“When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.” Acts 7:58
Saul of Tarsus did some pretty evil things. He stood by and approved the stoning of the Christian prophet Stephen (Acts 7:54-8:1), ravaged the church of Christ (Acts 8:3), pulled Christians out of their homes and threw them into prison (Acts 8:3), threatened the disciples, called for Christians to be slaughtered (Acts 9:1), and zealously pursued the scattered saints (Acts 9:1). As you read the book of Acts you can get a clear picture of how Saul of Tarsus was one of the greatest adversaries to the church of Christ.
What would cause a man to do such EVIL things? Saul didn’t think that Jesus Christ was the Messiah or God. He didn’t think that the gospel that the Christians were proclaiming was true. Actually, he thought that Jesus wasn’t the Messiah or God and that those who thought contrary needed to be punished. It was those thoughts that compelled him to pursue and persecute the church of Christ.
Swallow this truth. The man I just wrote about above, Saul of Tarsus, is actually the Apostle that we so dearly love, Paul. Yes, the Paul who was baptized into Christ (Acts 9:18), the man who preached the gospel to gentiles, kings, and Jews (Acts 9:15), a man persecuted for his evangelism (Acts 9:27-30), and that is just what is recorded in Acts chapter 9! Paul is remembered as one of the strongest and greatest members that the Lord’s church has ever had (2Corinthians 11:24-33).
What would cause a man to do such GREAT things? Saul thought that Jesus was the Messiah and God. Paul thought that the gospel that Christians were proclaiming was true. Not only did he think Jesus was the Messiah and God, he thought that those that didn’t know needed to hear it and those that did know needed to be encouraged to remain faithful. It was those thoughts that compelled him to preach the gospel and encourage the church.
What could have caused one man to have acted so differently? What was it that changed in this man’s life? His Thoughts! He was converted from thinking that Jesus wasn’t the Christ to thinking that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 9:1-20). As a result, his actions helped change history forever.
Like Saul or Paul, what we think determines how we live our lives. Like Jesus said, “you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16-20). Take some time to think about your thoughts and how they influence your feelings and actions. Are your thoughts causing joy, peace, encouragement, and love or are they causing sadness, destruction, despair, and consequences? It really is cause and effect. Get the right thoughts and you will produce good fruit or get the wrong thoughts and produce bad or no fruit. It’s up to you to choose which thoughts to embrace or push away.
“you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Ephesians 4:20-24