New Creature

Paul’s Conversion- Acts 9:1-29

Theme: When you become a Christian, people should see a change in you.

Verse: II Corinthians 5:17- “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.”

Introduction:

Are you righteous? That’s a big word. What does it mean?

Righteous means being always good; never doing anything wrong.

I might think I’m righteous when I compare myself to others, I’m pretty good. I don’t swear like some people. I don’t steal like some people. I’m not mean like some people. I’m pretty good, aren’t I?

No, I am not righteous. To be righteous, I have to be good ALL the time. I have to not have sinned — ever.

The Bible tells us in Romans 3:10- “There is no one righteous, not even one.”

Only one person has never sinned. Only one person is righteous. Who is that? Jesus.

So, if you think you are good, you are wrong

There was a man in the Bible who thought he was good. In Philippians 3:5-6, Paul said that he came from a good Jewish family, he tried to obey all God’s laws, and he did what he thought God wanted him to do. Because he did all these good things, he thought he would be good enough to go to heaven when he died.

But he was wrong, and God did something amazing to show him.

Bible Story:

          “Hurry up! We’re leaving now. No time to waste.”

          Saul didn’t wait to see if the men were following as he practically ran through the cobblestone streets of Jerusalem.

          He finally had the letter in hand from the high priest giving him permission to go to Damascus and arrest all of the men and women who belonged to that religious group called The Way.

          Just thinking about them made his blood boil. He would destroy those Christians, every last one of them. How could they believe that the Jesus who was crucified was God’s Son? Ridiculous! Even more ridiculous was that they believed He rose from the dead. Didn’t they know that the way to God was to follow the Jewish laws and customs, not believe in this Jesus?

           He was determined to keep the rebels from spreading their lies. So he would arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem… if he didn’t kill them first.

          It was a journey of several long, hot days. As they neared Damascus, he grilled the men on their assignments.

          “I want every last one of them,” Saul said. “Understand? If they resist, kill them.”

          Suddenly a bright light flashed from heaven right down on Saul, blinding him. Saul threw his arm over his face. Then he fell to the ground.

          A voice from heaven rumbled, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

          Saul trembled. Who was this? “Who are you, Lord?” he called.

          “I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting.”

          Jesus? It couldn’t be. Jesus was dead. He was a fake. Or was he? What if He was real after all?

          The voice from heaven said, “Get up and go into the city, and you will be told what to do.”

          The bright light vanished as suddenly as it had appeared.

          Saul was afraid to move. Was it a dream or had it really happened?

          As he pushed himself to his feet, he realized it was all too real. That light had blinded him. He couldn’t see a thing.

          He reached out, groping for his men.

          “What happened, Saul?” someone asked.

          “That was Jesus, the one we’ve been persecuting. Jesus really was God. He really did rise from the dead. I’ve been wrong…so wrong.”

          The men were speechless.

          “Take me to Damascus where God will give me further instructions.” He reached out his hand. “Can someone help me? I can’t see a thing.”

          The men took him by the hand and led him into Damascus to the house of Judas on Straight Street. He was given a bed and a meal, but Saul would not eat anything until God told him what to do next. For three days he ate nothing and prayed.

          Meanwhile, God was at work in a Christian man named Ananias. God called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

          “Yes, Lord?”

          “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. In a vision he has seen you come and place your hands on him to restore his sight.”

          “But, Lord,” Ananias answered. “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here to arrest all who call on your name.”

          The Lord said to Ananias, “Go! I have chosen Saul to carry my name before the Gentiles and the people of Israel.”

          So Ananias obeyed God even though he was afraid. He went to the house of Judas and into Saul’s room. Trembling, he placed his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

          Immediately Saul could see. The first thing he wanted to do was be baptized.

          After that, he wanted to eat. And boy, did he eat!

          Saul spent several days in Damascus with the Christians. He even went to the Jewish synagogues and preached that Jesus is the Son of God.

          People couldn’t believe it. Wasn’t this the same man who had permission from the high priest to arrest the Christians and throw them in prison? Yet, here he was, preaching like a Christian.

          The Jews didn’t like it. They wanted to stop this teaching of Jesus. So they plotted to kill him as he left through the city gate.

          But the Christians heard about the plan. In the night, they lowered him in a basket through an opening in the city wall, and Saul escaped.

          He went far and wide telling people about Jesus.

Conclusion:

          What exactly happened to Saul on the road to Damascus? He believed that Jesus was the Son of God. He realized that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for his sins. He told Jesus, “I believe in You. Please forgive my sins. I want to live my life for you now.”

          Saul’s name was changed to Paul. He was like a different man. He told many people about Jesus, and when he died, he went to heaven to be with Jesus.

          Do you know that the same thing can happen to you? Just say, “I believe in You, Jesus. Please forgive my sins. I want to live my life for you now.”

          (Give an invitation.)

          Sin no longer had power over Paul because now he had a new nature and the Holy Spirit living in him.         

          When you invite Jesus into your heart, your old, sinful nature no longer controls you. Now you have the Holy Spirit living in you. You are like a new person.

II Corinthians 5:17 tells us about that. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.”

          When someone becomes a Christian, can you see a change in them? You should be able to. Listen to this Phil and Ashley story.

Phil and Ashley story:

          “Guess what?” Mom said. “I agreed to have a Five-Day Club in our backyard this summer.”

