Paul (once called Saul) was a Pharisee who once persecuted Christians for their faith in Jesus Christ and who tried to stop the gospel of Jesus Christ from spreading. But God had mercy on him, and he called him to open the eyes of the blind and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so that they might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18).
He considered himself the very least of all the saints because he had once persecuted the saints for their faith in Christ Jesus before Jesus met him on that road to Damascus and turned his heart around. So, God did not call him because he had led an exemplary life all his life, but God called him according to his will and purpose for Paul’s life even from before Paul was born; even from before the earth was formed (2 Tim 1:8-9; Ps 139:13-16).
Now, in order for God to use him, the Lord had to change his heart, and Paul had to cooperate with God in that work of grace in his life. Paul had to be turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God in order for the Lord to use him to share his gospel with others. And he had to walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, and he had to obey the Lord in doing what he told him to do, in the power of God.
But Paul could not take credit for any of it. He was absolutely humbled by God calling him, for he knew where he had been and what he had done, and so he knew this was from God and not from himself and that he did nothing to earn or to deserve this calling on his life. His dependency was totally in the Lord Jesus and not in himself which is exactly where he needed to be for God to use him. I totally get that! I empathize. Somewhat similar story here.
Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Because of where Paul had been, and because Jesus Christ had rescued him from his former life and had given him a new life with new purpose and direction, he cared passionately for the lives of others and for their relationships with Jesus Christ and their walks of faith. He cared deeply for the church, the body of Christ, that they would no longer walk in sin but that they would now walk in righteousness and in obedient faith to the Lord, and that they would fulfill the purpose for which they were created, too.
So, he prayed for them passionately and consistently and specifically. And he taught them what it meant to be saved from their sins and to have eternal life with God. And he taught them regarding what God had saved them from and what he had saved them to, and he encouraged them regularly to walk in the light that they had been given and to do all that the Lord had commanded them to do (New Covenant).
He did not assume that all of them were of genuine faith in Jesus Christ and so he continued to teach them on turning from sin and walking in obedience to the Lord and on the importance of dying to sin daily and living to God and to his righteousness. He stressed holiness and righteous living. And he taught them on how to rely on the Lord Jesus for their strength to live the Christian life and in order to do what pleased the Lord.
He stressed spiritual maturity and growing in our knowledge of the will of God for our lives. And he taught the reality of Jesus’ love for us, not just that he gave his life up for us on that cross so we could be delivered from our slavery (addiction) to sin, but that he provides for us everything that we need to live godly and holy lives for his praise and glory. He does not abandon us to figure it out on our own. He guides us every step of the way.
For so many people today are teaching God’s love for us in a way that says that Jesus died for us on that cross merely to forgive us our sins and to promise us heaven when we die. But he died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (1 Pet 2:24). He died to transform us and to conform us to his likeness and to fill us with His Spirit and to use us for his glory to minister his love and grace to others.
So, the Christian life is not about just getting saved so that when we die we can go to heaven. And it is not so we will join an institutional church and get involved there and do good deeds and make new friends. Becoming a Christian is about dying with Christ to sin and now living to God and to his righteousness 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We should be his 100%, even when we are sleeping, and definitely all our waking hours, too.
For when we believe in Jesus with God-given faith we lose our lives that we had before and we now become God’s possession and he owns us and we now serve him and we do what he says. For he has a plan and a purpose for our lives just like he had one for Paul and so we need to follow his lead.
[Rom 1:6-7; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-29; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Co 1:9; 1 Co 3:17; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15,21; Gal 5:13-21; Eph 1:3-4; Eph 2:10,21; Eph 5:27; Col 1:22; Col 3:12; 1 Thess 4:7; 2 Tim 1:8-9; 2 Tim 2:21; 1 Pet 1:13-16; 1 Pet 2:5-9,24; 2 Pet 1:3; Tit 2:11-14; Lu 9:23-26; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 2:3-6]
He Reached Down
An Original Work / February 3, 2014
Based off Psalm 18
How I love You, Lord, my Rock and my strength.
My God is my fortress; I hide in Him.
He is my shield and the horn of
My salvation, whom I praise.
I have found my refuge in Him.
He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
Drew me out of waters so deep, I’d sink.
He delivered me from Satan
And my slavery to sin;
Gave me hope of heaven with Him.
My God turned my darkness into His light;
Opened up my blinded eyes; gave me sight.
As for God, his way is perfect.
He gives strength to stand secure.
I have found my vict’ry in Him.
My Lord lives! Praise be to my Savior God,
Jesus Christ, who died on a cruel cross.
He is my Rock and the source
Of my salvation, whom I trust.
I will give praise always to Him.