In Spite of What I Used to Be

Conversion of St Paul

A sermon idea based on 1 Timothy 1:12-17.

1 Timothy 1:12-17 NRSV

[12] I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, [13] even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, [14] and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. [15] The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. [16] But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. [17] To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.


The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…

Whoever you used to be and whatever you used to do doesn’t matter nearly as much as what God wants to do in, around, and through you in your new life in Christ.


Information about the text that matters to the message…

I think the key phrase here is “even though.” Even though I was a blasphemer… even though I was a persecutor… even though I was a man of violence… I received mercy.

I love how Paul describes the work of God in his life at this point:

  • I received mercy
  • The grace of our Lord overflowed for me
  • Christ might display the utmost patience
  • He is making my life an example

Every Sunday, people walk into church auditoriums carrying guilt over their past and wondering if God has any use for them. And every Sunday, we get the opportunity to share that there is mercy and forgiveness available. But even more than that, we get to share the powerful story of what God wants to do with their future.

So, whoever you used to be, whatever you used to do…

  1. God freely offers his mercy.
  2. God floods our lives with grace.
  3. God makes us examples of how grace changes us.
  4. God empowers us for joining him on mission in the world.


The big call-to-action in the message…

Fill in the blanks.

  • Even though I used to _____, I received mercy.
  • Even though I used to _____, I am under grace.
  • Even though I used to _____, I’m on a whole new mission with God.


Appreciate these notes?
Feel free to chip in $5.

About the Cover Art: Koenig, Peter. Conversion of St Paul, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

My Other Favorite Source of Sermon Ideas

Creative Sermon Series Planning Resources

MinistryPass offers excellent sermon series ideas, graphics, and resources for pastors and teachers, including expository, topical, textual, and lectionary-based ideas, plus calendars for organizing it all. MinistryPass is, in my opinion, the best all-around, complete sermon series planning resource on the web.

Check It Out! »

Get Free Preaching and Leadership Ideas

Fresh sermon ideas, leadership tips, and articles to help you be a better shepherd.

Thanks so much for subscribing!