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Daily Devotional | Right and Wrong - What the Bible Says About Sin and Righteousness. - Street Sign with arrows. Today in the Word September 2022 graphics

Daily Devotional | Living Beyond Your Past


Can a murderer follow Jesus? How about a thief? The answer is yes. We can all be thankful that our past does not determine what we can become in Christ. Paul rejoiced because Jesus considered him “trustworthy” and appointed him as His messenger. But this was not because of Paul’s past. Prior to Paul’s conversion, he had been a blasphemer, persecutor, and a violent man (v. 13). The Greek term that the NIV translates violent is a word that means to be insolent or aggressive. Acts 8:3 says he “began to destroy the church.” Paul’s behavior toward Christians prior to his faith in Christ amounted to murder.

All Christians have sins in their past, and often these include serious sins. In 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, Paul warns that those who are sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Yet in the next verse he declares: “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).

Paul’s life is a model for those whose past sins seem unforgivable. Paul considered himself “the worst of sinners,” but he became an example to those who would believe in Christ and receive eternal life (1 Tim. 1:16). Your past does not determine whether you can become a Christian. If God accepted the worst of sinners, He will accept you if you believe in Christ.

Your past also does not determine what kind of Christian you will be. The same grace that made Paul a trustworthy servant of the Lord is available to us today. Anybody who gives themselves without reservation to Christ can live beyond their past.

>> Do you have regrets about your past? Offer them to Christ by offering yourself to Him. It does not matter what you were. All that matters is what He makes you.

Pray with Us

In heaven we will be with You, God—and also with former murderers, adulterers, liars, abusers, people once guilty of gross evils. But in Christ we are forgiven of everything. We praise You for welcoming all of us to Your love.

BY Dr. John Koessler

John Koessler is Professor Emeritus of Applied Theology and Church Ministries at Moody Bible Institute. John authors the “Practical Theology” column for Today in the Word of which he is also a contributing writer and theological editor. An award-winning author, John’s newest title is When God is Silent: Let the Bible Teach You to Pray (Kirkdale). Prior to joining the Moody faculty, he served as a pastor of Valley Chapel in Green Valley, Illinois, for nine years. He and his wife, Jane, now enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan.

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