Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
The apostle Paul was a gift to the followers of Jesus. He disdained any claim to be called "an apostle," thought of himself as "one born out of due time," "the least of the apostles" (1 Cor. 15:8, 9), "less than the least of all the saints" (Eph. 3:8).
He never forgot his hatred of Jesus Christ; he had "persecuted the church of God" (1 Cor. 15:9). This was not a front; he understood corporate guilt. Whatever sin any descendant of the fallen Adam might commit, Paul saw he was capable of the same, for he understood the sinfulness of his natural-born genes inherited from the fallen Adam.
The Holy Spirit taught him, but it's also true that never had a Jew (other than Jesus) studied the Bible as he did, gleaning truth that the Eleven had not understood, yet they were not jealous of him.
Grasping the reality of his sin, he grasped Christ's righteousness. The Father sent "His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh" (ours; Rom. 8:3). Deep in the human heart are the rootlets of sin (7:7-11; what woke him up was the conviction of breaking the seventh commandment!). The pure law of God had nailed him like the most common sinner.
The Son of God in our human flesh had met the grand Enemy in mortal combat in His human flesh and forever condemned sin there--a victory not one of earth's billions of "saints" had accomplished except by means of "the faith of Jesus." Alone, friendless, persecuted, rejected, Christ spent His entire life rejecting temptations to sin; His final test--the darkness on His cross. One sinful, selfish thought indulged would have cost Him His glorious victory.
He shares His victory with us; if appreciated, "the righteous requirement of the law" becomes "fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the [Holy] Spirit" (Rom. 8:4). Those who so "walk" today are preparing for the soon coming of Jesus. "Unworthy"? Of course; but it's His grace--greater than our sin.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 9, 2006.
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