7 Powerful Lessons from the Apostle Paul

Liz Pineda

Contributing Writer
Published Feb 14, 2024
7 Powerful Lessons from the Apostle Paul

Apostle Paul’s story of redemption stands as one of the most poignant and inspiring narratives in the Holy Scripture. His humility, dedication, and unrivaled sense of moral discipline ignite in every believer an invigorating spark to serve faithfully and remain grounded in God’s Word despite life’s insufferable anguish.

Paul’s statement about serving the Lord to his last breath encapsulated the extraordinary life he lived–a statement that became the rallying cry of every faithful servant of God since ancient times:

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7 NIV

And to give ourselves a boost of motivation in our spiritual lives, here are seven powerful lessons from the Apostle Paul:

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1. God Can Mold the Most Conceited Man into Someone of True Humility 

Through God’s grace, we can be transformed into spirit-filled Christians, able to endure afflictions, overcome flaws and shortcomings, and accomplish remarkable things for God.

The Apostle Paul’s arrogance was very evident before his conversion. We could say that he was quite self-righteous, which subsequently turned him into a bigoted tormentor of early Christians before his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Nonetheless, after his conversion, he became the exact opposite of the man he used to be. A man of pride and arrogance turned into someone who embodied true compassion and uncompromising humility.

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NKJV

This would not have been possible if not for the grace of God, the One from whom we draw our strength and wisdom.

Since one of Paul’s greatest weaknesses was arrogance, God allowed Satan to torment him with what Paul called a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him from being conceited.

“Because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV

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2. We Should Fear God Rather Than Man

Paul lived in one of the most perilous times in history. He preached the gospel at the time when Rome was under the tyrannical rule of a morally deranged monarch, the emperor Nero. 

Paul’s commitment to spreading the gospel to the Gentiles caused him to suffer unspeakable cruelty, torture, and humiliation multiple times—often incarcerated in a cramped prison cell for years on end. Nonetheless, despite the excruciating afflictions he sustained, he pressed on. He was relentless in his commitment to serve the Lord to the last ounce of his faltering strength.

"Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”  Psalm 44:22 NKJV

And now that we’re living in a world where voicing your conservative Christian views can land you in jail or cause you to be severely rebuked online, drawing nourishment and encouragement from life stories of God’s most valiant servants like the Apostle Paul has never been more crucial.

We must spread the word. We can do so by sharing the gospel with our families, friends, and acquaintances. And lately, with God’s words being banned in some places, wearing shirts that proclaim God’s words in public would be helpful.

Instead of buying material things as presents to loved ones and co-workers, we can start gifting them with Bibles, prayer journals, Bible verse wall art, or mug cups.

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3. We Should Be Eternity-Minded

With a myriad of distractions clamoring for our attention, living our lives with eternity in mind is one of the antidotes to keeping our eye on the things above. Knowing that we’re only passing by—just mere pilgrims on earth, will keep us from being inundated by the tumultuous chaos and preoccupations that plague our world.

“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 NKJV

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4. Have a Sense of Contentment

The Apostle Paul proves that we can live our lives with a content heart, unperturbed by the ebbs and flows of life’s shifting circumstances. Deferred hopes and dreams should not weaken our resolve nor erode our resilience in our walk with the Lord. 

Saint Paul’s contentment emanated from knowing his priority. His life was centered on what God desired for his life, relegating other concerns to the back seat. Material wealth, fame, power, and other worldly concerns simply faded into the background because his heart was rooted in God’s Word.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12 NIV

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5. Crucify the Flesh with Tenacious Spiritual Discipline

As believers, our most fierce battle is against our flesh. Just like the rest of us, Paul also had to contend with his weaknesses and moral failings. As such, with great resolve and tenacity, Paul committed to die to himself daily so that Christ would live powerfully in him.

“But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having the promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8 NKJV

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7. Live Generously

Though Paul commended the believers in Macedonia for their generosity, he also understood that not all believers can give generously to the church. Paul underscored the significance of giving from the depths of one’s heart. Thus, for Paul, it is preferable to give what you can afford than donate generous sums of money and yet have a heart that’s weighed down by seething resentment.

Regarding the generosity of believers in Macedonia, Paul beamed with pride by saying:

“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.  For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 NIV

Nonetheless, Paul considered as well the financial situation of every believer as stated in Deuteronomy 16:17 NKJV:

“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you” 

But if you can afford it, giving large donations to the church to advance the work of the gospel is encouraged.

“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:5-7 NKJV

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7. Know That Your Past Doesn't Define Your Future

Though God is a God of justice, He is also a God of great mercy. Not only does He forgive and give sinners second-chance opportunities, but He also uses them mightily for His glory. Paul, being a ruthless persecutor of Christians before his conversion, was given a chance not only to mend his ways but also to have the privilege of serving God. 

The Apostle Paul is proof that no soul is too far gone for the Lord. He will bring us back into His fold for as long as we show sincere regret and remorse. Having a remorseful heart and the willingness to turn our backs on sin the way Paul did is a sign of true repentance.

And as we’re living in the final days of the church, I hope you can mount an artwork on your wall bearing the famous words of the Apostle Paul:

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7 NIV

It’s a way to remind us to focus on God, to set our minds on things above, especially now as our world becomes increasingly engulfed in darkness.

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Originally published Wednesday, 14 February 2024.