From this past Sunday’s sermon, we saw how Paul seems to be giving the benefit of the doubt to his theological opponents in Ephesus when he said in verse 7, “they do not understand what they are saying…”. This is significant because it seems that Paul is genuinely concerned for their souls and is not ready to consider them a lost cause in his evangelistic mission of the Gospel. He instructs Timothy to confront them with a pure heart, good conscience, and a sincere faith. This is a reminder to us all that when we find ourselves in conversations or confrontations with opponents to the Christian faith, our goal is not simply to prove ourselves right and them wrong, but it is to prove the truth of the Gospel with the primary desire of seeing the other person’s heart softened towards the Gospel so that they would be saved of their sins by coming to an understanding of Christ’s death and resurrection.
There is hope for the ignorant. After all, we (Christians) are all ignorant of our sins to some degree. I believe it is a grace of God that He does not reveal to us all our sins at one time yet allows us to grow in our understanding of His holiness and our sin as we mature in our faith over time. I am convinced that if God were to reveal all our sins to us at one time, we would be overwhelmed by it! Yet by God’s grace, He made known to us our depraved nature so that we could come faithfully to Him in repentance and receive His forgiveness through Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice and resurrection. We, as Christians, are no longer ignorant of our sinful state, but we are still discovering the depths of our sin as we grow in God’s Word and mature in our understanding of holiness.
The Apostle Paul even mentions later in 1 Timothy 1:13, “… yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief.” He is not shy about admitting that he, like everyone else, was simply dead in his sins due to his ignorance. Even though Paul writes very strongly about the destination for sinners who reject Jesus Christ, he is just as transparent about himself as being the “foremost of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
One of the reasons why every person still has hope for eternal life so long as they have breath in their lungs and life in their spirit, is because they are all simply ignorant of their sin, and at any moment God can soften their heart so that they can respond in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation. However, the danger is, for the person that remains ignorant of their sins and rejects God to the final moment of their life will no longer be ignorant of their sins. The moment a person dies apart from faith in Jesus Christ will be fully aware of the cost of their sins and will no longer be ignorant of the seriousness of their sins in their life on earth. When a person dies in their sins, their judgment is final and eternal. This reality should remind us of the urgency to share the good news of the Gospel with others!
Here are just a few reflection questions that I hope are helpful to you, and for some of you, it may very well just save your life!
- In what ways are you able to recognize God pulling you out of your ignorance towards sin?
- How do you feel that there is hope for every sinner who is currently sinning out of their ignorance?
- What implications does this have for who you are willing to share the Gospel with? Are there certain people/types of people that you generally avoid sharing the Gospel with because of the impression that they are too far gone in their sin?
- If so, what does this say about your understanding of God’s ability to change a person’s heart?
- How are you evidence that God can indeed change anyone’s heart?
- Jesus said in John 8:31-32, “If you abide in My word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”
- How does this verse impact you in light of what Paul writes about his own ignorance of his sin and being saved from it?
For more depth on this topic, I encourage you to listen to the sermon on 1 Timothy 1:1-7, which you can find on our audio sermon page at fbcwinthropharbor.church.