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Is Your Conscience Clear?

Lighting Your Way / Lighthouse Baptist
The Truth Network Radio
February 26, 2023 12:23 pm

Is Your Conscience Clear?

Lighting Your Way / Lighthouse Baptist

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February 26, 2023 12:23 pm

February 22, 2023 – Message from Pastor Josh Bevan

            Main Scripture Passage:  2 Corinthians 1:12-14

            Topic: Motive, Conscience


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Good to see everybody tonight. And you know what book we're going to? 2 Timothy, no, 2 Corinthians. You're like, everybody's like Matthew chapter number 8 and 2 Corinthians chapter number 1 is where we're going to be fun.

We're going to be finding our place so there's nobody else has a hand raised for prayer requests. Go ahead and find your place here in 2 Corinthians chapter number 8 and we're going to read verse 12 down to verse 14 if you wouldn't mind to stand as we honor the Word of God. And we're going to read those three verses.

2 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 12 through 14. The Bible tells us here, For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world and more abundantly to you were for we write none other things unto you than what you read or acknowledge. And I trust you shall acknowledge even to the end as also you have acknowledged us in part that we are your rejoicing even as he are also ours in the day of the Lord Jesus. God, we thank you for your word tonight. It is such a blessing as has already been mentioned that we can come together into this place. We count it an honor and privilege, God, to be able to worship you.

We count it a joy. We thank you for the church family you've brought us together with. We thank you for the souls that have been saved in the recent weeks.

This year has been so fruitful and we just praise you for that. And God, I pray tonight as we examine your word that both in our elementary classes, our kids classes as well as our teens and this adult service that you would be working in a mighty way through the word of God, that it would accomplish all your desire in our hearts, that if anybody tonight examines their conscience and sees areas that needs to be made right with you, that you would bring that conviction to our hearts. Lord, we don't want to leave here looking like ourself. We want to leave here looking like Christ and so be glorified and not only how we hear, but how we obey what is written. We ask it in Christ's name. And God's people said, Hey, man, you may be seated this evening. Has anybody ever struggled with a guilty conscience, guilty conscience? Sometimes we've done things in life that cause that. Sometimes we know there's things we need to get right with God. And so we can have a guilty conscience because we are violating things according to God's word that we know needs to be cleaned up. But there's other times that sometimes people can be right with God and still carry a guilty conscience. They can still be grieved over some things that God has forgiven them for. Tonight I want to look and talk about man and his conscience as Paul dives into this topic in this section of verses.

I trust this will be helpful for you tonight as we navigate through this. So ades is knowledge. It's a word that literally just means co-knowledge, but it refers to the soul of man reflecting on itself. It speaks of knowledge together with itself. The conscience then knows the inner motives of our hearts and it knows our thoughts. It is the higher element of understanding than even our reason and intellect because we can try to justify our actions. And we can intellectually justify things, but our conscience is not so easily convinced. And so sometimes you say, there's nothing wrong with that, but then you're pierced on the inside over what you've said, done, thought, acted upon. And so the conscience then is likened unto a witness on a stand that gives witness of you to you.

It either is declaring your innocence or your guilt. It either makes you feel better or worse. And so it really sits in judgment upon us. God is the one who has given man the conscience that we have and he placed it inside of man to be a barrier for man and their sins so that we cannot just so easily go into our depraved ways. And so it's a warning system to our soul just as our nervous system is a warning system to our body.

And we saw Sunday with a leopard that has nervous system gets destroyed through that disease. So there are things that can destroy a man's conscience. Puritan Richard Sibbes wrote in the 17th century, the soul reflect is that the conscience is the soul reflecting upon itself. And it's at the heart of really what distinguishes man from the creature, man from the animal kingdom. People unlike animals can contemplate their own actions. They can make a moral self-evaluation. This is the very function of conscience. And even people that are unsaved, the lost world has a conscience given to them by God. Romans 2, 14 and 15, Paul writes, for when the Gentiles which have not the law do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law are a law unto themselves, which show the works of the law written in their hearts, their what? Their conscience also bearing witness.

And meanwhile, accusing or else excusing one another. There is a work of the conscience even upon the heart of those who don't know God. And so conscience is also not a infallible source. It can be right at times, but it can also be wrong. It is possible that the conscience can be misinformed.

