In All Good Conscience

“In All Good Conscience”

Acts 22:23-23:11

Twice in this brief section Roman law comes to Paul’s aid. Paul declares his Roman citizenship sparing him from a Roman flogging. The flogging consisted of a scourge- a fearful instrument of torture consisting of leather throngs, weighted with rough pieces of metal or bone and attached to a stout wooden handle. If a man did not die under the scourge (which frequently happened), he would certainly be crippled for life.

Paul is then taken before the Sanhedrin- the ruling court of the Jews where he begins to explain his position and is struck by the high priest for claiming his “good conscience before God”, which seems to Annias the height of arrogance, even blasphemy.

Paul calls the high priest a “whitewashed tomb”, basically saying he is a hypocrite. As soon as it is revealed to Paul that he spoke harshly to the high priest, he repents quoting Exodus 22:28, “do not speak evil about the ruler of your people”

Paul then spies the room and sets the Pharisees against the Saducees stating the reason for which he is called into question- the resurrection

This triggers further arguing and becomes so violent for the third time the commander had to rescue him.

The violence of the last two days and the enmity of the Jews must have made Paul wonder anxiously about the future. There seemed little prospect of him leaving Jerusalem alive, let alone traveling on to Rome. In his moment of discouragement Jesus comforts him with a straightforward promise that as he had borne witness to Him in Jerusalem, he must also bear witness to Him in Rome.

What can we learn from this?

Paul had a good conscience before God.

“conscience”- Greek moral consciousness, moral awareness

A good conscience involves an inner freedom of spirit that comes when we know God is not offended by our thoughts and actions.

A good conscience is listed in Scripture as one of our essential weapons for a successful spiritual life and ministry

2 Corinthians 1:12 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in [a]simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.

1 Timothy 1:18-19 New King James Version (NKJV)

18 This [a]charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck,

1. A good conscience operates in repentance

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Repentance is not only one time thing- we are to maintain a repentant heart, routinely acknowledging sin and seeking God’s grace and mercy in the midst of our daily mistakes. This is not meant as a means to secure our salvation, but to keep our heart clean and pure daily before Him.

The Bible teaches the need for Repentance, referring to the repentance from dead works and a life lived apart from God. This is what is referred to as cleansing. “the blood of Christ cleanses us from sin”. It acknowledges we are sinners and in need of God’s mercy to avoid the penalty of sin, which is eternal death and separation. This is a unique kind of repentance that only the Holy Spirit can produce in the heart of an unbeliever

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Then, there’s a daily repenting, referring to regret or sorrow over when we are convicted of a sinful behavior. This is also a work of the Holy Spirit to produce a sanctifying process in our lives in order that we might become more and more Christ-like. This is the process of sanctification which for our lifetime. Unrepentant sin can and will bring severe consequences on our lives., so we see it is a daily need requirement.

The disciples asked Jesus, “teach us to pray” to which He responded:

Matthew 6:9-12 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

This was never a formula to be repeated, but a pattern to be prayed daily.

“And forgive us as we forgive others”
It’s not a shame thing, but an act of humility- it’s not repenting for old sins that are under the blood, “Crystal I have already forgiven you of that”

This part of sanctification is only through the Holy Spirit and by obeying His promptings and the Word

2. A good conscience is void of offense

Acts 24:16 This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.

Offense towards God-

There is nothing that I am putting between me and the Lord- no sin, no person, no idol, no thing.

Paul commanded his flesh be put into subjection in order that he would not have anything hinder his walk with the Lord

1 Corinthians 9:26-27 New King James Version (NKJV)

26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

He strove to not have a corrupted, evil conscience

Hebrews 10:19- 21 Therefore, brethren, having boldness[f] to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

How do we keep a good conscience? We draw near in full assurance of faith with a true heart. Full assurance of faith cannot be reached without a true heart. A true heart is a heart that is truly desirous of seeking that which it claims to seek. A heart that truly desires to forsake everything to dwell in in the Holiest place, and forsaking everything, to possess God: a heart that truly abandons everything in order to yield itself to the authority and power of the Jesus.

