“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:15-17 ESV)
Paul wrote this epistle to Timothy, his good friend, spiritual son and ministry partner who was leading the work in the church at Ephesus. His purpose was to encourage and guide him to persevere in the work of ministry in the midst of difficult circumstances. False teachers had arisen among the brethren and were leading many astray with their strange and mysterious doctrines. These teachers promoted a wide range of beliefs designed to make the Christian holier usually involving asceticism and/or keeping the Jewish law. Paul labeled this as blasphemy for it denied the efficacy of the cross of Christ. He knew this well as he acknowledged that he was one who had been zealous for the Law. He had been a legalist. He became rather emotional as he considered God’s mercy for a sinner such as he. He thanked God for His mercy in Christ who came for the sole purpose of saving sinners.
The law of God is vital to our salvation even though the sinner is not saved by keeping it, for we cannot keep it perfectly. The Law shows us our sinfulness and our need for a Savior. It drives us into the welcoming arms of the Lord for His mercy. The law of God as embodied in the 10 commandments and in the scriptures serves to guide us into righteousness. Those who are in Christ have been changed completely and no longer live with their focus on sin and self. Rather they are so grateful for what Christ has done for them, for the world that they go out and live for God’s Kingdom. They dispense compassion, charity and kindness. They go and tell others about the gospel of mercy in Christ Jesus.