You can believe something is wrong that is not actually wrong. Paul deals with this with the church at Corinth. There were some in the church at Corinth, he deals with this in 1 Corinthians especially, who believed eating meat offered to idols was wrong and others did not. What a person had learned and understood either freed them from the guilt of that or it brought them under the offense of that. And many of the early Jewish believers struggled with letting go of certain Old Testament laws. They struggled letting go of circumcision.

They struggled letting go of observing holidays, certain holy days, eating meat, also eating with Gentiles. Remember when three times God showed the vision that Peter brought down the sheet with the animals and it's like the funniest thing, it's only Peter would do this. The Lord says, rise and eat Peter, rise, kill and eat. And Peter says this, not so Lord. I mean, what a paradoxical response, right?

Lord, no. And he does it three times. But Peter struggled, you see? His conscience had been taught that you don't eat certain things and God says, what God has cleansed, call not thou common.

Go into the Gentiles' home. And it was hard, it was hard to overcome some of these things. So sometimes there is a rewiring of things. Has anybody here ever had a guilty conscience over something you thought was wrong but then later found out it wasn't wrong? I've had people say, you know, I believe for years putting up a Christmas tree was a devil worship. I remember the first time somebody said that to me was at the church at Chillicothe. They said, you know, decorating a tree, that's a sign of the devil. And they went back and started trying to show me some verses in the Bible.

And I thought, this is interesting. I've never heard of that very often up to that point in my life. Some people believe that you can only read one version of the Bible. There's some people like the Peter Ruckmanites who believe you can only get saved if you read the King James Bible.

That's so utterly ridiculous. There are some things that people believe that are just not accurate, but their conscience can be geared into believing some of those things. Man can corrupt their conscience. 1 Timothy 4 says this, they speak lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with the hot iron.

It's impossible to sear it. 1 Timothy 1 says unto the pure, all things are pure, but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled. If you work in the world, there are sometimes environments that you can be in. I grew up doing construction for about six years through high school and early college and some things like that.

And there were some groups of people that I worked around that it's like anything you said, they could turn to be something nasty. I mean, no matter what it is, boy, it's a beautiful day. Yeah, it's a beautiful day. It's like, you're just so gross, man. I mean, you live in a sewer, don't you? Boy, it's warmer today. Yeah. And they just foolish, jesting perverse thoughts. And only they think it's funny because there's no woman in the world that thinks that's cool.

You're a gross junior high boy who never grew up and you must play video games your entire life. I'm probably offending all kinds of people with those statements, but that's all right. So the Hebrew word for conscience also is leb, L-E-B. It usually refers to the heart and translated as heart in the Old Testament. The Jews didn't really distinguish between the conscience and the heart. They saw them so closely knit that they referred to the conscience in terms of the heart. For example, when Exodus chapter 8 verse 15 talks about where Pharaoh hardened his heart against God, he was hardening his conscience also against God.

It uses that word leb there. He hardened his conscience or heart against God. So the Old Testament refers to those with a soft heart as those who have a pure conscience toward God as such as in Psalm 7 10 and Psalm 51 10. If you have a hard heart toward God, I want you to understand this, you will have a soft heart towards sin. And if you have a soft heart toward God, you will have a hardened heart towards sin. We are always soft and hard to something.

There's always a softening and a hardening going on. And so what would God say of your heart this evening? The other day I was doing a here journal and just God laid on my heart John 13 2 and this verse stood out to me and I just reflecting on it as I was studying through this and in John 13 2 I don't know why this just hit me but it says in supper being ended and the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot Simon's son to betray him. You know, Jesus isn't the only one doing hard work. Judas never gave his heart to Christ. And because he never fully gave his heart to Christ, he left his heart open.

You know, Satan does hard work. Matthew 13 tells us that right? Whenever the farmer spreads the gospel of the seed of the Word of God, and those who have hard hearts, it says, it lands upon those hearts and Satan comes and snatches it away from their heart. Because their heart is hard, their heart is hard toward God, it's soft toward the devil and he can easily snatch that away. And so the real spiritual battle rages for the heart of men. No wonder the Bible says, Let not your heart be hardened.

