Saul was a changed man and he very quickly revealed that he was. These evidences stand out clearly in the chapter.
First, he was a man with a new faith, which he was willing to confess by baptism. From one perspective, if we had seen Saul’s behaviour in the house of Judas, we would not have noticed much difference in him. After all, Saul as a devout Pharisee had often engaged in external prayer and fasting, but these activities had not been acceptable to God despite the fact that Saul had imagined that they were. But now there was a big change in him and Jesus draws the attention of Ananias to this great transformation: ‘Behold, he is praying.’ I wonder what Saul was praying about – restoration of his sight, guidance for the future, or assurance of the forgiveness of his sins.
The clearest evidence of a changed life is genuine prayer. A person can have convictions of sin merely from a guilty conscience; a person can have anticipations of God’s blessing from an optimistic frame of mind. Conviction and faith can have counterfeits. But it is hard to have a phoney prayer life. Obviously one can have a hypocritical practice in which prayer is made for wrong motives. Yet if we are praying to God continually for mercy, for grace to be holy, for spiritual development, for increasing understanding of the Bible’s promises, for greater love to Jesus, then we have clear evidence of genuine conversion. Saul of Tarsus had this evidence, and Jesus was delighted with it.
Saul had a second evidence, which was a new fellowship: ‘For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus’ (v. 19). His heart was now knitted to those whom he had previously despised. Love filled his heart for the people of God whatever their age, class and background, and he immediately identified himself with them. This must have been a strong witness to the Jews in Damascus. As the apostle John was later to write, ‘We know that he had passed from death unto life because he now loved the brothers.’
The two evidences of a faith that shows itself in prayer and a fellowship that shows itself in a delight in God’s people clearly indicate that the individual has new life. So we should check to see if we have those proofs of conversion.