THE CHIEF OF SINNERS
I Timothy 1:12-17
A. I just watched the movie "Ben Hur". A great dramatic movie.
From a book by Gen. Lew Wallace.
B. I have a suggestion for a new movie. The Life of Paul.
One of the most dramatic lives in history.
C. Since we don't have that movie yet, I want to paint the picture
in your minds.
D. I would entitle this movie, "The Chief of Sinners."
E. Paul classified himself as the chief of sinners.
Why did Paul call himself this?
1. This is a big statement.
Paul had met obstinate Pharisees.
Paul had dealt with obsessed idolaters.
Paul had witnessed to drunkards, homosexuals, thieves,
How could he call himself the "Chief of Sinners?"
2. This is a confusing statement.
Paul had been a pretty good guy.
4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (Phil.3:4-6)
Certainly there were many people in the world that were
worse than Paul.
How about Nero?
How about Pontius Pilate?
Paul was a good guy.
Why did he call himself the chief of sinners?
I. Because of His Reformation. (12)
A. The last thing Paul ever expected to be was a Minister
of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Yet, now Paul was called almost immediately.
1. This is an unusual thing. (Acts 9)
2. Not a recommended thing. (see I Tim.3:3)
B. Why would Paul be called a Minister this quickly?
1. Because he had a misunderstanding of the Gospel.
a. Paul was actually trying to do the will of God.
* He thought that by telling everyone that
becoming a Jew was the only way to
* He thought by killing the Christians that
he was helping the cause, so they would not
lead people astray.
b. Paul had actually been doing the opposite of
the will of God.
2. Because he was to be a miracle of the Gospel. (16)
Paul cites this is the primary reason. "first"
*Paul's salvation shows God is able to save all
* Paul's salvation shows God does not give up on
sinners. He is longsuffering.
* Paul's salvation shows God is able to use all
sinners. If they will believe in Jesus and follow
C. Paul called himself the chief of sinners because he could see
how far off of the mark he actually was.
ILL: Like traveling down road in the wrong direction
and you see a sign that alerts you to where you are at.
1. Christians, can you see how far you have come since
you have been saved?
* Can you see how far your morals have come?
* Can you see how far your mouth has come?
* Can you see how far your church attendance
* Can you see how far your friendships have come?
* Can you see how far your service to God has
2. When you look back at what you were from where you
are now, you might say, "I was a pretty dirty, rotten,
disgusting sinners, wasn't I?"
3. Friends, I am not what I should be.
But thank God, I am not what I used to be.
II. Because of his Reputation. (13)
A. There are things everyone knew about him.
1. He was a Blasphemer:
He tried to denigrate the name of Jesus.
2. He was a Persecutor:
He tried to imprison the followers of Jesus.
3. He was an Insolent Man, Injurious:
He tried to destroy the church of Jesus.
4. Paul was saying he had done more against the cause of Christ than anyone he knew.
B. Perhaps you might look back and see a Bad Reputation.
1. You had a reputation as a loose man/woman.
2. You had a reputation as a sot, drunk, dopehead.
3. You had a reputation as one with a bad temper.
4. You had a reputation as one with a lying tongue.
5. You might say you were the worst person around
6. Thankfully, Jesus died for the worst of us,
and He wants to bring out the best in us.
7. Jesus is not looking for a few good men, but
He is looking for a few bad men.
III. Because of His Relation. (14)
A. On the road to Damascus Paul met His Lord and Savior.
1. Paul had an encounter with Jesus different than most.
2. Paul met Jesus personally.
* This may have been what it took to get Paul's
* This may have been what it took to give Paul
3. We don't all need to look for a "road to Damascus
experience." But we must all meet Jesus as personal
Lord and Savior.
a. You may not see a great light, but you need to
see the light.
b. You may not hear an audible voice, but you need
to hear the still small voice.
c. You don't have to become a preacher, but you do
need to become a believer and follower of Christ
B. On the road to Damascus Paul felt the first time he was the
Chief of Sinners.
When you realize who Jesus is and what He did, you will
become disgusted by what sin is and what it does.
1. He is like Isaiah who cried,
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. (Isa.6:5)
2. He cried like Peter.
Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. (Lk.5:8)
3. He was like John on Patmos.
And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet at dead. (Rev.1:17)
4. Many say we need Revival today. This is true.
But we will have Revival when we get a look at Jesus.
IV. Because of His Realization. (15)
A. Note what Paul said.
He didn't say, "I was the chief of sinners"
He said, "I am the chief of sinners."
1. He realized that he was still a sinner who
struggled with temptations and a sin nature.
18 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. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:18-19, 24)
2. He realized now how hideous sin is to God.
That He is so holy, He cannot look upon sin.
3. He realized how much his sin cost Jesus.
4. He was disgusted now with his own sin.
B. Do you realize YOU are the biggest sinner you know?
ILL: How many sins can you name that Donald
Trump has committed? Hillary Clinton?
How many have you committed?
We think ours aren't as bad, but they are.
Jesus said, "If a man lusts in his heart, he has
committed adultery." "If he hates and is angry with
his brother, he is a murderer."
Our sins nailed Jesus to the cross.
Just as surely as Adolf Hitler's or Osama bin Laden
The question today is not why Paul thought himself
the Chief of Sinners.
The question is why don't we think that of ourselves
A. The story of Paul is a great story.
It is the story of a terrible sinner becoming a terrific saint
through faith in a triumphant Savior.
B. Do you have that kind of story?
1. You are a sinner, too.
2. You may be the chief sinner in Stamps.
3. But this one thing we are assured of:
Jesus came to save sinners, even the biggest ones.