Can a leopard Change its spots?
I don’t think so. But that is what is usually asked when there is a question about some person changing their mind or heart or character or position. Can a person really change or is our die cast at birth and we are just living life the way we are designed?
Just two chapters ago this is how Saul is described, “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”
Can people change? I don’t think we can change ourselves. But that isn’t really the situation here. The real question is, can God change a person once Jesus is their savior? Can people be rehabilitated by Gods spirit living in them?
“19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul. ”
Can God change a person? From the evidence here in this chapter the answer is YES. From the evidence in my own life and my experience of other people who have received Jesus the answer is YES.
God through the living in us spirit can change us. Saul started pastoring here in Antioch. It’s here that we get the name Christian. It means little Christ. An imitator or clone of Jesus. I like it. It doesn’t always apply to me, I am not always Christlike but I bear the name as something to grow into.
Saul who will soon change his name to Paul and go on to write most of the New Testament is brought into the ministry by Barnabas. Son of encouragement, that’s what his name means. That’s what I want to be. That’s what I need in my life. That’s what role my wife Mary has played in my life. Encouragers, the world needs more of those.
I sum up. Jesus is for everyone. Jesus can and will change people. Jesus is changing me. Jesus can and will change anyone who admits they need forgiveness and accepts Jesus death as payment for their mistakes. Persecutors can become pastors and bible writers. I want to be a little Christ (Christian) who encourages people.