“For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.” (Gal. 1:13, 14)
This is the old Paul, the pre-Jesus Paul. It is not the Paul we know and admire in the book of Acts or from reading his letters. No, this is an anti-Christ Paul who was the tool of Satan in the Evil One’s attempt to destroy the work of Christ through the church. That Paul was about traditions and according to what he writes and what Luke tells us in Acts that Paul was as sincere as he could possibly be. But, by the same sources, we learn that the Paul who was known as Saul was sincerely wrong.
There are a number of people who seem to think that sincerity is the most important quality. You’ll be okay with God just as long as you are sincere in what you believe and what you practice. We need go no further than Paul to learn that sincerity is not the same as truth. We must be sincere in our belief but our belief must be in truth. When Saul found out he was sincerely wrong he turned immediately to the truth.
In Acts, Luke records the first known preaching of the gospel. All the apostles were present as were several thousand people when Peter stood up and told the story of the crucified Christ. He accused his listeners of being responsible for that crucifixion and they responded with the “What shall we do?” question. They had been sincere but they had been wrong. Like Paul, later, they now learned the truth and wanted to change their status with God. Interestingly Paul would later be told to do the same thing that Peter told the crowd on Pentecost to do.
It is not about the past. Everyone has a past without Jesus. It is about the present. The crowd who heard Peter believed his message and changed. They erased their past in the blood of Jesus by being baptized. Their new present was to walk in newness of life. Paul was shown Jesus and repented of his past. He now believed that Jesus was the Christ. He believed and changed. He erased his past in the blood of Jesus. This is what Paul was told by the messenger from God, “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name,” (Acts 22:16).
Task for Today: Don’t be held captive by your past. Whatever you have experienced it won’t be worse than crucifying Jesus or trying to destroy the church, the body of Christ. You can change the past by changing the present. Whether you hear it like those on Pentecost or like Saul the persecutor do what they did and enter a new and lasting present. Why do you delay?