Summary: I want us to look at Acts 9:1-19 today and look at the conversion of Saul and see if we truly can know if we are saved.
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE SAVED?
I would like to take a look at Saul’s conversion experience in Acts 9 this morning to help us answer a basic question that people sometimes have when they are Christians. The question is: How do I know I am saved? Can I be sure? Saul became saved and came to know Jesus Christ and trust Him as Lord and Savior. The man Saul who became Paul, had no doubts when it came to his salvation.
You might say that this was because he was an Apostle and so had extra assurance.
You might say that he was overconfident.
You might say that he put up a brave front, but did not really know if he was saved or not.
I want us to look at Acts 9:1-19 today and look at the conversion of Saul (I will probably say Paul a lot, forgive me) and see if we truly can know if we are saved.
READ ACTS 9:1-19
I. YOU MUST KNOW WHO YOU ARE (VERSES 1-2)
I want us to look and see who Saul was here in the beginning of the passage. Who is this man that is ‘breathing murderous threats’ against Christians in verse 1? What kind of person would do this? Who was Saul? Saul was born into a good family in the leading city of Tarsus. In the time of Rome, Tarsus competed with Athens and Alexandria as the learning center of the world. His family had the honor of being Roman citizens. Now this is no easy thing to get-- being a Romans citizen was a very prestigious and costly thing. You either had to buy your citizenship with half a lifetime’s wage or it had to be given to you because of great service to the Empire and your descendants would receive this honor as well. It gave you rank, influence, priveledge, and honor. Saul happened to be born a Roman citizen (Acts 22:28) and enjoyed this status his whole life. He even used it to get out of some scrapes now and again in his missionary work (Acts 22).
He was also as he put it, ‘advanced in Judaism beyond many Jews [his] own age’ (Galatians 1:14) and was ‘the Pharisees among Pharisees.’ Saul received the best training of his day under a teacher by the name of Gamaliel. Gamaliel was so influential he received the title of ‘Rabban’ which was higher than Rabbi and was given to only a few Jewish leaders. Saul learned under this man and was taught all about the law and being zealous for God (Acts 22:3). It was Saul, Roman citizen and up-and-coming leader of the Jews, that when faced with these new people called Christians-- started to persecute them. He put people in prison. He tore families apart. He killed. We know that he sanctioned the killing of Christians because in Acts 7 he ‘gave approval’ for the stoning of Stephen. He was the leader of persecuting the Christians. He even traveled around looking for Christians to put in prison or kill.
So, let me put Saul into some perspective for you and sum up who he was. Basically, if we boil down everything and get to the core of what Saul was, we find that Saul was... a sinner. Now let’s think about us for a minute. I don’t know everything about you all. I don’t know exactly how you grew up. I know where some of you work and some I do not. I do not know every aspect of your lives, but I do know one thing. You are a sinner. I am a sinner. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We have all sinned and fallen short of what God wanted for us and broken our relationships with Him. Now, whether you admit that about yourself or not is the difference between some of us.
It takes several steps to admit that you are a sinner. First step, it takes a person being honest with themselves and with God that they have sinned. I love the words of 1 John 1:8-9, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
We have to be honest and say that we have done the opposite of what God wanted us to do.
We have to be honest and say that we have thought things contrary to God’s desire for us.
We have to be honest that we have hurt God and hurt other people.
Second step, is to humble yourself. The steps do in fact get harder as you go along. The easiest thing to do is to be honest with yourself. The second one is not so easy. Humbling yourself before God is tough. The Book of James tells us, "He gives us more grace. That is why the Scripture says: God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble... humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up" (4:6,10). We cannot be prideful and come to the Lord about sin. We have to be humble. James uses the word humble here to let us know we have to be the lowliest of the low in our spirits about sin. Sorrowful. Contrite.