We all have a story about how we were before we were saved. Some have many years between when we were born to when we were saved. Others were saved at a young age. No matter what, we all have a time before we knew Christ. The apostle Paul had quite a history, before God changed his life. We have to go through the process of letting go of our past.
Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.–1 Timothy 1:13
Before his conversion, Paul was a violent persecutor of believers. His violence against God’s people was sufficient reason for ranking himself as the “chief”. Yet, because he acted in ignorance, sincerely believing he was serving God, he “obtained mercy” so that Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience to many others who would hear his testimony, believe in the goodness of God and be saved. The abundant grace and mercy of God toward Paul should encourage us to present the gospel even to the worst of sinners, confident that God’s grace and power can redeem and change their lives also.
Many times we dwell on what we’ve done in our past. We want to think about all the horrible things we’ve done. Constantly wondering how God could love us. Then we start to think how could God ever use us. If anyone had a reason to wonder how God could use them, it was Paul.
As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house and haling men and women committed them to prison.–Acts 8:3
Saul (later Paul when he changed his life after his encounter with God on the road to Damascus) was persecuting Christians, he was there when Stephen was stoned. Paul could have easily said I can’t be used and walked away from ever trying to be used by Christ. He had to go through the process of letting go of the past, so he could be used. The same is with us, in order to truly be used, we have to let go of our past. We have to get out of our own way, so that God can use us. Look at what God was able to use Paul to accomplish!