Overtaken by conviction, that’s where I found myself Tuesday evening following the Facebook live study time with the Ladies in my church group. I had taught for nearly 30 minutes about the mighty Resurrection Power that was demonstrated by God when He transformed Jesus in that tomb. Our Lord walked out of the tomb, after having been beaten and disfigured…whole. Now that’s Resurrection Power!
Little did I know that a few moments later one of the sweet ladies would text me and lead me back to Acts Chapter 9 where I would be convicted. We texted briefly about how Paul had been Saul prior to the crucifixion of Jesus. Saul was best described in Acts 8:3, “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.” Saul was doing this to all who were followers of Christ.
Here was a man who in Acts 9:1 was continuing to breathe threats and want to murder the disciples of the Lord. Saul was so adamant that these men and women should be killed that he was going to the synagogues and asking the high priests for letters that would indicate where the followers of Jesus were so that he could destroy them. Saul was not in any way a person you would have ever expected to experience a change of heart. But as always, it’s not the judgement of other men that matter. It’s the plans of God that make the difference.
Saul began a journey on the road to Damascus, bound to find the followers of Jesus and “deal” with them, if you know what I mean. Then, in a moment, God transformed Saul…totally transformed him.
There on that road a light came down from heaven and caused Saul to fall to the ground. Talk about a powerful light! Then a mighty voice said, ” ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, who you are persecuting…”. Acts 9:4-5
At that moment Saul proclaimed the Lord by name. He knew the power that was demonstrated at that moment could only come from the Lord. Why do we miss things that could only be from the Lord, and try to explain them away?
There would be no explaining away for Saul. He asked the Lord what he was to do, and he was told to go into the city where he would receive direction. Amazingly, Saul stood up and was blind. More of that amazing Resurrection Power is present. That transforming power of God took Saul’s cold heart, and caused it to declare the Lord. That very same power blinded Saul. However, that loss of physical vision (temporary) would be all that was necessary for Saul to be transformed by the power of God.
For three days Saul could not see with his eyes, but I fully believe it was then that he began to see with his heart. Yes, Saul regained his sight though a process God told him would happen. God claimed Saul as, “…a chosen vessel…” Acts 9:15. God had a purpose for Saul. The moment the blindness was removed from Saul’s eyes, he desired baptism. Then he received strength, and immediately…not two days later, or after he’d had time to do other things. The scripture says “Immediately he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.” Acts 9:20
Talk about total transformation! Saul’s heart was completely transformed. Even greater was that because the people to whom Saul would preach were well aware of his behavior, and his feelings toward the followers of Christ. There he stood before them proclaiming Jesus is the Christ. How could they deny this action?
Saul would eventually become Paul. The same Paul that wrote so many books in the New Testament. The same Paul that took missionary journeys to be sure and share the gospel with the lost.
It was as I considered all that I had read in Acts 8 and 9 that I feel under my own conviction from the Lord. How often have I seen people with cold hearts, perpetuating evil and placed judgement upon them? How often have I said that a leopard cannot change his spots? Yet, Paul is proof that by the mighty Resurrection Power of God, anyone can change and be useful to the kingdom of God.
God has a purpose for each one of us on this earth. Even one with an evil heart may be the very person that He has chosen to completely transform and use for the kingdom. Good, bad or ugly, God has a purpose for each one of us. It is only through His power than hearts can be totally transformed for His great purpose.