with the APOSTLE PAUL
Me argue with the apostle Paul? Yes, you bet! And I can tell you right now that I am right and he is wrong!!! (Okay, read on before you conclude that I am a heretic.)
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
According to God, man’s heart is what???:
1. deceitful above ALL things
2. desperately wicked
Man’s heart is “deceitful ABOVE all things, and desperately wicked” before the holy God of all creation.
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5
Jehovah is perfect and holy:
“Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:16
Sinful man has no hope of being accepted outside of God’s redemption through Jesus Christ. May God be thanked that through Jesus Christ, man can be redeemed and accepted in the beloved ( Eph. 1:6, 7; Rom. 3:23-26).
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” Romans 7:18
“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Romans 7:24
Never forget that this is the state of YOUR heart without God – “wretched”! If in this moment we didn’t have the grace of God, our souls would be left to their own fallen state and devices, which is total depravity (Rom. 5:1-2; Jer. 17:9, etc.). Let us learn to appreciate and thank Him (verbally & from the heart) for His “abundant grace” (Romans 5:17).
“But by the grace of God I am what I am…” 1 Corinthians 15:10
OKAY PAUL, WE NEED TO TALK! Paul, “I am chief”, not You!
“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. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” 1 Timothy 1:15-16
What! Paul states that he is the “chief” of all sinners! He is wrong! I am going to argue with the Apostle Paul when I pass on to be with our Lord! I have one bone to pick with the great apostle – I am the chief of sinners, not him!!!
Because he didn’t realize I was coming after him, Paul even had the audacity to say this:
“Unto me (Paul), who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;” Ephesians 3:8
You may think this is strange for a man to say, but in reality, this is a very Biblical and therefore a healthy perspective to hold as we walk with the Lord. I’m not talking about that old sorry attitude that says we cannot overcome sin and will sin every day no matter what. That’s a bunch of unfounded foolishness (Rom. 6:14; 8:2; 2 Cor. 2:14, etc.). We’re talking about the eternal truth that God is holy and I am wretched. Without His present grace, I am without hope. I am not talking about just giving up and living in sin, I’m talking about the state of the human heart without God – fallen and totally depraved! His grace is magnified in my life as I realize my own wicked state without His life in me – presently. Check this out:
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in (your) weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Notice the term “he said unto me.” Jesus, your Savior, is saying something to you beloved and that is this: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in (your) weakness.”
Am I “weak”? In other words, have I been brought to the place where I realize that He is my all sufficiency and that I can do nothing of eternal value without Him?
Without His presence in my life, I am left to my evil desires which guarantee my entanglements, falls, and demise because the wages of sin is still death (Rom. 6:23; Is. 59:2). Without His blessed redemption and its present work in me, I am yet without hope!
Thank the LORD that He is the “the Father of mercies.” (2 Corinthians 1:3)
Where are the thankful hearts of those who have been redeemed from sin’s leprosy? As in the case where Jesus healed the 10 lepers, why does only 1 of 10 come back to give Him glory? Where are those lips that should be giving Him praise!? Have we left our first love? If we haven’t, it is obvious in that we give Him open and heartfelt thanks for the redemption of Christ which has saved our souls. In those whose hearts burn with passion for Him, the present reality of God’s redemptive grace is ever fresh. Their hearts are filled with gratitude to Him. They don’t talk about a grace that once was, but one that is a present reality – working in them to bring God glory.
Without His love that drove Him to the cross and compels me to His cross, I am utterly without hope or help! Without Him I can do NOTHING (John 15:5). We can go nowhere in our life with God if we are not brought to the place of this realization – brokenness:
“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Romans 7:24
Apparently, Paul is speaking here of the sinful nature, the iniquity (tendency, inclination, bent) that dwells within us all and wars against the presence and will of God in us. It’s a seething and venomous fire which burns within us, seeking to express itself in sinfulness. It certainly will, if not quenched daily by our submission to God and His will. Iniquities war within us daily to express their sinful desires and if not cast down and crucified, will bring us to spiritual ruin.
