Can Those Who Do Bad Things Change?
WOULDN’T it be wonderful if everyone did what was good?— But nobody always does good things. Do you know why we all do bad things sometimes, even when we want to do what is good?— Because all of us are born with sin. But some people do many very bad things. They hate other people and hurt them on purpose. Do you think that they can change and learn to be good?—
Look at the young man guarding the outer garments of those who are throwing stones at Stephen. His Hebrew name is Saul, but his Roman name is Paul. He is glad that Stephen, who is a disciple of the Great Teacher, is being killed. Let’s see why Saul does such bad things.
Saul belongs to a Jewish religious group called the Pharisees. The Pharisees have God’s Word, but they pay more attention to the teachings of some of their own religious leaders. This makes Saul do bad things.
When Stephen is arrested in Jerusalem, Saul is right there. Stephen is taken to court, where some of the judges are Pharisees. Even though bad things are said about Stephen, he is not afraid. He speaks right up and gives the judges a good witness about Jehovah God and about Jesus.
But those judges do not like what they hear. They already know a lot about Jesus. In fact, only a short time before this, they had Jesus put to death! But afterward, Jehovah took Jesus back to heaven. Now, instead of changing their ways, the judges fight against the disciples of Jesus.
The judges grab hold of Stephen and take him outside the city. They knock him down and throw stones at him. And, as you can see in the picture, Saul is there watching. He thinks it is right to kill Stephen.
Do you know why Saul thought that way?— Well, all his life Saul had been a Pharisee, and he believed that the teachings of the Pharisees were right. He looked to those men as an example, so he copied them.—Acts 7:54-60.
After Stephen is killed, what does Saul do?— Why, he tries to get rid of the rest of Jesus’ disciples! He goes right into their homes and drags out both men and women. Then he has them thrown into prison. Many of the disciples have to leave Jerusalem, but they do not stop preaching about Jesus.—Acts 8:1-4.
This causes Saul to hate Jesus’ disciples even more. So he goes to High Priest Caiaphas and gets approval to arrest Christians in the city of Damascus. Saul wants to bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem to have them punished. But when he is on the way to Damascus, an amazing thing happens.
A light flashes from heaven, and a voice says: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” It is Jesus speaking from heaven! The light is so bright that it makes Saul blind, and the people with Saul have to lead him to Damascus.
Three days later Jesus appears in a vision to one of his disciples in Damascus named Ananias. Jesus tells Ananias to visit Saul, to take away his blindness, and to talk to him. When Ananias speaks to him, Saul accepts the truth about Jesus. He gets his eyesight back. His entire way of life changes, and he becomes a faithful servant of God.—Acts 9:1-22.
Do you see now why Saul used to do bad things?— It was because he had been taught wrong things. He followed men who were not faithful to God. And he belonged to a group of people who put the ideas of men ahead of the Word of God. But why does Saul change his life and begin to do good, even though other Pharisees continue to fight against God?— It is because Saul does not really hate the truth. So when he is shown what is right, he is ready to do it.
Do you know who Saul later became?— Yes, he became known as the apostle Paul, an apostle of Jesus. And remember, Paul wrote more books of the Bible than any other person.
There are many people like Saul who can change. But it is not easy because there is someone working very hard to make people do bad things. Do you know who that is?— Jesus talked about him when Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus. There Jesus spoke to Saul from heaven and said: ‘I am sending you to open people’s eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan to God.’—Acts 26:17, 18.
Yes, it is Satan the Devil who is trying to get everyone to do bad things. Do you find it hard sometimes to do what is right?— We all do. Satan makes it hard. But there is another reason why it is not always easy to do what is right. Do you know the reason?— It is because we are born with sin.
It is this sin that often makes it easier for us to do what is wrong than to do what is right. So, what do we need to do?— Yes, we must fight to do what is right. When we do that, we can be sure that Jesus, who loves us, will help us.
When Jesus was on earth, he came to love people who had done bad things but had changed. He knew how hard it was for them to change. For example, there were women who had sex relations with many men. This, of course, was bad. The Bible calls these women harlots, or prostitutes.
Once, a woman like that heard about Jesus, and she came to where he was at the house of a Pharisee. She poured oil on Jesus’ feet and wiped off her tears from his feet with her hair. She was very sorry for her sins, so Jesus forgave her. But the Pharisee did not think she should be forgiven.—Luke 7:36-50.
Do you know what Jesus said to some of the Pharisees?— He told them: “The harlots are going ahead of you into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 21:31) Jesus said this because the harlots believed him, and they changed their bad ways. But the Pharisees kept doing bad things to Jesus’ disciples.
So when the Bible shows that what we are doing is bad, we should be willing to change. And when we learn what Jehovah wants us to do, we should be eager to do it. Then Jehovah will be happy with us and will give us everlasting life.
To help us avoid doing what is bad, let’s read together Psalm 119:9-11 (118:9-11, “Dy”); Proverbs 3:5-7; and 12:15.