Chief of Sinners

Before the apostle Paul believed in Jesus, his name was Saul.  He was one of the main persecutors of the church.  When Steven was stoned to death, Saul consented to his death.  Acts 7:58 “And they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.”  Acts 8:1-3 “Now Saul was consenting to his death.  At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.  And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.”  Not long afterwards, Jesus met Saul on the road to Damascus and changed Saul’s life.  Saul, now the apostle Paul, wrote the following about himself.  1 Timothy 1:12-16 “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.  And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.  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.”  Paul considered himself the chief among sinners because of the things that he had done against the church and against believers of Christ Jesus.  But he obtained mercy and became a pattern to those who believe on Jesus for everlasting life.

David was chosen by God to be king over Israel.  Here is a description of the first king Saul and the second king David.  Acts 13:21-22 “And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.  And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’”  David had a heart for God and many of his deeds pleased the Lord.  But David also committed grievous sins.  2 Samuel 11:2 “Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold.”  The woman’s name was Bathsheba and she was the wife of Uriah the Hittite who was a mighty warrior in the king’s army.  David brought her to the king’s house and committed adultery with her.  When it was discovered that she was with child, David brought Uriah from the battle so that he would be with his wife and they might think that the child was Uriah’s instead of David’s.  But Uriah did not go to his wife.  So David sent Uriah back to the battle with instructions to the commander to cause Uriah to be killed in battle.  Afterwards, David took Bathsheba to be his wife.  Therefore, David was guilty of adultery and murder.  Nathan the prophet was sent by God to King David to convince him of the evil that he had done.  David was convinced and confessed his sin.  2 Samuel 12:13 “So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.’”  You can read more of the story in chapters 11 and 12 of 2 Samuel.

Peter was one of the leading disciples and apostles of Jesus.  When Jesus asked his disciples who they thought that He was, Peter was the one who spoke.  Matthew 16:16 “Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’”  Later, Jesus was betrayed by Judas and taken to the High Priest’s house where they sought to condemn Him to death.  Peter had followed Jesus to the High Priest’s house.  Matthew 26:69-75 “Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, ‘You also were with Jesus of Galilee.’ But he denied it before them all, saying, ‘I do not know what you are saying.’ And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, ‘This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ But again he denied with an oath, ‘I do not know the Man!’ And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, ‘Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.’ Then he began to curse and swear, saying, ‘I do not know the Man!’  Immediately a rooster crowed.  And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ So he went out and wept bitterly.”  Jesus had previously said in Matthew 10:32-33 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”  Peter had denied Jesus.  But Peter was forgiven and became one of the greatest apostles for Jesus.

Each of these three, Paul, David, and Peter, committed grievous sins.  But they repented and were forgiven by God and went on to do great things for Him.  Do you remember sins you have committed in your life?   I know that I remember some that I have committed.  We are all sinners and guilty before God.  Romans 3:9-12 “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.  As it is written:  ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.  They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.’”  Whether our sins are big or small, we can receive forgiveness from God.  Paul was told to be baptized and wash away his sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16).  As a Christian, confess your sins to Him.  1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Isaiah 1:18 “’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

My encouragement to you is to have faith in Jesus and accept the mercy of God.  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  He will forgive you when you repent and come to Him.

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