Destruction Of Faith
1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest …. 21 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 9:1, 21
23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he DESTROYED. 24 And they glorified God in me. Galatians 1:23-24
It seems like the Apostle Paul was always and forever having to explain and defend himself to those that should know better. I can only imagine that at times this must have frustrated him to no end. And yet, he continually reached out to those in the faith that he had a great love for.
Throughout Paul’s life there were times when he felt the need to validate his calling and message. 2,000 years later, we can be thankful and grateful that he interacted with those he did. Because of that, Paul left a written living legacy to his work and ministry.
But, he wasn’t always the man he was when he wrote his God-breathed epistles. He tells us that himself.
And you know what … the effects of this darker side of his pre-Yeshua relationship both haunted him and spurred him on. A lesson we can all take to heart, especially those that have come to Christ for salvation from a less than spotless background.
The Scriptures let us know how active, persistent, and deadly Paul’s passion was against believers.
Paul purposed to harm and damage the very lives of those that professed Yeshua. He did that with proficiency and with lasting ramifications. He had a malicious intent which drove him to ultimately have blood on his hands.
He approved the stoning of Stephen. But without anticipating it, Paul heard the testimony of Stephen as he looked up to heaven and saw Yeshua Himself. Such a vibrant faith-unto-death must have lodged deeply within the recesses of Paul’s heart and soul.
This story of Paul’s pursuant hunger to destroy the faith of Yeshua’s followers has a pleasant ending though. He was miraculously saved on his 150 mile long journey to Damascus.
But before that Paul was hoping, through his swath of terror, believers would soon abandon Yeshua and thus in effect kill Him all over again — permanently. God, however, had a different plan in mind for Paul.
The very Yeshua he was hoping to keep dead actually confronted him face-to-face. From that moment on Paul had a new passion and love. Instead of diminishing the name and cause of Yeshua, he become a spokesman for the Gospel message of salvation by grace through faith. Truly amazing.
But … the same desires and passions that set Paul aflame on a path of destruction are still very much alive and active in our day as well.
We cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into a false peace because we don’t suffer physical persecution and harm like Paul meted out. I’d like to suggest that there is presently an equally diabolical and sinister form of faith-destruction that we need to be on the look out for …
It wasn’t just the physical aspects of Paul’s persecutions that plagued the believers … it was also the physiological effects as well. The impact of fear that ran throughout the communities of faith impacted a larger number than those whose deaths he was responsible for.
We’re told Paul spread his brand of fear by “breathing out murderous THREATS against the Lord’s disciples.” Fear was his tool to silence the disciples.
I am totally convinced that we believers are purposely targeted for silence by the same demonic forces that once empowered the Apostle Paul. The “breath” of fear is incrementally causing God’s people to put their light under a bushel to degrees we’ve not seen in our country before.
In our country, we Believers are becoming the “odd man out.” We are viewed more and more as a fringe aspect of our society. Our beliefs and practices are belittled and diminished with open impunity. If we dare stand up and speak out, we know there will be ramifications which we never had to FEAR before.
Anybody in society is granted the opportunity to proclaim their beliefs and lifestyle … except believers. We are no longer allowed to “co-exist” unless we “goose-step” with the new propaganda that perpetuates obedience and allegiance to ANYTHING other than the Word of God.
And the reality is …
You are beginning to feel the birth-pangs of fear welling up inside of you.
You guard what you say and how you say it more than you used to. You fear loss of promotions or even your job more than you used to. You’re on edge as to how and when it is okay to express the light that is screaming from inside of you to be let out.
But instead … you cover it up in silence.
How do I know?
Because I’m describing myself … and you too. You know it’s true.
What are we going to do about this? How do we combat the tactics of fear that are beginning to advance upon us?
You want me to answer that for you, don’t you?
You have the same gifts of the Holy Spirit that I have. You have the same Word of God that I have. You have access to the same armor that I do. Everything we need to know … we already know. It’s all there right in front of us (our Bibles) and within us (the Holy Spirit).
The question is …
How badly do you want to know what it is you must do to be equipped and prepared to boldly live out your faith? Only you can find that answer for yourself.
In the meantime …
We have a new “Saul” on the block. Fear is beginning its insidious and destructive work in us.
We must speak up and out for our Faith if we don’t want to see it crumble before our very eyes … in our cities and states and beyond.
Let’s endeavor to be able to say, with no regrets, what Paul said when it came to the end of his life.
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” 1 Timothy 4:7