Former Things

Scott Hoezee

Read: Galatians 1:13-17

For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church. (v. 13)

The apostle Paul was a living, breathing example of God’s power. Although through the gospel many people were converted from sinful ways, few turnarounds were as dramatic as what happened to Saul of Tarsus. Why? Because the Pharisee named Saul was not just ignorant of Jesus nor had he rejected the gospel because he found it silly. Oh no, Saul knew who Jesus was, all right. And he knew what Jesus represented: a teaching that was 100 percent at odds with his own religion.

As Paul reminded the Galatians, once upon a time he was a very zealous Jew advancing through the religious ranks. He absolutely knew that keeping the law of God was the way to heaven. And he did keep it nearly perfectly. But then he got wind of this wannabe Messiah named Jesus. He heard that Jesus’ followers were claiming that salvation was all by grace alone apart from works. This message had to be stamped out, and Saul threw himself into that effort with everything he had.

But then Jesus himself got through to Saul, turned him around, made him a true believer in salvation by grace alone. Paul would never go back to his old ideas. But now that he had gotten wind that the Galatians were embracing a version of that very thing, Paul was equally zealous to root out that false message. Thanks be to God that by grace Paul got it right! —Scott Hoezee

Prayer: Thank you for your powerful Spirit, dear God, who brings conversion and salvation.