          “What?” Phil exploded. “Why did you do that?”

          “Because Kylie Henderson asked me to. She signed up to be a summer missionary, and she needed to fill her schedule with clubs.”

          Every summer, a Christian organization called Child Evangelism sent out young people into neighborhoods to tell Bible stories and lead children to Christ. When he was 7 and Ashley was 4, they had hosted a Five-Day Club, and it had been lots of fun. All the neighborhood kids had come. Some had even asked Jesus into their hearts.

          Now, five years later, the neighborhood was full of guys in middle school, guys who were bad, guys Phil wouldn’t hang around with. What if those guys came? Phil would be so embarrassed.

          Then he realized he had nothing to worry about. No way would those guys come to a Bible club.

          Monday afternoon of the second week in July, pretty Kylie Henderson arrived with her younger sister Olivia.

          “Right this way,” Mom said as she led them into the backyard where a blanket was spread under the tree.

          “Perfect,” Kylie said. She carried a big tote bag filled with visualized songs. “Any idea how many are coming?”

          “No,” Mom said. “We’ve only heard of a few maybes.”

          Phil hoped nobody came.

          As Kylie and Olivia set things up, Phil scooted back into the house. If only little girls showed up, he wouldn’t go.

          He sat in a chair in the living room with a perfect view of the driveway.

          An eighth-grade boy named Luke Banks rode his bike down the street. Luke was good-looking and full of himself. All the girls liked him. Phil didn’t.

          To his surprise, Luke pulled into the driveway. What’s he doing here? he wondered.

          From the other direction came another bike. It was Luke’s friend, Brian. Phil had seen Brian smoking cigarettes at the playground. Phil stayed away from Brian.

          Then another bike and another and another came. All brought more middle-school guys. Mom was out there, welcoming them and pointing toward the backyard.

          Phil’s heart raced. He knew what they were doing. They were up to no good. They had probably come to cause trouble. Poor Kylie and Olivia. What would they do?

          Soon the driveway was full of bikes, and still Phil sat in the living room.

          The sliding glass door in the family room opened. Mom called, “Phil, where are you?”

          “In here.”

          “Why aren’t you outside? We’re almost ready to begin.”

          He walked into the family room.

          “Did you see how many came?” Mom asked.

          He nodded.

          “This is so exciting.”

          “Mom, they only came to cause trouble.”

          “You don’t know that. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit would touch their hearts. Are you coming?”

          “I don’t want to.”

          “Of course you’re coming.” She tugged on his arm, and he followed her into the backyard.

          The blanket was filled with guys. Others leaned against the tree. Some sat on the grass.

          No one noticed as Phil sat, for they were all watching pretty Kylie.

          “Thanks for coming,” Kylie said. “We are so glad you’re here. We’re going to start by singing this song called One Way. It tells us that there is only one way to get to heaven. Some people think they can get to heaven by being good—that if their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds that surely God will let them into Heaven, but that’s not true.

          “Some people think if they put a lot of money in the church offering plate, they can buy their way to heaven, but that’s not true. There’s only one way to get to heaven. Jesus is the only way. Sing this with me, won’t you?”

          Kylie’s sweet voice sang the melody. The guys growled out some words.

          They sang a few more songs. Phil was amazed that the guys were actually trying. They weren’t causing trouble at all.

          Then Kylie told the Bible story. It was about Adam and Eve and how Satan tempted them to eat the fruit that God told them they couldn’t. Because they disobeyed God, they sinned, and ever since then, everyone had been born with sin in them. Because of that sin, they couldn’t go to heaven when they died. But God loved them so much that He wanted them in heaven, so He made a way for their sin to be removed. He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross to take the punishment for their sin. If they believed in Jesus and asked Him to forgive their sins and live within them, their sins would be removed, and they could go to heaven when they died.

          “Have you ever asked Jesus to forgive your sins?” Kylie asked. “If you haven’t, you can do it today. While your heads are bowed and no one is looking around, if you would like to ask Jesus to forgive you, would you raise your hand?”

          Phil just had to peek. With squinted eyes, he watched first one hand and then another shoot up.

          Oh, no, he thought. They’re just making fun of Kylie. This is all a big joke to them.

          Kylie looked worried too. “Only raise your hand if you really want to invite Christ into your life.”

          The hands stayed up.

          Kylie’s eyes pleaded to Mom for help.

          “All right, you may look up now. If you would really like to ask Jesus to forgive your sins and come into your life, I want you to stand up and follow Mrs. Denton and myself to the porch where we will help you do that.”

          Every boy except Phil stood. Phil had already asked Jesus into his heart when he was six.

          “All right, then.” Kylie looked uncertain. “You can sit back down and we’ll talk to you here.”

          Kylie quoted Bible verses and explained again how to ask Jesus to forgive them. Then she prayed a prayer of salvation out loud, and every boy repeated the words after her.

          Phil couldn’t believe it. Were they making fun of her, or did they really mean it?

          It turns out that some of them actually meant it. They started coming to church with Phil, and Phil saw a change in their lives. They weren’t so mean. They acted much nicer. They read their Bibles. They were like new people.

          Phil was ashamed of his doubt. The Holy Spirit had truly worked in their lives.

Application:

If you’ve asked Jesus into your heart, people should see a change in you.

Do they?     

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Beth Livingston

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