“Ungodly… sinners… enemies…”
“…Christ died for the ungodly… While we were still sinners… while we were God’s enemies…” (Rom. 5:6, 8, 10).
It’s one thing to be ungodly, to have flaws of character and behaviour which fall far short of holiness. It is worse to be the sort of person who gives these propensities frequent expression… who practices active, habitual sinning. Worst of all is to be God’s enemy, one acting and seeking to act in direct opposition against Him!
Paul was such a one as this. He knew it, regretted it, and frequently confessed his rebellious past in his epistles,
“I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man… the worst of sinners…” (1 Tim. 1:13, 16).
“…I am the least of the apostles and am unworthy to be called an apostle… I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Cor. 15:9).
“…I am less than the least of all the saints… the least deserving of all God’s people… the least important of all God’s people.” (Eph. 3:8).
But Paul also saw purpose in his regretful past. Paul truly believed He was the very worst of sinners, the lowest of the low, YET God loved him, revealed Himself to Paul, saved him and now had prepared for him “a crown of righteousness,” which the Lord Himself would one day present to Paul. (2 Tim. 4:8).
Paul saw this fact as a sign of hope to all other ungodly, sinners, even enemies against God. In effect, Paul is saying “If God can save me, He can save anybody!”
Whether or not Paul’s self-estimation is accurate, his conclusion certainly is. As Peter writes, “[God is] not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9). But God will not override anyone’s will. He will not force His salvation upon anyone. But He calls out to all, “Come to Me” (Matt. 11:28).
And since He is “able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him” (Heb. 7:25). He will also build them, strengthen then, complete His plan in them and ultimately prepare for them also “a crown of righteousness” not of their own doings, but completely of His grace and goodness working in and through them.
Are you ungodly… a sinner… an enemy of God? Let none of these stop you. Come to Him today!