Mark Twain said that "a clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory." What do you think? This week we studied Acts 22:30-Acts 23:11. Read this passage and then meet me right back here. (It wouldn’t hurt to read it again, even if you were in Sunday school this week.)
You can probably guess (from the quote above) caught my attention in reading this passage. In Acts 23:1, Paul said, “I have lived before God, doing my duty, with a perfectly good conscience until this very day.” (Amplified, emphasis mine). I don’t know about you, but I haven’t always felt as if my conscience was perfectly good. I will say something carelessly … and then stew about it for days. I will remember things from years ago – things that I have long ago repented of – and suddenly feel bad about all over again. I know that Christ’s work in me was perfect and complete … that, because I have accepted Him as my Savior, my conscience is “good,” but too often Satan tries to convince me otherwise. And too often he is successful.
I wanted to know Paul’s secret to a “perfectly good conscience,” the truth is it has been here all along – close relationship to God in large part through His Word. I know that we are all sometimes plagued by attacks of our conscience, so I would like to share some Scriptures I found relating to the conscience. I am going to try to limit my own comments because I want you to allow the Holy Spirit to speak directly into your heart. May God bless the reading of His Word!
Fill in the blanks below (NIV was used).
Hebrews 9:14 (Reading vs. 13 will make vs. 14 make even more sense.)
“How much more, then, will the of , who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, our from acts that lead to death, so that may the living God!”
“Let us to God with a heart and with the full that brings, having our sprinkled to cleanse us from a conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
(Really love this verse in the context of vs. 19-25!)
“ for us. We are that we have a conscience and to live in way.”
Each of these verses from Hebrews tells us something important about our consciences. Hebrews 9:14 reminds us that we have a conscience that is good because of what Christ did for us. It also tells us why having a good conscience is important for the body of Christ. Hebrew 10:22 tells is where we can and should go once we acknowledge this cleansing work, and finally Hebrews 13:18 warns us that, despite the good nature of our consciences, there will be times when doubt creeps in. We must be convinced!
The question we haven’t addressed yet is how. How do we keep our consciences “perfectly good” as Paul described his in Acts 23:1? I think I found the answer (at least in part) during my quiet time this morning. Turn with me to Psalm 19, and read verses 12-13.
Now What? Well, if you feel led to, you may say the prayers along with me.
Vs. 12, “But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.”
God, I have said and done things that are outside of Your will, and out of ignorance, I haven’t given them a second thought. Lord, I ask Your forgiveness for these things, and I thank You for separating them from me.
Vs. 13 “Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.”
God, I only want to serve you – not sin! For the times I have known Your will and yet have chosen to ignore it … Lord, I ask Your forgiveness. The next time Satan brings it back up in my heart, I will not be downcast and ask again to be forgiven for the same thing; instead I will lift my eyes to You and thank You again for Your forgiveness. Amen.