The Protective Value of a Genuine Testimony.

New birth is the best defense against unbelief. A simple salvation testimony and evidence of a changed life shows that Jesus is enough. No rule or creative idea can change a person's life. Legalism and pragmatism simply do not agree with the Gospel.


In the original language, the first word of the apostle Paul's testimony is "Thankful." This was his constant refrain. Our salvation in Jesus is the primary thing we are thankful for, because we know that we are the worst of sinners, just as Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:15. In fact, this conviction is necessary for salvation.

Paul's testimony is structured around God's grace. Grace is defined as undeserved favor that God abundantly showers on us.

Our Life Without Grace (1 Timothy 1:13a)

Our testimony is just like Paul's. We were all in the same state of sin before Christ saved us, no matter the degree. Paul's description of his sinful state highlights two ways that we violate God's law:

A Blasphemer

Blasphemy is simply our human ability to offend God. This term covers the first half of the Ten Commandments given by God in Exodus 20:1-11. We have all broken these commands. We put other things before God, and we use His name to our own advantage. The purpose of the law is to show that we are sinners.

A Persecutor and a Violent Aggressor

The second half of the Ten Commandments reveals the ways we hurt others (Exodus 20:12-17). We along with Paul are guilty of these as well. Before he received God's grace, Paul was driven by the mistreatment of others (Acts 8:1). The natural, sinful state is a pitiable condition. We are absorbed by our own goals and ambitions without any reference to offending God or others.

Our Life Drawn by Grace (1 Timothy 1:13b)

God has mercy on the unbelieving sinner. He decides to pursue us in our ugliness before we ever think to turn to Him. God's mercy means He withholds the condemnation that we deserve.

Paul says he acted in ignorant unbelief. How could this be true when he was well trained in the Old Testament law? Though they can read the Bible, someone who does not know the Lord cannot properly interpret His Word.

God extends mercy to unbelievers in their ignorance. God made provision for those in the nation of Israel who acted in ignorant unbelief (Numbers 15:22-31). Consequences are steeper for those who know the Word and sin defiantly.

Our Life Lavished by Grace (1 Timothy 1:14)

The name order of "Christ Jesus" emphasizes His deity. Because Jesus is God, we are responsible to Him. After receiving God's grace, Paul no longer had an issue with Jesus' authority. He calls the Lord's grace "more than abundant." This description uses the same Greek word where we get our word "hyper." Grace is help from Heaven that never stops. Nothing else can relieve a soul from the burden of sin.

Our Life Directed by Grace (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

God's grace changes us, then directs and challenges us for the rest of our lives. Only Jesus can transform a life (Acts 4:12). He is the exclusive way of salvation, and His Word is the exclusive way to know God.

Paul uses the phrase "this is a trustworthy saying" only in the pastoral epistles. He uses it to introduce a summary statement of doctrinal truth. Jesus came to the world for one reason: to save sinners. Paul's testimony is an example of God's incredible patience toward sinners as he waits for people to see the Gospel (2 Peter 3:9).

The primary purpose for which God saves us is to share our own testimony. No one else can tell your personal story of how God drew you and lavished His grace on you. Your job is not the reason you are here. Life is a pointless rat race without an eternal purpose.

Application Points

  • When is the last time you shared your testimony with an unbeliever? Pray for opportunities to share your testimony. Do so reflecting God's heart of patience, love, compassion, and determination.
  • Do you have a genuine friend who is an unbeliever? If you do not, turn from that sin. Pray for opportunities to befriend someone who is not saved.

Tools For Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Christians are to be continually thankful.
  • Ephesians 2:8-9 – We are saved by grace.
  • Acts 9 – Paul's conversion.
  • Acts 22, Acts 26, Philippians 3 – Paul tells his testimony to others, always highlighting the "before and after."
  • Romans 1:28-32, Luke 18:32 – A description of unredeemed and unrepentant people.
  • Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23 – The problem of sin and the solution of the Gospel.
  • Luke 23:34, Acts 3:17 – God offers forgiveness to ignorant, unbelieving sinners.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It!"

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.

Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child and forever I am.

Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

I think of my blessed Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long:
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song.

I know I shall see in His beauty
The King in whose law I delight;
Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps,
And giveth me songs in the night.