There’s a man you can read about in the Bible who did some pretty awful things. He was very religious and very committed to his cause, qualities that some would call commendable. But he killed God’s children.
He was responsible for finding out where God’s people were, arresting them, and then having them executed. Those actions are certainly not commendable. Those actions, even though he thought he was doing God’s work, were very seriously wrong.
You can also read about a man who developed such a personal relationship with God that God trusted him with great responsibility. He was given revelation to write much of the New Testament, including information about a great secret, which he was the first to know. He also had the responsibility of the care for all of God’s children.
The two men mentioned above are actually one and the same person. His Greek name was Paul, and he is sometimes referred to as Saul, his Hebrew name. Prior to accepting the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul did some very, very awful things.
But after accepting Christ, he wrote most of the New Testament. Paul himself tells us that what he wrote was revealed to Him; it wasn’t something he made up or just decided to do one day. God gave Paul His word, and Paul wrote what God wanted him to write so that today you and I can read God’s Word.
For him to do that, obviously he had a very close personal relationship with God. What did God think of Paul? God must have thought highly of Paul that He would reveal His Word to him to write.
But on the other hand, what did Paul think of Paul? Did he have any issues, any junk in his past to overcome? Yes, he did.
Before accepting Christ, he was a very well respected leader in the Jewish faith. He was a Pharisee, educated by one of the best in his time, a man called Gamaliel. And Paul was very committed to his beliefs and very zealous.
Paul was working very closely with the high priest in Jerusalem to confront this new group, the followers of Jesus. Paul had not only arrested many Christians, put them in prison, but had many of them executed. One of those executions involved a wonderful man of God named Stephen.
God Did What?
There is no question that Paul did some very, very awful things. But when he accepted Christ, God forgave Paul, completely. God forgave Paul.
God not only forgave Paul, but after he was saved, he developed a personal relationship with God. God then entrusted Paul to write the Scriptures, preach, and take care of His children!
It’s hard for me to think of anything worse than killing God’s family. Paul did. God forgave him.
So, what wrong have you done? How big is your sin? Guilt, sin consciousness, condemnation, and shame really interfere with your relationship with God and keep you from trusting Him. Those things are so detrimental to your confidence in God.
You can know how great and wonderful God is, and know of His goodness, kindness and love, but why would He want to do anything for you? Who are you? And besides, how can you have confidence and trust in someone who is disappointed in you and condemning you?
How did Paul do it? He went from killing God’s family to being one of the greatest believers of all time. God was able to trust Him with taking care of His family, and gave him all that revelation to write the Scriptures.
Paul wrote that it wasn’t right for him to even be called an apostle, but “by the grace of God, I am what I am.” Grace is undeserved favor. Paul understood grace.
Paul didn’t allow guilt, shame, sin consciousness or condemnation over what he had done to rule his life. But how did he do it? Can you really get rid of all the guilt and shame and sin consciousness and condemnation for something that big?
Forgiveness from God has nothing to do with how sorry you are for what you have done, or promises you make to never do it again. A person may say and feel those things, but it does not bring forgiveness.
We have forgiveness because Jesus Christ paid the price for all sins. When someone accepts Jesus as lord of all men and believes that God raised him from the dead, he receives salvation and forgiveness. Paul chose to accept God’s forgiveness.
It’s Your Choice
Life is all about choices. When we choose to accept what God’s Word says it will set us free. That’s what Paul did. He chose to forget about the things in the past. He chose to accept God’s forgiveness and unconditional love.
When thoughts of his ugly past came to mind, Paul cast those thoughts down, he put them off, he laid them aside and replaced them with thoughts of who God said he was. He saw himself as God saw him: holy, lovely, acceptable, righteous, unblameable and unreproveable in His sight.
I’m sure this did not happen in one night. Paul took the time to make the transition to think of himself not as someone who did all those horrible things, but rather as God made him to be. And for you and me, we will never know who we really are, and never be truly free, until we accept who God has made us and see ourselves as He sees us.
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