AND SAUL, YET
Acts 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
Little words sometimes convey a big meaning. And such is certainly the case with our word, “yet” in this verse. For its meaning is that even though there was a powerful working of the Holy Spirit, recently send down from heaven, Saul of Tarsus was “still” in a rage against the disciples of the Lord! It shows that he was missing the benefits of the Spirit because he was completely out of touch with the purposes of the Lord in his day!
Dear Reader, its not enough to have a rigidly memorized religious tradition, quoting confessions and scriptures of a yesterday work of the Spirit. One must have a present walk of faith in the direction the Redeemer is going in one’s own day! The just SHALL live by faith! And true, active faith is always evidencing eternal, invisible matters of God’s present will! The exclusive practice of organized religion without a worshipping heart full of love for the Lord Jesus is that which shall cause some to hear, “Depart from me. I never knew you!” 2 Corin. 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
Saul WAS religious! And Saul did have a zealous, fiery spirit! But it was not from the Holy Spirit! Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
And just how deceived could one be with such a legal heart and a fiery religious zeal? Here is what our Lord said about that: They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. (John 16:2)
Here are some of the things that were wrong in Saul’s life:
Saul was wrong in his breath! Talk about spiritual halitosis! His rage within his heart brought slaughter and murder out of his mouth! For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh! (Matt. 12:34).
God’s breath granted life! – to both man and woman! Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. But Saul’s breath issued forth death to both men and women! (See Acts 9:2).
Consider these few verses: Job 33:4 The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.
Ezekiel 37:9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
Acts 17:25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
And not only does the Lord God give us breath, but he also is attentive to our breathing out from a heart attentive unto Him! Lamentations 3:55 I called upon thy name, O LORD, out of the low dungeon. 56 Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry.
For it is in those spiritual groanings wherein intercession is administered! Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Saul was wrong in his name!
We read in Acts 13:9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, We are here instructed that his Hebrew name, Saul, is changed to a Latin name, Paul. And renaming is part of the spiritual experience in being brought to Christ.
John 1:42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
Rev. 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
For “Saul” means, to inquire, or ask earnestly. It pertains to one seeking knowledge, which symbolized the first part of his life under Gamaliel. And from his own pen we read, Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. (1 Corin. 8:1). But “Paul” means, “to cease, or refrain; to come to an end.” And this is the Christian’s desire: He (Christ) must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30).
Saul was wrong in his postal duties!
In verse two of our text we learn of his obtaining “letters” to carry with him to authorize his wicked deeds. We were all, to some degree, prior to regeneration, carrying the Devil’s mail! And it was for the same purpose: to justify our natural desires to kill out the very thought of bowing to Christ.
But Paul, and every one of those born of the Spirit soon became sanctified message carriers! Acts 15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: 23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
Here we find that Paul is again a letter carrier, but this time for the edification and encouragement of faith in Christ! Then he graduated on to being an effectual letter writer! For his letters have become the most part of our New Testament Scriptures! For if you follow on to know the Lord, the memorized word in your head will soon become the living word in your heart and soul!
Gal. 6:11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.
Ephesians 3:1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
Colossians 4:16 And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
And if you will take care of God’s mail, he will see to it that any mail that might have been sent out against you will not materialize! (See Isaiah 54:17). Acts 28:16 And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him. 17 And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 21 And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee.
Saul was wrong in his religion!
He gives his religious history, which sounds pretty good to the natural mind. Acts 22:3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. That does sound right nice, doesn’t it? But wait! If that were acceptable with the God of Abraham then the Incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension would not have been necessary! But Saul’s religion did not include Jesus Christ!
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
1 John 2:23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. 24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
2 John 9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
In verse one of our above listed text we read of Paul’s speaking of the Christian faith in the term, “this way.” This term was commonly used in his day to refer to this new Christian religion! (See Acts 19:9, 23, 24:22). What he didn’t know, due to his previous religious experience, was that Christianity is not a religion! It is a new way of life with God living within his believers! But he came to learn that “the way,” is a Person, and not a religious practice! John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. But none can know this except devotion be added to duty by the Holy Spirit!
Pastor Gene Breed.