The hardened heart to God will be the soft heart for Satan, and the soft heart to God will be the hardened heart toward the enemy. So just just know that people can also ignore their conscience which will ultimately cause their conscience to go numb. I like what MacArthur, he gave a great illustration in his book, The Vanishing Conscience. He deals with a lot of wonderful truths in that book. He talks about how our culture has ignored the warning sign of our conscience.

He gives an illustration here that's so fitting. He says, In 1984, an Evianca Airlines jet crashed in Spain. Investigators studying the accident made an eerie discovery. The black box cockpit records revealed that several minutes before the impact, a shrill computer synthesized voice from the plane's automatic warning system told the crew repeatedly, Pull up, pull up. Some of you know this. The pilot evidently thinking the system was malfunctioning, snapped back, Shut up, gringo. All of this is recorded in that black box and switch the system off.

Minutes later, the plane plowed into the side of a mountain and everybody on the board of that plane died. And what MacArthur likens this to, and it's so true, is like our conscience today. And people have ignored their conscience. They've destroyed it and sought to turn it off because people want their sin and they don't want the guilt and conviction that comes with it. And so they want the warning sign turned off, don't they? And they hate those who stirred the warning system up.

Shut up, gringo. Sin produces conviction in us. It's an inner turmoil. It agonizes, but continual sin begins to numb that conscience and we long to sedate it. You know, there are things we do today to sedate the conscience. People take drugs, people drink. People get away from church. They close the Bible.

They want to live with freedom. And it's really the reason people hate God these days. The reason people hate God is not because they don't believe there's a creator.

They just hate that he's the judge. Because that creates accountability and people can't stand accountability. This is, in fact, what has happened in the world of America and our culture. When people struggle with drugs, alcohol, sexual perversion, and even abusing children, the world now calls this as disease. I mean, those who abuse little children, they call disease now instead of wicked and sinful. Because when you are sick, you're not responsible for your sickness, are you?

You're rather seen as a victim. I went to a meeting a few years ago here in Xenia. They had a big discussion with different leaders throughout town and different professionals.

And there's probably 100 some people in the room and really standing room only. They had even law enforcement there to kind of like trying to educate on some of these things. And they talked about how there's so much drugs and addiction going on. And they said, you know, really the battle is do you believe in basically kind of like a sin model or a disease model? And if it is a disease model, then we need to look at these people not as criminals but as victims. So the person who breaks in your house and steals your stuff and goes out and gets high and lives that way, and a drunkard who does this and abuse, you know, these people are victims. The Bible calls them the criminals because it's not a disease.

It's a sin and it needs to be repented of. And people say, well, you don't understand, you don't understand, preacher, because you're a pastor and you don't understand health and how it affects people. And well, you don't have to dig too far into neurological studies to learn that behavior modifies your brain functions, obviously. Obviously, your frontal lobe gets adapted to different conditions of your lifestyle. You play basketball long enough and your brain changes form. Whatever you do affects and modifies your brain. That's why they call it a disease. But if you get out of that behavior, then your brain function changes back. So doesn't the Bible say, put off the old man, renew your mind, and then put on the new man? It seems like the Bible knew that at least a couple thousand years ago, right, because he made us, he kind of knows how we function.

But who knows, we don't know what we're talking about. So we go to Freudianism, we go to secular psychology, and today secular psychology calls it pseudo-guilt. They call it the superego. And Freud believed, and I have studied psychology in college, but Freud believed that it was the superego that was the problem. And what he identified as a superego was what the Bible defines as the conscience of man. And he said the problem is that you have a superego that is too energized in trying to tell you things are wrong when they're really not wrong. You're just animalistic and just get rid of the guilt. It's pseudo-guilt, it's false guilt. And the way you do that is you need to elevate self-esteem, self-love.

You can tell your superego, shut up, gringo, and go out and live like you want. And so you have preachers today like Joel Osteen and the whole slew of them who've picked up Freudian psychology in those terms, and now they're preaching self-esteem to guilty sinners, and instead of guilty sinners repenting and getting right with God which will free the conscience of that guilt and sin, they preach self-esteem instead of covering it with repentance, they seek to cover it with self-love. We are condemning a nation. And this blindness is perpetual and it's so sad, it's so, so condemning. And it feels good. Doesn't it feel good when someone says this, it's not your fault?

