What Conversion Does

By Ronnie Lowe

After a person becomes a Christian, what then? Is it proper to continue in the same old way? Absolutely not! Paul writes that in baptism we die to sin, and “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? (Rom. 6:1-6). As a Christian I am a new creature, and that needs to be obvious in my life (2 Cor. 5:17).

Nowhere is this principle of change more evident than in the case of Saul of Tarsus. He was a Roman — born Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, and was sent to Jerusalem to learn from Gamaliel, the greatest teacher of the law at the time. He was a Pharisee and a member of the Council. He had consented to the death of Stephen and stood nearby, holding the garments of those who stoned him. Saul “made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison” (Acts 8:3). Furthermore, it is recorded that he was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” (9:1).

While traveling to Damascus to further persecute the saints, Saul experienced an event which would change his life forever — he saw the Lord. This persecutor of the church would soon become the one most persecuted for the church. In defending his right to be an apostle, he later wrote:

“Are they ministers of Christ? — I speak as a fool — I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness — besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:23-28).

How do we explain such dedication — such a transformation? The answer is simple: Paul had died and his life was hid in Christ (Col. 3:3). Paul described it this way: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). This is what conversion is all about — dying to self and living for God. He saw the risen Lord, and gave his life to Him.

When I recognize that Christ is Lord, I make a decision to give my life to Him. Because of my belief in who He is, I will turn away from sin (repentance, Lk. 13:1-5). I will confess to others what I believe concerning Christ (Rom. 10:9,10). I will be baptized (immersed in water) for the remission of my sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16), and God will add me to His church (Acts 2:37-41).

As a new Christian I now live for a new Master. No longer do I serve just myself; I must now live for God. For the remainder of my life I will seek to follow the will of God and walk in the steps of Jesus. Only when I follow Him in this life can I look forward to being like Him and living with Him for eternity.