2 Timothy 4:7-8 … 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to his young disciple Timothy, provides this encouragement to Timothy and to us. As death was rapidly approaching, he was confident that he had finished his life well. He was also confident that there was a reward awaiting him in heaven.
There are many similar references all through scripture about finishing well. In particular, Paul uses this phraseology multiple times. In Philippians 1:6 and 3:14 and in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. In Acts 20:24, it is Paul who says, I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Here is a man who despite his believing he was living a life in line with scripture, was actually denying the Lord Jesus Christ and killing those who were children of God. John 1:12 … But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.
How could this first century terrorist ever do enough good to outweigh all the evil he had done?
He couldn’t! But that’s how salvation works. We have all done evil in God’s eyes, and broken His law. And just like the good things we do in society do not erase a crime we may have committed, God holds us accountable for all of our crimes against His law.
Paul turned to Jesus for forgiveness, who was and is the only one who can pay the penalty for all the evil we have done. In addition to accepting Jesus as his Savior and Lord, Paul repented of his sins and lived a life in service of his Lord. Not a perfect life, but a life that put Jesus first and that is dedicated to striving to please him.
Paul is a tremendous example for all of us. Although we have done countless evils in God’s eyes, we are forgiven in Christ. That forgiveness is free, but we have a responsibility. In writing to the Colossians, Paul explains that through the power of Jesus’ resurrection, we should have new desires. Colossians 3:1 … Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
The Apostle John wrote, to tell us that if we have truly let Jesus into our hearts to take up residence within us, our sin will grieve us and we will not go on living a life in defiance of Him. 1 John 3:9 … No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.
The unidentified writer of Hebrews (who I believe was also Paul) tells us that through Jesus’ death, we are washed clean for the purpose of not only our salvation, but also to serve Him. Hebrews 9:14 … How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Furthermore, Paul tells us in his letter to the Thessalonians, that our avoiding sin and our growing to be more and more like Jesus is God’s will for us. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 … It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know.
So, we must not dwell on the struggle we have had with sin. It is important for us to realize that God has put our past, present and future sins aside through the completed work of Jesus on the cross. However, our past way of living should motivate us to strive for the finish line with a purpose of glorifying Christ.
Hebrews 12:1 … Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
~~~ a befreeinchrist writing ~~~