The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"Grace and Peace"
Part 2 - A Clear Conscience
"And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men" (Acts 24:16).
God would have us live with a clear conscience, that is, the peace of knowing we are right in His sight. Scripture teaches two ways whereby the Lord Jesus Christ bestows the grace of a tranquil heart.
The first way to experience a clear conscience simply involves doing what our Heavenly Father calls and commands us to do.
"If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" (Genesis 4:7).
The presence of sin in the human race greatly complicates this "first way." Consider the unbeliever, a "servant of sin" by nature who cannot possibly attain or maintain a clear conscience before God. "Unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled" (Titus 1:15). Of course, most unbelievers do not realize or acknowledge the internal turmoil of their heart that flows with a current muddied by unforgiven and uncleansed sin. "There is no peace saith my God to wicked" because the wicked "cannot please God." Thus, he cannot experience a truly clear conscience (Isaiah 48:22; Romans 8:8).
The believer, of course, can please God by doing what He would have us to do. "God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (II Corinthians 9:8). Obedience, enabled by God's grace through the power of the Holy Spirit, constitutes the best way of maintaining a clear conscience. Yet another complication arises, however. Born again believers in the Lord Jesus remain susceptible to temptation, and while never inevitable or excusable, we still sometimes sin.
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8).
When sin occurs, a problem with our conscience arises. Indeed, one cannot possess the indwelling Holy Spirit without experiencing His faithful working to let us know when things have gone awry in our walk with God. We grieve Him through unbelief and disobedience, and as a pastor friend often says, "If the Holy Spirit is grieved, you will be grieved also!" (Ephesians 4:30). Sin stains our conscience. It does not jeopardize our relationship with God, nor does it alter the assurance of eternal life in the Lord Jesus. However, our internal experience of God's peace suffers, leading to bearing fruits of the flesh rather than the fruit of the Holy Spirit. This raises the question: on those occasions when we do not fulfill "the first way" of experiencing a clear conscience by obedience, is there another means whereby we can be restored to realized peace with our Heavenly Father?
There is. The Spirit of God and the Word of God arise to direct our needy hearts to the Christ of God.
"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:14).
"Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience" (Hebrews 10:22).
Seated at God's right hand is One who shed His precious blood on the cross of Calvary to make available forgiveness of sin to all, along with necessary purging of the conscience. Indeed, in one of the most familiar of all Scriptural declarations, the Apostle John promised not only forgiveness to believers who sin, but also cleansing:
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).
A primary aspect of cleansing from unrighteousness involves our conscience. If we do not avail ourselves of God's restorative grace when we sin, we live with a stained conscience. The consequences of such ignorance and unbelief profoundly affect our walk with the Lord and the life to which He calls us. Too many believers lie wounded along the path of righteousness because they have not availed themselves of the cleansing received when we believe that "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:8). This supplemental way of restoration, as it were, can lift up the most felled of believers through the forgiveness and cleansing of the Lord Jesus. "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings" (Psalm 40:2).
Certainly, God loves to look upon His children in times of faithfulness, beholding our clear conscience made possible by the best way to experience His peace, namely, the grace that empowers obedience. However, He also "delighteth in mercy" (Micah 7:18). God loves to forgive, and He loves to cleanse. Moreover, He doubtless grieves when He sees sons and daughter unnecessarily cast into the horrible pit of unforgiven and uncleaned sin. He wants us to have a clear conscience far more than we desire such peace. Let us, therefore, seek to enjoy the peace known through the first way of trusting obedience. And let us rejoice in the supplemental way of restorative grace whereby we may arise from sin to have our conscience cleansed and our feet restored to continue our journey on the path of righteousness. The Christ who "ever liveth to make intercession for them" ensures to all who trust Him the grace of such forgiveness, cleansing, and renewal of peace and power to faithfully walk with God (Hebrews 7:25).
"And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men."
"Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear."
Weekly Memory Verse
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen
(II Peter 3:18).