In Evil Long I Took Delight #3

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:1-3 KJV).

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

“Sure, never to my latest breath,
Can I forget that look;
It seemed to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke.”

Beloved, there has never been—and will never be—a more drastic conversion than when Saul of Tarsus met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts chapter 9). Formerly lost, once dead in his sins, and formerly on his way to hell, he was now saved from those sins, now alive in Jesus Christ, and now on his way to heaven. Previously Israel’s—and the world’s—leader against Jesus Christ, Saul of Tarsus (as the Apostle Paul) became the most useful servant of Jesus Christ. What a transformation God’s grace can bring when trusted!

Until his dying day, the Apostle Paul never forgot from where he came. Throughout the book of Acts and his epistles, he makes reference to the spiritual slums in which he once lived. For instance, he wrote, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another (Titus 3:3). That was Saul—that was we!

In today’s Scripture, Paul had such a desire to see lost Israel saved, the nation whose fall before God he had greatly encouraged. “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved” (Romans 10:1). Throughout his ministry, he witnessed the unbelief and spiritual insanity of the wayward nation out of which God had saved him. How it broke his heart to remember that he had been a Pharisee so fervently against Jesus, highly influential in encouraging Israel to reject Him, responsible for Rome sentencing Him to death. Having met Jesus Christ face-to-face, Saul would delight in evil no more….