I. Introduction: What are the limits of God’s grace? Are some people so deeply entrenched in wickedness they can’t turn to the Lord? Amazingly, the answer is no. God can transform lives and circumstances no matter what kind of sins someone has committed.
A. Life Before Grace
- Before we trusted Jesus as our personal Savior, we were sinful (Eph. 2:1-3).
- Saul of Tarsus, better known as the apostle Paul, called himself the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15).
- He was highly educated, well trained in his career, and zealous about Judaism. But he violently persecuted the church and blasphemed the name of Jesus (Acts 7:58-60; 8:1-3; 9:1-2; 22:3-4; 26:9-11).
- Paul is the perfect example of God’s grace. No sin is too great for the Father to forgive (1 Tim. 1:13-14, 16).
B. Life by Grace
- Grace is possible only because of Christ’s death on the cross. It’s impossible to do enough good deeds to earn salvation.
- God instantly made Saul into a new creation on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-6).
- Salvation happens at God’s initiative, not ours. No one can take credit for getting saved (Eph. 2:8-9).
- Jesus’ death covered the sins of the entire world—no one is an exception. If you trust Christ as Savior, you cannot have sinned so badly that God won’t save you.
C. Life in Grace
- After his salvation, Paul’s actions changed (1 Tim. 1:8-12). Grace isn’t about adding good deeds to your life; it’s about inner transformation (e.g. caterpillar to a butterfly). God makes us new people and transforms our thoughts, actions, and desires.
- After his salvation, Paul’s attitude changed. He had humility because of his past, gratitude for God’s grace to him as a sinner, and compassion for those who didn’t yet know the Lord (1 Tim. 1:15; Rom. 9:1-4).
- When we experience God’s grace, we want to serve Him on a daily basis (1 Tim. 1:12). This doesn’t have to be in an official church setting or role. Instead, it can happen as we simply reach out to others throughout the day.
- We must be willing to suffer persecution in our service to the Lord.
- Although we are forgiven in God’s eyes, we still face the natural consequences of our sin.
III. Closing: Before his conversion, Paul would never have imagined that one day his teaching would impact the entire Christian church. No one is so evil that he or she cannot be transformed by the grace of God. His forgiveness is life-changing!