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Sermon #5727

Ignorance; Prejudice and Fog in the Mind

A Sermon on 1 Timothy 1:12-13

Scripture

1 Timothy 1:12-13 ESV NASB KJV
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, (ESV)

Sermon Description

Why do some people reject Christ? The truth of the gospel seems so sure, and yet many still turn from it. Why? In this sermon on 1 Timothy 1:12–13 titled “Ignorance: Prejudice and Fog in the Mind,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones takes to Scripture to explain why people reject the gospel. One of the greatest missionaries of all time was the apostle Paul. Yet in 1 Timothy 1:12–13, he makes a startling admission—he had at one point been a great blasphemer of God and persecutor of Christians. And yet, God eventually saved him. People today say that they are not Christians because of their high intellect— they say that Christianity is for the weak-minded, and that they do not need it since they have a high intellectual understanding. Yet, many great Christians throughout history have shown this to be false simply because they were of towering intellect themselves. Augustine and Paul himself are just two out of a vast number of those who were brilliant and yet followed Jesus. Paul writes that the real reason for rejection is unbelief and ignorance that bring prejudice against the gospel and blind people to its truths. What exactly is this unbelief and ignorance about? Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains the real reason for unbelief and how Christians can effectively engage it today.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The apostle Paul describes himself as formerly a blasphemer, persecutor and injurious person who acted ignorantly in unbelief.
  2. Paul cites his transformation from persecutor of the church to apostle as evidence that one's standing before God is not determined by intellect or knowledge.
  3. Common explanations for unbelief today - intellect, knowledge, psychology - are shown to be fallacious by Paul's example. His intellect, knowledge and psychology remained constant before and after his conversion.
  4. The true explanation for unbelief is a state of blindness produced by the devil that fills us with prejudices, causing us to dismiss the truth.
  5. Prejudice means pre-judging, coming to a verdict before considering the evidence. This was Paul's condition before his conversion.
  6. Paul was appallingly ignorant of the law of God, though he thought himself knowledgeable. He did not realize the law must be kept in its entirety, that possession of the law is not enough, that the spirit of the law matters more than the letter, and that the law's purpose is to lead us to worship God.
  7. Paul was ignorant of the true nature of sin. He thought of sin as isolated acts, not realizing it is a power that holds us captive and even twists the law to inflame sinful desires.
  8. Paul was ignorant of his terrible danger as a sinner under God's condemnation facing eternal punishment. Like many today, he thought himself righteous through his own morality and good works.
  9. Paul was ignorant of the mercy, grace, love and compassion of God. Like the Pharisee in Jesus' parable, he saw no need for these as he thought himself righteous. He did not know the depth of God's love in sending Jesus to die for sinners like himself.
  10. It is ignorance of our sin, danger and God's grace - not intellect or knowledge - that keeps people from becoming Christians. Recognizing our sin and God's love leads to salvation.

Itinerant Preaching

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.