The following post, by Jack Kinsella of The Omega Letter, hit home so much that I knew I had to reblog it.
My one quarrel is with his interpretation of I Timothy 1:15;
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
Note that Paul was not saying that he alone is the chief of sinners. Read the whole verse. This is a saying that each and every Christian should make their own! When he says “worthy of all acceptation” he means that each Christian should accept this saying as their own, and the “I” in it is their self. Each of us should consider ourself to be the chief of sinners!
In Paul’s life, and among the people he knew, he considered himself to be the chief of sinners;
In your life, and among all the people you know, you should consider yourself to be the chief of sinners. In my life, and among all the people I know, I am the chief of sinners, and Christ paid for all of my sin! If He can save me, then He can surely save you!
Keep this in mind as you read this and it will make more sense than it would if Paul alone was the chief of sinners. When you get beyond this point, you will find that this is an excellent article that hits the nail on the head!
And, by the way, those who think they have lived without sin since becoming a Christian, don’t have a clue what Paul was talking about. Such Christians still have a problem with the very first sin in all creation!
Special Report: The ‘Defeated’ Christian
Thursday, June 26, 2003
Jack Kinsella – Omega Letter Editor
You’ve all seen him. The defeated Christian. The guy who tries and tries, but after being saved for thirty years, he still hasn’t quit smoking. Instead, he hides his cigarettes before coming to church and won’t get too close when shaking your hand for fear you’ll smell the smoke on him.
Or the Christian who you know is saved, but he just can’t quite give up the bottle. Or the Christian who got saved, but doesn’t go to church, because he just doesn’t think he fits in with the rest of the crowd?
Or won’t go because he thinks that everybody at church is a big hypocrite? That defeated Christian who knows that even though he is saved, it just didn’t seem to ‘take’ like it seemed to with everybody else, so he’d just as soon not be reminded of it all the time by being around those to whom it did.
Especially since, if he were to mention it, somebody would point out it was either because of some unconfessed sin, or maybe he just wasn’t all that sincere when he first accepted Christ.
Why is it that some Christians get saved, and immediately become a new creature, where others get saved, and look remarkably like the old one?
Don’t tell me you don’t know somebody like that. Maybe you even ARE somebody like that. And it’s hard . . . so hard to keep trying and trying when it seems to come so easy to everybody else. It’s enough to make anybody give up.
I’m going to leave the usual beaten path, now, to address an issue that comes up fairly regularly in our forums. Those of you who have no besetting sin, no secret sin in your heart that only you and God (and the enemy) know of, go make yourself a nice cup of coffee. The rest isn’t for you.
Now, for the honest readers . . . Why does God deliver some people from booze, cigarettes, pot . . . fill in your besetting sin here _______?
The answer? I don’t know. Disappointed? Don’t be. Sometimes He just doesn’t. It doesn’t mean you aren’t a Christian. It doesn’t mean you aren’t saved. It doesn’t mean God has abandoned you. It only means you feel defeated. You still have that sin.
Now, how come you feel defeated? Is it your weakness? God’s? Haven’t you been to Him with this? How come its still an issue in your life? You KNOW God is real, so . . what’s WRONG WITH YOU?
Welcome to the Church of the Walking Wounded. That’s why so many people find fellowship on the internet they don’t find in church. No guilt. Nobody can see you sneaking that cigarette or that beer.
You come looking for God, and looking for that forgiveness you keep hearing about, but never find in church.
Instead, you learn that if you smoke, (or whatever) you are defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit and you must give that up first to find fellowship. Except you have been trying for years and just can’t quite make it.
You sit there in the pew, thinking about the cigarette you are going to have on the way home, and you feel ashamed, guilty. Why even go back to church? You hypocrite!
You are taught that God forgave you at the Cross, but now you are on your own. All these sins you now know about yourself are left for you to deal with on your own. Only NOW you know what they are.
So every time you sneak that cigarette, you feel guilty. “Fred got saved and within a week, he cut out smoking, he cut out drinking and he cut out cursing.”
(You think to yourself, “Sure. And for entertainment, Fred is now cutting out paper dolls in the Happy Home,” – but then there you go – you sinned again!)
Sin is the disease of the human race. No human being is exempt from it. The Apostle Paul, speaking of sin, said, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
Creative hyperbole? Or do you believe every Word of God is true?
The Apostle Paul was, according to God’s Word, chief among sinners. He must have had a difficult time being chief among sinners and chief among the Apostles, but that’s what the Bible says.
It must have bothered him, like it bothers you. (Those not getting coffee right now) Knowing what is right, but succumbing to temptation to do the wrong thing. Over and over.
This is a very difficult subject – I am approaching it with much fear and trepidation. There will immediately be those who will jump on me for preaching a license to sin. I am not.
Before you jump on me, read it again first, please. I am quoting the Apostle Paul, not my opinion.
Paul writes, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” (Romans 7:14-15,17)
Maybe Paul isn’t speaking to you, but he is playing MY theme song. “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” (Romans 7:22,23)
Does this sound to you like a guy who was having an easy time of it? Why didn’t he just do what the pastor tells you? “Just take it to the Lord and He’ll take care of it.”
Ever do that and then He didn’t? So you found some good reason why not, or instead just figured you weren’t worthy? Or maybe that He cared more about Fred the King of the Paper Dolls?
Paul wrote of, “a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” (2 Corinthians 12:7) Now, I’ve heard this verse exegeted many times.
