Grace For The Journey
With the Christmas and New Year season upon us, the emphasis on “office / club parties” and “family and friend celebrations” produces an extra concern for local law enforcement. People over-indulge in alcohol which affects one’s driving and relational abilities. When people drink alcohol, they become “influenced” in a negative way that can end up hurting themselves and others. To combat this, law enforcement officials put up “check points” on streets to emphasize the desire and need for sobriety and not intoxication.
In today’s blog, we will look at need and importance of “spiritual sobriety.” This principle is rooted in Romans 12:3, which says, “For I say, through the grace given to me to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” These words were penned by the apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Spirit of God.
In order to understand the need and importance of this condition, we must see who Paul was before his conversion and who he became after his conversion. Before he accepted Jesus as his Savior and Lord, Paul was staggering blindly in a life known as spiritual Intoxication (being influenced in his thoughts and actions by his sinful nature). After Paul accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, the power of the Gospel supernaturally created a life of spiritual sobriety (a changed nature that influences his thoughts and actions). The latter is how God wants all of His people to live.
Who Paul was before accepting Jesus – “Spiritual Intoxication”
His name was Saul, and he fervently sought to put an end to the early Christian church. Saul was there in the early days of the church, giving approval to [Stephen’s] death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. (Acts 8:1-3)
So focused was Saul in his fanatical pursuit of Christians, he would stop at nothing short of the total destruction of the church. Saul demonstrated spiritual intoxication rather than spiritual sobriety. You see, spiritual intoxication is rooted in the self. Notice “intoxication” is spelled with two “I’s.” One at the beginning and one in the middle. Interesting that it is spelled that way – sin starts and is centered with “I.” Even more interesting, the second “I” in intoxication is the same “I” in the center of both PRIDE and SIN. Saul was consumed with Saul! It was Saul who looked after the coats of those who were stoning Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:58).
Before his conversion, Saul was a one-man wrecking crew, drunk with his distorted determination to eliminate those who proclaimed Jesus as Lord and Savior. Saul thought too highly of himself! He was trapped in sin which created spiritual intoxication.
But the Good News of the Gospel for Paul was that that was all about to change . . .
In Romans 12:3, Paul notes the supernatural change that took place:
Spiritual intoxication was replaced
By the grace of the Gospel.
Who Paul was after accepting Jesus . . . “Spiritual Sobriety”
Paul was a changed man. God removed the scales from his eyes and took away his pride. This is clearly laid out for us in what I call Paul’s divine descent:
Level #1 1 Corinthians 15:9
“I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”
Level #2 Ephesians 3:8
“Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ . . .”
Level #3 1 Timothy 1:15
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am chief.”
“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,” Paul wrote in Romans 12:3, “but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”
Paul walked this talk throughout his life. Before Saul came to Christ, he was afflicted with spiritual intoxication and thought much more highly of himself than he ought. Yet, when he saw his sin and accepted Christ as Savior, Paul saw himself through the lenses of spiritual sobriety. Sober judgment was now the mark of the apostle, as he progressed from seeing himself as the “least of the apostles” to the “least of all God’s people” to being the “chief sinner” in all-the world.
Now that is spiritual sobriety in accordance with the measure of faith God had given to him. And the good news is that such faith is available to all the children of God who remember, like Paul did, what they were before Jesus showed up, and what they are now by God’s grace alone.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”