Bible Reading Blog
“I'm Not Who I Used To Be”Categories: Congregational Bible Reading
BIBLE READING: Acts 26
Paul’s about-face to follow Christ had a profound and lasting effect on the church. But it also created enemies to his work. Those who had one been supporters of his zeal for the Jewish traditions weren’t just upset—they wanted him dead. They would chase him from town to town, ultimately resolving that he must not only be silenced but killed (Acts 9.23; 23.12; 25.3).
Their efforts culminated in Paul’s arrest and trial (Acts 22.31-36). Throughout these proceedings Paul had opportunity to present his case not just to the authorities, but to his fellow Jews. He knew them, they knew him (Acts 26.4), and his desire was to help them see the truth about Jesus (Romans 9.3-5; 10.1-4). To do this, he gave his personal testimony as compelling evidence to the truth of Jesus as the Christ.
“I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth…” (Acts 26.9). “But I received mercy… that in me… Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe…” (1 Timothy 1.16). In every account of Paul’s conversion his message was, “You know who I used to be… but look at me now! I’m not who I used to be.”
Personal testimony can be a powerful tool. Luke records the conversion of Saul 3 times in Acts (Acts 9, 22 & 26). Throughout his letters, Paul would recount the changes Christ brought in his own life (see Galatians 1.13-24; Philippians 3.4-11; 1 Timothy 1.12-16). Jesus’ intrusion into Paul’s life was significant, and the effect on his way of life proved a powerful witness to Christ. Paul was not the same person after he came to know Jesus. I wonder if the same could be said for us.
A couple of thoughts to consider:
- The gospel prompts change. Change in priority. Change in allegiance. Change in the way we talk and think and live. Our habits, desires, and goals must evolve to align with a manner worthy of our calling. A life without change does not understanding the calling of the gospel. We are to put off what we want and put on new things that model Jesus. The longer we know Jesus, the more evident the change should be in our lives.
- Your past makes the gospel valuable. There may be things in your past of which you are ashamed. It’s ok to reflect on, and even share those things from time to time. It reminds us how much God has done. We are not who we used to be by the grace of God.
- The effect of the gospel in your life is powerful. When we practice what we preach, it draws others to Christ. Paul would often encourage believers to imitate him as he conformed his life to Christ (1 Corinthians 11.1; 2 Timothy 3.10-11). How you live becomes a model for others to witness and follow Christ.
Take some time to reflect on the changes Jesus has brought into your life. Is your way of life a witness to the work of Jesus Christ? But don’t stop there. Think about how you still need to change. We are all on a journey to become more like Christ. By his grace let’s grow to become more like him today.
“I am what I am by the grace of God.” (1 Corinthians 15.10)