Expository Studies

Play Video
Play Video

Daily Encouragement

Play Video

February 10, 2012

Back to Basics

Part Eight

My Former Manner of Life

Galatians 1:13-14, Page 1820

    Many people I know spend time thinking about the past, and the way they have lived life.  Some people have glowing thoughts of the way they were before being born again in the Spirit, while others regret their former manner of life.  Today we will read about Paul reviewing his former manner of life, and why he reviewed his past with the Galatians.  I often hear people preoccupied with their past, and never focusing upon the present and the future.  As a believer, your past should be under the control of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  In this passage today, watch how Paul uses his past life before salvation as part of his message to the Galatians.  So, today we will focus upon a  passage in the Bible that teaches us about how we should look at our past.

Galatians 1:13, Page 1820

“For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it;”

      Former Manner of Life.   In Galatians 1:13, page 1820, Paul looked back at his “former manner of life” (“ἀναστροφήν ποτε“).  The first lesson we should learn concerns looking back and how we look back and why we look back.  For every believer, we should discern a former manner of life that we turned away from to follow Christ.  Personally, I received Christ as young child of five years old, but I still remember the great joy of having my sins forgiven and living in new life with God.  I had not yet committed great sins which plagued me later in life, but I do recall the joy of forgiveness.  For Paul, he saw a sharp contrast between his present life and his former life.  Second, Paul did not try to hide his former manner of life.  He discussed it freely with the Galatians, and his old reputation had spread to many areas.  You see, God loves to use your former manner of life to His glory.  We cannot always anticipate how God will use our former lives, but we know that His plans will glorify Himself in one way or another.  Third, no matter what your former manner of life was like before you came to Christ for salvation, you cannot change the past, but you can gain perspective and appreciation for the way Christ brought change into your life by His salvation and the abiding presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in your life.  In Paul’s case, he emphasized a change in his religious outlook and practice.

       Judaism.  In Galatians 1:13, page 1820, Paul recognized the role that “Judaism” played in his former manner of life.  Never forget that Jesus was a Jew, sent by God first to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles.  “Judaism” means something particular to Paul.  He described “Judaism” as people who “persecute the Church of God beyond measure and try to destroy it.”  In Acts 9:21,  page 1717, we read that the disciples in the Damascus called Paul the “persecutor” (“πορθήσας“) of the church.  In Acts 9:21, page 1717, the term for persecute describes the entirety and completeness of the persecution.  Paul was the “one who has persecuted,” and the term means to sack, destroy, kill and lay waste.  Under the power of Jesus Christ, Paul went from being the one binding Christians for persecution and death, to the bond-servant of Christ bound to His service.  We should learn from Paul the depth and totality of Christ creating us as new spiritual beings at the moment of salvation.  We become new creatures in Christ, with the old things passed away and new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17, page 1809).   We not only see our past before we came to Christ, but we see a different creature of evil.   Paul was still a Jew before and after his salvation.  Individually, God chose Paul, a Jew from Tarsus, to serve Him, but God did not immediately bring salvation to all the Jews.  The Jews as a nation, will always be part of the people of God in terms of national destiny.  God has made promises to Abraham and David which God will fulfill in the future.  God made national, geographic, and royal promises and that the nation of Israel will look upon Christ whom they have pierced, mourn and repent (Zechariah 12:10, page 1491).  The people of Israel  will one day return to the land of Israel, and live under the reign of Jesus Christ in the millennium.   In this Galatians 1:13, page 1820, Paul focused upon “Judaism” as the group of unbelievers who sought to destroy the church, and persecute its members, just for their faith in Christ Jesus.  As we look at our past, we may see great atrocities, but we should remember Paul.  Paul used his past, including its great evil, to glorify God.  Because Paul lived in Judaism, he could speak against the evils of Judaism based upon first-hand experience and eye-witness testimony.  Paul personified “Judaism” before he came to faith in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 1:14, Page 1820

“and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.”

      Advancing in Judaism.  In Galatians 1:14, page 1820, Paul claimed to be advancing in Judaism beyond many of his contemporaries.  Paul meant that he excelled in Judaism, and persecuted the church more than his friends and colleagues.  As Paul used the term in this verse, Paul meant that “Judaism” was not the true faith of the Old Testament, but a perversion of the Old Testament teaching, which resulted in the Jews not knowing the Messiah when He came.  Furthermore, the Jews determination to have a righteousness based upon their own works under the Law of the Old Testament only led them into unrighteousness before God, because the Law condemned them as sinners, unable to keep the Law.  So, Paul compared himself to the other men of Judaism, and said he excelled beyond them.

      More Extremely Zealous for My Ancestral Traditions.  In Galatians 1:14, page 1820, Paul looked at the root of “Judaism.”  He traced his behavior to zealous devotion to “ancestral traditions” (“παραδόσεων“).  This term for ancestral traditions highlights the problem with supplanting the text of Scripture with the teachings of men.  Some Jews held that Moses not only wrote the first five books of the Bible, called the Torah or Pentateuch, but he also delivered oral traditions which were handed down from generation to generation.  Judging from the content of those traditions at the time of Paul, they lead people away from God, so that they were opposed to Christ when He came.  Remember that Jesus came unto His own people of Israel, and they did not receive Him (John 1:11, page 1653), because they did not know the God of the Old Testament, His Father and Himself, as the Yahweh of the Old Testament (John 8:19, page 1671).  Today, we see all kinds of false teachers adding material to the Bible, because they claim God revealed something to them.  All such teaching contradicts the Bible itself, and leads away from Christ and knowledge of God.

