In 1 Timothy 1:13, why does Paul state he was shown mercy because he acted in ignorance and unbelief? Had he been saved previously, or at least aware of biblical principles, would mercy not be possible? How does that affect those that have once been around the faith but turned away and fell into sin?
1 Timothy 1:13 says,
Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.
Paul was talking about his ruthless persecution of Christians before he became one himself. He thought he was doing the right thing and didn’t consider his actions to be sinful. Once he was saved his former self ceased to exist in God’s view and he became a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) fit to serve the Lord.
Believers who fall into sin can be restored by confessing their sins. When they do the Lord is faithful to forgive and will purify them from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). At that point it will be like their sins never happened.