THE DAMASCUS EXPERIENCE by Bola Olu-Jordan
Aren’t there some things we engage in, in share ignorance? The ignorance of Paul cost the early church the precious life of a spiritual giant like Stephen: a man the Bible described as full of faith and of the Holy Ghost. Acts 6:5. How would Paul feel when he himself came to the very Christ he once persecuted, or how would he come to terms with the killing of innocent Stephen, the havoc he wrecked on the church and many saints that he committed into the prison (Acts 8:3) and the threats and murder he brought on the church? (Acts 9:1). Imagine the regrets and condemnations!
There are times in our lives that we think we are doing the right thing, but, in effect, we are wrong! How do we feel when we later know the truth and discover that some lives have been destroyed permanently and others lost eternally?
Paul, a doctor of the law and a Pharisee who studied under prestigious Gamaliel, (Phil.3:6), when he came to his senses (Christ) described himself as a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious person (1Tim.1:13). But at the time he was doing this, he called himself blameless (Ph. 3:6). His zeal for God overshadowed his revelation of God. He meant well but he did evil (Rom. 7). But he confessed that he did it in ‘ignorance’.
Many of us are in this situation. We hold on dogmatically to what we believe is right, until we have similar encounter that make a mess of our knowledge. Unfortunately, not everybody will receive such mercy as Paul did (Rom.9:15, 1Tim. 1:13). This is the Damascus Experience.
What we are doing at the moment may seem to be the best to us but it is possible that we are harming God ignorantly like Saul did in Acts 9:4. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Prov.14:12, Prov. 16:25). Uzzah thought he was doing God a service by preventing the ark of the covenant from falling, but God slew him. (2Sam. 6:6, Lk. 13:27).
Won’t your careless talk, (Eph. 5:4, Mt. 12:36), dressing (1Pet. 3:3), anger, resentment, vengeance, hatred, lies, etc which you honestly see nothing wrong in, cause an eternal injury to the tender soul of someone?: ‘…there is not in every man that knowledge: … and their conscience being weak is defiled… But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak… And through thy knowledge (freedom) shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ’ (1Cor. 8:7.7,911-12).
You call it dressing smart, your nature, your right, etc, (Mat. 12:8), but someone is been led to hell because of your ‘liberty’. ‘Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other’ (1Cor.10:29). Although you have been called into liberty, only use not your liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another’ (Gal.5:13). ‘As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God’ (1Pet2:16). Let not your good be evil spoken of (Rom.4:16). Learn to discipline your body so that what you allow or believe in will not be a rock of offence to another person. Things are created for man and not man for things (Mt. 12:8). Do not innocently damage the heart of the innocents with your unchallant attitude or personal belief because ‘whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea’. Mt. 18:6.
‘Meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. 1Cor. 8:8-9. ‘When ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. 1Cor. 8:12.
Is our service, offerings, worship, etc acceptable to God? Lev. 10:1-2. Is it what He wants or what we think He wants? Acts 10:4. Many of us need to be shaken before we know the right thing to do like Paul? Many need to be broken like Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4:33). Others need a strong hand like Pharaoh, because they will not easily let go their beliefs of what they think is right until God dislocate their joints as he did to Jacob in Bethel. Many have become dry fish that will break with attempt to bend them.
We all need a Damascus Experience. It is only then we will discover that those things we hold so dear like titles, degrees, zeal and great work for God are nothing but filthy rags before God (Is.64:6).
After the experience, Paul forgot the letter he got from the high Priest and his degrees and called them all nothing but dung (Phil. 3:8). He threw away his doctorate title and adopted that of a bond servant (Rom. 1:1, 1Cor. 9:19). Someone that was talking with the high priest was now instructed to go to one Ananias, an ordinary man in the society but great before the Lord and await the next instruction. He was not used to that but he must be broken.
We must pray for the spirit of sound mind (2Tim. 1:7) so that our minds will not become reprobate (Rom. 1:28). The Damascus Experience is a life changing experience. We all need it before it is too late.