Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 17 Number 10 October 2015
Page 11

Chief of Sinners

Dean Kelly

Dean Kelly“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1 Timothy 1:15). The apostle Paul, the stalwart of the proclamation of the Gospel to the early church, the author of the majority of the New Testament, the powerful example of what service to God really means, this great man called himself “the chief of sinners.” Even though he could say that he had lived in good conscience all of his life (Acts 23:1), Paul recognized that his own ignorant zeal led him to act contrary to the will of God, though he believed he was doing right. His actions not only caused many Christian men and women to suffer persecution, but actually caused the death of many Christians.

We Need to Understand
that We Are Sinners

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Further, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8 NKJV). My recognition of my own sinfulness is important. It leads me to understand the fact that I need God. It leads me to the desire to overcome sin in my life and to leave it behind. If I truly understand that I am a sinner, it will make me humble. It will also cause me to look at other sinners in a different light – not a haughty condescending one, but rather in a caring, truly concerned manner.

We Need to Understand
that Jesus Came to Save Sinners

“…[F]or the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus expressed to Zacchaeus that He had come for this purpose. Inherent in that statement is the fact that Zacchaeus was lost. Denying that people are lost won’t save them. We must seek the lost like Jesus did (Matthew 28:19-20). We must present the Gospel message. That message inherently infers that humanity is lost and needs the salvation offered by Jesus.

We Need to Understand
the Two Classes of Sinners

On the one hand are those who are living in the throes of sin, with its full burden upon them (Hebrews 12:1-2). They are without God and without hope (Ephesians 2:12). On the other hand, there are those sinners who have made an active decision to not let sin rule in their lives, and to be washed in the blood that can wash their sins away, and that will continue to do so as long as they walk in the light of faithful service to God (1 John 1:7).

We Need to Understand
that Jesus Can Forgive Us

Jesus can forgive us for the sins in our lives, no matter how big they may seem. There is one stipulation. Jesus states that stipulation to the adulterous woman: “She said, No one, Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more" (John 8:11). We must repent of sin and turn from it (Acts 3:19). Then, we must maintain a penitent attitude while striving to keep sin out of our lives. With that understood, we know that anything we may have done, any sin that might possess us, no matter how big, if we will give the practice up, Christ can forgive us.

Thanks be to God that Jesus can forgive “the chief of sinners,” and He can forgive me, too.

The Proverbs Tongue

Trent Childers

Trent ChildersIt is amazing that the little muscle living inside of our mouths is the topic of so much discussion within the Bible. There is good reason for that. If you are reading this, your tongue surely has gotten you into trouble in the past, or you may even be in trouble at this very moment! One book of the Bible that has a lot to say about it is Proverbs, and why not, as it is so practical.

It is no secret that much damage can be done through the tongue, through lying and deceiving (Proverbs 6:17, 19; 12:19; 17:4; 21:6; 26:28), backbiting and gossiping (11:13; 17:9), prideful boasting (8:13; 28:25), etc., but the child of God should not desire such. We need to be motivated to exercise our tongues according to wisdom, and this book of Wisdom Literature is an excellent divine guide to properly using our tongues. Let’s focus on the positive, and may we be challenged to strive to have a Proverbs tongue. Notice chapter 15.

The Beholder of the Tongue

“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good” (15:3). God as Creator is He who observes how we use our tongues. Solomon elsewhere wrote, “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths” (5:21). When realizing that God beholds how we use our tongues at all times, we should be motivated to have a Proverbs tongue.

The Tongue Can Be Tender

“A soft answer turns away wrath…” (15:1). A tender tongue does not invite wrath. Wrath fuels wrath, but a tender tongue discourages it. The tender tongue possesses great power, as it “breaks a bone” (25:15). John Wesley wrote that it “Softens the hardest heart” (Wesley’s Notes. http://bible.cc/proverbs/25-15.htm).

The Tongue Can
Properly Use Knowledge

“The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly… The lips of the wise disperse knowledge…” (15:2, 7). Adam Clarke wrote: “This is very difficult to know: when to speak, and when to be silent; what to speak, and what to leave unspoken; the manner that is best and most suitable to the occasion, the subject, the circumstances, and the persons. All these are difficulties, often even to the wisest men. Even wise counsel may be foolishly given” (Commentary on the Bible. Online Bible Version 4.1.1, 2009 Cross Country Software).

Knowledge is from the Lord (1:7; 2:1-9); therefore, to use knowledge properly, I must seek it from His Word. When realizing that the tongue can properly use knowledge, we should be motivated to have a Proverbs tongue.

The Tongue Can Be Healing

“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life…” (15:4). The same word here translated “wholesome” is translated “health” in 12:18: “…the tongue of the wise promotes health…” Elsewhere in Proverbs wisdom is called “a tree of life” (3:18) as is “the fruit of the righteous” (11:30). When realizing that the tongue can be healing, we should be motivated to have a Proverbs tongue.

The Tongue Can Be Helpful

“…[H]e who receives correction is prudent” (15:4). Receiving correction is portrayed in a positive light. The tongue can help others by providing loving reproof. We need to be careful that our motives are pure in giving correction and reproof, and we need to accept such when given to us. Realizing that the tongue helps others through correction, we should be motivated to have a Proverbs tongue.

Are you motivated to have a Proverbs tongue?

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