How many of us experienced or are still experiencing to today being judged according to who we used to be, before our deep encounter with our Lord, Savior and King Jesus Christ, Who is the ultimate Life-Changer and Deliverer of all times? It is not just being labeled by the world around us, but how about how we see ourselves which is weightier, more impactful and has a greater effect on the way we live our lives?
Paul, before his powerful conversion, consented to Stephen’s death and made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison (Acts 8:1-3).
“Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.” (Acts 9:1-2 NLT)
BUT GOD, Who is rich in mercy and abounding in love never desired for anyone to perish. His deep love, compassion and commitment is for everyone to come to eternal life which is defined as KNOWING THE ONLY ONE TRUE GOD AND JESUS WHOM HE HAS SENT (John 17:3). Thus, our Heavenly Father sent His only begotten and beloved Son to reveal to us Who He is and to save us by the Precious Blood of the Lamb of God. The tremendous power of His love is too great that can bring salvation even to someone whose heart is stubbornly hardrock, tough and uncompromising.
Paul encountered our Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus that totally changed His life from the inside-out. From being a persecutor of believers to being a preacher of the Word, he became. Yet, in the journey of his conversion, he was not easily accepted by and associated with the other disciples in fear of who he was in the past. In fact, one disciple Ananias who was called by the Lord to baptize Paul answered Him saying, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” (Acts 9:13-14)
BUT GOD said, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” (Acts 9:15), and so he was ministered to. Saul regained his sight and saw things differently from that time on. Why? Because he was defined differently by God as His chosen vessel and in his conversion, he saw himself differently when scales fell off from his eyes after being blind for three days.
Mind you, “immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”
But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 9:20-22)
Shortly after, the Jews whom Paul was in collaboration with to persecute the church connived against him to the extent of plotting to kill him. Hmmmm … the once persecutor now became the persecuted. By this, we see how people’s definition of Paul changed when his belief changed. Yet, blessed are the persecuted because of His Name.
“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you BECAUSE YOU ARE MY FOLLOWERS. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” (Matthew 5:11-12 NLT)
Although he was already transformed from deep within, it was not automatic that people around him would also see him differently right away. “When he came to Jerusalem, he tried repeatedly to associate with the disciples; and yet they were all afraid of him, as they did not believe that he was a disciple.” (Acts 9:26 NASB)
BUT one man named Barnabas saw Paul’s powerful and undeniable testimony. He took him and brought him to the apostles. Paul declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
Paul became A NEW CREATION immediately after encountering our Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Having been baptized, he lived in the freedom of the Spirit rather than entrapped by legalism in which he used to lord over people. He was recreated and transformed into the image of Christ from glory to glory.
As a result of the revelation of Jesus Christ, Paul’s outlook changed. His desires changed. His agendas changed. His pursuit changed. His passion changed. His faith in our Lord Jesus Christ was tangibly recognizable, for faith without works is dead. Faith can be seen that is fueled from deep within.
He said, “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with Him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” (Philippians 3:7-9 NLT)
At this time and age, many see people who are impossible to change, most especially with someone we are familiar with. But because of Paul’s powerful testimony, every time someone comes up to me to tell me that “such person” is beyond restoration, great hope rises from deep within me. I so believe that nothing is too difficult for our God to do and deliver. His hand is not short to reach the one who is lost and be welcomed back into His loving embrace.
I get so encouraged by Paul’s story that even with a past that was deeply rooted in his religious legalistic belief, he was transformed by the renewing of his mind at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Can you imagine, he was circumcised at eight days old, a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew. He was a member of the Pharisees, who demands the strictest obedience to the Jewish law and was so zealous that he harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, he obeyed the law without fault. (Philippians 3:5-6 NLT)
Yet he said, “I’m not there yet, nor have I become perfect; but I am charging on to gain anything and everything the Anointed One, Jesus, has in store for me—and nothing will stand in my way because He has grabbed me and won’t let me go. Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know I have not arrived; but there’s ONE THING I am doing: I’m leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission. I am sprinting toward the only goal that counts: to cross the line, to win the prize, and to hear God’s call to resurrection life found exclusively in Jesus the Anointed.” (Philippians 3:12-14 Voice)
His past never stopped him from moving forward for that was ONE THING he was focused on, forgetting those things which are behind. In fact, his persistent and tenacious spirit while he was still a persecutor was also used in a different way when he got converted and became the persecuted. In spite of what he went through, shipwrecked, beaten, imprisoned, chained, etc., he never stopped reaching forward to know Jesus Christ, to experience the power of His resurrection and TO MAKE JESUS KNOWN.
