Day 12: Examine Yourselves
Paul was a young zealot, "a Hebrew of the Hebrews", he called himself. He was intent on keeping Israel's faith pure, and that meant wiping out the scourge of Christianity. So, Paul marched around the countryside, going from house to house, searching for anyone who claimed to follow Jesus. His gunbelt was full of notches, and Paul boasted proudly of his labor for his faith (Read Acts 8:3; 9:1-5; Philippians 3:4-7).
Until one day, while in route to Damascus with more orders in one hand and a sword in the other, Saul was stopped in his tracks by a bright light and a voice from heaven like thunder, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?"
Saul, trembling and astonished, picked himself up from the ground, and the men who were with him led him by the hand to Damascus. For the next three days, Saul was without his eyesight. Not able to look at anything else, he was forced to look inside himself, and he did not like what he saw.
"I doubt if you can find any one out there who had more confidence in his own flesh that I did," he would later say to the church at Philippi. "I followed the law to the letter like a Pharisee. I labored for my faith and persecuted the church. I was righteous and blameless."
Give a man religion without showing him his sin, and the result is Saul. Blameless in following the rules and keeping the traditions, he is arrogant and tells other how to live. However, show a man his sin and show him Jesus too, and the result is Saul-become-Paul who turned the world upside down.
"I want to be found in Jesus," Paul said, "not having my own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. I want to know Jesus and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. I want to be made conformable unto His death. I want to forget all those things about me; I want to forget the old Saul. Now, I want to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!"
This same Paul who looked inward for three days in Damascus, now exhorts us to examine ourslelves also. To the Corinthians, he penned, "Check up on yourselves. Are you really Christians? Do you pass the test? Do you feel Christ's presence and power more and more within you? Or are you just pretending to be Christians when actually you aren't at all?" (2 Corinthians 13:5 TLB).