You don't need to blame yourself. You don't need to, you know, and they just try to ease you down, and it's like, you know, you just need to love yourself, and it's like, yes. God says love others as yourself, and aren't you someone, shouldn't you love yourself? Well, Jesus actually said that's kind of the place you're always at. Love others as you love yourself, that's your default position.

I'm not saying, you don't need to hate yourself, I'm not saying that, but your value doesn't come from yourself and placing value on yourself. Your value comes when you recognize how great of a sinner you are and how great God's holiness is and how vast that span was that God had to reach down and you say, wow, if he came down that far to love me, that is real love. He must truly love me. He must truly value me.

It's not love if I started up there, right? It's easy to love a lovable person. So Colin Cruz gives a clear explanation and limitations of the conscience. He says the conscience is not to be equated with the voice of God or even the moral law. Rather, it is a human faculty which adjudicates upon human action by the light of the highest standard a person perceives. So our human conscience is governed by the highest light that our conscience can conceive of. So America has so fast dropped the standard so far. And do you wonder why, like, why is every news article, why is everything on Disney now, why is everything propagating in the culture like transgenderism, homosexuality, accept this, accept this, pride month, accept this, just pouring it on us.

You know why? Because it's not just saying you have to be okay with it. You have to support me now. And the world doesn't want conviction over sin. They want to have freedom, license, approval, and you have to approve of their sin.

You have to approve of this. And people like you and I that hold to the word of God, we are seen as evil. We are seen as evil. So the conscience will hold people to the highest perceived standard. That's why you need to bring your conscience under the standard of God's word, right? Because if you don't line it up with Scripture, your conscience will do wrong things. It will allow things.

It shouldn't be allowed. And it will also, you'll say stuff like this, not so, Lord. I like what one man said of the conscience. He said, the conscience acts like a skylight, not a lamp. It does not produce its own light.

It just lets the light in. Therefore, we need to make sure we don't corrupt our conscience. We don't ignore it.

We don't dim it. Rather, we let God's word give us a healthy and clear conscience. I like Psalms 119, 9 through 11. Isn't that a great section where he says, wherewithal shall the young man cleanse his ways by taking heed thereto according to thy word? Read verse 10 with me, if you would. With my whole heart have I sought thee. Oh, let me not wonder from thy commandments.

And let's finish verse 11 together. Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee. You see, it is placing the word of God in us. And our conscience says, this is the standard. It is attracted to that light, and that light shines upon us.

When you read the Bible, it's like cleaning the rain, the dirt, the smog off of the skylight, and it just brings the reality of truth into your soul. And you say, I can't do that. I can't watch that. I can't listen to that. I can't go there. I can't participate in that kind of an attitude and action because my conscience won't let me do that.

J.I. Packard writes, an educated, sensitive conscience is God's monitor. It alerts us to the moral quality of what we do or plan to do. Forbids lawlessness and irresponsibility and makes us feel guilt, shame, and fear of the future. Retribution that it tells us we deserve when we have allowed ourselves to defy its restraints. Satan's strategy is to corrupt, desensitize, and possibly kill our consciences.

The relativism, materialism, narcissism, secularism, hedonism of today's western world helped him mightily toward this goal. His task is made yet simpler by the way in which the world's moral weakness have been taken into the contemporary church. Christians need to seek to live with a clean conscience, void of offense. And so here in 2 Corinthians, the false teachers were assaulting Paul.

They were in the church at Corinth. They attacked his morality. They were saying, you know, Paul is not moral.

He writes letters that are weighty, but he doesn't live up to his own standards. They attacked him. They attacked his relationship with people. Paul doesn't love you.

He just really wants to use you. He puts his own interest over the interest of the believers at Corinth, they were saying. They attacked his theology that he was misrepresenting God. So they were really laying it on him. That's one of the reasons he wrote 2 Corinthians.

We talked about that in the last couple of weeks. And sadly, there were those at the church at Corinth who were believing this stuff. It's amazing, isn't it? I mean, like, how could you believe that about Paul? Like, what in his life is he getting out of this? Persecution, distress, imprisonment? Well, he's in jail because he's such a sinner and God's judgment is falling upon them.

