Saul, a Pharisee, was “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1). He was destroying people who trusted Jesus and called upon His name. He was “a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious” (1 Timothy 1:13) because of his ignorance and unbelief. Schooled in the Law and zealous toward God, he “persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women” (Acts 22:4). His life was about to change.
This circumcised Hebrew of Hebrews, a Benjamite of Israel, was confident, proud and loved his nation. In his prideful zeal, he was travelling to Damascus one day with authority to take the Christians there to Jerusalem to be punished. He was nearing the city about noon when a bright light out of Heaven shone around him. He fell to the ground. A Voice spoke, asking him why he was doing this. “And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (Acts 9:5).
Jesus changed this cruel, injurious man into a strong, loving minister of His Gospel and sent Him to the children of Israel, Gentiles and kings. This man we know as Apostle Paul has changed sides in the battle of life. Now he receives persecution himself, but he is resolved to be faithful to Jesus and keep his conscience “void of offense toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16). He became a “ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5). He was tried in Jewish and Roman courts and God made his trials opportunities to give the Gospel. He then lived for one purpose. He would take the Gospel of Christ to the world. His epistles are winning the lost and blessing believers today.
“The carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). We can make choices by the carnal mind or by the “inward man” (Romans 7:22) which affirms God’s law of right and wrong. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5). “After” indicates action toward an object. It takes no strength of character to pursue the flesh. Living in the Spirit takes resolution and God’s help. Jesus apprehended Paul as he pursued the flesh then Paul began to apprehend Him and the “mark for the prize” (Philippians 3:14) of his calling. Friends tried to persuade him to avoid places and people who would persecute him, but he chose any opportunity to speak of the hope of salvation for all. He gave his life and gained eternal life with the One whom he met that day near Damascus, and whom he longed to see again (Philippians 1:23).
God chose Paul to see Jesus and to hear His voice and teach the way of salvation. He has chosen you to hear His message and escape sin’s death penalty. Do you have the resolve to choose eternal life? Believe, repent, be baptized in confession of Christ and receive the power of His Spirit. Make up your mind and nothing, no one, can separate you from the love of God in Christ and the blessings He gives.