“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
What wonderful contrasts there are between the character of Saul of Tarsus and that of Paul the Apostle. He is the same man, and yet he is not the same.
From Persecution to Prayer
First you will find that Saul, who went out to persecute, remained to pray. The first verse reads, “Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1). And in the eleventh verse occurs the remarkable expression, “Behold, he prayeth”! What has occurred? His face is turned upward to heaven, and the Spirit of God is at work in him.
Have any of us passed from fierceness to gentleness, from drunkenness to sobriety, from darkness to light, from blasphemy to worship? This is precisely the work that Christianity undertakes to do. The new life we receive by faith in Jesus Christ subdues our earthly nature and teaches us to clasp our hands in childlike plea and prayer at the Father’s feet.
From Threatening to Proving
Take the second contrast, which is just as remarkable. When Saul was a Pharisee he threatened, but when he became a Christian we read that he proved. “Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ” (Acts 9:22).
As a Pharisee he said, “Destroy Christianity by destroying Christians. Bind them; open your prison doors, and I will fill your dungeons.” But having seen Jesus and felt His touch and entered into His Spirit, what does he say? Does he now say, “I have been persecuting the wrong people; now I find that it is you Jews, Pharisees, Saducees, that must be chained and put away”? Nothing of the kind.
What is his tone now? Standing with the scrolls open before him, he reasons and mightily contends; he becomes a powerful teacher of Christian truth, proving that Jesus is the Christ. Before he was converted, his method was rough and violent. But now he stands up with an argument as his only weapon.
How far is it from persecuting to praying? From threatening and slaughter to proving? That is the distance Christ took Saul, who only meant to go from Jerusalem to Damascus. In the same way, Jesus Christ meets us on the path of our own choice and graciously takes us on a way of His own. This Redeemer, who gave Himself, the Just for the unjust, who bought us with the blood of His own heart, does not seek to make a little difference in our attitudes and our purposes. His desire is for us to be born again, to be made new.
—Adapted from The Ark of God by Joseph Parker.