I am amazed that the English language has become so broadly used worldwide. The title of today’s post is “Cling On,” but if I said this, you would probably think I was referring to Star Trek Klingons!
I was thinking about something the apostle Paul wrote to the young man that he counted as his son. Paul wrote:
“19 Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.”1 Timothy 1:19 NLT
What would compel a person to violate their conscience deliberately? Doesn’t that seem odd, certainly foolish? The word “deliberate” tells us that Paul is writing about someone who commits the worst unrighteous acts. In God’s Word, we are taught that a person can do three types of unrighteous actions against God. These are sin, transgressions, and iniquity.
Since we use English, we lump all three into the word “sin,” but God doesn’t. In Psalm 32:5, the psalmist wrote, “I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.’”
We commonly define sin as “missing the mark,” which is accurate but misses the mark. 😉 Sin usually is birthed by our idea instead of something from the Holy Spirit. It may be a great thing, but not the right thing to do. It may be something we commit to doing, but we try to do it with our ability. Or, it might be something we decide to do while never considering God’s will. All of these actions “miss the mark.” They are sins.
A transgression is when we intentionally choose to do something that we know is against God’s will. We know that we should not tell lies. We know that satan is the father of lies1, so when we choose to lie, we aren’t missing the mark; we are deliberately transgressing God’s will. The same is true if we deliberately put our interests ahead of others or someone tells us a need, and we have the resources to help, but we send them on their way empty-handed. Transgressions tarnish the Bride of Christ.
““Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.”Psalm 32:1 ESV
Now we come to the worst actions against God’s will: iniquity. Iniquity is a premeditated action that we know is against God’s will; it’s like premeditated murder. Iniquity is when we choose our will over God’s will and continue to do it without repentance. Iniquity is embezzlement; it’s sleeping around; it’s being narcissistic. But Jesus saves and forgives.
When Jesus called Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, to share a meal, Jesus extended forgiveness to a man whose profession was one of iniquity. Iniquity is terrible, but it is not beyond God’s forgiveness.
“For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”Hebrews 8:12
Let’s Cling On
Whew! That’s a lot of background information, but we need to understand what Paul knew and what he deeply desired for Timothy to know. Paul wrote from painful experience, “Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear.” Being a “Harvard” graduate Pharisee, his classmates continually challenged him. They hated what he taught, and they hated him for teaching the Gospel of Jesus. Paul never wavered but fiercely held on. He was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ Jesus2.
Paul had seen the shipwrecked lives of Christians who demonstrated great love and humility for Jesus, but they caved into peer pressure. They tried to straddle the fence and suppress the Holy Spirit’s life in them. The result of their actions was that they ended up with no faith. Like a ship without a rudder, they were tossed about3 and finally shipwrecked their lives in Christ.
Paul made it clear that Timothy must cling to the Gospel like a man or woman in the ocean clings to a raft. The same is true for each of us that are in Christ Jesus. Ciing On!
#Biblestudy #devotional #christianposts
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