Summary: One of the greatest lessons we can ever learn is how to humbly surrender ourselves to the One who created us.
The Power of Humble Surrender
Intro: Paul was one of the most influential and spiritually powerful men we can read about in our Bibles. What made him so? Jesus told His disciples what the key to greatness was. He said, “If you want to be great, then learn to serve. If you want to be great, become like a child.” Since Paul often comes across as a forceful person, we don’t always think of him as someone who would be characterized by humility and surrender. However, he had humbly surrendered himself to the Lord after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus. And he indicates that he continued to do so every day of his life (I die daily). So where does that leave us? Do you want God to be able to use you in powerful ways?
Prop: One of the greatest lessons we can ever learn is how to humbly surrender ourselves to the One who created us.
Interrogative: What does the life of a person who is humbly surrendered to God look like?
TS: Let’s learn together today from the life of Paul what it means to submit ourselves to God. First, we have to look back to the early days of Paul’s life, as he relates his personal testimony to the crowd that tried to kill him.
I. Sincerity Does not Produce Truth (Acts 22:1-5)
40 Having received the commander’s permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the crowd. When they were all silent, he said to them in Aramaic: 22:1 "Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense." 2 When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet. Then Paul said: 3 "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. 4 I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as also the high priest and all the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
-The old Paul was sincere about a religious cause, not about love and truth. He was not living in humble obedience to the God of Israel, even though he sincerely thought he was serving God in what he was doing.
-History is filled with people and religious groups (even so-called Christians) whose sincerity and zeal led them to commit grave sins against fellow man. There is nothing quite like a holy war where both sides think their cause is just. Both sides believe they are on a mission from God, even though they never got close enough to God to find out what their mission really should have been.
-The point is that sincerity alone does not cut it! Many people are sincerely wrong in what they believe about God and in how they live their lives before Him. So the idea that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere does not hold water. That philosophy is so full of holes! It is amazing more people do not see through it. Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32). Sincerity will not make us free. Submitting ourselves to Jesus and His teachings will set us free. Paul did not start there, as we will see, but after he encountered Jesus, he found himself on the road to freedom. [TS] Let’s look at Christ’s response to Paul’s sincere, but mistaken efforts.
II. Christ Takes the Treatment of His Church Personally (Acts 22:6-8)
6 "About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ’Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’ 8 "’Who are you, Lord?’ I asked. "’I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied.
-As Paul continued persecuting the followers of Jesus, sending some of them to their death, He did not know that his religious campaign was a direct attack on God Himself. Again, his sincerity and zeal for what he thought was the right way produced an intensity in him that caused him to launch a crusade against those who followed Christ.
-When Jesus revealed Himself to Paul near Damascus, He told Paul, “You have been persecuting Me, the Son of God, the Messiah.”
-Now we know how Paul treated the early church before he became a follower of Jesus, but what is our attitude toward the church today? Remember, Jesus is married to the church. The church is the bride of Christ. Do you love His church? Are you committed to helping the church become the kind of bride Jesus wants to come back for?