These are the kind of things they were saying. And so Paul, in these three verses, calls his conscience on the witness stand. And conscience is the highest court on earth because you could be declared innocent in a court of men, but your conscience could still condemn you, right?

Has that happened? So he calls his conscience on the platform as a witness stand to clear him of these wrong accusations. And that's why he says in verse 12, our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience. And though they brought accusation against Paul, his conscience was clear of offense. So I would ask you tonight, do you have a clear conscience? Now, I want to look at four ways Paul's conscience was clear and apply that to our lives.

So four simple ways. First of all, he was pure in his motives. He had a conscience that was clean in its motives. In verse number 12, he says, for our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshy wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world in a more abundantly to you word. So he says, for our rejoicing. And the word rejoicing there has also could be used as the word boasting. Rejoicing or boasting.

Now, the word can be used in a good sense in the Bible as well as in a negative sense. Often people can boast and rejoice in things because they have pride. They see themselves as the one doing something. But it also could be used in a positive way, not only in a negative way can you boast, but in a positive way you can boast and rejoice. And the way you do that is you boast in what God has done. You rejoice in what God has done. You declare that God has done this in my life. He's allowed me to impact your life. He's brought great fruit and I rejoice and I boast in what the Lord has allowed me to be a part of.

That's a healthy thing. Such boasting in the Lord is for what God has done in a life of a believer is both right and something God delights in. Listen to Jeremiah 9 23. Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might.

Let not the rich man glory in his riches. But look what verse 24 says. Let him that glories glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment, righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, saith the Lord. So you glory in understanding and knowing God and that he's exercised his loving kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth. You rejoice in what God does in you and through you. This is seen in Paul's life over and over. Four times he speaks of boasting and rejoicing in the Corinthians. He rejoices and boasts in Christ. 1 Corinthians 1 31.

He clearly understood it wasn't him that you boast in. It was in what God had done in 1 Corinthians 1 31. He says, according as it is written, he that glorieth let him glory in the Lord. He repeats that in 2 Corinthians 10 17. So he says, our rejoicing is this, that in simplicity and godly sincerity.

The word simplicity is the word haplotes in the Greek. It speaks of one who is sincere, free from hypocrisy or pretense. It's the opposite of duplicity.

The word duplicity means given to or marked by deliberate deceptiveness in behavior or speech. So he says, I rejoice that I am not duplicit. I don't come to you in some kind of deliberate deception. He declares he is in no way ungenuine. He is not self-seeking, that his motives are pure. So he says also in sincerity, verse number 12, he says in simplicity and godly sincerity.

The word sincerity is an interesting word there. Elekrineia is the Greek word. And it's from a compound word, ele, which means sunlight, and krino, which means judge. Now, I praise God that he's preserved his word for us. But it's also important to go back and study Greek words out. Sometimes people say, well, you don't need to study Greek words out. Well, I can tell you, you're going to limit your comprehension of certain things.

The reason being is when you translate something from one language to another, there are some things that you won't know unless you study out that other language. Like when I was in Israel in 2011, the Jews were like, oh, you don't speak Hebrew? Well, then you don't understand much of the Old Testament. You'll never understand it fully. And they're right. God, I won't understand because I don't know all those Hebrew words, and there is such a depth to those words.

So let me give you an example. So if you're reading through this, our rejoicing is this, the testament of our conscience that in simplicity and godly sincerity, and then you would read through that, well, the word godly sincerity, again, that word, that compound word comes from sunlight and judge. It means literally to judge by sunlight. So in those days, in that culture, one of the biggest industries they had was fine pottery. And they would spin pottery, and the thinner that you could make the pottery, the more expensive it would be. But sometimes as you heated that pottery up, it would crack. And then you would ruin this very expensive piece of pottery. So the way that they would fix that, they would take wax, and they would put it in those cracks. They'd paint it up, and you couldn't tell.

There's no way to tell. You know, the only way you could tell there were cracks filled in with the wax is you had to hold that pottery up to the sun. That's how that word was used. It was judged by the sunlight.

So in that industry, they had what they called, they would put a caption on their pottery, senesera, and it means without wax. So the idea here is that our rejoicing is that we have a clean conscience before you. That with simplicity, that not duplicity, but simplicity with genuine motives, with authentic reality, that you can hold us up to the sunlight, and there's no cracks in our beliefs.

