As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison (Acts 8:3).
We know from reading about Saul, or Paul, that he was raised in a strict Jewish home. This meant that he would have learned the Scriptures from youth. His family sprang from the best soil, the tribe of Benjamin, where
Saul decided to become a Pharisee, which was a religious order. This meant that he would subject himself to strict discipline. His entire life essentially would be governed not only by Scripture, but by the various laws given by the rabbis. It was a radical commitment to make.
We also know that Saul was schooled by the famous Gamaliel, known as the teachers’ teacher and famed for his wisdom and understanding. Gamaliel personally took an interest in young Saul and taught him the things of God. The young man had a ravenous hunger for knowledge. He wanted to be as devout as possible.
So, how was it that a man who was so religious ultimately became nothing more than a common murderer? It is because religion can be blinding. Religion can be a destructive force. Religious people conspired to put Jesus to death. And religious people put young Stephen to death as well.
When I say “religion,” I am not talking about faith in Christ; I am talking about religion. There is a big difference between man-made religion and true faith in Christ.
I think religion is probably keeping more people from Christ than everything else put together, because it gives them a false sense of security. But they will be in for a big shock when they find out that religion will not satisfy the requirements of a holy God.
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