There are some old sayings that say you can’t change something or someone. For example, a leopard can’t change it’s spots. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Once a (fill in the blank) always a (fill in the blank).
But while these sayings may have some truth for people in this world, it does not always have to be the case. There are people who started out one way or thinking a certain way but who met circumstances that stopped them dead and turned them around 180 degrees. Many such people have a life changing event or moment that is so significant that everything they previously thought, believed or understood about some matter was rejected in favour of the new information.
One of the greatest examples of such a person, and one whom we as Christians should all listen to was the Apostle Paul. The Damascus road event where Jesus appeared to Paul as he was travelling to imprison the followers of Christ was so sudden, significant and amazing that Paul immediately turned from Judaism to become one of the greatest among the early apostles and disciples of the early church. And his example should still strengthen and encourage us today. Let’s look at the spots on this leopard and see how he became a lamb.
Paul was born and named Saul. He was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin and trained as a Pharisee. He was well educated in the ways of Judaism and deeply steeped in the law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets as written in the Old Testament. In fact he was well advanced in these teachings, rituals and ways far beyond those his own age.
Paul testifies of himself that he was extremely zealous for the laws and teachings of his fathers, the Jewish nation. He loved the ways of his people and was doing all he could to immerse himself in the religion of the Jews.
But like many who become blinkered in their beliefs he missed the point. Prior to coming to Jesus he, like the rest of the Jewish nation, was looking for the Messiah. They knew the Messiah was to come and they were desperately waiting for him because it had been prophesied that the Messiah would bring freedom to the people, just as Moses brought freedom from slavery to the Egyptians for the people hundreds of years earlier. The Jews were once again under bondage, this time to Rome, and they were hoping for the Messiah to come and release them.
Saul who became Paul was so zealous that he could not stand anyone speaking out against the religion he loved so much. And more than anything else he could not stand the idea that something might replace his religion, so zealous was he for what he believed.
In fact in his zeal he went to the elders of the Jews and sought letters from them to go to other towns and cities in the region to imprison Christians everywhere. Verse 3 in this section says,
But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
Such behaviour can best be described as fanaticism. Saul was a fanatic and he wanted to wipe all traces of Christianity from the face of the earth. No other description but religious fanatic could best describe the actions of Saul at that time.
Changing The Leopard’s Spots
Anyone who had seen or known Saul in these days would never have guessed the future that lay ahead of him. How could such a man ever turn away from this path of anger and wrath? His emotions were in such a high state of passion and his hatred for anyone who stood opposed to the Jewish religion was so great that he could have been the number one candidate for the most hated and feared man by all Christians.
But we know that The Lord turned him around. The Lord took someone that was the absolute antithesis of a Christian, who opposed Jesus and was at the time public enemy number one as far as the church was concerned and turned him into one of the greatest of all Christians. Saul who became Paul basically wrote the instruction manual for Christianity.
And the thing we must all take from his example is that if The Lord could change Paul from a sow’s ear to a silk purse, if He could change that dangerous Leonard’s spots and turn him around, then Jesus can do it to and for anyone.
No one is too far gone. No case is hopeless. No person is so opposed to Jesus or opposed to him so deeply that they cannot be moved by The Lord and turn to Him in repentance.
So if you are praying for anyone, don’t give up. If you ever get depressed or down or think you have fallen so far that you cannot be redeemed, just think about Saul who became Paul. Jesus is strong enough, big enough, forgiving enough, compassionate enough and merciful enough to cover anything. His love never ends and is limitless and his grace knows no bounds.
It was enough to redeem Paul who called himself the least of the apostles because he opposed The Lord and persecuted the church of God, (1 Corinthians 15:9) so it is more than enough for you and I.
You might also like:
Call Of The First Disciples
Jesus Speaks Of His Death And Resurrection
Jesus Calls The First Disciples
The Other Disciples
Spreading The Word
The Conversion Of Saul
The Power Of Jesus To Heal
Who Is Jesus
Power And Authority Over Demons
Power To Become The Children Of God
The Word Of God