September 11, 2023

Humility and Sin

Written by Boyd Bailey

Humility exposes sin like a contagion that can easily infect a life with severe spiritual sickness.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 11, 2023

Sinners of whom I am chief. 1 Timothy 1:15

Next to Jesus, the person who was the most formative in the early church’s theology and practices was the writer, theologian, leader, missionary, and apostle Paul of Tarsus. Yet, despite being qualified as an inductee into the Christian Hall of Fame (my phrase i.e. Hebrews 11), the closer Paul grew to Jesus Christ, the more and more honest he grew about his propensity to sin. Instead of foolishly flirting with sin, he confessed his multiple encounters with sin that qualified him as the chief among sinners. His humility reminded him of his past behavioral patterns of breaking God’s heart, as a reminder in the present of pride’s ever-lurking presence to draw him into sin’s snare. His humility was nurtured as he reminded himself and his readers that before his encounter with the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, he could have qualified for Sin’s Hall of Shame. Humility exposes sin like a contagion that can easily infect a life with severe spiritual sickness. Like a sober alcoholic, Paul is now a saint saved by grace but still chief of sinners. The juxtaposition; “Hello, my name is Paul, chief of sinners and also beloved son, favored by God.”

Andrew Murray expresses Paul’s sentiment on how a humble heart remembers sin, “I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious; howbeit I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. ‘…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief’ (1 Timothy 1: 13-15). God’s grace had saved him; God remembered his sins no more forever, but never, never could he forget how terribly he had sinned. The more he rejoiced in God’s salvation, and the more his experience of God’s grace filled him with joy unspeakable, the clearer was his consciousness that he was a saved sinner and that salvation had no meaning or sweetness except as the sense of his being a sinner made it precious and real to him. Never for a moment could he forget that it was a sinner God had taken up in His arms and crowned with His love.”

“For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10). “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).

If we are brutally honest, we all have a relationship with sin…past and present. What is yours? Perhaps, naively too familiar or self-righteously overreactive. Humility is not naïve to act like sin is no big deal, nor does it overreact with an inability to be, as Jesus prayed, in the world but not of the world. Thankfully, this wise, humble prayer of Jesus for us is why the Holy Spirit is able to alert us to evil influences attempting to hijack our attitude and actions toward sin. Similar to how our body’s immune system is ever on the lookout for bad cells seeking to compromise our health, so humility is our spiritual autoimmune system to keep sin from infecting our lives or, even worse, disabling or killing our Christian testimony. By God’s grace, we live victoriously as a saint, as we remain humble and do not continue to sin. And when sin does occur, the Spirit humbles our hearts in confession and repentance. A clear conscience is the fruit of humility. 

“Dearly loved friends, if our consciences are clear, we can come to the Lord with perfect assurance and trust, and get whatever we ask for because we are obeying him and doing the things that please him” (1 John 3:21-22, TLB).


Heavenly Father, humble my heart to have a healthy fear of you and of the consequences of sin through Christ’s love, and in Jesus’ name, Amen.


Discuss with a friend or your small group the consequences of sin. How would you feel? How do the consequences of sin affect your relationships? How does humility protect you from sin?

Related Reading

1 John 1:1-8, 2:3-5, 15, 29, 3:3-6, 18-21, 5:4, 18

Worship Resource

Olivia Lane: Wherever You Are


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