I’m not going to lie. If I were to find out that one of my church leaders was guilty of some legal or moral scandal, I would feel uncomfortable sitting under that person’s leadership. That said, I can only imagine how Biblical Christians felt back in the day when they found out that Paul used to kill Christians. Embezzling church funds is bad enough, but killing people on a regular basis is on a whole other level. Despite what Christians back in the day felt about Paul, however, God saw fit to call Paul into His ministry. God changed his name from Saul to Paul representing a new identity. Paul turned away from his wicked ways, and from that point on, he was on fire for Christ. This brings us to our key text coming out of Galatians 1:13 — 16a (KJV). The Word of the Lord reads:
13 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: 14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16a To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen;
In this passage, Paul is sharing his testimony with the Galatians. His listeners learn that it is never too late to turn one’s life around. There is no such thing as being too deep in sin to be saved. Praise the Lord for that! They also learn of God’s grace. I mean seriously…it takes some hard-core grace, forgiveness, and love to call someone who once killed Christians to be a champion of the Christian faith. No matter what your past holds, you can still be used of the Lord in the furtherance of His kingdom.
The important factor we must not forget, however, is that even though God can use us despite our pasts it does not mean that we should be repeat offenders who preach God’s Word. Paul did not continue persecuting Christians after he was called by God. He made an unmistakable effort to turn his life around. Some are quick to use the story of Paul as a defense for church leaders who get caught up in scandals like adultery. Paul is only a defense if the person in question puts an end to leading that adulterous life. If that person continues to purposefully lead an adulterous lifestyle, in fact, they have absolutely no defense or excuse for their actions. Repeat offending — no matter what the crime, whether legal or moral — does not please God. Furthermore, it damages the perception non-believers have of Christians and makes them more skeptical of accepting Christ.
Have a blessed day!
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Ayvaunn Penn is an award-winning writer and author of Ephemeral Moments. This book of poetry and short stories addresses issues such as: struggles of faith, domestic abuse, racial injustice, a falling economy, and contemporary love – all through the eyes of a Christian. It is available for purchase on Create Space eStore. To preview the book, click here. To receive Ayvaunn’s daily Bible devotionals by email, click here.