Then Job answered the LORD and said: "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42: 1-2. ESV.)
Whenever I begin to doubt whether or not God changes people, I turn my thoughts to the apostle Paul. I dig into Acts 9 which tells of the conversion of Saul.
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. (Acts 9:1-2. ESV.)
Acts 26:10: And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them.
Acts 22:19: And I said, 'Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you.
Acts 22:4: I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women,
Acts 8:3: But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
So Saul of Tarsus was one ornery bugger! A huge stinker! He sinned against others but it wasn't just any kind of sin, it was sheer wickedness! (Though ALL sin in the eyes of the Lord is the same.) He "ravaged", "imprisoned", "beat", "persecuted to the death", "bound", etc. both men and women believers! Could God save such a man as this? Would God give this man His grace?
Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" 5And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:3-9. ESV.)
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." 11And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight."… So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19and taking food, he was strengthened. (Acts 9:10-12, 17-19. ESV.)
God could and did change Saul's heart…and He continues to transform hearts today. Who am I to doubt?! The best part of the account of Saul (in my opinion) is he went right out and began proclaiming Christ Jesus. Acts 9:22 says,
"But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ."
I think of beloved loved ones who are like Saul and I bring them to the foot of the throne when I am in communion with my King. I plead for their salvation (1 Timothy 2:3-5), that a new heart will be given to them, and that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26). I ask my King to grab them tightly and never let go! Like with Saul, I beg for conviction upon my loved ones so they cease from sinning against others in such wicked ways.
13Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:13-15. ESV.)