When you consider the justice of God, His righteous judgment of those who violate His standard, What is your heart’s response? Is it anger? Fear? Self-Righteousness? Many don’t like the thought of God’s Justice and yet as the Apostle Paul gave instruction to Timothy with regard to the proper use of God’s Law, to bring conviction on sinners and to drive them to the mercy of the Savior that is in the Gospel, it brings him to unrestrained praise.
1 Timothy 1:9-17 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. 12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
In order for this to happen, we need to be willing to recognize the nature of our sin. After listing several types of sin that the Law will bring conviction over and attaching this use of the Law to the Gospel (Vs. 11) He moves directly into a doxology, thanking Christ for His forgiveness and for using him in the ministry. I don’t know how you lived before you came to faith, but I know that for myself, I was nearly as contrary to the Lord and the Apostle Paul had been, though not in the same ways. To consider that He would forgive me and especially that He would use me in His service is a reason to break out into praise and thanksgiving.
Paul is so moved that he adds his own personal sin list to that which he has already given. He was a Blasphemer, yet he was one of the most religious men in Israel. Why? Because He spoke against Jesus Christ. To call Him anything less than God is to speak evil of Him or to “blaspheme.” He was a Persecutor, arresting, beating and confiscating the property of the followers of Christ. He was an Insolent Man. This is the heart issue that he faced. His attitude of insolence, feeling he was above everyone else, better than them. This justified his abuse of them. See, for Paul, the Law was now turned inward and used to examine his own heart, and not the lives of those whom he saw in the world around him as it had been before his conversion. This is the effect that the Law should have on all of us who have found grace in the sight of God through the Gospel.
He says, “And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:14-15) Grace in his life changed him from an ignorant, unbelieving, blasphemous, insolent persecutor to one who have been given Faith and Love. I love what Calvin says about verse 14:
“But I prefer a more simple interpretation, that “faith and love” are indications and proofs of that grace which he had mentioned, that it might not be supposed that he boasted needlessly or without good grounds. And, indeed, “faith” is contrasted with unbelief, and “love in Christ” is contrasted with the cruelty which he had exercised towards believers; as if he had said, that God had so completely changed him, that he had become a totally different and new man. Thus from the signs and effects he celebrates in lofty terms the excellence of that grace which must obliterate the remembrance of his former life.”
This kind of encounter with the Law and the Gospel is necessary to move us to this attitude about the Law, our sin and God’s mercy and grace. This is what produced in the Apostle, a great and fervent love that broke out into unrestrained praise at the thought of God’s righteous judgment, coupled with his mercy in the Gospel. What about you? Does the thought of our guilt and God’s grace produce gratitude in you? Does it open your lips to show forth His praise?
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Audio of our lesson and discussion time is available by clicking on the link below. I encourage you to give it a listen.