Summary: This sermon talks about a major hindrance to changing our sinful habits which is the fear of change itself. The apostle Paul is an example of man who fought change. "Kick against the goads?"
THE FEAR OF CHANGE
Someone once said that there are 572 known phobias or fears. Let’s see if you have any of these fears? Acrophobia – fear of heights. Arachibutyrophobia – fear of having peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth. Ballistophobia – fear of bullets. Homilphobia – fear of sermons. Novercaphobia – fear of your mother in law. Peladophobia – fear of bald people. Tropohobia – fear of making changes.
The fear of change. Most of us fear change in every aspect of our lives. I heard recently someone say, that the only people who like change are babies with wet diapers. That is probably true. We fear change. We fear change in our daily routines. I hate it when I have to get up earlier than normal. Interrupts my normal routine. We fear change in our families.
We certainly fear change in the church. The favorite phrase in the church is “we’ve never done it that way before.” By the way, how many people does it take to change a light bulb in the church? Four. One to install it and three to reminisce about how good the old one was. We definitely fear change to our personal lives. We are afraid to make the necessary changes to our lives.
We are completing a series of sermons today entitled, Putting a Problem Behind Us. We are talking about the enemies of change. We’ve discussed the things like apathy, denial, procrastination, the fear of failure which prevent us from changing our lives. Today I want to talk about one last enemy of change. And that is the fear of change itself. The reason so many people don’t change is they are afraid of what will happen when they do finally change. The last step in putting a problem behind us: I Must Not Fear Change.
In the book of Acts we read of man by the name of Saul of Tarsus who was afraid to change. Saul, was a man trapped by sin but he fought change with a passion.
I. WHO WAS SAUL?
This man, Saul was a TERRORIST of the worse kind. Saul was the first century equivalent of Osama Bin Laden. Saul had the habit of breaking into churches, dragging out the Christians and having them stoned. He was on crusade, traveling from city to city, sniffing out anyone who claimed to follow Christ.
Saul was a DEVOUT JEW who sincerely believed that Christians were blasphemers who had turned their back on traditional Judaism. He was a young man on the rise in certain circles of Jerusalem and by defending the Jewish faith he was making a name for himself.
Saul was also WELL EDUCATED in religion, theology and philosophy. He was from Tarsus a city known for having one of the best universities in the empire. To say, "I’m of Tarsus University" was like saying, "I’m from Harvard or Yale."
Saul was also known for his RAGE AND TEMPER. In Acts 8:3 Saul is described as "destroying the church". The word for "destroying" there, is a word used in those days to describe the ravaging of a body by wild animals. John Calvin described Saul as "a cruel wolf." In Acts 26:11 Saul himself spoke of "a raging fury that obsessed him" to kill Christians. Saul was the worst of the worst. An enemy of Christianity. Dave Stone says, “Saul was not the dude you wanted to invite to your baptism.”
But on one particular journey, Saul would be confronted with his need to change. He was heading to Damascus, a city in nearby Syria to find Christians. Acts 9:2 says that Saul "went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus so that if he found any there who was a Christian he could take them as prisoners to Jerusalem."
II. SAUL’S ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS
While traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus, Saul was interrupted by a bright light; that froze him and his men in their tracks.
Acts 9:3 says, "As they neared Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And Saul fell to the ground." Saul looked toward heaven and heard a voice, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" And Saul replied, "Who are you, Lord?" "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Saul, it is hard for you to kick against the goads." (Acts 9; Acts 26).
This phrase, “kick against the goads” is a peculiar phrase. Goads were sticks used to prick a young ox as it was being broken or trained to pull a cart or plow. A rebellious ox not wanting to serve its master would kick against the goads and every time he did he’d be jabbed until finally his will was broken. Perhaps Jesus had been goading Saul. Pricking his conscience. Breaking his will for sometime. We don’t know.