Living Rightly Before God

"Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” (Acts 23:1)

In the beginning when God first created all things, He made everything good. There was no need for us to see any sorrowful or sinful things in our world. Everything was good and reflected the goodness of God.

However, when the fallen angel, known as the devil or Satan, tempted Eve and the first two parents ate of the one tree that was forbidden to them, namely the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the human race fell from the glory of God and the entire created world that was under their dominion fell with them. The human race defaulted into a state of living whereby we would now need to follow the conscience that God had given to us and the commands of heaven that would soon follow.

The old adage, "You are what you eat" became true for Adam and Eve as they now would have to live by the fruit of this inner moral consciousness of good and evil known as their conscience instead of living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. This instinctive knowledge of good and evil would exist in every human being as a co-perception to know the law of God written on their hearts and how God would reveal His approval or disapproval of each person's actions.

Many pagan authors even in the day of Paul's trials had referred to the "unwritten law" that existed within man's hearts. Paul would later write to the Romans:

"for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them" (Romans 2:14-15)

However, the conscience is not the only way to determine what is right and wrong or acceptable to God. Since the human condition is fallen, we can have a conscience that misleads us without an objective standard of truth that is greater. This is why we need the Holy Scriptures and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, since the conscience can weaken or become seared.

In other words, the conscience of a man can be affected by the decisions we make and over time we can affect how well this navigational tool works inside of us. Some people ignore the inner promptings of God to such a degree that they sear their own conscience and no longer are bothered when they do that which is unlawful or sinful before God. This is a serious thing when a  person's conscience has weakened or become seemingly non-existent.

One of the great ways to keep one's conscience good, strong, and clear is to take full responsibility for one's actions and to leave nothing hidden in the dark. The more we live honestly before God and others and walk in the light, the more we will be sensitive to hear the voice of our conscience.

How about you? is your conscience clear today? Is there anything that you are hiding and not dealing with in your walk with the Lord or your relationship with others?

For the believer in Christ, we always have more than just our conscience, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit guiding our lives, sanctifying us, and conforming us to Christ as we daily grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For the believer who continues to grow and mature, the writer of Hebrews shows us how we being sensitive to the Spirit and our senses helps us to have a good conscience when he states:

"But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:14).

When Paul testified before the Jewish Sanhedrin, he was a man who already had became convinced of the truth of Jesus after He saw the resurrected Jesus. He knew what he believed and that it was in alignment with the truth, so he could state that he "lived in all good conscience before God even until this day". This upset the high priest who ordered Paul to be struck in the face because it inferred that Paul was in a more righteous position than they were.

Paul was wise to discern his company and turned the table so to speak when he brought up a the resurrection which was not only the foundation of the Christian faith and the power of the gospel but something he knew he would divide the camp.

When all was said and done, the Lord stood with Paul and he modeled three important  things for us:

1. Paul rightly discerned his company

2. Paul righty divided the word of truth

3. Paul rightly depended on the Spirit

The Lord came to Paul and even visited him in a dream to be of cheer and of good courage because his testimony would be needed in Rome just as he gave it in Jerusalem.

The Lord had encouraged His disciples that if they were ever in this situation of standing before authorities the Lord would be with them. He said in Matthew 10:18-20:

You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

May we all live with the knowledge that the Lord knows all things and sees all things and therefore we are called to live what He reveals to us and live rightly before Him.

  • Study to know the essential doctrines of your faith.
  • Learn to size up the opposing views of your opposition.
  • Safely depend on God to defend you when needed.

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