Sometimes we can make decisions in a moment of time that will affect our lives either for the better, so that we have abundant and lifelong happiness, or for the worse, so that our happiness is destroyed and often irreparable. The Bible records experiences of people with both outcomes.
After Jesus rose from the tomb on the third day, the Bible records ten different incidences of personal interviews He had with people:
- Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons (Mark 16:9).
- A small group of women who had come to the tomb Sunday morning (Matthew 28:9, 10).
- Peter (1 Corinthians 15:5).
- Two men on a road to Emmaus, the Sunday afternoon of His resurrection (Luke 24:15).
- His eleven disciples (John 20:19; 1 Corinthians 15:5).
- A group of over 500 at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6). When the book of Corinthians was written, Paul said the majority of those people were still alive.
- James, Jesus’ step brother (1 Corinthians 15:7).
- Jesus appeared a second time to the eleven (John 20:26).
- Some days later, He appeared to seven of the disciples (John 21:1).
- Paul, on the road to Damascus (1 Corinthians 15:8, 9).
When the apostle Paul met the Lord Jesus on the Damascus road, it was a momentary event that completely changed forever the course of his life. He was instantly transformed from persecutor into an apostle of the gospel after his personal interview with the Lord. This story of the conversion of the apostle Paul is still today one of the leading evidences of the Christian religion. While on a journey to Damascus to arrest Christians and bring them back, bound, to Jerusalem he was stopped in his tracks by a great light, brighter than the sun. He saw a glorious Personage in front of him that spoke to him, saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me” (Acts 22:7)?
Trembling, astonished, and inquiring what he was to do, Paul, being blinded by the light, was led into Damascus by the hand of those that were with him to wait on further instructions (see Acts 9:4–6). While in Damascus Paul was baptized.
Many years later telling his story to the Jews in Jerusalem, he said, “And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus” (Acts 22:11).
Later he related to King Agrippa some other things that the Lord told him on the Damascus road. The Lord said to him, “ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” (Acts 26:15–19).
Paul was commissioned to preach, the result being that people were to have their eyes opened. “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4).
Every person who works in evangelism has this experience. When you read the Bible and pray that the Lord will help you to understand it, the meaning becomes so plain that you wonder how others can’t see it. Paul explains that it is the god of this age that dulls our understanding. This was the same experience for the Jews when Jesus was here. It says in John 12:39–41, “Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’ These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory.”
However, Jesus said, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness” (verse 46).
O, friend, do you have spiritual vision, or has your mind been blinded by the god of this world so that you cannot see? The Bible predicts that in the last days God’s professed followers will think that they can see, but they’re actually blind. Notice what it says in Revelation 3:17, 18: “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.”
In Matthew the 15th chapter, speaking of the Jewish leaders, Jesus says, “Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (verse 14). Here is a description of a church member who doesn’t know the word of God for himself but hangs on every word of a clergyman or other supposed leader who is just as spiritually ignorant. They will both eventually fall in a ditch.
And the main reason for their blindness? Jesus says, “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’ ” (verses 7–9). The Jews thought they were keeping the commandments, but were actually breaking them with all their traditions (verse 6). The same happens today. Many Christians believe that they are keeping the commandments while in reality, they are just keeping them according to their own particular traditions.
Jesus said, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me has been dedicated to the temple,” is released from honoring his father and mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition” (verses 3–6, literal translation).
In 1 John 2:7–11, the apostle John identifies who is in the light and who is in the dark and can’t see where they are going. He said, “Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
O friend, how is it with you? The first four commandments say that you are supposed to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. The last six commandments say to treat your neighbor as yourself. If you hate your brother, you break the last six commandments of the law. If you don’t love God with all your heart, you break the first four commandments of the law. If you hate your brother, your eyes are blinded, you are in the dark, and you don’t understand where you are going or where you will end up.
Many people think they are on their way to heaven but will find out at the last that they have been travelling down the broad road that leads to destruction. They were deceived into thinking that through their traditions they were keeping the commandments of God when actually they were not. They claimed that they were keeping God’s commandments. They claimed that they loved God with all their heart, soul, and mind, and their neighbor as themselves, but not really.
The Lord commissioned the apostle Paul to open their eyes, so that they can see, and to turn them from darkness to light. A person is in darkness when he hates his fellow man because they also have been made in the image of God. Paul’s job was to turn them from the power of Satan to the light.
The Gentiles, those who were not Jewish, were not aware that by worshiping their idols and other gods they were giving homage to the evil one and were under the power of Satan. Paul told the Corinthians, “What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice [to their idols] they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons” (1 Corinthians 10:19, 20).
Demons are deceptive. They do not manifest themselves as the demons that they are. They claim to be angels of light. Notice what the apostle Paul says about this in 2 Corinthians 11:13–15: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” All who do not worship the true God, the Creator God, are worshiping demons that claim to be ministers of righteousness.
The Bible predicts that in the last days, there will be many people who accept false doctrines from false teachers. “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:9–12).
O, friend, if you have pleasure in unrighteousness you are going to be deceived in the last days. John explains in 1 John 5:17 that all unrighteousness is sin. Sin is transgressing God’s law (1 John 3:4 KJV). So, having pleasure in unrighteousness is having pleasure in sin, or having pleasure in breaking God’s law. If you have pleasure in unrighteousness because you do not love the truth, you will be deceived.
Paul cautions the Christians to come out from all those practices so that they can turn from the power of Satan to the power of God. He cautions, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ Therefore ‘come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.’ ‘I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty’ ” (2 Corinthians 6:14–18).
So, not only were their eyes to be opened, not only were they to be delivered from darkness to light, not only were they to be delivered from the power of Satan to the power of God, but also, when they turned to the Lord, they were to receive forgiveness of sins. Whom God forgives, He first makes penitent. He first gives repentance, so that they confess their sins. The Bible says there is one mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5). There is only one Person in the universe that can forgive your sins. Peter said in Acts 4:12, literal translation, “Neither is there any other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” The Lord wants to save you, friend. He wants to deliver you from the power of Satan.
In 1 John 3:8–10 it says, “He who sins is of the devil (under the control or influence of the devil), for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.”
There is a goal to be reached at the end of the Christian journey. Your eyes will be opened and you will turn from the darkness of the power of Satan to live a new life in the light and power of God. You confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour and invite Him to be Sovereign of your life so that you can receive the forgiveness of sins. Now you are ready to “receive an inheritance among those that are sanctified” (Acts 26:18, literal translation). To be sanctified means to be a holy person. The New Testament teaches that only holy people will be in heaven. It says, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
Peter wrote the necessity of holiness when he said, “Because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear” (1 Peter 1:16, 17).
“Be holy; for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44). God wants to make you a holy person. “It is God who works in you both to will and do His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13, literal translation). He wants to open your eyes, turn you from darkness to light, deliver you from the power of Satan to the power of God so that your sins can be forgiven and so that you can receive, someday, an inheritance among those that are sanctified. You will be holy, too.
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.