Saved by God’s amazing grace? Do you know why the Lord saved you from the bondage of sin?
After last week’s sermon – Who Do You Serve – where we took a look at the choice of being a servant of sin or a servant of God, I gave some thought to God giving us the opportunity of liberty under His grace. How often do you stop to think about how special it is to be able to dwell under God’s amazing grace? Now, when you who live in the liberty of His grace stop and think about it, you will realize just how special a reward it is to dwell under His grace.
There used to be this one question that I would always ask the Lord about Him choosing to care about me. You see, it made little sense to me that God cared about me because I was not too full of myself to believe that I was all that special. So, I used to always wonder and ask: Why did God save me?
Now, I don’t ask myself this question anymore because I have spent many years studying and growing to understand the reason why. Don’t get me wrong, I am still blown away at the fact that the Lord finds me to be special and that He cares about me. However, some of you may still be wondering why the Lord saved you and there is nothing wrong with that.
I believe it is likely that our first response would be the common response in that the Lord saved us because He loved us and did not want us to perish in sin. Of course this response is certainly right, however, I believe there is more to it. Yes, the Lord loved us and desired to save us from the bondage of sin, yet there is something more that the Lord desired of us. So, this week, I want us to focus more on why the Lord saved us from the bondage of sin.
To Be An Example
In our key verse for this week’s sermon, we will see that Paul speaks to Timothy further about why the Lord chose to save him, and therefore the rest of us who choose to follow Christ, from the bondage of sin.
God’s amazing grace towards us
Let’s first notice what Paul says of his past self to Timothy. Paul first tells Timothy that he was formerly a blasphemer (1 Tim. 1:13). A blasphemer is defined as one who speaks or acts in a way that shows irreverence (lack of honor or disregard) for God. In his days prior to meeting Christ, Paul would have never called himself a blasphemer.
No, Paul was raised to know and abide by the law. Not only was Paul raised to know and abide by the law, but he was a practitioner and enforcer of the law as well. Like many of the religious leaders around that point in time, Paul did not recognize God’s only begotten Son. With that in mind, Paul also pointed out to Timothy that he was also a bold persecutor of those that sought to have faith and practice the way of Christ (1 Tim. 1:13). To the Galatians, Paul admitted that he not only sought to persecute the church of God but he also sought to destroy it (Gal. 1:13).
At that time, Paul may have felt that what he was doing was right because he was a man that lived by the law and the law was given by the Lord. However, while he did not realize it at that time, Paul was living in a manner of sin where he was disregarding and despising the Lord.
Now, while Paul was despising the Lord by the things that he was doing, he pointed out God’s grace towards him. Paul tells Timothy, “the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 1:14).” Now, I don’t want you to underestimate what Paul has said here about the Lord’s grace. Paul wants you to know about God’s amazing grace.
Paul was a very harsh man towards those that followed the way of Christ. To show you just how much of a sinner Paul was, you will see that Paul tells Timothy that he was a chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). So, again, do not underestimate just how much of a sinner Paul was and do not underestimate God’s grace.
The reason God saved us
Again, Paul tells us in our key verse that he obtained the Lord’s mercy for a reason. The reason that Paul gives us is so that Christ might show all longsuffering (patience) as a pattern to those who are going to believe in Him for everlasting life. So, in other words, Paul tells us that God saved him so that he could be an example of the Lord’s grace and mercy to all of those around him.
Now, I feel I must ask you today whether or not you believe that God saved you for that same exact reason? You see, all of us were sinners and through His amazing grace, God saved all of us from the bondage of sin for a reason. Yes, we were saved so that we can have eternal life but the Lord also saved us to be an example of His amazing grace.
So, as an example of God’s amazing grace, what do you do with it? How do you go about living and being an example of the Lord’s amazing grace? Do you live in a manner where you disregard and despise the grace that God has shown to you? Or, do you cherish, honor, and respect God’s grace towards you?
Honoring God’s Amazing Grace
As a child of God, we should certainly not disregard or despise God’s grace, right? No, we should do otherwise; we should cherish and honor the grace for which we were saved. So, we will see Paul speak to Timothy about how we go about honoring and being that example of the Lord’s grace in our world for all people to see.
Waging the good warfare
Within this chapter of his letter to Timothy, Paul charged him to wage the good warfare (1 Tim. 1:18). Later in this same letter, Paul told Timothy to, again, “fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12).” So, Paul was encouraging Timothy to take a stand for good against wickedness.
Now, I feel that we need to understand what Paul means when he uses the words of warfare and fight. The reason I say this is because some may take this to mean to literally go out and physically combat those who they may think are wicked. Paul was not telling anybody to physically fight and wage war with hands and weapons. We will see in scripture that Paul tells us that the good warfare and fight of faith is to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness (1 Tim. 6:11).
The best way that we can honor and be an example of the amazing grace that God has shown us is to do just that: pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Now, when we take a look at those adjectives, our idea for what physical war looks like simply does not fit those descriptions.
At the same time, I want us to understand that all of these words are not simply adjectives of the servant of God. We should also take these descriptions as verbs that the servant of God ought to act out of as well. The servant of God ought to act out of righteousness, with godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness towards all people. So, the question that we must now answer is this: How do we go about putting these words into action so that we are being an example of God’s grace?
Using God’s example
In order for us to be the best example of the grace God has shown towards us, I would ask should we not first follow in His example of grace? Let us consider how the Lord has dealt with all of us.
Let us consider for a moment this question: Does God deal harshly with you? Some may actually answer this question and say that the Lord has dealt harshly towards them. However, I would point out to you that the Lord does not deal harshly with you.
Everything that we see in scripture about the Lord’s thoughts, feelings, and actions towards His children points to the Lord loving His children and treating us with nothing but love. To the Romans, Paul wrote that the Lord demonstrated His love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). So, if the Lord loved us while we were sinners, I can only imagine how He loves us even more as a child of His.