There's no cracks in our testimony. Does that make sense? And so just understand there's a depth in the Word of God that the further you dive in, the richer you are in your understanding. Isn't the Word of God just so wonderful?

Go beyond the surface reading. Dig in and enjoy the feast of God's great Word. And so, friend, are your motives pure in life? When you look not at the what you do for God, but the why you do it, does it matter why you do it? Would your life pass the test of being held up to the light of not the sun in the sky, but the Son of God?

Would He say your motives are right? Proverbs 28, 13 says, He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaken them shall have mercy. Moses warned the Israelites if they didn't keep their word, he says in Numbers 32, 23, be sure your sin will find you out. William Barclay rightly says, Blessed is the man who has nothing to hide. That's what we call integrity, isn't it? Talk to Brother Steve who deals with leadership, and one of the key elements inside of leadership is integrity. If you ever work at a place where the leader, the boss, the CEO, doesn't have integrity, that company is not going to last strong.

There's going to be some crack in that pot. There's got to be an authentic, real... The closer you get to them, you should say, Man, this person is authentic and real.

They are what you see in public. The conscience is the highest human court. It is not infallible. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4, he says, For I know nothing by myself. In other words, he says, I am conscious of nothing against myself. I don't know anything that I've done sinful or wrong that I'm still involved in at all.

He says, There's nothing I know. He says, Yet am I not hereby justified. That doesn't justify me. Just because I don't know of anything I've not done wrong, just because I think my life's clean, it doesn't mean I'm definitely clean because my conscience could be off. He says, But he that judgeth me is the Lord. So you don't want to violate your conscience, but you don't want to just say that, You know what? I have a clean conscience, so I don't have any problems in my life. Well, you always need to take Psalms 139, verse 23 and 24 to heart, right?

Lord, search me. Know my heart, try me, know my thoughts, and see if there's any wicked way, because sometimes I don't even know my own self. So Paul did not elevate himself as being the originator of any purity in his life. Whatever good Paul had in his life, he saw as being the result of God's grace, and he goes on, he says, Not in fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God. Fleshly wisdom speaks of that which man produces. James 3, 13 says, Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you, let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

Look what he says. I think this is important, verse 14. But if you have bitter envying and strife in your heart, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

What that means is this, and I don't have time tonight to go into this, but James 3 is just so rich. He says there's worldly wisdom, then there's godly wisdom. One thing that's true of worldly wisdom is you can have a disagreement, and worldly wisdom creates strife, enmity, argumentation. You see this in families. You see this in workplaces. You see this even among God's people at times. But they're combative.

They argue. And that's worldly wisdom. That's earthly, sensual, and devilish, he says in verse 15. And he goes on in verse 6. He says, but the wisdom that is sent from above is first peaceable, pure, easy to be entreated.

It's a word that means like you're not sandpaper. There's some people that they're just gracious all the time. They'll stand up against sin, but they are gracious people. They go through hardships, and they smile. And they're just sweet, and kind, and good. They're the kind of people that you always enjoy being around. It's like, boy, it's nice to hang out with those guys.

It's nice to be with them. So just make sure that you're carrying the right wisdom. So Paul knew any good in his life was based on the grace of God that had been given to him. 1 Corinthians 15, 10, Paul says, by the grace of God, I am what I am.

It's all of God's grace. So I just want you to know, when he talks about having a pure motive, he understood that the only reason his motives were pure was by the grace of God. It wasn't something he created. It's something God created in him.

And he rejoiced in that. Secondly, he had a clear conscience in the world. In verse 12, he goes on to say, we have had our conversation in the world. So our conscience is clear.

Our motives are clear, but it's also our conscience is clear in the world. The word conversation there literally means to turn down or back, to wheel about. And it speaks about sojourning. And figuratively, as Paul describes here, it speaks about a person's life, their conduct, their behavior, and it's not like just your talking. That's why the word conversation, I mean, there's more there. It's your conversation, but it's the way you conduct your life. It's how you go about it.

It's turning this way, turning that way, living in the world that you're in, like how your whole manner of life. And Paul's manner of life in the world was without offense. There was nothing that legitimately could be laid against him.

Nobody could say, hey, we have a chart. You remember Samuel at the end of his life? He said, who have I defrauded?

