I’ll quote a lot from today’s study – because it’s such an important message. If, you don’t have a solid, spiritually understanding of God’s grace – you will constantly struggle in trying to follow Jesus. Many aspects of your Christian life will become a chore instead of a wonderful joy!
Let’s start with the text, set for reading and meditation, we hear Paul’s advice to young Timothy [2 Timothy 1:6-14 (NIV)]: “(I am reminded of your sincere faith), … for this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.
He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”
A number of points: we are to take active steps to fan into flame the gift of God; because the Spirit gives us the power to love and to be self-disciplined, We are called to live a holy life to serve God’s purposes; and, the Holy Spirit (in us) helps us to guard our faith.
Some people misuse Romans 7, especially these verses (18b-19): “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” Yet, Paul provides the answer to mankind’s predicament , in verse 24b, 25, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Paul in these verses, is identifying with mankind – regarding the issue we all have – it’s impossible, when we are slaves to our sinful nature – to do good (to please God). Indeed, in 1 Timothy 1:15, Paul counted himself as the worst of sinners (as Selwyn notes) – this is the main reason why he is so thankful for the grace of Christ – because God saved his ‘wretched’ life. In the same manner – I’m forever giving praise to Jesus – because He has also saved my very, wretched life.
Back to our study, Selwyn writes: “Paul emphasised grace to such a degree because he knew what would happen to Christians if they responded to the instinct to try and earn God’s love. They would become workaholics, driven by the idea that God would stop loving them if they were not busy. …
Paul knew beyond doubt that God loves people because of who He is, not because of what they do.
We simply must get this truth into our heads, for if we don’t then we will end up working to be saved, instead of working because we are saved.”
If, you are shaking your head in disagreement with Selwyn’s words – then I plead with you to take this issue to God in prayer – for, only He can change your heart.