Advent: December 9

Advent: December 9

1 Timothy 1:12-17

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. 16 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. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Mercy is the gift of the judge. God is a righteous judge, and he does not cut corners. Sin is sin, and it cannot be gift-wrapped and tied up with a ribbon to make it any less unacceptable to God. When we fall into sin we fall out of a relationship with God and out of his protection. No great or worthy works on our part will bridge the gap we’ve created between us and God.

God does not change. He made the rules and he does not change them. They stand today as they did when inscribed on the tablets of stone, even if the Ark of the Covenant has been lost. However, Jesus came not to blow up the Law, but to pay in full for all people for all time the price for sin that the Law demanded. The Law cannot accuse the person who lives in Jesus. The Law still stands, but the cross stands higher.

Paul the Apostle knew about his past life – he was a bad man. He shares this, not for his own glory, but to show how merciful God has been, in totally forgiving his past. By God’s grace alone he is where he now is.

What if your life has not been as spectacular as Paul’s?

What was Paul offering to the people he encountered (see verse 16)?

Father God, you sent your Son Jesus to this world to save me from sin and its consequences. Thank you for your mercy. It is by your grace that I have been saved. Would you test and build my faith in this truth? Amen.