Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
Acts 9:1-2 (NIV)
Read: Acts 9:1-31
Consider: When reading about the apostle Paul and his conversion it is striking the character change that came about in this man. At the end of Acts 8 we are introduced to Saul, a young man who approved of the stoning of Stephen. The opening verses of Acts 9 tell us that this religious man became more zealous in persecuting those who followed Jesus. However, after an encounter with the risen Jesus, Saul (to become Paul) became a new man!
There are two striking things in what we are told about Saul in Acts 9. Firstly, we are told: But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name (Acts 9:15-16). While Saul saw his destiny as persecuting those he believed to be heretics, God had decided that his true destiny was to proclaim the good news of the gospel.
The second thing to notice about Saul is the character change that occurred. In Acts 9:22 we read: Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
Listening to someone preach on John 3 recently, the speaker mentioned that when his father committed his life to Christ what struck him was the character change that this brought about in his dad. This man’s family noticed that their dad was a different man!
Read what Paul writes in his second letter to the believers in Corinth: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17). This could also be translated as ‘… that person is a new creation …’ This gives a better impression of the meaning of the verse; when anyone accepts Jesus as their Saviour they become a new person. Is Paul drawing on his own experience here? He could be, because after his conversion he did become a new person, but his use of the word ‘anyone’ gives it a much wider application and includes you and me (if we commit our lives to Christ).
Some aspects of the character change will be noticed by yourself and others very quickly, other aspects will take a lifetime of walking in the Christian life.
Pray: Father, we thank you for the character change and new life that comes about when we commit our lives to you. May we seek to be your chosen instrument in whatever capacity you have chosen us to serve you. Amen