“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. 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.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16)
The Apostle Paul tells us that Christ Jesus is in the business of saving sinners. Such a concept may seem foreign to those of us who were baptized and brought up in the church and rarely, if ever, strayed from the teachings we learned in our catechism. Nevertheless, we are at the same time sinners and should never presume that we have achieved perfection or are immune from sin. We all fall short of the glory of God.
The good news is that the Lord God is patient with us. He knows we sin and delights to show us mercy when we do. This is not an excuse for anyone to sin, or to sin deliberately knowing He will forgive us. Such an idea is as sinful as expecting God to accept us no matter what we do or how we act, a belief which billions of people ascribe to in today’s world. Paul labeled this as blasphemous as it denies the efficacy of the cross of Christ and does nothing to rid people of sin or its consequences.
Paul knew this truth well as he admitted to his own sinful past. He had once been a self-righteous legalist who had persecuted the church of God. He became rather emotional as he considered God’s mercy for a sinner such as he. He thanked God for His mercy in Christ who came for the sole purpose of saving sinners.
Those who are in Christ by faith have been completely changed by Him. They no longer live with their focus on sin and self. Rather they are so grateful for what Christ has done for them and for the world that they go out and live for God’s Kingdom. They live lives of righteousness as a testimony to the power of God. They dispense compassion, charity, and kindness to people who deserve only condemnation. They go and tell sinners about the gospel of mercy in Christ Jesus.