       When we truly know the power of Christ in our salvation, we gain a whole new perspective upon our entire lives.  Instead of living in guilt and shame for past sins, we delight in the power of Christ transforming our lives from sinners to holy ones in Him.  We see His power working in our lives each day, delivering us from sin and sinful practices, and enjoying His love day by day.  We do not fear our past, but know we have no condemnation from God, and live in peace with Him for eternity.  Our past becomes our testimony for Christ and His power.  We must always see ourselves as the Bible describes us, and abandon our own sinful images of who we were and are now in Christ.  The truth of our lives shines with the glory of God at work in us, when we open our eyes and see the great things Jesus has been doing within us.

        So we learn more about evaluating our past  from God’s perspective today.

     ●  When we look at our days before salvation, we see a picture of evil in our lives, controlling us and leading us to sin against God.

    ●   When we look at our salvation, we see God delivering us from the power of evil, and creating a new spiritual being. 

     ●   When we look at Jesus today, we see Him who has always loved us, and transformed us so that everyone will know about the wonderful change from evil to good in our lives, and how we left the darkness and came into His marvelous light, to live with Him forever as His bond-slave. 

Application for Today

        As I walk through life today, I want to see my past through the eyes of Jesus, and not from my own perspective of guilt, shame, or longing for the old days.  Instead, I know that Christ works in me, and His power will shine from me today.  Will you see your past through the eyes of Christ today?


 Christ Assembly Basics 

Christ Assembly provides free access to various studies from the Bible, the Word of God. The studies in this website are not inspired, but God produced the Bible, consisting of sixty-nine books (39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament). The Holy Spirit inspired authors to produce original autographs of the Bible in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Those original authors wrote over the course of many centuries. They wrote divinely inspired words and every word was divinely inspired. The authors communicated in their own styles, and with their own vocabulary, but God breathed out every word of the final autographs. The words in the Bible really matter, and deserve careful study. 
As we study, we seek to love Jesus more because His word has instructed us so that we learn His ways. Eternal life consists in knowing God the Father, and Jesus Christ Whom God sent. As the eternal God of Glory, One with His Father, the Son of God took flesh and dwelt among us. Because of His death, He used His blood to purchase our redemption. He was raised for our justification. We now live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved us and gave Himself for us. By the grace of God, the Holy Spirit abides in every born-again believer and fills us with His presence and blessings. He leads us into all truth. Jesus is the truth, and the way, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Jesus, our Lord. 
We look forward to His imminent return to the clouds of earth, to snatch away the believers alive on earth, so that we may be forever with the Lord. When He returns to the clouds, He will bring with Him all those people in Christ who died before His return to the clouds. We encourage one another with the promises of God, Who makes our path grow brighter and brighter, until the full light of day shines forth. We love Jesus and look forward to seeing Him soon. After Jesus removes the believers from the earth, then a terrible period of seven years follows where God brings measured and precise judgments upon the people alive on earth. God cut those days of  Tribulation short, or no flesh would have been saved. Jesus will then return to earth, slay His enemies, and place His feet on the Mount of Olives where He ascended to heaven. He will then reign on earth for a thousand years, and believers will reign with Him. After the Millennial Reign of Christ, all unbelievers will be judged at the Great White Throne Judgment, and they will suffer according to their deeds done on earth. They will be cast into the Lake of Fire, a place of torment night and day for eternity, because they never received the free gift of salvation while alive on earth. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God. Today we invite you to come and see Jesus, and learn from Him, for He is gentle and humble in heart. Take His yoke upon you, for His burden is easy and His yoke is light. He will give you rest for your soul as you trust Him. We receive salvation only from Jesus, by faith alone in Jesus, Who gives us the free gift of eternal life. 
We accept the teaching of the Word of God. As born again believers, baptized by Jesus with the Holy Spirit, the anointing from God teaches us all things. We love to study the Word of God as we abide in Christ Jesus our Lord. God blesses all of us when we read His word, hear His word, and heed His word. We share original studies of the Word of God without cost and we do not receive donations. We support the finances of this ministry through private means, so that we are not a burden to anyone. We oppose charging people to read books, articles, journals or other studies of the Word of God. Such work should be supported by donations, but not in prescribed amounts and not as a requirement to gain access to what God has freely provided. What God has freely given, we should freely share. Just as Paul worked making tents, so we work to support this ministry. 

 Christ Assembly License

The author of all original material on this website retains all legal and equitable rights to the properties at issue. The author granted Christ Assembly a limited-use, revocable license to publish material on this website, while reserving all ownership rights to the original author. You may use any original material on this website to the glory of God, but you may not receive anything of value for such use. You may not receive any donations related to any original material on this website. All use of original material on this website is subject to the revocable, limited license above. You must conspicuously indicate on any use of the original material that it originated from ChristAssembly.org.  Any revocation of the license shall be posted on this website and all rights to use material may be revoked without prior notice. By copying and using any original material from this website, you consent to such license. Christ Assembly opposes any payment for access to studies, articles, journals, or other publications of studies concerning the Word of God. As God has freely given, so also the products of His grace should be freely shared.