He was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor of Christians, an insolent opponent, or “violent aggressor” NASB.  He felt his sins were worse because he was responsible for the death, imprisonment and suffering of Christians. This was not some kind of false humility. He genuinely felt that his sins made him a worse sinner than others.  

Which raises the question “Aren’t we all equally sinners?”  Yes and no.  All sin make us guilty before a holy God. James said whoever stumbles in one point of the law is guilty of breaking it all. There is no one righteous, no not one!  However “respectable” or “small” some sins might seem, all sin has put us in desperate need of a Savior!  You might be the nicest person in Ankeny but you are still lost and going to hell without Christ!

Yet some sins ARE more detestable than others. Spurgeon said, “All men are truly sinners, but all men are not equally sinners. They are all in the mire; but they have not all sunk to an equal depth in it”.

It is popular to say all sins are equal today, in order to minimize how detestable homosexuality or other sexual sins are, or to appear NOT to be judgmental toward those sins.  But some sins ARE worse.  

The LORD said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. Jesus told Pilate “the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin”.  Paul ranks his own sin as worse. 

Actually this is the heart of Paul’s argument.  My sins were worse, I was worse than most everyone else.  So if Christ saved me, he can save you too. Paul’s salvation was God’s demonstration for all sinners of Christ’s willingness to save anyone, no matter how deep their sin or how much they have sinned, no matter what kind of sin.  

In 1 Cor. 6 Paul lists the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers. Then says “and such were some of you.  But you were washed, justified, sanctified in the name of Jesus and by the Spirit of God!  Christ did not come into the world to save only the better people.  Christ came into the world to save people who have done really bad things!

However you do not have to be a thief, or a drug addict or commit gross sexual sin to be saved!  You may hear someone give a powerful testimony of their terrible past and how Christ saved them and you think I wish I had a testimony like that.  NO you don’t!  Christ creates his own testimonies. Your sins are bad enough, as they are, to appreciate his mercy!  

Corrie Ten Boom tells a touching story in her book Tramp for the Lord.  Corrie’s aunt opened her home to Dutch soldiers during WWI.  One night when Corrie was 11 she sang a song for the soldiers.  The song was about the Shepherd who goes after the lost sheep until he finds it and brings it home. And very dramatically she sang the last line “and that sheep that went astray was me.”  After she finished singing big blond Dutch Officer picker her up and sat her on his knee and said, “Tell me little girl how did you go astray?”.  All the soldiers laughed, and Corrie’s face was red with embarrassment.  But she said “I told that him as a little girl, just 5 years old, I had given my heart to Jesus and honestly could never remember not belonging to him”.  The soldier grew very serious and his eyes filled with tears.  “Ah that is the way it should be my little sweet-face. How much better to come to Jesus as a child than to stumble (in sin) as I have.  But tonight I think I shall stop seeking and let Him find me instead.”

My point is: Some are genuinely saved at a young age, and by the mercy of God, kept from a life of deep sin and many of the dark things of Satan.  That is what we should desire and pray for our children! That is what God desires!   And praise God that happens a lot!

Of course if everyone was saved like that, we might think  Christ only has the patience to save nice children, or people who never lived in open sin and rebellion.  Christ himself destroys that thinking by saving Paul!  

But...I think most of us, even if saved young, at some time question if Christ really wants us, or could love us, or could really forgive us for the shameful things we have thought and done.  And as we know more the holiness of God, we become more aware of the sinfulness of OUR “small” sins.  And we may think we are beyond grace and mercy of Christ.  

Others who have lived in hard core sin might think, I am too far gone, or I fallen too many times, Christ surely doesn’t want me, or can’t save me.  For all of us, a mental flashback to old sins can leave us feeling condemned or questioning our forgiveness.  Paul says, “I am proof that Christ’s saving mercy is sufficient for you and your sin.  Christ made me an example to ALL who would believe in him for eternal life.   

*Paul was stunned at God’s mercy to SAVE him, but also he was stunned at his mercy to put him into SERVICE.  Christ not only saves sinners, he puts sinners into his service!  No matter your past, Christ will put you to work! We can be overwhelmed by our failures and our unworthiness.  But Paul is proof that you have not sunk so far in sin, that God can not use you for his glory.

This is how this passage begins! “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, even though... formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.

Spurgeon said, “The Lord did not, therefore, say, ‘I save you (Paul), but I shall always remember your wickedness to your disadvantage.’ Not so: he counted him faithful, putting him into the ministry and into the apostleship,... Brother, there is no reason why, if you have gone very far in sin, you should not go equally far in usefulness.” 

To Paul, to serve Christ was an astounding mercy from God. It was about Christ putting him into service that he said, The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly”!  It is grace that we GET to serve Jesus!  In HIS mercy Jesus gives us something to do that matters, we can be useful to God.

Paul was not only shown mercy in order to stop blaspheming. He was shown mercy to serve Christ!  You are NOT only shown mercy to help you get rid of a self destructive habit or overcome an addiction or to be a better person. Yes that certainly! But, you are saved to serve Christ.  You are in his service day and night, wherever you are, whoever you are with. 

**Paul points us to two vitally important ingredients to serving, strength and faithfulness. Verse 12 “I thank him who has given me strength (or power), Christ Jesus our Lord”. 

The only way that we can serve Christ effectively, at all, is to be empowered by Christ.  It takes power to love people, to pour out your life for people, power to speak, to teach to help, to encourage to cook for people, to persevere faithfully in any kind of work that Christ calls you to.  

I have noticed that those who have a deep interest in serving Christ also have a deep desire to know the power of Christ. If you serve Jesus you will be so thankful that he gives strength to serve him!! Those who are baptized this morning, your sins are not only washed away, Christ gives you new power to serve him!

*The second ingredient is faithfulness.  Verse 12 I thank him, “because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service”.   To be faithful is to be reliable, steadfast, loyal and true.  Christ does his work through faithful people!  It is a fact!

When Nehemiah had to leave the work at Jerusalem, and go back to Persia, he put two men in charge of the work while he was gone.  It says he chose them “because they were more faithful, and God-fearing than many”. Neh.  7:2 

Does this mean Paul DESERVED for Christ to put him into service? No! He just admitted he was a blasphemer and a persecutor!  It was God’s mercy that Paul was used by Christ, at all.  But it also says, Christ put him into service because he counted him faithful. 

So was it God’s mercy or Paul’s faithfulness?  Yes! Faithfulness matters! But the focus goes to God and his mercy!  Without God’s mercy, without Christ strengthening us in our inner person through the Spirit, we could do nothing!  So with Paul we say, “What kind of mercy is this that Christ would save me, and put me into his service.!! 

Paul ends with an outburst of praise to God, “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”  When someone saves you, you want to honor them! When someone shows you mercy, you love them for it!  What we have is the farthest thing from a cold, unemotional, dead, impersonal religion. We are touched to our core by the mercy and kindness of God toward us.  Our hearts overflow with love and gratitude.  All we can say is “to God be the glory and honor forever and forever”.  

Do you know that kind of salvation?  I hope you do.  If not come to Christ and believe in him for eternal life today.  Christ came into the world to save sinners.  Tell him you are one of those sinners and you want to be saved!  And want Jesus to put you into HIS service.  

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