From Enemy to Friend – The Conversion of Saul

From Enemy to Friend – The Conversion of Saul
September 5, 2021
Passage: Acts 22:1-16
Service Type:

Lessons from the Conversion of Saul

Today I want to look at the life of Saul, especially the conversion which led him to Christ. Turn to Acts 22:1-16, here he gives his defense during the time of his arrest.

Here we see a story of the great change. Here is a man whose ancestry is that he was a  Jew who spoke the Hebrew tongue.

  • Education - Gamaliel
  • Religion -   Pharisee of the Jews
  • Reaction to church - Persecuted
  • Conversion - Christian
  • Life - Dedication

Nothing new or startling in these facts. But, from these facts we can learn many lessons. He went from being an enemy of God to a friend of God. He was a persecutor of the church to being a member of the church.

Lesson 1 from Saul's Conversion: Ancestry Means Nothing in Spiritual Matters

  • Acts 22:3

In order to refute their charge that he taught against Moses, he calls attention to his Jewish birth, he was a descendant of Abraham. God does not view us according to our pedigree or our nationality.

We looked this morning at 1 Samuel 16:7. God is not a face looker, He is a heart looker.

  • Acts 10:34-35, no respector of persons.

“Shows no partiality” - NKJV

  • Galatians 3:28

These various differences, in nationality, or state of being, none of these things matters. The only thing that matters is our relationship with God. Just because your parents, grandparents or beyond were Christians, doesn't mean anything unless you yourself are also a Christian.

Lesson 2 from Saul's Conversion: Having a Great Teacher Will Not Necessarily Save Us

  • Acts 22:3

Saul was taught by Gamaliel one of the greatest teachers of his day. He is still revered by Jews today as one of the great teachers in their history. Paul was taught by this great teacher, but he was still a lost man.

Having a great preacher or teacher will not save us. Many feel that knowing a great preacher or teacher will save them. Knowing great men, will not necessarily mean we will be saved. It makes no difference how great they were or how well we knew them. We must obey God ourself.

We will not be judged based on what someone taught us, but rather we will be judged based on what we do.

  • 2 Corinthians 5:10

You can be taught right, and not obey it, and thus you would be lost. Saul was not saved merely because he had a great teacher.

  • 1 Corinthians 3:6-7

Those who plant and water are important, but it is God who saves us. Having a great teacher won't save us, if we fail to obey.

Lesson 3 from Saul's Conversion: Being Religious, Sincere and Zealous Is Not Enough to Save Us

  • Acts 22:3

Saul was sincere, and zealous for the Lord in the Jews religion.

  • Galatians 1:13-14

The Pharisees and Jews were upset because the church was growing. Saul, said he'd go out and put a stop to it. He was exceedingly zealous above others.

  • Matthew 7:21-23

Jesus talks about people on the day of judgement giving defense for the things they have done, yet He says "I never knew you." Why? Because they work iniquity.

  • Acts 26:5

Paul was zealous, he was busy persecuting the Christians, but he was also lost.

We can be religious and be very busy. That alone is not enough, we must do the will of God. Could Paul’s sincerity turn error into truth?   No!  Neither can it do that today. We cannot turn error into truth by simply being sincere.

Lesson 4 from Saul's Conversion: It is Possible to Persecute Christ While Being Sincere

  • Acts 22:4

Paul was, sincere he believed he was for God. He was zealous and filled with eagerness and enthusiasm. He was conscientious wanting to obey conscience always.

  • Acts 23:1

He states that before God until this day, he lived in all good conscience, he was activily working.

Yet, Christ was not on the earth, but Saul was persecuting Christ.

  • Acts 9:4

He was persecuting Christ! How?

To persecute Christ is to persecute the church. It is not by tearing down a church building. It's by persecuting the members of the church.

  • Galatians 5:15

We can be sincere and persecute Christ.

Paul was mistaken. What he thought was right and good was bad and evil. We persecute Christ by persecuting Christians. We can do it without violating our conscience if our conscience isn't trained properly. That was Saul's problem, he wasnt' trained according to God's word, but rather to the Jews traditions. We must be careful that our conscience is trained properly according to God's word.

