Saul of Tarsus was an austere man, hateful, and contrary to Christianity. Blinded by Satanic power, he persecuted
After Saul was converted, he was sickened by his previous actions. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. The anguish of his early deeds worked within him to crucify his carnality, and this produced a humbleness of mind that was found in few others.
Anguish, failure, and remorse are always the prerequisites for revelation. You must always lose something in the natural, before you can gain something in the spirit. Top of FormBottom of Form
From Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest: “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell Matthew 5:30.
Jesus did not say that everyone must cut off his right hand, but that “if your right hand causes you to sin” in your walk with Him, then it is better to “cut it off.” There are many things that are perfectly legitimate, but if you are going to concentrate on God you cannot do them. Your right hand is one of the best things you have, but Jesus says that if it hinders you in following His precepts, then “cut it off.” The principle taught here is the strictest discipline or lesson that ever hit humankind. When God changes you through regeneration, giving you new life through spiritual rebirth, your life initially has the characteristic of being maimed. There are a hundred and one things that you dare not do— things that would be sin for you, and would be recognized as sin by those who really know you. But the unspiritual people around you will say, “What’s so wrong with doing that? How absurd you are!” There has never yet been a saint who has not lived a maimed life initially. Yet it is better to enter into life maimed but lovely in God’s sight than to appear lovely to man’s eyes but lame to God’s. At first, Jesus Christ through His Spirit has to restrain you from doing a great many things that may be perfectly right for everyone else but not right for you. Yet, see that you don’t use your restrictions to criticize someone else.
The Christian life is a maimed life initially, but in Matthew 5:48 Jesus gave us the picture of a perfectly well-rounded life— “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
And as Mr. Chambers wrote in the above quoted treatise most people will become maimed and some will leave the pursuit of God because it is perceived as so painful to the flesh or succumbing to the pressures of family not understanding or a friend’s ridicule. Nevertheless, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
The Satanic slaughter that worked in Saul’s early life was actually a preparation for his maturity and ministry. From the ashes of Saul’s Satanic evil, Paul the Apostle eventually rose up with a boldness and confidence that shook the Christian world. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it. … But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.
Paul’s early failure was only a temporary illusion, for in the grand scheme of God, Paul was simply working out the script that God had prepared for him. Even his overt attempt to smash the Christians, was actually the work of God to prepare this greatest evangelist. And in like fashion, the Christians he persecuted were also matured and perfected through these very same trials. Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem. … But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.
By his Satanic experience, Paul was made ready to receive the stark revelation of God. From this new, awesome clarity of vision, Paul then wrote a large portion of the New Testament. He established churches throughout the civilized world. He healed the sick and raised the dead in a sweeping, world-wide ministry. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
This astounding revelation would destroy the average mortal. Preferential treatment normally puffs-up the carnal nature and leads the spirit into self-exaltation. But once again, God used Satan to indemnify Paul against this possibility. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
As with Paul, Satanic attack is your preparation for spiritual revelation, and the messenger of Satan is the guarantee of your spiritual maturity. If you are being buffeted by Satan, by all means fall on your face and beseech God for his removal. But all the while take comfort, knowing that even satanic anguish is the work of God for your eternal, spiritual blessing. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. – So do we all!