Following his conversion from non-believer to accepting Jesus’ deity, Paul’s change of heart was noticeable – and noticed.
And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? (Acts 9:20-21 KJV)
Most Christians do not find their conversion changes to be this public, but they certainly should be noticed by those sharing their lives. We all do things as unbelievers that we should not be doing as Christians.
A recent lesson for our Junior High Girls was taken from Ephesians 4 – putting off the old and putting on the new. The old unbeliever might have held grudges, participated in gossip, used inappropriate language, lied, stolen – a dozen little things.
Now that doesn’t sound like felonies, does it. Especially among teenagers, right? Their emotions leap by bounds from one to another, and their conversations do the same. They do get angry, they do hold grudges, gossip about the latest piece of information they’ve heard, repeated conversations with language they’ve heard at home or at school, lied for protection and swiped a pen or pencil without thinking.
The problems grow when we continue to do these childish things as adults. Yes, we grow angry and hold grudges, even against family members. We read gossip in the headlines of major papers and accept it as news, spreading our own unsupported viewpoint without research. We allow inappropriate (= foul) language into our homes through television and pay to hear it in movie theaters, without complaint. Then we’re shocked to hear children repeat those same words. We lie. Again, for our own protection or to hurt another. As for stealing, we take things from others, ranging from their time to their money. Haven’t you? I know I have.
When we become Christians, the old should be put off and the new put on. That new is laid out across many scriptures. A few examples follow this scripture:
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:24 KJV)
Not self-righteousness, but God’s. Paul’s writings about putting off the old and putting on the new followed his own conversion, his own change.
But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. (Acts 9:22 KJV)
He converted people then and his writings helped convert me, proving that this is the very Christ! May we also confound those who do not understand our belief. We should always measure our interaction with Paul’s chapter close:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32 KJV)