Galatians 1:18-24 – “Because of Me”
One of the biggest lies the devil will tell you is that you will never change. This is simply untrue. He will try to convince you that how you are, you will always be; the choices you have made, you will always make; that no one will ever forget the person you were… so why bother trying. Paul already established earlier in the first chapter that he had a “former manner of life”. What that means is that he was once at odds with God… and I’m not talking just some casual belittling of Christians we see in social media these days. I’m talking old school Joe Pesci in “Casino” type stuff… rounding up Christians and sentencing them to death.
But if there is anything I could help you see from this week’s look into Galatians is that there is a definite turning point in Paul’s life. So much in fact that even his name was changed from Saul to Paul. Saul had a reputation… and Christians cowered from him. And justifiably so. But when God saw fit, he knocked Saul off his high horse (literally). Acts 9 says “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
That bright light blinded him and a little later God called Ananias to go lay hands on Saul to restore his sight. Can you imagine getting that assignment? I guess I would have done it… it’s not every day you get a vision from God asking you to do something… but you could be sure that in the back of my mind I would be thinking; “Has Saul really changed his ways?”
We know how this all turned out. Saul became Paul and turned the world upside down for Jesus. The farther away someone is from God, the more drastic it seems when they change. God loves that kind of story. “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.” What a thing to have said about someone! Is there anything more humbling to have someone say to you that you inspired faith in them? Is there anything more useful to God than a story of transformation? When someone who used to bad mouth God or lives in a way that didn’t honour God then turns to him? To inspire faith in someone else… to have other people glorify God because of you is the highest honour as Christians.
Don’t let our enemy derail your story by making you think that you will never change. We all have a past, we all have done some things that you might want to forget ever happened. But remember… they talked about Paul and glorified Jesus because of his turning from his old manner of life. We have a God that changes people like Sauls and makes them into Pauls. Make your story one that when they see the change in you, they glorify God because of you.
Lord, I know I have a past. I know that you accepted me when I turned from that past. Use it Lord, to bring glory to you. Give me strength and opportunity to tell others of my former manner of life… and that by your grace and mercy, I am changed.