Is it true that if the Apostle Paul had let his past as Saul affect a lot during his ministry as a missionary, he would not have been nearly as effective?
I don’t believe this is true. Paul actually spoke a lot about his past throughout his ministry. He was part of his testimony as he witnessed about Christ. He mentions his past several times throughout his letters.
He talked about how he was the chief of sinners, killing Christians, and his education in Jerusalem under Gamiliel, a first-rate education. He also discussed his present ministry as a missionary and apostle traveling throughout the Roman Empire to preach the gospel.
The person he was before he met Christ on the road to Damascus in Acts 9, some of the traits he had, are very useful for his apostolic ministry. He didn’t let anyone push him around, a character trait he had before he met Christ.
He didn’t stand for false teaching or false teachers in the churches. He spoke up against individuals who were not following Christian doctrine. Paul wasn’t a pushover. He was a tough guy for Jesus.
God used his past in his ministry. It made him the apostle and missionary that he was. It gave him the toughness, but Christ transformed his character so that he was also soft and kind in the proper contexts.
Our life before we met Christ and began to follow him is useful for our testimony. It also helps us to never forget how far Christ has brought us. We must not forget it. We must use the parts of it we can to further God’s kingdom.
Paul only used his past when it helped the gospel. He didn’t fall back into old patterns, at least as the Scriptures record his life. He became one of the biggest examples of how God can change a person’s life in the blink of an eye. God can use any of us, including our past, to show how he transforms us in our testimony for him.