Thursday, August 21, 2008

Paul's Past Life

Let’s pick it up today in Galatians 1:13-14, “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.” Now Paul begins to share how zealous he was in the “Jew’s religion.” Of course, he was referring to Judaism. As a matter of fact, he was so zealous that he persecuted the early Christians more so than anyone else his equal. It was true too. It is estimated that Paul hand a consenting hand in the killing of at least 10,000 Christians before his conversion to Christ. You could say that he was the crem-de-la-crem of his class!

To that end, he also stated in Philippians 3:5-6 that he was “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” We also know from Acts 7:54-8:3 that Paul had a hand in the stoning of Stephen. I think that all of that would have made him pretty zealous.

But something happened to change all of that. Notice vv.15-16a that say, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen;” That calling came on the Damascus Road in Acts 9:1-6. Have you ever felt that God couldn’t love you because of the person you’ve been? Saul did far more evil than most and yet God still loved him.

The Bible promises in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” You see, it doesn’t how many bad things that you’ve done; God can still forgive you if you simply come to him with a broken and contrite heart and ask Him to do so! 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

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