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1 Timothy 1:12–20 ESV
12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 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. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
If the core verse in 1 Timothy 1:1-11 was 1 Timothy 1:5 (ESV) —5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith., then the core verse of 1 Timothy 1:12-20 is verse 15.
1 Timothy 1:15 ESV
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.
If the purpose for sending Timothy to Ephesus was to straighten out the church in order that they would have right doctrine and practice and for both Timothy and the church to live out the love of God, then here the purpose for the coming of Jesus Christ to this earth is similar. 1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV) —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.
Jesus did not come to condone sin or to make sinners feel good about themselves. He did not come to provide sinners a ticket to heaven. That is a benefit, but not the purpose. The Messiah, Jesus, came into this world to straighten out sinners, in other words, to save people from their sin.
Paul had earlier listed a group of sins.
1 Timothy 1:8–11 ESV
8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
His message is that those who are unholy need to change. Jesus came to help with that change. Those who strike their mothers or fathers need to stop. Jesus came to save them from sinning. His first step was to forgive sin. The second step was to put the Holy Spirit into the life of believers to give a supernatural power for them to stop sinning and live a different life.
Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners. Saving sinners from sin is an act of love. If you can talk a person who wants to shoot up a school from picking up a gun in the first place, you have done both the person and the school an act of love. If you can stop a violent man from beating up his mother or father, you have done both the parents and the violent man a loving service. The aim of love and the purpose of Christ intersect in our lives. Jesus loves us and came into this world to become better people.
What do better people look like? People who are living as God wants them to live, people who are living as they were created to live. God never created us to be sexually immoral, enslave people, lie, cheat or steal. That is the direct result of our inner sin nature.
In order to illustrate this, Paul uses himself for an example. He is not spouting theory, he was a sinner who was saved from his sin by Jesus Christ.

Mercy

In order for a sinner to be saved from their sin, the sinner needs mercy.
1 Timothy 1:12–14 ESV
12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Let’s highlight verse 13.
1 Timothy 1:13 ESV
13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,
A blasphemer is one who mocks God or his son, Jesus. Paul did not mock God, per se, but he did mock Jesus Christ.
He not only mocked Jesus, he persecuted those who followed Jesus. He rounded them up, beat them, and put them in prison. These brothers and sisters of our in the faith were severely mistreated by Paul.
He not only blasphemed and persecuted, he was an insolent opponent. He insulted Jesus and his followers.
In other words, Paul was a horrible human being. He thought he was following God, but came to find out that instead of following God, he was responsible for destroying what was good and holy and right.
We live in a world where people feel horrible about themselves. They say and do things that they regret. Many people believe that they have crossed a line that disqualifies them from anything but God’s judgment. The things that are bad in their lives are interpreted as God’s judgment on them. We hear people say, “I must be a pretty bad person because I (fill in the blank). They might experience sickness, sorrow, or some kind of catastrophe that they tie into the bad things they have done.
We have a huge drug problem in Maine. Some people on drugs or alcohol have neglected families, gotten into debt, committed crimes and done other things that are wrong.
What do they need? More than anything else, they need to understand the mercy of God.
Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners. He started by paying the price for our sin on the cross. He did that so that people would come to Jesus and understand that God will not hold their past against them, but will forgive them through the cross.
Paul said, “…But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,
Was Paul ignorant? No, he knew he was hurting people. He was following God as he knew him. And that is where the ignorance came in. Paul did not know God. He did not know Jesus. He did not realize that in trying to honor God, he was blaspheming God, persecuting God’s children, and insulting those whom God loved.
Sincere motives are not enough to free us from ignorance. God is merciful. What we did out of ignorance can be forgiven. God is merciful.
If you are here today and you look inside yourself and you don’t like who you are or what you have become, understand that God is merciful. He knows you better than you know yourself. He is ready to forgive you if you will come to Jesus.
In order for a sinner to be saved from their sin, they need mercy. And they will get mercy from God.

