Why Does Jesus Confront Me With Sin and Make Me Feel Guilty?
The persecutor had become the persecuted.
Saul, a vehement enemy of the “Way” (as early believers in Christ were called), was defending the very cause he once opposed. Saul had changed – his life, his words, even his name! What prompted such a turnaround?
Paul’s conversion story is told more than once in Luke’s detailed, historical account of the early church (the book of Acts). Back then, he was known as Saul. He was a respected, educated, and cultured man, whose zealous desire to defend the Law of God compelled him to persecute anyone who made claims of Jesus having raised from the dead, and being the promised Messiah.
One day, while traveling, Saul and his companions were struck by a piercing light and a thunderous voice. Blinded by the light, Saul heard the voice ask, “Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
Saul, not able to see who was speaking, asked, “Who are You?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting.”
Jesus had blinded Saul in order to open his eyes. Then Jesus called Him to the task of opening the eyes of others to the truth. Jesus said:
“…I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’” Acts 26:18 ESV
Before his conversion to Christ, Saul was convinced that his disciplined life of learning and applying the laws of God had made him righteous. What he failed to understand is that the Law does not have the power to save people, but only to make them aware of their sin, and their need for salvation.
Religious pride, however, compares one’s works with someone else’s, convincing them that they are (self-) righteous. That’s what happened with Saul.
Comparing myself with other people will result in either pride (“I’m better than them.”) or inferiority (“They’re better than me.”). But God does not grade you on how well you measure against others, He measures you against the standard of perfection, found only in His Son, Jesus.
Saul was filled with self-righteousness until He encountered true righteousness. Then he realized that he was nothing but a sinner. In fact, he later refered to himself as “the chief of sinners.”
You might wonder, “Why does Jesus confront me with my sin? Why does He want me to feel guilty?”
The answer is pretty simple. Jesus came to save sinners. Once you are convinced that you are one, you are eligible to receive mercy, grace, and absolute forgiveness!
To be convinced that you’re a sinner is the beginning of your search for a Savior. And you won’t have to look very far – the same Holy Spirit who convinces you of sin introduces you to Jesus, who willingly paid the price for your sin and freely offers you salvation through faith.
With all of it’s good intentions, religion, outside of a relationship with Jesus, is, at best, a pursuit toward self-righteousness. But when Jesus is at the center of it all, even “chiefs of sinners” are transformed.