Paul was changed by the Lord Jesus from living under the power of the Devil to living under the power of God. The same can happen to you, but for it to happen you have to be lovingly obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ. Your religion has no importance in this world if it does not show evidence that God has made his home with you. Union with Christ is the secret to a perfect religion.
Since the beginning of Human Beings there have been religions. When disciples of the Lord Jesus such as Paul and Myself are sent to the Lost Souls to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus. We face a problem – the desire in them to love what the Devil offers them and to hate what God offers them.
To change Lost Souls from being wrong to being right. Here are the descriptions of both the wrong and the right people. You will see how very different they are to each other. You can be a Christian and still be wrong.
Here is the story of Paul who was on trial due to the accusations of the Jews who loved the Devil and Hated God.
Acts 26:1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You have permission to speak for yourself.’
[Paul submitted himself to human judgement]
So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defence: 2 ‘King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defence against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.
[Paul acted with humility and self control not with anger and bitterness]
4 ‘The Jewish people all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. 5 They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee. 6 And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today. 7 This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. King Agrippa, it is because of this hope that these Jews are accusing me. 8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?
[Paul was not hiding the truth about himself, but was open and honest to everyone about himself and God]
9 ‘I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.
[Paul here gave witness how being under the power of Satan a person acts out their religion with hatred and violence]
12 ‘On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, [Acts 26:14 Or Hebrew] “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
[Paul testifies as to how it was the Lord Jesus himself who confronted him. The same Lord Jesus whom the Jews knew they had killed]
15 ‘Then I asked, “Who are you, Lord?”
[Paul, recognising he was in the presence of God, wanted to know if it was the Lord Jesus himself.]
‘“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” the Lord replied. 16 “Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
[Paul, a religious zealot who persecuted the Lord, being chosen by the Lord to be a witness for him. Amazing! A servant of the Devil being changed to a servant of God AND the Devil could do nothing about it.]
19 ‘So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen – 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.’
[Paul here shares how important it was to his salvation that he obey the Lord Jesus Christ. Something that many Jews and Christian refuse to do. In fact they attacked Paul for being obedient to the Lord. But God kept Paul safe though not unharmed. This message about the purpose of the Lord Jesus’ death and resurrection is just as important today, that the people of this world need to have the light of Christ Jesus the Messiah to be shown into their darkness.]
24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defence. ‘You are out of your mind, Paul!’ he shouted. ‘Your great learning is driving you insane.’
[Paul had to face the anger of his Judge, Festus Agrippa.]
25 ‘I am not insane, most excellent Festus,’ Paul replied. ‘What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.’
[Paul responded with truth and humility, politely but assertively responding with sound argument. He showed evidence of the Holy Spirit – the fruit of the spirit is love, joy , peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.]
28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’
[Paul could see that he had won the argument.]
29 Paul replied, ‘Short time or long – I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.’
[Paul gave the perfect response to the question.]
30 The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them. 31 After they left the room, they began saying to one another, ‘This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.’
[Just as Pilot said after questioning the Lord Jesus before his crucifixion.]
32 Agrippa said to Festus, ‘This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.’
[Paul could have been safe, but he had asked to be tried by Caesar in Rome. The Lord Jesus had said to Paul, “As you have witnessed for me in Jerusalem, so you will witness for me in Rome.”]
As a true Disciple and Witness for my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I have had to learn that obedience to his call on my life is more important than any sufferings I may have to face in doing so.
To finish. Yes, I am religious, but I am not religious in accordance with any earthly religion devised by man to meet their selfish desires. My religion involves living with my Heavenly Father and his Son the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a religion that has the Holy Spirit of God in control, not my selfish desires, though much to my shame, I often feel that I seek to quench the spirits’ love towards me.
Therefore, anything that I achieve is without merit to me, but only to the Holy Spirit of God.
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