Grace

In order for a sinner to be saved from their sin, they need to embrace grace.
1 Timothy 1:14 ESV
14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Where mercy looks backward at what you have done and says, “It’s forgiven,” grace looks forward and says, “I’m here to bless.”
In other words, its possible that we could receive mercy, but still think that we have to prove ourselves to God.
We don’t have to prove ourselves to God, but we do need to understand the Christ Jesus came to save sinners. In other words, there is a work that God wants to do in our lives. He wants to bless us by helping us change and then using us in service to Him.
We see this illustrated in Paul’s testimony.
1 Timothy 1:12 ESV
12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,
When did Jesus appoint Paul to his service? He did it at the moment of his conversion. He didn’t have a waiting period. He didn’t make sure Paul was on target. He met him on the Damascus road, this blaspheming, persecuting, insulting human being, and instantly said to Paul, “Things are different now. Something happened to you, when you gave your heart to Jesus. Things are different now, you were changed it must be, when you gave your heart to me. The things you loved before have passed away, things you love far more have come to stay. Things are different now, something happened today, when you gave your heart to me.”
Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, and Paul was one of the worst. Did Paul blaspheme God anymore? No, Christ Jesus saved him from sin. Did Paul persecute anyone anymore? He certainly didn’t persecute Christians and he though he disagreed with many in his old Jewish community, he said that
Romans 10:1 (ESV) —1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.
If Paul didn’t blaspheme God or persecute people, did he insult God or people again? I believe that the jury is out on this. Some of his language is pretty strong. Paul was aware that though Jesus came to save from sin, that didn’t happen all at once. It was a process.
He was overwhelmed by the grace of God that in one day would turn him from an enemy of God to a friend of God.
Christ Jesus comes into our lives not only to forgive our sin, but to free us from the sins that held us in the past. We don’t deserve this kind of treatment. But that is the kind of God we serve.
Paul said,
1 Timothy 1:14 ESV
14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
This grace overflowed with faith and love that are found in Christ Jesus.

Faith

What is the faith that is found in Christ Jesus?
There are several answers, but in context, I believe is that faith is the faith that Jesus Christ has in you, that with his help, you can serve him.
1 Timothy 1:12 ESV
12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,
Christ Jesus judged Paul faithful. He appointed him to be an apostle to the Gentiles. That is the faith Jesus had in Paul. Jesus trusted me to be a faithful pastor of this church. He trusts you to be a Christian in this world. He trusts our Elders to perform their duties, for the Trustees to do their work, for the Pulpit Committee to be faithful in their job, for Christians to teach Sunday school or do whatever he has called them to do.
Paul encourages Timothy to be faithful.
1 Timothy 1:18–20 ESV
18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
This charge to go to Ephesus is entrusted to Timothy by Paul. It is also God’s calling for Timothy.
God is very aware that not everyone can be trusted. Hymenaeus and Alexander where in some way blaspheming God or Jesus. We don’t know the particulars, but it was bad enough that they were “handed over to Satan,” Paul’s way of describing that they were kicked out of the church.
But why were they removed from the church? So that they could learn not to blaspheme. He didn’t remove them to fulfill some desire to hurt them or to castigate them. He hoped that their removal would cause them to reconsider their relationship with God. He hoped that they would trust Jesus who came into this world to save blasphemers, Paul is the big witness of this truth.
Paul really believed that one major reason that God called him was to use him as an illustration of how much God wanted to save sinners.
1 Timothy 1:16 ESV
16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
Can Jesus Christ save Hymenaeus and Alexander? Blasphemy is pretty bad. The answer is “yes.” How do we know? Because God saved Paul, who was a blasphemer, and was now using him in meaningful Christian service.

Love

This is also love.
God’s mercy and grace were combined with a faith in Paul and a love for Paul that raised him up. God wants to raise you up. We were all created to serve God. Sin makes us serve ourselves. Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners. He offered mercy, grace, faith and love to each of us.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful…”. Paul’s transformation turned him from a relentless persecutor to a merciful apostle.
Jesus said, “Love God, love your neighbor...” Paul’s transformation turned him from one who harmed others to one who worked hard to make life better for others through the gospel.
Paul was transformed when he learned, as the apostle John had learned, that
John 1:17 ESV
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
He experienced grace, love, faith and mercy.
His life was changed.
Jesus Christ, the one who died on the cross for his sins, who gave him the Holy Spirit to indwell him and guide him, the living Word of God who gave truth, was the one Paul adored. He was overwhelmed by God’s love so much, that he ends his testimony by saying,
1 Timothy 1:17 ESV
17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Jesus is king. Do you want to be free from your sin? Come to Jesus. He died on the cross to forgive your sins. He will take you on the day you receive him and bring you into his family and start working to help you to live right and to serve your God.
You will give honor and glory to God forever and ever, Amen.
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