When all we are concerned with is how we appear to others, and neglect our own heart and thoughts, neglect God’s Word to us and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, then we have lost sight of what God is trying to do within us and we are in danger of a seared conscience

1 Timothy 4:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV)

4 Now the Spirit [a]expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

Pray this way: Psalm 139:23 “Search me, O God, and know my heart” Subject yourself continually to the heart searching light of the Spirit. He will uncover what is hidden.

Offense towards men-

This is two-fold, not causing any offenses and not holding any offenses.

2 Corinthians 6:3 We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed.

You might question Paul’s actions to the high priest:

23 Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?” And those who stood by said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” Then Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ ”

It was a well known fact that Paul had bad eyesight (either born with it or from his numerous stonings), he did not recognize the high priest from the other members of the council.

Paul is not being rebellious and belligerent- He respected and submitted to all authority

To have no offense, we must control our words and actions

One day, we will give and account of these things.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another [a]anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.

Not holding an offense is to walk in a spirit of forgiveness. If anyone told you I won’t forgive them, they are a liar. I have been forgiven from a nasty, deceitful past and I have no right to hold a debt over someone.

“If you do not forgive, you will not be forgiven” Matthew 6:15

Holding an offense imprisons you. Forgiveness sets you free.

But there’s a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgive is the Greek word aphiēmi, meaning “to send away, dismiss, suffer to depart; to emit, send forth.”

Reconciliation is the Greek word katallagē, meaning “an exchange; reconciliation, restoration to favor.” Reconciliation involves forgiveness. But it goes beyond forgiveness. When I forgive someone, there is no guarantee that we will have a restored relationship. Forgiveness is solo. You can forgive someone who is dead. It may well be that even after I have forgiven someone that we remain estranged.

Reconciliation, is a joint venture. However, there can be no restoration of relationship without repentance. As the prodigal returned to the Father in a position of humility, “I am not even worthy to be called your son” Luke 15:19; so we must repent if the relationship is to be restored. You cannot sweep things under the rug and pretend that things never happened. This is operating under deception and will produce a superficial, disingenuous relationship. No true fellowship can take place under these circumstances. God requires repentance as a means of reconciliation. It’s the only way to any restored relationship.

But forgiveness from you is mandatory- just let it go, forgive the debt because of the great debt you have been forgiven.

3. A good conscience is committed to Christ and obeys His commands

No one could ever question Paul’s commitment to the Lord.

Galatians 2:20 New King James Version (NKJV)

20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Paul did not do his own will, but the will of Jesus. None of us have a “special work” to do. We are called to be Jesus’ own and we do not dictate to Jesus what we intend to do. When we truly have an awe of God, we will never tell Him what we are going to do. We will just obey.

1 Peter 3:15-16 But [a]sanctify [b]the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.

This is the second part of sanctification that you must do. Peter is quoting Isaiah

Isaiah 8:13 The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, And let Him be your dread.

To sanctify Him means to recognize, in word and deed, His holiness and therefore to entreat Him with awe. This not only substitutes the fear of God for the fear of man, but enforces purity of life.

This is to be done in hearts, not simply with your hearts or from your hearts, but IN, inwardly with all sincerity and devotion.

Peter calls for an inner reverence, “sanctify”- set apart yourself for the Lord.

There are two types of separation that are required for believers: 1. a separation from the world and 2. a separation to the Lord

Walk in the fear and admonition of the LORD in awe that the Creator of the universe lives in me.

Are you treating Him as a common thing?- This has been on my heart the last year. I have a prophetic anointing, and I’ve been speaking in tongues for 25 years. Because it’s been so long, I have come to be apathetic about it. God reminded me how excited I was for years that His Spirit dwelt within me and He had given me such great gifts. I don’t want to become apathetic. I want to continue to have a love for His anointing and gifts. Samson treated his gift as a common thing and the Spirit left him.

4. God honors those who honor Him.

The Lord stood by Paul to encourage Him, 23:11

Psalm 118:6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

Ps Kevin posted this last week:

Jesus knew where Paul was; He had not lost sight of Paul because he was in jail. When John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress’ was in jail, a man visited him and said, “Friend, the Lord sent me to you, and I have been looking in half the prisons in England for you.” John Bunyan replied, “I don’t think the Lord sent you to me, because if He had, you would have come here first. God knows I have been here for years.” God knows where you are today; even if you are hiding it from everyone else, God knows where you are.

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