I don’t know if you have found time to do what I suggested yesterday? I suggested you read 2nd. Timothy. Whether you have or have not, whether you want to do that or don’t get round to it in the near future, it is a couple of phrases from there that are running through my mind today. One makes me say, “How can you say that Paul?” The other makes me say, “Did you really need to say that Paul?”
The “how can you say that” phrase is this: “I thank God, whom I serve…with a clear conscience.” (2 Timothy Chapter 1 verse 3.) Think of Paul’s history; the unjust and cruel maltreatment and imprisonment of Christians. Probably that involved separating distraught parents from terrified, sobbing and screaming children. Paul has already described himself in his first letter to Timothy as one who had been a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, and yet he says here in this second letter that he has a clear conscience! Was he lying? Was he making light of his past sins? I don’t believe either of these explanations to be the case. Rather, this is the power of the blood of Christ shed for us. It not only cleanses us from the guilty verdict our sins merit, but can actually bring us inner peace of conscience too that some people, even those closest to us in our circle of family and friends, would perhaps tell us we should never be allowed to find.
One of the commonest ploys of the enemy of our souls is to bring accusation against us. Martin Luther, one of the leading figures of the Reformation had a dream in which Satan came to him with a list of his sins. Luther asked Satan if that was all his sins only to be confronted with yet another list, and another , and another, until eventually Satan said that this was indeed the complete record of Luther’s sins to date. Clearly all of this was an attempt to put him off the purpose for which he had been raised up by God, to bear witness to the glorious truth of Salvation by grace through faith, rather than by works, including any religious works that we do or others say they need to do for us…at a price of course. However, Luther said to the enemy in his dream, “You can take a pen and write over every page, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses from all sin.’ ”
Do some of you need to face your fierce accuser today with confidence in the cross of Christ and what the Word of God declares about the power of what happened there to set us free? Here is yet another hymn that I simply love, love, love! It was written by John Newton who also had done such degrading things to other human beings and indeed had degrading things done to him though his involvement in the salve trade that some would say meant he should never have been allowed to find rest of soul. Read his hymn; it may help some of you today.
Approach my soul the mercy seat
Where Jesus answers prayer;
There humbly fall before His feet,
For none can perish there.
Thy promise is my only plea,
With this I venture nigh;
Thou callest burdened souls to Thee,
And such, O Lord, am I.
Bowed down beneath a load of sin,
By Satan sorely pressed,
By war without and fears within,
I come to Thee for rest.
Be Thou my Shield and hiding Place,
That, sheltered by Thy side,
I may my fierce accuser face,
And tell him Thou hast died!
O wondrous love! to bleed and die,
To bear the cross and shame,
That guilty sinners, such as I,
Might plead Thy gracious Name.
“Poor tempest-tossèd soul, be still;
My promised grace receive”;
’Tis Jesus speaks—I must, I will,
I can, I do believe.”
Well, moving on: the “did you really need to say that Paul” phrase is this: “Remember Jesus Christ…” (2 Timothy 1 verse 8.) Could it really be necessary to say such a thing to a Christian, even more so to a young and emerging Christian leader like Timothy? Yes! After all, as I said a few blogs ago, in the 3rd. Chapter of Revelation we are presented with the picture of a church where everything seemed to be going well.. and yet Jesus is pictured standing outside its door knocking and saying, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears me and opens the door I will come in…” It is possible to lose sight of Jesus when things are going well. In Timothy the context seems to be to “Remember Jesus Christ” in times of impending suffering and trial. It is possible in times of trial to get so filled with fear or anxiety or nervousness that we need to hear this simple strengthening word, “Remember Jesus Christ.”
I guess I don’t really need to unpack that. Is the Holy Spirit through this blog wanting to comfort or to challenge some of us with this simple phrase? “Remember Jesus Christ.” Nothing could be finer or better for your soul than to do that when you stop reading.
God bless you