How many times have you heard someone say "Man is basically good." or "He was basically a good person."
Over the past several weeks I have seen obituaries say this over and over again. As I began to think about this I began to realize just how messed up this thought process is. Especially if the person is a Christian. Let me explain:
There is a verse in the New Testament that might be familiar to you. It has been quoted many, many times and is often used by evangelist. Let me give you just a little background on this verse before I share it with you. The verse is found in I Timothy. Many scholars believe Paul knew his life was coming to an end and he was writing to Timothy encouraging him to continue what he had started. Scholars believe that this letter, along with II Timothy, were written just a year or two before Paul was killed for his faith.
Paul met Christ on the Road to Damascus around 40AD. Paul wrote I Timothy around 64 or 65 AD. Paul had been a Believer for about 25 years when he wrote this verse. To say Paul was a mature Believer is quite an understatement. However, I believe we have elevated Paul to something he never intended. We want to make him out to be a holy man, a super apostle, an example of what we should strive for. But look at this verse and see how Paul, a Believer for some 25 years, describes himself:
I Timothy 1: 15 - The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
Did you catch that, Paul's description of himself. I am the foremost of sinners (ESV), I am he worst of sinners (NIV), I am the chief of sinners (NKJ). And notice the little two letter word that I want to focus on, the word "am". Paul said he was the chief of sinners, present tense. He did not say he used to be the foremost of sinners. He did not say that he finally got to a point to where sin was no longer an issue.
I believe that if we are truly growing in our relationship with Christ and we are drawing near to God we too will begin to see just how sinful we really are. The closer we get to a Holy God the more evident our sin will become. This is what Paul was experiencing. This is why the first part of the verse is so important. "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" The Gospel is the Good News that although we are wretched sinners we have hope, not in what we do but in what Christ did for us. We did not seek him out, he came to us.
Romans 5: 8 - But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
My prayer for me and you is that if we are becoming puffed up with how well we are doing or how much we have done for the Kingdom God will remind us of how sinful we really are and how desperately we need his grace and mercy day in and day out.
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