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live (have life).” Romans 8:13
Note the phrase “if ye through the Spirit.” We must, through close communion with God “the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us”, mortify (put to death) the desires of the sinful nature which relentlessly seek to express themselves through our mortal bodies. (2 Tim. 1:14) To further emphasize the unceasing war waged by the sinful nature against all that is good (of God), let us consider what Paul the apostle stated in another place:
“I die daily.” 1 Corinthians 15:31
Friend in Christ, have you noticed that the fleshly nature cannot be cast out, but must be overcome – “daily”? Its unappeasable, sinful bent is relentless and cannot be left unchecked for a moment. Here is the prescribed way we are to appropriate the Holy Spirit’s power in overcoming:
“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
As we “Watch and pray” the Holy Ghost will fill our hearts and lives and grant the power to live a life of holy consecration.
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” 1 Corinthians 9:27
According to the holy Scriptures, personal responsibility is ongoing. It doesn’t end at the moment one is brought by the Holy Ghost into the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 12:13). The sinful nature must be subdued – continually brought “into subjection.” Did you notice that the great apostle himself stated that it was possible for himself to become a “castaway (reject)” after he had “preached to others.”? (See also Ezekiel 33:12-13.)
Okay, so you haven’t been perfect in overcoming the sinful nature. Well, I certainly haven’t either, but today is fresh – it is new and so are the Lord’s compassions precious one (Lamentations 3:19-22) . He loves you and is in no way mad at you. His will and plan for your life is one of “peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
In seeking for the whole counsel of the Lord, we should also recognize that allowing the wicked state of our sinful nature to rule our lives is not permissible in God’s kingdom (Heb. 12:14, Luke 19:27, etc.) If He does not cover us we have no hope, and He NEVER promised to cleanse and cover that one which continues in open rebellion – living after the sinful nature.
“But God shall wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses.” Psalms 68:21
Who is God going to “wound”?:
- 1. His enemies
2. such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses
Sin must be confessed and forsaken for divine mercy to be extended (Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 7,9, etc.). I must be washed from my sin daily, I must die daily so He can live (1 John 1:7; Gal. 2:20). The cross of Christ must continue to have deeper and deeper meaning and application as I see more clearly my wicked state against His perfect holiness revealed to me as I cling to His cross. I can only see such as I stand face to face with His unspeakable holiness revealed in His holy law (Rom. 7:12).
I Will Have Mercy, And Not Sacrifice
We must never allow spiritual pride to darken our hearts as it abode in the condemned hypocrites of Christ’s earthly day:
“And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Matthew 9:9-13
If in our spiritual activities we become self-righteous and look down upon sinners and those who associate with “sinners”, then all our spiritual sacrifices are in vain (to no effect before God). We are ALL in constant need of His forgiveness, so how can we dare look down upon another!?!?! Who are we not to forgive others as we are commanded, knowing that we have been forgiven of more than can be summed up?
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
A wise soul has stated:
- “A man is humble when he stands in the truth with a knowledge and appreciation for himself as he really is.” author unknown
SEEING AND LIVING FROM GOD’S EYES (Word):
“To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:2-7
Though I disagree with the apostle Paul that he is the “chief” of all sinners (haha), I am in full agreement with all else that God the Holy Ghost has spoken through this beloved apostle. As I hope you can see, I am being a little facetious here. Here is the only hope of this wicked soul (me), and all wretched souls:
“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:14
“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 (weaknesses), that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
In my “weakness” Christ will be magnified when I depend completely upon His perfect grace and strength.
“For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:9-10
His grace is at work in us!
“Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth (stiff arms) the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” James 4:5-10
Romans 5:17 “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”
Let us seek to apprehend and live in the Biblical perspective of who God is and who we are in Him. May Jesus Christ receive all blessing, glory and honor for His great redemption that He has provided the world through His perfect and holy blood which He shed on the cross of His crucifixion! What great grace and salvation is this!
Oh before I forget, if you happen to get to Heaven before I do, please tell the apostle Paul that I need to speak with him and that I have a bone to pick with him. Thanks.
Saved By His Grace,
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