Do you remember what it was like when God rescued you from paganometry? Was there a season when you noticed you no longer completely enjoyed romping and mixing with the things and ways of this world?
I don’t mean to say that you never sinned again, or never had some dark days where your behavior didn’t match up with your new birth. I mean that because something real had happened between God and you, it was just no longer possible to easily and fully enjoy what you might have back in the days when you were still a pagan. What was it like?
It had to be a shocker for the apostle Paul. He was such a nasty man—an aggressive, brutish, bull of a human, who chased down the sons of God and sometimes handed them over to death. It was his particular brand of paganomics—what fun. And then he became a son of God—how ironic. Imagine the change.
He describes some of that change in his letter to the Galatians:
“For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, . . .” (Galatians 1:13-16)
I love that! Paul didn’t wake up one day and choose Christ, he woke up one day and knew God chose him! That changed everything. One moment Paul is an empty hellion on his way to hell, and the next he’s a modern day holy of holies, the dwelling place of God. What a shocker for Paul to realize! I wonder if he ever thought, “What happened?! What about my business of capturing Christians? Can I still do it? Maybe if I treat them a little nicer . . .” I don’t think so.
I believe that Paul was so transfixed by what had happened to him and by who did it—God—that he didn’t have to think much about what he could and couldn’t do anymore. The presence and influence of God in the formerly pagan Paul made life as it had been impossible. Even if one of his former partners in crime had offered an excellent opportunity to indulge in paganometry, Paul had only to think about what God had done to him, and where He now lived. Sorry, Charlie—Buh-bye. Adios.
And I suggest that’s how it is for you and me. If you’ve grown weary in well-doing, how about taking a look at your beginning with God? I bet it will revive you. Reviewing how God came after you will help you see how He is still doing it today. If He is active concerning you, wouldn’t you like to know how? That kind of interest in God is healthy! That’s how Paul helps the Galatians in asking them:
“I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?” (Galatians 3:2-5)
In other words, wasn’t your beginning with God because He began with you? You didn’t start anything—He planned for you a long time ago (before He made the earth), woke you up to His plan, and hopped aboard. He still enjoys revealing His plans for people, and knowing what’s up with God is invigorating!
Your beginning was like Paul’s—what a shocker. And it was the beginning of the end of your pagan days.