This podcast covers Lesson 4 of Radical Acts Bible Study by Melanie Newton.
The Adventure of a Life Transformed, Part 1
You and I are not transformers. We are ones who are transformable in the hands of the living Christ and His transforming power. And, while the toy won’t consciously resist the human working its parts because it has no will of its own, we can resist our transformer. But, we can cooperate with our transformer by faith, like everything else in our Christian life. Yielding to the God who loves us dearly, knowing it’s for our own good. When we do that, our lives declare and demonstrate the undeniable reality of the living Christ and His transforming power.
Paul’s early character development
Paul was born in Tarsus, a big city on major highways and a university town. He learned tent-making to support himself. His Jewish birth name was Saul; his Roman citizenship birth name was Paul. He also had at least one sister.
Paul was raised as a Pharisee meaning he had a Pharisee father who raised him to be a Pharisee also. Paul learned to be a disciplined rule follower—a good trait.
Paul was raised as a Hebraic Jew. Even though living outside Israel, he went to Hebrew schools at Hebrew synagogues. Paul lived a segregated life. He knew of the Greek ways but did not participate in them. He developed pride and prejudiceagainst the Grecian Jews and all Gentiles, being taught to think lowly of them. Not good traits.
Paul was zealous for God, a diligent student, and thoroughly trained to teach as a rabbi or perhaps law professor. Good traits.
As a young adult, Paul followed the Law faultlessly, advancing in Judaism beyond his peers. So, he was ambitious, had confidence in the flesh, and was self-seeking.
Paul took charge of destroying the church.
Paul was deliberate; destructive; and bold as he tried to destroy the church. He disrespected families, lacked compassion, and promoted murder. He was an independent thinker, not easily persuaded, and manipulative. He was proactive,respected authority, and a courageous traveler. Paul was also sold out to his cause, determined to stamp out “wrong,” and obsessed to get them all.
Paul’s good traits were corrupted by his association with misguided religious leaders who formed his world. All of his good character traits became useful to his life of serving God, including the misdirected ones. All of his bad traits needed to be changed by God.
Yield to be transformed
God’s plan is to transform us to become like Jesus in our character. And, He uses what He’s already put in us to complete that transformation.
Immediately after salvation, he taught the gospel message with boldness. He got away from the old influences and spent time with Jesus.
After 3 years, Paul spent 2 weeks in Jerusalem getting to know the Christian leaders there because he respected authority. Paul was in tune with God’s will for him, not knowing how God would carry it out.
Jesus’ transforming power enhances the positive traits and replaces the negative ones with His own character.
God showed Paul the value of weakness. Confidence in the flesh transformed.
He learned humility in light of Jesus’ strength in him. That’s pride transformed.
As Jesus’ disciple, his self-promoting energy was transformed toward promoting Jesus Christ and His agenda. A good trait redirected.
As Jesus’ disciple, he labored as an encourager to help Christians mature in their faith and stand firm against persecution. From being destructive of the church, he became constructive, founding many churches. Transformed.
Over the years, God replaced Paul’s heart that lacked compassion with one that loved people deeply including Gentiles whom he accepted as family. His former prejudice totally transformed!
No longer was Paul disrespectful of women, but he penned the beautiful words in Ephesians 5, Colossians 3 and Romans 16 that have built up respect for women wherever the gospel has gone.
God took Paul’s obsession to destroy all the Christians, and redirected it to a restlessness to win as many as possible to Christ. He remained sold out to his cause and a very courageous traveler.
Instead of being a willing participant in murder, at least twice Paul saved the lives of prisoners. His life was being transformed. It was for his own good, and it definitely pleased God. He was becoming like Christ.
Your transformed Life
What kind of good and not-so-good traits were developed in you by the time you reached your 20s? Now, consider what God has done in your life since you trusted in Christ. Which ones of those traits have been used by God as you serve Him? Which ones have been redirected or needed to be changed by God?
What do you need to give to the living Christ today to be transformed? Submit to the Spirit’s work in that area of your life and trust Him to do that. It’s okay to say, “Lord Jesus, I can’t change myself. I know that. But, I desire to be changed by you. I will trust you to do that in my life. Show me how to yield to you.” Then, watch what He does!
Let Jesus satisfy your heart with His Spirit’s transforming power. And say yes to a life of adventure with Him!
Until next time, I’m Melanie Newton. And, this is Series 7 of Satisfied.
Joyful Walk Bible Studiesby Melanie Newton are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.