To listen to the theories, Paul must have fallen into a thorn BUSH. I’ve heard Paul had a speech impediment, that it was his failing eyesight, that he was unattractive to look at, even one argument that he had halitosis!
What does the Bible say Paul’s thorn in the flesh was? Everybody looks for something specific to make sense of the verse. They are looking for some physical flaw that Paul thought would hamper his effectiveness for God. In so doing, they miss the forest for the trees.
The Apostle Paul, the ‘chief among sinners, specifically said that his thorn was a ‘messenger from Satan sent to ‘buffet’ him. Paul’s thorn was his SIN which kept him from being ‘exalted above all measure.’ “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” (2 Corinthians 12:8)
Stay with me here and see the picture. Here’s poor Paul, knowing the task the Lord has set before him, knowing that he is ‘chief among sinners’ and knowing his weakness for whatever that sin might have been.
So he takes it to Jesus, (just like you did) sincerely expecting Him to handle it for him, just like the pastor told you He would for you.
“And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (v.9)
The Bible says that we are sold unto sin. That it is our natural state. That the most unnatural thing a man could do is NOT sin. You are saved, you believe, yet you wrestle with your besetting sins.
Every time you whip one down, a new one crops up that you have to deal with. It’s a never-ending battle and you are losing. How can this be?
How can you be sincere, be sincerely saved, and still battle with sins that don’t seem to bother other Christians?
There is only one logical answer. It is so simple you are going to immediately say, “I knew that.” But you probably really didn’t.
Jesus did it all. Really. ALL. The most simple of principles, yet most preaching is based on the deception that He didn’t. Instead, most are taught in principle, that Jesus got the ball rolling at the Cross, but now that you are saved, whether or not you fail or succeed in beating back your sin nature is up to you.
Therefore, when constantly confronted with your sin and how bad it is, it is much easier to give up and not go face the weekly confrontation. You believe you are defeated.
Rather than being free, you are in bondage to your guilt. How many people do you know who went to the altar call on Sunday who weren’t guilt-ridden by Wednesday?
Salvation is either a gift of grace through faith or it is a product of faith plus good works.
Moses had faith and good works. So did Abraham. So did David. But without the Savior, they would be dead in their sins.
The bondage of sin to a Christian is the weight of the guilt of that sin that keeps him from seeking God’s face. Jesus set us free from the bondage of sin. Is this a license to sin? As Paul said, “God forbid.”
“All things”, Paul said, “are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” (1 Corinthians 10:23) Interesting word, ‘expedient.’ It means, “Appropriate to a purpose.”
The reality is, we are humans. Even after we become new creatures in Christ, we co inhabit the castle of flesh with the old man.
You will have your battles, but your defeat only comes when you give up. Following Paul’s lamentations about his struggle with the flesh and the duality of man, Paul writes, beginning with Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
This verse also tends to get spiritualized out of context. I’ve heard it argued that if you sin, then you are walking after the flesh, rather than after the Spirit.
I put it to you: Did you ever, since you were saved, commit a sin and not care, not feel any responsibility before God? Well, then, Who are you walking after? The irresponsible flesh? Or the living Spirit?
It isn’t sin that defeats the Christian.
It isn’t that you still haven’t quit smoking, or whatever else it might be that you think is defeating you. Sin is what humans do. Forgive is what God does.
It is GUILT that keeps you defeated, and keeps you from the Throne. It keeps you from telling people about Jesus. It keeps you beaten down.
It is incumbent upon a Christian to try and live a more Christ-like life, but the dichotomy is that the Bible says it is impossible.
Even those of you now scandalized and convinced I am preaching libertine Christianity KNOW that you still have a sin problem. Whether it’s a big sin, a little sin, a habitual sin or an occasional sin, its still sin. Even as we sin, (and Scripture says we ALL do) we hate it, as Paul did. But we sin. As Paul did. Read Romans 7 again.
If we COULD live a sin-free life, then why was a Savior necessary? And what was Paul rambling on about when he talked about the ‘good that he would’ and so forth?
If there were a formula that involved accepting Christ and THEN living a sinless life, then why did He need to go to the Cross at all?
Why not just make the revised Ten Commandments read, ‘Accept Christ and don’t sin” and THEN you can go to heaven? The answer is obvious. Nobody would be there.
We are living in the last days. There is no time to bandage the walking wounded, the battle has been joined. Every soldier is desperately needed on the line.
A soldier on the line does his best, and that is all anyone can ask. Especially the One Who really KNOWS that you are doing the best you can.
And He not only understands, He made you to a specific purpose, which is why all things were lawful to Paul, but not all things were expedient.
What may appear as defeat to you from your vantage point in the action may actually be a tactical victory somewhere else up the line. Only our General knows, and He says, ‘Trust Me’.
Take heart! Don’t let the fact you are a sinner steal your victory. The only prerequisite for being a Christian is that you must be a sinner first. God has a plan for your life, and He has somebody for you to talk to.
That appointment is so important to God that He has arranged your whole life until now — just so you would be available to keep it when that appointment comes due.
Will you be there to keep it? Or will you be licking your wounds in defeat off in a corner somewhere? We’re running out of time, and the enemy’s sole focus for your life is to keep you defeated and ineffective as the hours tick down to the Final Confrontation.
“And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians (12:9)
The rest of you can come back from the kitchen now.
Excerpted from the Omega Letter Daily Christian Intelligence Digest Vol: 21 Issue: 14