Read Acts 9:1-9
B. The Conversion of Paul (9:1-31) 1. The Account of Paul’s Conversion (9:1-19a). Saul was on a mission to imprison the disciples of Christ. He sought letters to arrest anyone of “the Way.”
On his way to Damascus, he had quite an experience. Jesus talked with him about persecuting Him, and tells him to go to the city. Saul is blind for three days, and he doesn’t eat or drink during those three days.
- The devil’s continued work. Notice in vs.1 of this chapter in the book of Acts that while great things were being done through Philip in Acts 8:40 that the devil had Saul’s mind and heart messed up in Acts 9:1. We should not think that the devil is easily discouraged by the faithfulness and success that he sees.
When the devil cannot stop God’s program one way, he simply tries another way. Let’s make sure we stay faithful to God’s will, no matter how successful we think we may be. At the core of this application are the matters of prayerfully studying and obeying God’s will with the support of other disciples.
- Follow protocol. Notice that as distorted as Saul’s convictions were, in vss. 1-2 of this chapter in the book of Acts, he understood protocol. He understood that he should not simply do what seemed right to him. He needed to get permission, in order to do what he thought was right in the right way.
If we are not careful, we (i.e., individuals and individual ministry groups) will run off and do what we think is right, in a wrong way. It is important to the body concept that every part has proper permission to act, before it acts. Without proper permission and central coordination, we can easily began to run into and even offend one another.
Let’s work on operating like a body, which includes seeking permission for various actions, before we take the action. This principle applies to family, work, and community as well.
- The devil’s use of religious people. Notice in vss. 1-2 of this chapter in the book of Acts that the devil can use religious people to oppose Jesus and Jesus’ followers. On one hand, we should be aware that the religious people around us can be used by the devil.
And on the other hand, we should make sure we don’t let the devil use us. Let’s keep the devil from using us and be aware of his using others.
At the core of staying off of the devil’s team is the matter of obeying God’s will, which has at its core the matters of loving God and others, as we love our saved selves. If we are being pulled from these matters then a red flag should go up in our thinking, no matter who is trying to pull us from these matters.
- Jesus and His church. Notice in vss. 4-5 of this chapter in the book of Acts the idea that persecuting the church is the same as persecuting Jesus. We should be very careful about what we say and do to the church, which is the saved people, because we are actually talking about and acting in relation to Jesus.
Even though all church goers are not saved and even though church folk can get on our nerves with their pettiness and sinfulness, we should be careful. Sometimes, we have to learn to pray more and speak less.
In so doing, we will learn that God can do more with wrong doers than we can. Let’s learn to treat church goers like we should treat Jesus.
This is not to say that there should be no church discipline, as taught in the Bible (see I Cor. 5:6-7), but it does mean we should do it the right way. There is an official process for dealing with wrong doers, as opposed to vigilante justice from the pew or unauthorized persons.
- Hearing God unlike others. Notice in vss. 4-7 of this chapter in the book of Acts that God can speak in such a way that even though many may hear something, only one responds. This idea should move us to make sure we listen for God’s will, in spite of what others are saying.
If we limit “a word from the Lord” to what others are hearing, we run the risk of missing the word of the Lord for us as individuals. This is why every individual needs to take notes and give serious effort to reflecting on God’s will for his/her life.
But on the other hand, whatever “the word of the Lord” is for you, it is not going to contradict the word of God. You need to know enough of God’s word to know when the Lord is speaking and the devil is speaking. Let’s work on actively listening for God’s will and comparing what we hear against the word of God.
- Taking time to process. Notice in vss. 4-6, 9 that Saul experienced three days of blindness and fasting, after having his world turned upset down. Saul went from being an energetic religiously inspired persecutor of the church to being one who persecuted the Lord who was the living Jesus and who thought of the church as Himself.
If that was not enough, the Lord had an assignment for Saul to carryout, more details are to be given in the city ahead. It seems certain that the blindness has some relation to God’s getting Saul’s attention and perhaps the overwhelming message of God.
Whereas Saul may have had little control over the blindness, he was in control of the fasting. It seems that the fasting was triggered by his emotional and spiritual state of unrest. Think about the times in your life when you were so uneasy or upset that you didn’t feel like eating (e.g., death of a close loved one, lost of a job, family trouble, etc.).
Let’s give ourselves permission to experience what God is doing in our lives. In our times of microwaves, 4G cell phones, and super fast internet, we may be tempted to move so fast that we don’t process what God is doing.
Sometimes we need to experience some blindness and fasting to really process that God is doing a new thing in our lives. Revivals should be, but are often not, times like what I am trying to describe. God may be trying to get our attention to change directions and do a greater work for Him, but we may be too occupied with seeing and eating to line up with His will.
Conclusion: Based on this teaching in the book of Acts, let’s work on being witnesses for the Lord, everywhere we go. God has much for those who obey His will.
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