David often spoke of the Lord’s grace in psalms and on quite a few occasions would speak to how the Lord is both merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounds in mercy (Ps. 103:8; 145:8). I want you to understand that David was not simply saying something that he had heard, but was speaking from his own personal experience in his relationship (fellowship) with God.
I too can testify from my own fellowship with God that in all of my sin, the Lord has been both gracious and merciful to me. David says this about the Lord, but I can do one better than David’s testimony of God’s grace and go directly to the Lord’s testimony of Himself.
In the book of Exodus, when the Lord commanded Moses to make two new stone tablets, we are told that the Lord descended in a cloud of glory and stood next to Moses. As He stood with Moses, the Lord began to proclaim about Himself, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin (Ex. 34:6-7).” So, God tells us Himself that He is gracious, patient, merciful, and forgiving.
After this, God came to the world in the flesh, and told us, again, that He is not a harsh master to serve. Jesus, God in the flesh, testified of this when He encouraged us to come to Him so that He could give us rest (peace) (Matt. 11:28). When Jesus encouraged us to take this action, He let us know that He is gentle and lowly in heart (Matt. 11:29); Again, I want you to know that this speaks to God’s graciousness.
Where some may believe that the Lord deals harshly with them, we must understand that He is not being harsh. Yes, the Lord will offer His correction so that we do not fall to sin. In His rebuke, God is always uplifting us and encouraging us to do and be better! I am of the belief that there is nothing harsh about wanting you to be better.
Not being an unjust steward
So, if God is not harsh towards us, then we ought not be harsh towards others. We best show the example of the Lord’s amazing grace by being gracious towards others. If the Lord does not deal harshly with us, why should we deal harshly with those around us? This was a lesson that the apostles had to learn when they began to set out fighting the good fight of faith.
In Acts 15, you will see an occasion where Peter spoke to the other apostles and other elders of the faith in their dealings with gentile believers. There was a sect of the Pharisees who believed in Christ who was suggesting that gentile believers should be made to keep the Mosaic Law and also be circumcised (Acts 15:5).
There was much dispute among this group as to how they should deal with gentile believers. When listening to the dispute, Peter rose up and shared a word with this group from a lesson he had learned from Jesus. Peter, after sharing his word, left them with an all important question: “Why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear (Acts 15:7-10)?”
The apostles and elders that had argued that the gentile believers should be made to be circumcised and follow the law, were essentially going to burden the gentiles to do what their own people (the Jews) had been unable to do themselves! Let us remember that the gentile believers, just like them, had received God’s grace through the giving of the Holy Spirit. So, keeping the Jews’ tradition would have been an unnecessary burden placed on gentile followers. The apostles and elders would have began to deal shrewdly with the gentile believers.
The Lord does not desire for us to deal shrewdly with anyone as shown in Jesus’ parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16:1-13). In that parable, the unjust steward wasted his master’s goods and when it came time to collect, he dealt shrewdly (unfairly and unjust) with those that owed his master. This pleased the master because he, himself, was crooked just like the steward. They used a worldly mindset in order to gain.
Both the unjust steward and the master were of the world and using unjust and unfair tactics to gain was fine in their eyes. The Lord, as we know, is both faithful and just, which means that he is fair. He saved us so that through our example, others would see His grace and come to Him in order to be saved. So, if we are going to go out into the world and be that example of God’s amazing grace, He does not want us to move shrewdly but to move justly, graciously, mercifully, and with patience.
Our Actions Set the Tone
The best way we go about doing this is by actively acting out of the same love that God has shown towards us. What this means is that our actions will set the tone for the example that we set of God’s amazing grace.
Instead of tearing one another down, or burdening one another, we ought to do as the writer of Hebrews wrote when we are encouraged to exhort one another daily, while it is called “today” (Heb. 13:3). You see, we should always be seeking to help one another rather than tear down or place a yoke around the neck of someone that we ourselves would not be able to bear.
A community that uplifts
I share with you today something that we already know: a good support system will always keep you lifted up when times are good, and will certainly do the same when times are rough. During this month especially, I always think of what my dad, mom, aunts, uncles, and grandparents spoke of when they spoke of how uplifting and encouraging the black community was to one another years ago.
Some of that support still exists, somewhat, but there is a lot of tearing down that goes on nowadays among all people. The thought of all people coming together to uplift one another nowadays seems like nothing but a dream to me. However, the Lord has always desired for mankind to do just that – to uplift each other – and you better believe He expects that His children are leading the charge in doing this.
As believers, we are called to edify (uplift) each other, especially when one is in the wrong or when one may be down in the spirit. In Matthew’s gospel, when one is in the wrong, Jesus speaks to how we should take one to the side and offer correction (rebuke). Should they hear you, Jesus said, you will have “gained your brother” (Matt. 18:15).
James, in his letter, spoke to how we should help the one who may wander from the truth. Should we help one that has wandered from the truth, we will have saved a soul from death (Jas. 5:19). All of this, again, speaks to how we as believers should act out of grace and in doing so, we are that example of grace and in that example, we are able to help save souls! Yes, it is good for us to have a good support system around us but are you part of someone’s support system?
The Lord has saved us so that His pattern of longsuffering (grace and mercy) can be seen through us. The best way we can be the example of God’s amazing grace and mercy is by sharing it and being that grace to those that are around us. So, I encourage all of you today to support rather than to tear down. We cherish, honor, and respect the Lord’s grace when we move in His grace. To do otherwise would be to despise the Lord, His grace, and His mercy and a child of God ought not despise the Lord.
So, do you know why the Lord saved you from the bondage of sin? If you know why, let us start to move like we know why.