We are not to be confined and detained by our past. We rise above it as new creations in Christ. What is in the past should be buried in the past, washed by the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ. His Word says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Our past have been crucified with Christ and now we live according to the NEW heavenly identity that He has defined us. We are born of God, born anew, supplied by God, strengthened by God, guided by God, fitly framed by God, satisfied by God, anointed and empowered by God, healed and made whole by God, blessed and favored by God Who deeply loves us, cares for us affectionately and cares about us watchfully. It is not by our might nor by our power, but by the Spirit of God dwelling inside of us.
Jesus Christ came as a Man, so that man can live beyond the limitations of just being “human”. He became Man so you and I can experience the life beyond our lives and into His enriched and abundant life lived in and through us, CHRIST IN US, THE HOPE OF GLORY (Colossians 1:27). This is when we become branches that are consistently and constantly connected to the Vine Who supplies us with everything according to His riches in glory, bearing fruit unceasingly, with leaves vital and green for the healing of the nations and everything that we touch prospers.
It is a life with a new cry in our hearts, “I delight to do Your will, O my God”, (Psalm 40:8), for this new covenant He brought in for us, putting His law in our minds and writing them in our hearts.. This is the new law of the Spirit of Life. He fills and floods us with His love and liberty. We become His living epistles written by the Spirit of the Living God, ceased to be who we once were – subject to our own passions and desires, and now delighting to submit our will to His, enthralling our will in His love. “[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.” (Philippians 2:13 AMPC)
Smith Wigglesworth said, “There is a big difference between a PUMP and a SPRING. The law is a pump; the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a spring. The old pump gets out of order, the parts wear out, and the well runs dry. But the spring is ever bubbling up, and there is a ceaseless flow direct from the throne of God. THERE IS LIFE.
Jesus said, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14 ESV)
In this new life in the Spirit, sin no longer has dominion over us for it has been washed by the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ. His infilling and indwelling Presence pushes out everything and anything that does not bring Him pleasure, for our bodies are His living temples. His Lordship will reign in our hearts and our hearts’ desires are awakened to an ascended place where we love the things that are of Him, right, pure, holy and eject all other things that are not of Him.
In this new life in the Spirit, He has given us authority to trample serpents and scorpions and all the power of the enemy IN HIS NAME that nothing shall by any means hurt us and those we love. (Luke 10:19 AMPC)
As we are being continually filled by His Spirit, the enemy cannot invade these vessels that are fully filled to overflow. There is no room for him to gain an inch of territory in us.
All these changes in our lives are caused by the inclination of our ears to what He is speaking to us. We are metamorphosed by the renewing of our minds. “We stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around us, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how we think. This will empower us to discern God’s will as we live a beautiful, satisfying and perfect in His eyes.” (Romans 12:2 TPT)
Indeed, as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7)
Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4) This is how we live by faith, totally dependent on what He breathes and speaks to us according to His Word. It is not that we forego physical food, NO! To have them is for our bodies, but the enhancement and victory of our lives come from being nourished by His living Word. It is health to our flesh and strength to our bones. As our days go, so shall our strength be.
When we believe that we are defined differently in Christ according to His Word, we live differently. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. They are higher. But when we become new creations in Christ, born from above, born of God, He enables us to tap into His thoughts and His ways by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in us. His new definition of us becomes our provision to live a life that is in abundance, to the full, till it overflows to others.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW CREATION; old things have passed away; behold, ALL THINGS HAVE BECOME NEW.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
We have seen the life of Paul intensely transfigured after He heard Jesus spoke to him.
“As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”
“Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.
And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
What is the Lord speaking to you today?
Harden not our hearts for His will is always for our good. More often than not, it may not make sense in the beginning, but we trust Him with all of our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. He knows what He is doing. He is The Way, The Truth and The Life.
Let us always bear in mind that when we hear Him speak into our hearts, it is to position us from glory to glory. It is to bring breakthroughs into our lives. It is to infuse healing and wholeness to our bodies. It is to set our hearts in perfect peace when we focus our thoughts on Him. It is to free us from what binds us. It is to bring clarity in the midst of our confused minds as His Word is light that illumines every dark thought that we have. It is to assure us how deeply loved, greatly blessed and highly favored we are by Him. IT IS TO DEFINE US DIFFERENTLY ACCORDING TO WHO HE CREATED US TO BE AND LIVE ACCORDINGLY.
His Words are SPIRIT and LIFE to those who will receive them. (John 6:63)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for making it possible for us to know how YOU DEFINED US DIFFERENTLY according to Your written Word breathed by the Holy Spirit. Thank You, Jesus, that You are the Word made flesh so we can experientially live differently by the revelation of Your finished work that made us new creations in You. Thank You, Holy Spirit for continually revealing more and more of Jesus Christ to us and the power of His resurrection. Open our eyes to see what we ought to do. Open our ears to hear You speak. Open our hearts to receive the implanted Word of God, make it grow and bear fruit by our life’s union with You. We give You all the honor, glory and praise in Jesus’ Name! Amen!
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yes and amen!
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