by Mike Ratliff
9 συνεπέθεντο δὲ καὶ οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι φάσκοντες ταῦτα οὕτως ἔχειν. 10 Ἀπεκρίθη τε ὁ Παῦλος νεύσαντος αὐτῷ τοῦ ἡγεμόνος λέγειν· ἐκ πολλῶν ἐτῶν ὄντα σε κριτὴν τῷ ἔθνει τούτῳ ἐπιστάμενος εὐθύμως τὰ περὶ ἐμαυτοῦ ἀπολογοῦμαι, 11 δυναμένου σου ἐπιγνῶναι ὅτι οὐ πλείους εἰσίν μοι ἡμέραι δώδεκα ἀφ’ ἧς ἀνέβην προσκυνήσων εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ. 12 καὶ οὔτε ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ εὗρόν με πρός τινα διαλεγόμενον ἢ ἐπίστασιν ποιοῦντα ὄχλου οὔτε ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς οὔτε κατὰ τὴν πόλιν, 13 οὐδὲ παραστῆσαι δύνανταί σοι περὶ ὧν νυνὶ κατηγοροῦσίν μου. 14 ὁμολογῶ δὲ τοῦτό σοι ὅτι κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ἣν λέγουσιν αἵρεσιν, οὕτως λατρεύω τῷ πατρῴῳ θεῷ πιστεύων πᾶσιν τοῖς κατὰ τὸν νόμον καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς προφήταις γεγραμμένοις, 15 ἐλπίδα ἔχων εἰς τὸν θεὸν ἣν καὶ αὐτοὶ οὗτοι προσδέχονται, ἀνάστασιν μέλλειν ἔσεσθαι δικαίων τε καὶ ἀδίκων. 16 ἐν τούτῳ καὶ αὐτὸς ἀσκῶ ἀπρόσκοπον συνείδησιν ἔχειν πρὸς τὸν θεὸν καὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους διὰ παντός. (Acts 24:9-16 NA28)
9 The Jews also jointed in the attack saying these things to be so. 10 And Paul answered as the Governor nodded to him to speak: “Knowing that for many years you have been judge to this nation, I cheerfully make my defense concerning these things, 11 since you can take note that not more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 Neither in the temple did they find me conversing with anyone or stirring up the crowds in either the synagogues or in the city itself. 13 Nor are they able to prove to you the things that they are now accusing me. 14 But I confess this to you that according to The Way which they call a sect, thus I serve the God of our fathers, believing in all the things according to the Law and the things written in the Prophets; 15 having hope toward God, which also these men anticipate, a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. 16 By this I also do my best to always have a blameless conscience toward God and men.” (Acts 24:9-16 a personal translation from the NA28 Greek text)
In our last post, Fumbling the Ball, we looked at some disturbing examples of some very visible professing Christians and Christian leaders who have set an example of compromise. We discussed how this “fear of man” that causes Christians to compromise infects us all. What is that God-given mechanism that he put in each of us that works as the Soul’s warning system? It is, of course, the conscience, which allows humans to contemplate their motives and actions and make moral evaluations of what is right and wrong. However, in order for the conscience to work correctly as God designed it, it must be informed to the highest moral and spiritual level and best standard. This means that we must submit it to the Holy Spirit through God’s Word (Romans 12:1,2; 1 Timothy 1:19; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:22). In the passage above Paul is telling us that the proper Christian walk is one that is fully enlightened this way and that plus abiding in Christ, walking as a living sacrifice, submitted to Christ as Lord over all, that is, bearing one’s own cross as we follow him throughout each day is how one get’s to the point where we too can make that claim that we are doing our best to always have a blameless conscience toward God and men.
We cannot do this if we try to muster up the will power to do so. No, look at Paul’s description of this from his second epistle to the Corinthians.
12 Ἡ γὰρ καύχησις ἡμῶν αὕτη ἐστίν, τὸ μαρτύριον τῆς συνειδήσεως ἡμῶν, ὅτι ἐν ἁπλότητι καὶ εἰλικρινείᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ, [καὶ] οὐκ ἐν σοφίᾳ σαρκικῇ ἀλλ’ ἐν χάριτι θεοῦ, ἀνεστράφημεν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, περισσοτέρως δὲ πρὸς ὑμᾶς. (2 Corinthians 1:12 NA28)
12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience, because in simplicity and godly sincerity, and not in fleshly wisdom, but in the grace of God we conducted ourselves in the world , and especially toward you. (2 Corinthians 1:12 a personal translation from the NA28 Greek text)
Those who “Fumble the Ball,” so to speak, are all about pleasing men, but not about preserving their conscience before God in the process. What they are doing is operating according to fleshly wisdom. What we have to do is interact with all around us within the grace of God alone. When we do this we take no credit for any of it. We give all the glory to God. We point everyone to God and for instruction to his Word, not religiosity.
Also, when our circumstances seem to be pushing to a place where we must either compromise (disobey God) or lose, we must not choose the former as so many do.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Greek Bible text from: Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th revised edition, Edited by Barbara Aland and others, © 2012 Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.