Are You Kicking Against the Goads?
Shortly after Jesus ascended to His Father, the early Christian church fell under persecution by the non-Christian Jews. One such oppressor leading this charge was a man named Saul of Tarsus, (who would later become the apostle Paul):
…Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Acts 8:3 ESV
Indeed, Paul himself later described his motivations and actions:
“…according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee.” Acts 26:5 NKJV
“…I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.” Gal. 1:13 NKJV
Saul knew nothing of the gospel:
“For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it…” Gal. 1:12 NKJV
Well, Saul and his henchmen were riding towards Damascus to hunt down more Christians, when suddenly a blinding light from heaven shone all about him:
Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are you Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, who you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” Acts 9:4, 5. NKJV
Saul knew that he was in the presence of a Divine manifestation, but I’ll bet when he realized it was Jesus, his knees commenced to knocking!
(A ‘goad’ is a pointed stick used to drive oxen. ‘Kicking against the goads,’ is a Syriac (western Semitic) proverb describing an attempt to do something that will only bring pain. Here, Jesus was implying that Saul was going to experience pain if he continued to oppose the will of God.)
“But rise and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles – to whom 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 26:16 – 18. ESV
Only Jesus would transform His greatest earthly enemy into His mightiest champion. Paul would even go on to write (by the Spirit) the majority of the New Testament.
Similarly, there is no one else whom Jesus would not enlist to serve Him if they make the free-will choice to do so. He makes it pretty clear that the choice is either black or white:
“He who is not with Me is against Me…” Mt. 12:30 NKJV
I would venture to say then, anyone who is not with Jesus is ‘kicking against the goads.’ Why would someone do that? Perhaps they have not head the gospel message. That’s why it is so paramount that we spread the good news to everyone we can, because it is a life or death matter. (Dt. 30:15 – 20.)
There are others who have heard the message but suppress their spiritual pain in order to indulge in their desire for worldly things – effectively turning their backs on God:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 Jn. 2:15 – 17. ESV
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory…all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on HIs right, ‘Come you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’…”Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels…” Mt. 25:31 – 34 & 41. NASB
The outcome is not a good one for the ‘goats.’ But a goat can be saved right up until the time of his or her death. That’s why we never give up on those who love their sins. It is our duty. (Ezek. 33:1 – 9.)
Finally, there are people who have committed some infraction(s) in their past that they believe disqualifies them from salvation. But that clearly runs contrary to the love, kindness and mercy that characterizes our Savior:
“…every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Mt. 12:31 ESV
So, if you approach your Father with confession and repentance, your pardon is assured, and you can get on with the business of living your godly life. We know that unrepentant sin brings death. (Rm. 6:23)
That ‘unpardonable sin’ Jesus talks about above consists of denying the Holy Spirit’s message of salvation through Christ, which will close the door on your redemption:
…you will die in (under the curse of) your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He [Whom I claim to be – if you do not adhere to, trust in, and rely on Me], you will die in your sins. Jn. 8:24 AMP
Thankfully, we have a loving eternal alternative:
“Repent, and turn from all your transgression, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die…? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!” Ezek. 18:29 – 32. NKJV
Besides, those goads are sharp! But they fall away when we make our Jesus contact…
Goodnight and God bless.