I’m starting a bible study on Ephesians that I hope to post on here soon. As I was writing notes on the first chapter I began thinking about Paul. Paul was quite an interesting guy with an even more interesting past. Paul’s past wasn’t anything that he would’ve been particularly proud of as a Christian. He was a well educated zealot who was a Pharisee and he persecuted Christians. Yes, Paul who wrote 13 Books in the New Testament wasn’t a fan of Jesus! So much so that in Acts 9 Saul (his original name) went to the High Priest and asked him for a letter to take to Damascus to throw men and women in jail who followed the Way, meaning the way of Jesus. Paul was intentional about his persecution, but God had other plans for him.
On his way to Damascus a light from heaven flashed around him and he heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul why do you persecute me?” It was Jesus. Can you imagine what he must have been feeling when Jesus answered him and instructed him to walk into the city and later he would be told what to do. Then he was struck blind! Walking in darkness and having to be led by the men around him must have been terrifying. It is interesting that God struck him blind. Saul had already been living in spiritual darkness. He was living in the world and in total disobedience to the Lord. He was blind to Jesus and the gospel and instead he relied on his intellect and the rational of the Pharisees to guide his life. Saul lived in a dark space void of the light of Jesus and was bent on making others live in darkness by trying to make them conform to his beliefs. Finally, Jesus struck him physically blind. It is also important to note that for three days he didn’t eat or drink anything. I’m not sure if this was due to shock, or if in a sense it was a Fast, needed so that he could meditate on this life altering experience he was having with God. Every distraction was taken away from him so his focus was directed toward the Lord.
Before we come to Christ we too are like Saul. We may not be out there dragging men and women into jail for following Christ, but we are living a life that is in direct contrast to the Lord. We are in the world without the light of Jesus. We are blind to his mercy, grace, and promise of eternal life. We’re ignorant of his sacrifice and don’ understand the glory of his inheritance for us. We can’t see anything but what the world has to offer which is why contentment eludes us because it depends on the external when we aren’t living in Christ. Sometimes God has to strike us blind so that we too like Saul can see clearly.
The Lord sends his disciple Ananias to Saul and although he is afraid because of Saul’s history with the disciples the Lord says to him, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” The man who persecuted the Way was who the Lord chose as his instrument! When I read this I am reminded that God is in absolute control over our lives and that regardless of what we do he can use us for his PURPOSE! I don’t care how awful your past is, you can be a prostitute, drug addict thief or worse but if God wants to use you for his glory that is what he is going to do and there is not a thing you can do about it! Also, he is a God of chances. He loves us and wants us to be in his flock, isn’t that obvious? Think of everything he continues to do for us and we deserve none of it!
I think Paul never forgets that he is CHOSEN. If you read through the books he wrote, he always mentions, that he is an Apostle by the will of God. Look at Romans, Corinthians1&2 , Ephesians, Colossians, Timothy 1&2, and Galatians all of them begin with Paul acknowledging that it wasn’t by his will or his own intentions that he became a disciple of Christ. Matter of fact in Galatians he wrote that Jesus rose him from and dead and in 1Timothy he was commanded by Jesus. Saul was rose from the dead. Jesus unleashed him from his bondage in sin and his trespasses when the scales fell off his eyes and he was baptized.
After Paul was baptized, scripture says he at once began to preach in the synagogues. He didn’t wait around he immediately started doing the will of God and the work he was predestined to do. He was the Lord’s instrument and there was no delay. I believe when Paul was baptized he saw the light. He saw the light of Jesus and it changed him forever. He spoke boldly in the name of the Lord because he knew that he was set aside, chosen and commanded to do the Lord’s work and he immediately seized that opportunity.
When we were first came out of the waters of baptism the scales we had on our eyes fell off. Suddenly all of the darkness we lived in was gone. We were in the world but, we knew we weren’t of the world. We were transformed and made a new creation, just as Paul was. Spiritually we know that God had chosen us, set us aside before creation and predestined us to do his will. We still sin because we’re human, but now with the deposit of the Holy Spirit we have an internal guide always nudging us we want to do what is right and holy. We don’t have to live in darkness any longer, Jesus rescued us and we are part of something much bigger than this world, but we have to believe that ourselves. I think the question that each of us have to ask is, “Are we taking the opportunity to do God’s will, are we immediately saying yes to Jesus and are we making the most out of our time here?” Now that the scales are dropped are we walking voluntarily in blindness or are we like Paul and at once we are at work for the kingdom of God?”
I think God used Paul as an example to encourage us that he can change hearts and he can alter lives. He is in control and can use you for his glory and to build up the body of Christ. He can yank us from deepest darkness and bathe us in his love. God can do anything! Nothing is impossible, if you are still holding on to those scales let them fall. Let God use you and say yes to his will! Follow in the footsteps of Paul speak boldly and act boldly in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior!