A rather pompous-looking deacon was endeavoring to impress upon a class of boys the importance of living the Christian life. “Why do people call me a Christian?” the man asked. After a moment’s pause, one youngster said, “Maybe it’s because they don’t know you.”1 This is not the way to live. Our miracle testimony should give glory to the God who saved us. It should be evident.
Paul’s Past Life
Galatians 1:13–14 (KJV) — 13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
- If you remember from our previous posts, Paul intently declares to the Galatians how he received the gospel, he is now preaching.
- He received it by revelation from the Holy Spirit.
- Paul now uses his miracle testimony to further prove that there was no way he could have received the gospel he ministered any other way except supernaturally.
- There’s nothing about Paul’s past that made him conducive to receive anything from the Lord.
- Paul’s life was less than stellar.
- He was a persecutor of the church of God.
- He tried to destroy it.
- And, he did it with vim and vigor.
Let’s Have A Conversation about Religion
- For you have heard of my conversation is how Paul starts out his testimony of his past life.
- Paul is not referring to dialogue here.
- The word ‘conversation’ is a King James English word.
- It means, succinctly, manner of life or conduct expressed according to certain principles way of life, conduct, behavior 2
- Paul is talking about his moral choices ‘in the Jews religion.’
- Paul labels his past life as religion.
- Religion is man’s effort to achieve salvation through his own efforts.
- It emphasizes at least two things.
- An unhealthy self-examination
- One healthy way to examine yourself is during communion per 1 Corinthians 11:28.
- A second is by seeing if you are in the faith 2 Corinthians 13:5.
- Self- achievement
- To see if you are righteous, or acceptable to God based on your own works is unscriptural.
- It is not New Testament Christianity.
- An unhealthy self-examination
Paul’s Testimony of His Misplaced Self-Righteous Zeal
- Notice the words ‘beyond measure’ and the words ‘being more exceedingly zealous’.
- These words give us a clue as to the negative intensity of the man formerly known as Saul of Tarsus.
- The Greek words ‘beyond measure’ mean extraordinary overabundance.
- The words ‘exceedingly zealous’ means to be an enthusiast, one who is a fervent and even militant proponent of something.
- Intense is the word you could use to describe how Paul went at things in his life outside of Jesus.
- These words almost remind you of the intense commitment to hatred in some of the religions of the world today.
- Paul was sold out to the principle of establishing Judaism as the only religion of planet earth.
- In his sinful state, he thought he was right that is until he found he wasn’t.
The Havoc of Religion
Acts 8:1–3 (NKJV) — 1 Now Saul was consenting to his (Stephens) death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
- Part of Paul’s testimony includes this word ‘havoc’.
- The word ‘havoc’ describes how Paul went about persecuting the church,
- The word means to lay waste to or to cause extensive destruction or utter ruin.
- Paul consented to another man’s death.
- That was his testimony.
- He was present and even felt satisfied as Stephen was stoned to death.
- That’s the face of religion.
- The scripture says Paul ‘consented’ to his death.
- That’s utter self-righteous supposedly in the Name of God.
- The word ‘consented’ means to approve.
- Paul self-righteously stood while minding the clothes of those who were stoning an innocent God-fearing, Jesus trusting man.
- So blinded by religion this man of Tarsus was.
Our Testimony Is No Different
1 Corinthians 1:26–29 (NKJV) — 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.
- Our former life is no different than Paul’s.
- We were less than hot stuff.
- No way were we on the ball.
- We didn’t have our ducks in a row.
- Sin is sin.
- The kind of sin a man commits is not important.
- Comparing one person’s sins to another is futile.
- We were all lost in whatever way we took.
- But God, in His mercy saved us anyway.
- Jesus by His grace called us anyway.
Call to Action:
All of us have a testimony. We have a testimony of God’s saving power. A testimony of His enduring mercy toward us. Our testimony is vital. We should give it. We should tell our story of how the Grace of God overcome our stupidity in sin. It’s the one miracle ever saved child of God has in common.
Question: When was the last time you shared your testimony with anyone? How did that encounter go? Please share your story in the comments section below.