In his letter to Timothy, who was serving as a young Pastor at Ephesus, Paul advised him to deal with issues in the church. Paul’s primary concern was with the destructive effects false teachers had on Christian behavior. He focused on the fact that true Christianity is evidenced by lifestyles shaped by the gospel. Those whose lives were not shaped by the gospel demonstrate that they have turned away from the faith (1:6, 19–20; 4:1; 5:6, 8, 11–12, 15; 6:9–10) because there is no legitimate separation between behavior and belief.
In verses 12-17 Paul marveled that he was “judged faithful” by Christ in spite of his sinful past. That Christ counted him worthy to be entrusted with the gospel and to be appointed to serve was ample reason for Paul’s praise and humble lifestyle before the manifested grace of God. Paul’s conversion and commission illustrated the transforming effect of the gospel (see v. 5) contrasted to the uselessness of the false teaching. Paul’s ignorance in no way excused his sin or warranted God’s mercy. His salvation was solely because of God’s grace.
When Paul ignorantly opposed Christ he had not yet professed faith. However, at his conversion Paul had two question (cf. Acts 9:5-6): (1) Who are you Lord?; and (2) Lord, what do you want me to do? From the point of his professed faith Paul’s life took on a completely different direction. In contrast, the false teachers professed to follow Christ yet maintained a lifestyle contrary to His teaching. In so doing, they were in danger of being cut off from the possibility of receiving God’s mercy (cf. Matt. 12:31–32; Mark 3:28–30; Luke 12:10; 1 John 5:16).
Looking at his life before Christ, Paul considered himself to be the worst offender of the faith. In his religious zeal he persecuted God’s people and did everything imaginable to hinder others from coming to faith. But after his encounter with the risen savior Paul quickly became the example of faith to be imitated by others (cf. Philippians 3:17). His post-salvation lifestyle provided a clear conscience from which to proclaim the message of the gospel. Paul accredited his transformation to the effect of true Christian instruction. He was the type of person for which the law was given as it exposed the error of his ways and brought him face-to-face with the grace of God. Paul gives glory to God as the transcendent King who is eternal, immortal, and invisible, and yet who intervenes personally in this world to save his people.
Does your lifestyle demonstrate action contrary to Christ’s teaching. Remember there is no legitimate separation between behavior and belief. Like Paul, Christ can judge you faithful and appoint you worthy to proclaim the gospel from a clear conscience. But you must first yield to His Lordship and then continue in true Christian instruction. While we are not under the law for condemnation, the law remains as an instructor to bring us to the light of Liberty in Christ. As you allow God’s grace to transforms your life and lifestyle through consistent teaching, He judges you faithful to proclaim the message of salvation to His glory. How will you respond to God’s grace?