Lesson 5 of Saul's Conversion: When We Learn We Are Wrong We Should Admit It

  • Acts 9:6

Paul realized he had been wrong. He did not ignore his sins. He didn’t try to make excuses.

We must admit our faults and sins. It’s easy to tell others to do this. But it’s hard for us to do it.

We must have humility so we will admit our sins. Let us be like wet clay not like hard concrete. Paul was ready to change when he saw he was wrong. He was a sincere man, in heart and devotion to God and as soon as he came to understand he was wrong he sought to change.

We must also be ready to change if we see we are wrong. Repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of action. Many people change their mind but never change their action.

Lesson 6 of Saul's Conversion: A Lost Man Is Not Saved by Faith Only

  • Acts 9:4-6

Paul was not saved by faith only. Did he believe that this one who was talking to him was the Son of God? He believed, immediately, when Jesus told him what to do. Was he saved?

If so, Saul didn’t know it - he asked what to do. If so, Christ didn’t know it - He told him to go and it shall be told him what to do. He had to obey. He was not saved by faith only. Later he was to be told what to do.

  • Hebrews 11:30

The walls of Jericho fell by faith, in Joshua chapter 7.

The walls did not fall when they believed. The walls fell after all the acts of obedience were completed. It wasn't until they completed the acts of obedience that God required of them.

  • James 2:20-26

We are not saved by dead faith.

  • Body + spirit = live body
  • Body - spirit = dead body
  • Faith + works = live faith
  • Faith - works = dead faith

A believer is not saved outside of Christ.

  • Galatians 3:27

Our faith makes us a child of God. What act of obedience puts one into Christ?

  • Galatians 3:27

Paul was not saved on the road to Damascus.

  • Told to go into Damascus-   Acts 22:10

He could not have been saved if he still had sins.

Lesson 7 of Saul's Conversion: Immersion Brings One Into the Church

  • Acts 22:16

Saul was baptized to wash away his sins. He already believes at this point. He has seent he resurrected Savior, yet he's told to go into the city and it would be told him what to do. He was a believign penintent man and still he had to have his sins washed away.

One cannot be in the church until his sins are gone. Baptism is where we have our sins washed  away.

  • Acts 22:16

"Baptism, doth also now save us." — 1 Peter 3:21

  • Galatians 3:27

We must be in Christ.

  • All spiritual blessings, Ephesians 1:3
  • Salvation which is in Christ Jesus, 2 Timothy 2:10
  • No condemnation, Romans 8:1
  • New creation, 2 Corinthians 5:17

The way to become a new creature in Christ is through baptism, Romans 6:3-4. A new creature in Christ Jesus walks in newness of life. Baptism is what puts us in that life with Christ.

Through baptism your sins can be washed away as Saul was told and as Saul did.

Lesson 8 of Saul's Conversion: After Becoming Christians We Must Devote Our Life to Christ

Notice what Paul did.

  • Philippians 1:21
  • Romans 12:1

He presented himself as a living sacrifice to God.

  • 2 Timothy 4:7

He, fought the good fight, finished the course, kept the faith. We, like Paul, must be dedicated.

He went from enemy to friend.

You may be sincere but sincerely wrong, like Paul. We each should admit our mistakes and obey God’s will. We are to be dedicated and and we'll also have a crown of life awaiting you when you have finished your course

The question today is, are you?

  • Fighting the good fight
  • Finishing the course
  • Keeping the faith

Paul changed from an enemy of the church to a friend of the church. Paul the persecutor became Paul the preacher. He was an enemy of the church but became a friend of the church.

If you are outside of Christ and you are living in sin then you are an enemy of Christ.

To be a friend of Christ you must be obedient, like Paul was. You must hear the word of God and believe it. You must also repent of sins, and confess Jesus as His Son, to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Then live dedicated to Christ, faithful until death.

We have a great example in the Apostle Paul, who went from persecutor to persecuted, from enemy to friend.

If you would like to know more about how conversion and baptism are essential for salvation, please contact us. 

Based on a sermon by Arthur Pigman
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