The man we commonly know as the Apostle Paul thought he was doing exactly what God wanted him to do. We find out in Acts 9 he was breathing out threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. Yet, he thought this was what God wanted him to do, because he thought the followers of Jesus were blaspheming by claiming Jesus as God.
While on the way to Damascus to lock up Christians Paul, then Saul had a run in with the risen Christ. Saul was knocked off of his horse and blinded. Jesus questioned him saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Of course Saul’s response was, “Who are you Lord?” The Lord answered and said, “I am Jesus who you are persecuting: it is hard for you to kick against the pricks (goads).” Not only was Saul not doing what God wanted him to he was even hurting himself in the process.
When someone plowed with oxen they had a pointy stick or object with which they prodded the ox along to complete the task at hand. If the ox became stubborn or agitated they might kick back. The goad would be there and would pierce into their foot or leg and cause them pain, thus discouraging that kind of behavior. Here we see while Saul thought he was doing God’s will he was in fact fighting against him. It wasn’t going to turn out well for Saul if Jesus didn’t intervene.
Here in Acts 9 we read of Saul’s conversion. This is what true repentance looks like. He was on his way to lock up and mistreat Christians one minute and the next he was a Christian himself. Wow! That’s what God can and will do in someone’s life once the light comes on for them. Repentance means “to change one’s mind.” Saul (Paul) definitely changed his mind once he saw the error of his ways.
Later on when Paul was an older man writing what we call 2nd Timothy he shared with Timothy, a young minister, what he had learned throughout his life of being a chosen vessel for God. In 2 Timothy 2:25 Paul told Timothy in “meekness to instruct those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” So Paul, the one who found it hard kicking against the goads, now instructs a young man named Timothy with the wisdom he has gained. Timothy is a young pastor and he is dealing with people just like the rest of us. There are people that are sometimes stubborn, sinful and prideful and you guessed it they are also in opposition to themselves. That is why God has to be the one to grant them repentance. Repentance is a change of mind and it isn’t something we can conjure up on our own it only comes with the light God sheds upon us.
Once we have come to see our thoughts and ways in light of God’s revelation we then turn from them and go a different direction. It isn’t until we see our viewpoints, ways and attitudes as sinful to us that we are willing to stop them. God will continue to shine the light our way but it isn’t until we see things his way that a change occurs. Until then we are just like Paul and the others that live our lives in opposition to God and subsequently oppose ourselves.
Written by Louie