By keeping the law and doing good or through Christ and what He suffered. Which is it?
“Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, ‘Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name. And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?’ Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.” Acts 9:19b-22
A person who has been changed by Christ is a person on fire for Christ. It was so with Saul. Immediately after his surrender to Christ and his baptism Saul went throughout all the synagogues in Damascus and preached Christ as the son of God.
The man who came to flush out and punish Christians was now a believer. This action on his part is much the same as a theologian of the church lecturing upon a great doctrine of the faith. Saul was not just a preacher. Saul was a rabbi with the highest theological credentials.
The people who heard Saul were dumbfounded. They were all talking. In effect, they were caught off guard. They had heard tales of Saul’s strong opposition to the Christians. Now he was one of them.
The impact of Saul’s ministry of Christ was powerful and convincing. He won many converts. Because of that, he aroused the hostilities of those who felt betrayed by him. As a result he was forced to flee Damascus under the cover of darkness, lowered in a basket by his friends over the city wall.
Saul’s ministry in Damascus was the beginning of a ministry which would always set him against legalists. Paul’s message is that we are saved from the judgment which sin brings upon us by Christ who suffered our judgment for us. The legalist taught we are saved from judgment by keeping the law of God perfectly. Paul knew better. He had kept the law, moral and ceremonial, until his self-righteousness drove him to kill those who did not believe as he did.
We do well to be thankful that we can receive God’s acceptance by receiving Christ, His son, into our hearts. Working to overcome sin and ferreting out all impure motives from our hearts is just impossible.