Paul knew all about ungodliness and worldly passions. For while he was upright in many ways in his earlier life (Philippians 3:4-6), Paul considered himself the “worst of sinners” (I Timothy 1:16) because he directly persecuted the church of the Lord. He had been filled with anger and hatred toward those who followed Jesus. His inflamed passions led him to imprison believers and to approve of the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1). Yet, in spite of this, Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and revealed to Paul that He had chosen him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.
When Paul left Judas’ house after three days of prayer and reflection on his life (Acts 9), he was a changed man. I believe in those three days he realized the emptiness of his life and how wrong he was. And I believe he reached that point because of the grace of God.
Grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions because it cleans our slate, it erases all the bad stuff we’ve done. It frees us up. So often, sin is like a vicious, downward cycle. We sin; we feel bad; we sin some more; we feel even worse; we sin again hoping to feel better and end up again feeling worse. But when the grace of God appears to us, when He says, “I forgive you,” it gives us the opportunity to be free of the vicious cycle, to get a fresh start. And when we embrace His grace, there is incentive to say “No” to sin because we have experienced freedom from the vicious cycle sin causes.
Today, if you are caught in the grip of sin, know there is hope through the grace of God. It can wipe your slate clean, just as it did Paul’s, and teach you how to say “No” to ungodliness in your life. God’s grace is indeed the only way out of the vicious cycle of sin.
© Jim Musser 2016