In Evil Long I Took Delight #2

Monday, February 9, 2015

“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ” (Philippians 3:7 KJV).

The second verse of John Newton’s classic 1779 hymn “In Evil Long I Took Delight” highlights today’s Scripture.

“I saw One hanging on a tree,
In agony and blood,
Who fixed His languid eyes on me,
As near His cross I stood.”

Saul of Tarsus, a proud, self-righteous religionist “verily thought with [himself], that [he] ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9). He saw Jesus as an imposter, a blasphemer. Figuring that he was doing JEHOVAH a favor by putting all those Jesus-lovers to death, Saul decided that all of His followers had to be punished! Yes, so infatuated with his religion, he was willing to physically eliminate “competition” at whatever the cost.

One of the most learned Mosaic scholars of his day, Saul had it all—religion, education, fame, and fortune. The context of today’s Scripture describes him perfectly: “[4]… If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: [5] Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; [6] Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”

Outside of Damascus’ city gates, Saul lost it all (or, rather, he realized he was destitute of what really mattered!). He heard JEHOVAH speak to him audibly, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? I am Jesus whom thou persecutest” (Acts 9:4,5). Imagine how overwhelming the shock was—the God he thought he was serving was the Jesus he was persecuting! It was in today’s Scripture that he remembered these events of all those years ago (over 30, actually). He gained it all in religion only to lose it all in Christ—he lost his religious “goodness” and gained Jesus Christ’s righteousness by faith! In that doctrine revealed to him, he saw and trusted the efficacy of Christ’s finished crosswork as total payment for his sins. Saul of Tarsus took his eyes off of himself and looked to Jesus….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should I be concerned about the four ‘blood moons?’