Conversion of Paul
“It is hard for you to kick against the pricks” was a Greek proverb, but it was also familiar to the Jews and anyone who made a living in agriculture. An ox goad was a stick with a pointed piece of iron on its tip used to prod the oxen when plowing. The farmer would prick the animal to steer it in the right direction. Sometimes the animal would rebel by kicking out at the prick, and this would result in the prick being driven even further into its flesh. In essence, the more an ox rebelled, the more it suffered.
Thus, Jesus’ words to Saul on the road to Damascus: “It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.”
Jesus took control of Paul and let him know his rebellion against God was a losing battle. Paul’s actions were as senseless as an ox kicking “against the goads.” Paul had passion and sincerity in his fight against Christianity, but he was not heading in the direction God wanted him to go. Jesus was going to goad (“direct” or “steer”) Paul in the right direction.
This is approximately 5 years after the cross-
First things first-
Jesus says, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
Who was Saul persecuting? The church- whom did Jesus say he was persecuting? Jesus
This is what Jesus said in Matthew 25:31-46
Every worthy commentary says the same thing, “as much as you have done it, or not done it to the brethren in Christ; you have done it to Me”
Who are His brethren? Matthew 12:46-50
EX: Matt served in the military and was one 2 separate deployments. I sent care boxes to him and to other guys who were deployed, even after he came back. We spent holidays with a bunch of soldiers. We had community with them, but they were not our family. This church is my family. We have had the last I cannot count how many Thanksgivings and Christmas’ with the Webster family + others
Who are the sheep of His pasture?
John 10:27 New King James Version (NKJV)
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
1 John 3:13-24
This is not a feeling love- but agape love, a purposeful love of the mind and the will, this love has to be developed
So Jesus says, when I persecute my brothers and sisters in Christ, I am persecuting Him
When talk bad about them, I am talking about bad about Him
When I forsake the gathering of the brethren, I am forsaking Him
When I reject and despise the church, her pastors and leadership; when I rebel against the pastor’s authority, I am rejecting, despising and rebelling against Him
When I refuse to tithe to the church, God says I am robbing HIM. Tithing is not a suggestion- it’s a command of God and the way He takes care of His church
Ananias and Sapphira weren’t lying to Peter, they were lying to the HS
EX: 2003 was the year my daughter was born and the same year we started the church- the Lord has always spoke to me about the church in terms of my child. The way I feel about Faith and Gabe is the way I feel about this church. Talk about my kids, you’re talking about me. Reject my children, you are rejecting me.
When I love the brethren, I love Him
Francis Chan said this:
“lukewarm people love God, but do not love them with their whole heart, soul and strength. They love others, but do not seek to love others more than they love themselves. Their love for others is focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people they know and connect with. There is little love left over for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, whose kids are better athletes than theirs, nor with whom conversations are awkward and uncomfortable. Their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached.”
When I take care of the church, I am taking care of Jesus.
1 Peter 1:22 “seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned (wholehearted) love of the brethren, see you love one another with a pure heart fervently”
Do not tell me you are called into the ministry, but you continue to reject the church.
“I am not called to this ministry”
Ex: how my old church ran the nursery and hosting visitors “It’s not my calling or my responsibility”
God showed me the error of my thinking and selfishness in me was revealed.
While Paul thought he was helping God out and doing the right thing, he found he was on the wrong side. Paul had good intentions- but he was really fighting against God.
John 16:2 “the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service”
There is a powerful lesson in the ancient Greek proverb. We, too, find it hard to kick against the goads.
Proverbs 15:10 Harsh discipline is for him who forsakes the way, and he who hates correction will die
When we choose to disobey God, we become like the rebellious ox—driving the goad deeper and deeper.
Proverbs 13:15 “The way of the unfaithful is hard”
By resisting God’s authority we are only punishing ourselves. God saved my life when I was 17 and I overdosed, but I continue to rebel against Him and the goad pricked into my skin, further and further causing more damage and more destruction in my life
Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
Numbers 32:23 New King James Version (NKJV)
23 But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out.
Your sin will find you out- we cannot hide anything from God.
Ex: At 22 years old, I found myself sitting in the third balcony of a church having my whole life’s story revealed to the pastor right before my eyes. Your sin will find you out.
the commentaries on this say that unrepentant sin is like a preying animal that will seek you and you will never be able to find a place to hide.
God is faithful and He will be faithful because He cannot change and is perfectly faithful because God never does anything in part. This faithful God who never broke a promise, never violated His covenant, never said one thing and meant another, and never overlooked anything or forgot anything, this is the God we love and adore.
And God had declared, warned, and threatened that He will banish from His presence all who love and follow sin and reject Jesus.
Paul comes face to face with his sin.
Paul really had a heart that wanted to honor God- he was not a religious fanatic. However misguided he was, he thought he was honoring God and wanted to honor God
- 9, 11 “he prays”
he was rebuked and disciplined and so he fasted and prayed for the right answer.
He didn’t get upset. He didn’t throw himself a pity party, “woe is me! Why me?” He fasted and prayed.
What do you do when you are confronted with your sin? Do you fast and pray?
Or do you complain and make excuses?
Do you really want to be saved from your sin, or just from the penalty of your sin? Do you truly hate sin, and are not merely just sorry for it? Do you believe that a new life in Christ is better than your old sinful one?
Jesus did not even condemn Paul for persecuting His people- He strikes him with blindness and gives him a choice. Paul, you can come to Jesus or you can stay blind. Your choice.
John 3 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
AND God turned Saul into perhaps the greatest apostle that ever walked the earth. He did more for Christianity and the church than any other person.