“And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him and did not believe that he was a disciple.” – Acts 9:26
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When I think of the apostle Paul, I can’t help but think of all the obstacles and difficulties in life that he faced as a Christian. He was zealous for God and he suffered persecution because of it. He is responsible for writing nearly half of all the books of the New Testament. And he preached Jesus Christ crucified, unabashedly.
Yet, because of his past, there were many who judged – rather, misjudged him. Recall that Paul dragged Christians out of their homes and off to prison just for professing Christ. Then the Lord set him on a different path on the road to Damascus, and Paul (who was then called Saul) became a Christian.
God gave him a new name. And he bore the name of Christ. But some people just wouldn’t let him live down his old name and his old ways. They didn’t forget what he had done and wouldn’t let him forget it, either.
The Scripture says that when Paul tried to join the disciples, they were all afraid of him and did not believe that he was a disciple (Acts 9:26). And later still, it was as if Paul constantly had to prove himself. Remember when Paul detailed all the suffering he experienced as a disciple of Christ in 2 Corinthians 11:22-29. It was like he was always having to say, “Yes, I really am a Christian!”
But that’s how people are: even when God does a life-changing work in you and gives you a new name, there will be some people who won’t let you forget the things that you did before Christ changed you. They won’t believe that you are a Christian, just like the disciples didn’t believe Paul was.
That’s why Paul could say, “But he who judges me is the Lord” (1 Cor. 4:4). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).
Paul didn’t let what other people thought about him stop him from doing the work of the Lord. Whether they thought he was a Christian or not, he still served Christ. We have to be that way, too.
It’s not for us to try to impute sin and wrongdoing to another person when God has forgiven them and given them a new name.
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God” (1 Cor. 4:5).
I have a new name: Christian. I wear the name of Christ. He has washed me in the blood of the crucified Lamb and forgiven me of all my past sins. He can forgive you, too. He can cleanse you, too. And He can give you a new life.
All you have to do is obey Him: believe that Jesus is Lord, repent of your sins, confess that He is Lord, and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins.
Are you a Christian? If not, become one today! Don’t wait too late.
“Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” – Acts 17:31
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