Acts 26:12-18 ESV
“In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
“And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’”
Deliverance and Healing are Possible
This is a record of the Apostle Paul’s testimony of God’s saving grace in his life. Although he was a persecutor and a murderer of Christians because he was convinced that was the right thing to do in his time, our Lord chose to save him from his sinful lifestyle and to give him new purpose in life. The Lord chose to turn him from darkness to light and to forgive his sins and to give him a new start, even though he had done some horrible things.
So, let me say right here that it doesn’t matter how long you have lived in sin or how many times you have failed to do what is right or what horrible things you have done in your life, it is never too late for God to change you and to make you into a new creation in Christ Jesus while you are still alive. It is never too late for you to humble yourself before God, to repent of your sins, and for you to turn to the Lord to follow him in obedience to his ways.
Even if you did walk with the Lord in obedience to him for many years and then you fell back into sin, as long as you are still alive it is never too late for the Lord to restore you and to bring you back into a right relationship with him provided you humble yourself before him, turn from your sins, and you now follow him in obedience to his ways. So don’t ever believe Satan’s lies that you are too far gone and that there is no hope for you.
And if you have been on the receiving end of such treatment as what Paul was dishing out, and you are still alive, God can heal your wounded heart (1). He can renew you. He can strengthen you and help you to forgive your persecutors and to even love them in return. He can heal broken marriages and wounded hearts and minds for he is all powerful. So don’t believe Satan’s lies which tell you that you can’t move past your hurts. You can!!
If God can take someone like Paul (who was then called Saul), and he can turn him from being a persecutor and a murderer of Christians to being a profound preacher of the gospel and a writer of most of our New Testament books, and a godly example of how we are all to live, then God can change your life, and he can transform you away from your sinful lifestyle and use you marvelously for his kingdom work if you surrender your all to him.
But if you kick against the Lord and his convictions of sin and his prodding you to turn from your sins to follow him in obedience, you will go nowhere. You will continue to spin your wheels and you will continue to repeat the same patterns of sin over and over again. For you can’t fight against God and his pricking (piercing) your heart with the truths of his word and expect to have victory over sin and to walk in his holiness and righteousness.
The Gospel Message
This is absolutely one of my favorite passages of Scripture which spells out the gospel message for us. Paul was called of God, as we all are who believe in Jesus, to be a teacher of the gospel (to share the message of the gospel) to the world around him (to Jew and to Gentile). But we need to make certain that the gospel message we are sharing is the truth, because much of what is being taught today is not the truth but a blend of truth and lies.
[Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; Eph 4:1-16; Eph 5:17-27; Col 3:16; Heb 3:13; 1 Pet 2:9; Matt 5:13-16; Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Acts 26:18]
So, what is this blend of truth and lies which is being taught today? They do teach Jesus Christ as God the Son who died on a cross to take away our sins and who was resurrected from the dead, so that is truth. But then they go on to say that all we have to do is believe in Jesus (John 3:16), which technically is true if you understand the full meaning of what it means to “believe,” which they rarely define, which is a problem, indeed.
And then they tell you that you are now saved, forgiven of all sins, that you are now part of God’s family and that heaven is secured you for eternity and that nothing and no one can take that away from you, regardless of how you live your life from that moment forward. And that is a problem because there was no death to sin that took place, no being crucified with Christ in death to sin nor being resurrected with him to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24; Rom 8:1-14; Gal 2:20; 1 Pet 2:24]
So, what was the message that Paul was to preach? He was to open the eyes of the spiritually blind, in the power of God’s Spirit, so that the people would turn from (repent of) darkness (sin) and turn to the light (truth, righteousness, godliness), and so they would turn away from the power and control of Satan over their lives to yielding control of their lives over to God. And this was so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ.
And this is what is taught consistently all throughout the New Testament in regard to what it means to be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with God. We don’t just say some words or make some public confession or verbalize faith in Jesus Christ and then it is a done deal and we are on our way to heaven. We have to die with Christ to sin, and not just once but daily, and we have to walk no longer according to the flesh but according to the Spirit if we want to have salvation from sin and eternal life with God.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Heb 10:26-27; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-10; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
So, yes, God’s grace is absolutely amazing! But his grace delivers us from our lives of living in slavery to sin and it transfers us into God’s eternal kingdom as those who now are walking (in conduct, in practice) in obedience to our Lord and not in sin. So, if we “pray the prayer” but then we continue to make sin our practice, and obedience to our Lord is not our practice, then please know the Scriptures teach we will not inherit eternal life with God no matter how many times we said “Lord, Lord.” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Does Jesus Care?
1 Peter 5:7
Lyrics by Frank E. Graeff, 1901
Music by Joseph L. Hall, 1901
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?
Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed
To resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief there is no relief,
Though my tears flow all the night long?
Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
Caution: This link may contain ads