9/13/20 Series: Gospel Shaped Church
Week 2: Toxic Theology 1 Timothy 1:12-20
Paul is well aware of the titanic fight he and the church are embroiled in and how the enemy will try and sabotage the church’s mission in any way it can. And by sabotaging the church I mean, ship wrecking people from their faith, leaving them stranded on the island of doubt, anger and fear. More than once Paul implores Timothy to fight the good fight. And while it is a fight played out in our physical realm, it is not a war that is waged with weapons of the flesh. We need these divinely powerful weapons to destroy speculations and every lofty idea lifted up against the knowledge of God. See 2 Corinthians 10.
So we should ask: On what basis does Paul bring the charges he makes? On what basis does he make his argument and with what credentials does he bring the charges? And maybe more importantly, how does he have the confidence and courage he has, to fight this way?
The answer may surprise you.
It may surprise you because we all have equal access to the two same credentials and basis for confidence. The question is how true do we believe both to be?
So what were Paul’s credentials? And where did he get his confidence? Paul’s complete awareness of how completely undeserving he was, was the key. Paul’s awareness of the reality that he was the worst of all sinners was not hyperbole. I was asked this week why more don’t hunger for the Word. I believe this is why… We see ourselves as at least somewhat deserving of God’s favor - some see it more than others. And so when we see ourselves as better than most people and therefore in comparably good shape there is less felt need or real belief that reading the Word is really necessary… after all, we’re doing good.
The problem with this is the comparison - not that comparison itself is bad thing. It’s quite natural actually.
The problem is comparing ourselves with other people. If our comparison is not with the holiness and righteousness of God our conclusion is faulty, not being based on the right standard. You might actually be right – you might be better than Fred and Nancy – but Fred and Nancy are not the standard.
Paul’s credential was that he saw himself as the worst of all sinners because he rightly made his comparison to God’s standard . So this wasn’t hyperbole to Paul. He understood the extent of his own sin in comparison to God’s holiness and believed it with all his heart. This in turn made him perhaps the most appreciative sinner of them all.
It is only when we see our sin for how complete it truly is, that we can we rightly appreciate God’s grace and know for certain that there is no other way to fight than solely through the blood of Jesus - and His weapons.
Which leads to his confidence which comes from knowing that the plan He is carrying out on a daily basis – regardless of the short term results - he did not come up with on his own. Paul holds to God’s plan tenaciously, backed by revelations too great for us to understand. So we don’t find Paul changing constantly to try and get better results. He sticks to God’s sovereign plan and leaves the results to God. He just knows he is compelled by the love of Christ. See 2 Corinthians 5:14 and 15. All earthly comparisons are out the door for Paul. He just believes he is the worst of sinners and only the grace of God can overcome that. And only living out the plan he knows is God’s gives him the boldness and confidence he needs to be the greatest apostle of them all… since he is the greatest sinner of all.