Your Past Doesn’t Define Today or Tomorrow

When God calls us to a task, we can sometimes be like Moses and give all the excuses as to why God’s got the wrong person, especially when we allow past sins and mistakes to define who we are. But the truth is, the moment you accepted Jesus a your Savior, your past has been forgiven. The slate was wiped clean! No matter what you’ve done, you’ve been forgiven and your past has been overruled. Instead of standing before God guilty, you can now stand as a gloriously redeemed child of God!

Brownlow North
Brownlow North

There was a famous evangelist named Brownlow North. In his early days he had lived a life that was anything but Christian. Once, just before he was to enter the pulpit in a church in Aberdeen, he received a letter. This letter informed him that its writer had evidence of some disgraceful thing which Brownlow North had done before he became a Christian; and it went on to say that the writer proposed to interrupt the service and to tell the whole congregation of that sin if he preached. Brownlow North took the letter into the pulpit; he read it to the congregation; he told of the thing that once he had done; and then he told them that Christ had changed him and that Christ could do the same for them. He used the very evidence of his shame to turn it to the glory of Christ.

The great Christians have never been afraid to point to themselves as living examples of the power of Christ. It is true that a man can never change himself; but it is also gloriously true that what he cannot do, Jesus Christ can do for him.

Paul Points to Himself as a Living Example of the Power of Christ

In Acts 26, Paul points to himself as a living example of the power of Christ. Paul stands before King Agrippa and begins his extraordinary testimony by confessing the wrong he had done. He was very transparent and honest to admit that he was wrong in what he thought about God and how he pursued the things he thought were of God for selfish gain and dominance. People had a view of Paul. This Paul once named Saul was a violent man who hated Christians because they proclaimed Jesus as Lord. He had developed a reputation of a man without mercy. He was a man with a prestigious education of the law of God yet he had a heart of stone. Saul had a reputation that was world renowned.

He then tells King Agrippa about his trip to Damascus with a sinful stand against Christians, his sinful deeds, his sinful plans, and his sinful life. Here is Saul, a man who people both respected and feared. A man with of power against those who proclaimed Jesus’s Lord. But in a moment, on the road to Damascus, Paul encountered Jesus who overruled all that Paul had done and set him on a different path.

Acts 26:9-16

“I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

“In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you.”

Christ overruled Saul’s sinful stand

On the Damascus Road, Christ overruled Saul’s sinful stand. Paul was convinced that his actions against the Christians was the right thing to do. In fact, he persecuted the Christians with a raging fury against them. He chased them down in foreign cities, he locked them up in prison, he cast his vote against them and sent them to their deaths. And he did so because he took a sinful stand against Christ. He wrote in Acts 7:52, “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers.

Paul took his stand with the children of the wicked and joined the ranks of those who persecuted and killed the prophets. He took his stand with betrayers and murderers He took his stand with those who rebelled against God. He took his stand with fury and hate in his heart. Ultimately, he took his stand with Satan.

But then he encountered Jesus who confronted him and told him to “rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you.” Jesus overruled Saul’s sinful stand against Him and changed his raging fury against Christians to passionate purpose to bring the lost to Christ.

Jesus overruled Saul’s sinful stand against Him and changed his raging fury against Christians to passionate purpose to bring the lost to Christ. — Julia M. Bruce

Christ Overruled Saul’s Sinful Deeds

On the Damascus Road, Christ overruled Saul’s sinful deeds. If anyone could say, “How could God ever use me?” it would be Paul. In 1 Timothy 1:13, Paul describes himself as a blasphemer, persecutor, and injurious. But Paul doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say, “but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”

All of his deeds against the Christians and the church, Jesus said Paul was doing them against Him. Jesus says to Paul in Acts 26:14, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” But Jesus had already ascended into heaven when He confronted Saul on the Damascus Road. So how was Saul, then, persecuting Jesus? We can find the answer in Matthew 25:35-40.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

What we do to others, we do to Jesus

Jesus teaches us that whatever we do to each other, we are doing it to Him. So when Paul was persecuting the Christians, he was persecuting Christ. His sinful deeds were great, but Christ overruled them and then set Paul on a different journey and mission that would spread the gospel message throughout the Gentile world. If God can choose to use Paul and assign him a divine mission, then He can choose to use you, regardless of what your past looks like. Just as Christ overruled Paul’s deeds, He can overrule your deeds.

Paul’s sinful deeds were great, but Christ overruled them and then set Paul on a different journey and mission that would spread the gospel message throughout the Gentile world. — Julia M. Bruce

If God can choose to use Paul and assign him a divine mission, then He can choose to use you, regardless of what your past looks like. Just as Christ overruled Paul’s deeds, He can overrule your deeds. — Julia M. Bruce

Christ Overruled Saul’s Sinful Plans

On the Damascus Road, Christ overruled Paul’s sinful plans. In Acts 9, we find the account of Saul encountering Christ on the Damascus Road and the plans that Saul had. Verses 1-2 says: “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

His plans were to wipe out all believers, exterminate all the faithful followers of Christ. He had plans to banish them to prison and bind up their testimony so that Christianity would be wiped out for all time. But Christ overruled Paul’s sinful plans and changed them for God’s divine plan.

Paul’s plans were to wipe out all believers, to banish them to prison and put an end to Christianity. But Christ overruled Paul’s sinful plans and changed them for God’s divine plan. — Julia M. Bruce

Christ Overruled Saul’s Sinful Life

On the Damascus Road, Christ overruled Paul’s sinful life. Acts 9:3 says, “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven.” It didn’t just shine around him – it overpowered his life. It enlightened his life, exposing his sin and revealing God’s abundant grace towards him. A grace that overpowered and overruled all his sins. It freed him from the chains of sin and empowered him to proclaim the gospel message with confidence and authority, even when it would cost him his life.

Paul’s sinful life was overruled as he exchanged his disbelief for faith and proclaimed Jesus as his Lord. From that day forward, Paul’s past didn’t define him, it defined the power of God’s extravagant grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness. Paul became a living testimony of what God can do in one’s life.

The blinding light on the Damascus Rd overpowered & enlightened Paul’s life, exposing his sin & revealing God’s abundant grace. It overruled all his sins & empowered him to proclaim the gospel message with confidence & authority, even when it would cost him his life. Julia Bruce

Christ Overruled Saul’s master, Satan

On the Damascus Road, Christ overruled Paul’s master, Satan. Before encountering Jesus on the Damascus Road, Saul had been ruled by Satan. He served to do his bidding in stamping out Christianity. But on the Damascus Road, Jesus overruled Saul’s master and Jesus became Saul’s master. Satan was defeated when Jesus died on the cross and rose again. But on the Damascus road, Jesus overruled the power of Satan in Saul’s life and set Saul on a new direction towards a crown of life.

On the Damascus road, Jesus overruled the power of Satan in Saul’s life and set Saul on a new direction towards a crown of life.

If today, you are worried that you have a past full of sin and it is too much for Jesus to forgive you, then look at Paul. His story on the Damascus Road is in the Bible for you and me so that we can know there is no past too far gone in sin that Jesus cannot overrule and step in and change. Like Paul, you can experience the change from sinner ruled by Satan to child of God who’s past has been overruled and now lives under the extravagant grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness that Paul experienced. Simply surrender your will and sinful heart to the Master, Jesus. He will overrule all your past and give you a brand new life.

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