"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 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. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." (1 Timothy 1:12-17)There were many reasons why Jesus came to this Earth, but chief among them was the saving of sinners. Without salvation from sin there would be no reason to talk about the Kingdom of God, eternal life, healing, the church, and our adoption as sons. All that God has for us is opened up to us once we are converted, born again, and have been delivered "from the authority of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of the Son of his love." (Colossians 1:13 Darby) In fact, Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)
The key to finding entrance into the Kingdom of God is in being convinced of our sin and our need for forgiveness and salvation. Unless we are able to acknowledge our sinfulness we will never avail ourselves to God's love, grace, and forgiveness. Jesus said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:12-13) Jesus was not saying the Pharisees were righteous, but rather that they saw themselves as righteous, even though they themselves did not understand or keep the law. Jesus has nothing to do with those who see themselves as righteous because they themselves see no need for a savior. Their refusal to acknowledge their need of Christ serves only to enslave them to their sin. "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, 'We see,' your sin remains." (John 9:41) Jesus came to open the eyes of the blind that they may see their true condition and turn to Jesus for salvation. However, those who refuse to be given sight and claim their blindness as seeing, how blind indeed are they!
Paul also reminds us that our past does not dictate our future. Paul, a former blasphemer and violent opposer of the things of God, turned out to be an Apostle of Christ and one who's writings has had one of the greatest influences on Christianity throughout history. When we come to Christ we are made new in every respect. "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:17) We have been given new life and our old life has been crucified to us. We no longer need to let our former life define us nor can the things of our past serve to disqualify us from the grace and callings of God. We have been made new and our future has also been made new. And if we have any doubt of God's ability to change us and give us a new life in Christ, we need only to look to the self-proclaimed chief of sinners, Paul. If God can do it for him, God can do it for us.