The Change Begins

Paul had it all wrong. Not just a little wrong mind you. He missed God’s purpose and plan altogether.

He knew the OT Scriptures, but He missed the Author. He embraced the law but was totally at odds with its intended purpose. He was a staunch apologist for the Jewish way of life and a leader of the leaders, but he was blind to the real blessing of being a descendant of Abraham.

It doesn’t make sense that he was so far off the mark. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, born of the tribe of Benjamin. He even claimed to be faultless as to legalistic righteousness. With this pedigree, God’s purposes should have been clear to him, and he thought that they were. His approval of the stoning of Stephen proved otherwise.

Something radical happened to Paul on his way to Damascus. In a blinding light, the voice from heaven asked the question that stopped Paul dead in his tracks; “Why are you persecuting me?” The truth became clear; this Jesus he was persecuting was both Lord and God. In that moment, Paul’s self-effort melted into faith, and salvation was his. He was alive in Christ.

And then the change began. Three years in the Arabian Desert reordered his mindset, specifically his understanding of the Law. The following verses detail the changes that took place in him.

  • “I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death” (Romans 7:10).
  • “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20).
  • “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:19, 20).
  • “He has made us competent as ministers of the New Covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6).

Paul tried to live for God, but as hard as he tried, he couldn’t do it through observing the law. And then he experienced the grace of God. He was made alive, and dramatic changes followed. Jesus’ love and mercy turned a blasphemer into a preacher, changed an enemy into a friend, and transformed the chief of sinners into a saint. That is the power of the gospel.

How has this Gospel changed you?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

17 thoughts on “The Change Begins

  1. Bob,
    In another blog comment, I stated that I believed Jesus died on a cross for me long ago, but I had little understanding of why or what that means today. My life reflected that I heard “ Do you believe Jesus died on a cross? “Yes” Great! Then make the LAW lord and savior.” Like the Apostle Paul, I wanted to give it my all and I did, but I found that I didn’t have the ability to be everything that I wanted to be, let alone what others or the Bible required. After giving it my all and hearing a “come to Jesus” message every time I was in church, I figured I knew it all and I couldn’t do it. I did have that hope that someday I would go to heaven, but in the mean time I’d have to live through hell. The Galatian heresy of law and grace may be worse to live under then law alone. The reasonable thing to do was stop trying and I ran to the world for solace. The world, the flesh, and the devil tried to kill me. I knew someday I would go to heaven and I was hoping soon. According to what I knew, God was highly disappointed in me, so I found myself either running from God or trying to forget God. Through many circumstances, I found myself broken and hopeless and crying out for, what I hoped to be a merciful God. He heard my prayer and began to reveal Who He truly is to me. Thanks be to God for Jesus and His cross. Romans 8:2-4 “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Thanks to People to People for helping me understand Who God truly is. God is Love. Psalm 18:9 “He bowed the heavens also, and came down with darkness under His feet.” Psalm 18:17 “He delivered me from my strong enemy, From those who hated me, For they were too strong for me.” Psalm 18:19 “He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.” He came down; He delivered me because He delighted in me. God’s “wrath” led me to rebellion, but His kindness led me to Him. Gospel = Good News, almost too good to be true!

    • Hey Neil, Life changes when we discover what “God did” for us in Christ. You and I have traveled the same roads. Thankfully, they eventually led us to God’s love and grace.

  2. Thank God for your ministry. Had it not been for a well-placed (um, God-placed)friend and Classic Christianity , I would have been shipwrecked on the reef of the Law about 20 yrs ago. I hit the same wall ….

    • Hey Paul, Thank God for “well-placed” friends who love and care for us and can point us in the right direction. Thanks for posting.

  3. After I came to Christ the two biggest changes were:I began to care about my new life when it came to what my actions were – I did not want to have a bad testimony. Secondly, I began to be aware of God’s presence in me.I am not sure what led me into legalism at one point in the 70s. However the Holy Spirit kept putting up red flags as various things came forth.I still had all the battles a believer has betwen the Spirit and the flesh(and still do)but I was growing in knowledge of Christ and finally in 1987 the Lord put me in touch with People to People and solid teaching of the truth of the FULL Gpspel and the New Covenant. I was delivered from legalism amd came to understand and accept my new identity in Christ. And bejold old things are passed away all things are new. I am after many years growing in Grace daily.

    • Hey Brad, thanks for your comments. I understand what you mean about the Holy Spirit putting up red flags. Often times we just don’t have the guts to heed His warnings in our life and to follow His lead. Thankfully, He keeps doing His work in us.

  4. A friend of ours had been talking to us about the beautiful grace poured out on us, and because of some of the things that he was saying I actually told my husband I thought he had a demon…:-l Then about a month later my husband and I were going to a bible study on 1 John, and as I read 1 John chapter 1, especially verse 9, the Spirit very clearly told me that is what happened to me the very day I called on the name of my Lord. After my husband and I were trying to explain and discuss the actual context and interpretation of this verse, things did not go well because the Pastor was teaching that because of all the “we’s” in it, (vs 8,9,10), it has to be talking to believers about repentance, and we openly stated that it was not, but rather talking to unbelievers, and was out of context. We may not have handled it as gracefully as we could have however, we were told that if we did not teach it the way that organization taught it, (atonement mentality), we would have to go to another church. This hurt us very much, however it drove us into our word ever the more because through the book of John, we finally knew completely what the apostle John meant when he said that perfect love casts out fear. My husband had heard Bob George in prison and told me about him, and when we pulled up people to people, the Lord let us know through his servants the full extent of the finished work of our great God and King, and I feel like I have been born again again. My discouragement is that my christian brother’s and sister’s do not want to talk about this at all. I believe because they are of the mindset like Neil was talking about. The Lord is doing an incredible work in my heart, and I am experiencing a newness of life like never before. The more I look at Christ, the more grace He gives me to be able to show my faith by my works instead of trying to convince someone with a bunch of words that they don’t want to talk about. But I will speak about it if the Spirit leads, especially to anyone who asks. Praise the Lord for the truth He speaks through His word and your ministry.

  5. Paul was a religeous man before his conversion and needed someone not only to save him, but to straighten out his faith. Some people are not religeous before conversion, but become “religeous” afterwards. I was one of those. So in my case like many others my well intentioned faith was one of keeping the lamp polished up on the outside so to speak. It took the Lord Jesus working in me to change that humanistic part of me. So in a sense, He changed me at my new birth and again afterward He changed my will from me to Him. I am thankful that He is still in the changing business and is still pruning His branches.

    • Tim, legalism, or being religious, is as human as it gets. The tendency toward law, rules and regulations is inherent in all of us. Only Jesus can change that in us, and He does.

  6. I like the way Paul referred to himself as one “abnormally born”,
    meaning that he wasn’t born again the way the rest of us are. He wasn’t “seeking” Jesus. Jesus imposed himself upon him, which resulted in a violent conversion, demonstrating why God wants us to come to him by faith.
    I also appreciate that Paul referred to himself as the worst of sinners giving us a powerful tool in convincing those who are under self condemnation, (like I was), that they too can be saved.

    • That was the exact reason why Jesus chose Paul. Such a great way to show the world that rank and file means nothing to God, yet to show us in a way we could see that it doesn’t matter who you are, how horrible you’ve been or what you’ve done. He saves all who are willing to put their trust in Him and His love for them.

  7. I think the changes are in the heart and mind: Peace, rest, contentment, growing in the understanding of who Jesus is and growing in gratitude for what He has done. Sometimes our behavior does change, but that should never be our goal or our focus.

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