This week I have challenged each person reading this blog to take a self-examination. We examined our attitude, conduct, speech, representation and yesterday our future. Unfortunately, sometimes exams like this bring to light things we need to improve on. I know that there a certain things that I need to work on to better live my life for the Lord. I’m striving daily to work on those things so I can be a better reflection of the one who lives in me.
Maybe after taking a self-examination you feel as though there is no way that heaven can be your future because the things in your past are too bad to overcome. Perhaps you feel that you have no hope. If this describes you, I have great news! God can take someone with a bad past, use them for his glory and change their future.
Perhaps you’ve heard about Rahab before. This woman had so many things against her that it’s hard to imagine her future being heaven. First, she was a woman. Women were viewed as second class citizens. There was an old Jewish prayer that said, “I thank my God that I was not born a Gentile or a woman.”
Second, she was a Canaanite from Jericho which made her a pagan. Before the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, they were told that God would drive away many nations, including the Canaanites, and they (Israel) were to utterly destroy them (Deut. 7:1-2). Why? The Canaanites practiced all different types of sexual relations that Israel was told to avoid (Lev. 18). The Canaanites were evil people.
Third, Rahab was a harlot. Her profession is one that our society, even today, looks down upon. Rahab’s past was unpleasant. She had three strikes against her and it would appear she was doomed. However, she was spared for her actions concerning the spies (Jos. 2) when the Israelites defeated the city of Jericho (Jos. 6). From that day forward she remained with the Israelites.
If the story of Rahab ended there, we would be left wondering what might have been. Thanks be to God that her story doesn’t end at this point. As one reads in the New Testament one finds Rahab is mentioned in the geneology of Jesus (Matt. 1:5) and is one of only two women mentioned in the great Hall of Faith (Heb. 11:31). It is pretty clear that this woman with a bad past didn’t let that keep her from having a bright future.
Most people, even if they are not religious, have heard of David. David was handsome, powerful and perhaps most importantly, the king of Israel that was chosen by God. Yet, David had a pretty messed up past didn’t he? He committed adultery with Bathsheba who was married to one of the soldiers (Uriah) in his army and she became pregnant. Instead of coming clean about the sin he committed, David tried to cover up his sin with lies and deception (2 Sam. 11:5-7). He called Uriah home from battle in order to cover his tracks; when this didn’t work, David had Uriah murdered (2 Sam. 11:14-17).
Most people would read this and think that David was a man on a road to destruction. But that wasn’t David. Yes, he made plenty of mistakes. We all do! However, David is well spoken of throughout the New Testament. It is clear that he is a person who is held in high regard. Not to mention David was even described as a man after God’s own heart (I Sam. 13:14). When you consider all this and not just his sin of adultery with Bathsheba, it’s clear that David didn’t allow his past to keep him from having a bright future.
When I think about someone whose past was almost too bad to overcome, I can’t help but think about Paul. Before he encountered a name change he was know as Saul of Tarsus, a great persecutor of the early Christians. In fact, when Paul was giving a defense before King Agrippa he said, “And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them” (Acts 26:10). Paul had a pretty rough past. Apparently he felt it was so bad that he would tell young Timothy, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (I Tim. 1:15).
Paul saw himself as the worst of all sinners, but God saw something else. God saw a man who was dedicated to what he was doing so God chose Paul. That’s right. Paul was handpicked by God to serve as His instrument to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15) and that’s exactly what he did, even considering his own life to be worthless except for the sake of the Gospel of Christ. Saul, a persecutor of Christians, became Paul, persecuted with Christians.
Never Allow Your Past To Determine Your Future
Friends, I don’t know what your self-examination revealed, but I know this…there is no past so bad that God can’t help you overcome it. Rahab, David and Paul: Three people, three past and yet, three futures that were not determined by the past. Never allow your past to determine your future! Change your present situation with God and make heaven your eternal home.
Now that’s Something to Think About!