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.
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.