Stephen stands forth as a shining example of early Christian faith and determination, and by a radical turnabout Saul, now called Paul, became a totally dedicated follower and an accepted apostle of the Christ Jesus. To be sure, by then he was deeply aware of his own sinful nature, (e.g., see Rom. 7:14-25. According to Strong’s Concordance the Greek used here, HAMMARTIA, from HAMARTANO, expresses not only sinning due to one’s faults, but also to miss the mark and so fail to share in the prize. In English the word “sinning,” means the same thing. In Old England somewhere about the era of King James, “sinning” was the name of a sport with bow and arrow-- twelve arrows (apostles?) had to hit the mark or the hapless player was dubbed a “Sinner”). Paul clearly makes great efforts to push forward in his work-- his spirit seemed to be energized by awareness of the sacred nature of his commission; (e.g., Rom. 11:13). Apostle to the gentiles, he states “...I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.” There are disclaimers to any special personal achievement as when he emphatically showed that neither Paul nor Apollo should get credit for bringing certain souls to Christ (1 Cor. 3:3-9). What were Paul’s efforts for-- or against? Extra effort or not, again all he could give back to God was what God had given him. In these questions the Holy Spirit can provide Scriptural answers. In the case of Paul, he is clearly shown to work against a constantly recurrent antagonist-- the demands of the flesh; his own and that of others. This is what “running the race” probably meant in great part to Paul. In terms of fleshly enemies one might start with Proverb 6:10, just “A little folding of the hands...”. Flesh seems to demand lots of rest. Also vanity, immediate relief from stress, increasing pleasures, much food and drink together with very little work or expenditure of energy. Under any kind of pressure the flesh gives up early and easily. Paul vigorously resisted all these and other impious demands during the major part of his life on earth. He fought daily and hourly against such carnal impulses and urged faith-- joy in the Lord and the Glory of Christ Jesus in the place of worldly values. Of course much more could be said, and has been said about Paul;
he continues still to win souls to Christ.
Considering the freedom of choice we need to exercise in this earthly life-- not just once or twice but daily and hourly, (as Paul did) such a stand and practice seems less an option and more of a necessity for Christians. Our concern in this journey is with problems of emotionality; the enemy quickly creeps in through doors left ajar during human emotional storms. What values are at stake? Eternal life, for one! Here of course is the issue of life after death. C. S. Lewis, in speculating on “the resurrection of the body” after death, from Pauline epistles-- “sown in corruption; raised in incorruption” concluded that “what the soul cries out for is the resurrection of the senses... what matters is a source of sensations.”. The glorified body of the resurrection as conceived by Lewis is “the sensuous life raised from its death... inside the soul.”. The latter not inside the body but outside it, “as God is not in space but space is in God”. (Admittedly guesses, Lewis is here quoted from letter 22 in his biography).