It’s hard to imagine anything more vicious. As a hail of rocks, thrown in hate, smashed life from Stephen’s body, the young man Saul stood by giving his approval. For the rest of his life, Saul remembered his role in that terrible execution. As an old man, he wrote to a young friend, “I am the foremost among sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15b).

Perhaps you, too, have a memory of shameful things. Perhaps you seriously harmed someone else by your actions or words. You cringe to think of it. The memory lingers in your mind and haunts your spirit. You are a prisoner to it. It never goes away. So how do you deal with it?

One response is denial. Pretend it never happened. But you know the truth. Denial hides the sin but does not erase it. It continues to gnaw at your soul. Another is to surrender to it and live in the shame. But still it clings and drags you down, twisting your life into a pretzel of troubles.

But there is a way to freedom. It happens not by denial but by confession, not by surrender but by redemption. Saul, in Christ became Paul. He wrote, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Shame turned into gratitude for forgiveness. Forgiveness inspired love. Love became a longing to serve. The shame was great, but God’s grace was greater still.

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15a), Paul wrote as he confessed he was one of the worst. That offer is for you, too, this very day. You can be free.

Jesus, I have done some terrible wrongs. I am a sinner. Have mercy on me! Amen.

Go Deeper ― If you have given your life to Jesus, you can speak truth to counter a lie. The lie is that your sin still holds you in its grip. The truth is that the old things are no more. You are a new creature in Christ. Believe — and live — the truth.

Tags: Acts Acts 8
Photo Credit: Nick