Who have I wrong? Bring that before me. And there was nothing. What a wonderful testimony Samuel had. One of the requirements of a pastor laid out in 1 Timothy 3 is to have a good testimony among the lost world. 1 Timothy 3, 7 says, Moreover, he must have a good report of them which are without, lest he fall into reproach in the center of the devil. Colossians 4, 5 says, walk in wisdom toward them that are without. James 3, 14 and 15 don't have bitter envying and strife.

We just read that. When you and I come in opposition with the world, is that going to increase more and more? As we do that, we got to make sure that when we oppose the things of the world, we don't do it in a bitter, angry, argumentative spirit.

That is not of God. Romans 12, 18 says this, if it be possible, as much as life in you live peaceably with all men, we have to do it in a way that shows godly wisdom. What kind of testimony do you have with the lost world? What would your co-workers say about you? What would your neighbors say about you? Do you have a clean conscience before those in the world? You know what the truth is, some of you. If I talk to your co-workers, they would say, you know what, they love Jesus.

They've been talking to me ever since I've seen such a transformation. They would speak about you in ways that probably would make you embarrassed or uncomfortable and it would all be the grace of God, but it prays God for that. But that should be said for all of us, right? That people in the world are neighbors. Would your neighbors say that you are a good representative of Jesus? Or are you a strifeful person? You strive with them. I can tell you, if you're striving with your neighbors in a negative, mean, and unkind way, that is a devilish thing, according to James 3. It says it's sensual, it's earthly, and it's devilish. That's what James 3 says. Well, you don't know what my neighbors did to me. All I do is have to look at what I did to Jesus.

Kind of cleans that up, doesn't it? As much as life's in us, live peaceably with all men. Paul had a clear conscience concerning his motives, concerning his... he had a clear conscience in the world. Thirdly, he had a clear conscience in the church.

He said, we have had our conversation in the world and more abundantly to you, word. He says in verse 13, for we write none other things unto you than what you read or acknowledge, and I trust you shall acknowledge even to the end as also you have acknowledged us in part. Paul later declared in 2 Corinthians 6, verse 3 and 4, giving no offense in anything that the ministry be not blamed, but in all things approving ourself as the ministers of God. 2 Corinthians 7, 2, he goes on. Receive us, we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man. He's declaring his testimony. I mean, he was there at the church in Corinth for like a year and a half.

He was among them, and his testimony was clean. He said, we defrauded nobody. These people are coming against us, these false teachers are saying that we're seeking to take from you. He said, when we were have need, in 2 Corinthians 11, verse 9, he says, and when I was present with you and wanted, I was chargeable to no man for that which was lacking to me, the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied, and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. So people who were accusing him of being money hungry or seeking to use the church at Corinth, he's like, I didn't even take anything when I was there with you.

I could have charged you. He says the labor is worthy of his hire. It's right. You don't punish an ox for plowing a field, and you don't take from the guy who starts the church there from having any type of income because he sacrificed his life to help that church get started. He's saying they should be compensated for their time because they're worthy of their hire. But he says, I didn't even do that.

And so he just showed them how false these attacks against him were. In verse 13, there is a play on words in the Greek. Again, some of these things you won't see when you read the English translations, but if you were a Greek reader, and it's easy.

There's all kinds of tools today for this. I would encourage you, if you haven't downloaded on your phone, you can download Lagos on your phone. You could literally, on Lagos, we do this, I've shown people, you can take and say your handout in a class, you just put it, and it has 15 references on the page. It'll just immediately pull up every reference on your phone without looking them all up. There's all these little, nice little things, and you can study the Greek background of the words. You can study all these things out. There's a lot of benefits. Blue Letter Bible's good.

There's all kind of other options online, but that's a good one to start with. But in verse 13, there's a play on words. Look at verse 13, he says, for we write none other things unto you than what ye, and these two words, read or acknowledge. Now, the word read is this word, anaganoskete, and it's from the root word, gnosko, which means to know.

It's where we get the word gnostic from. So if you were to read this, it would say anaganoskete, read, and then acknowledge is epaganoskete. It's like a play on words, and he wrote these words intentionally for this. So he says in verse 13, for we write none other things unto you than what ye, read or acknowledge.

Now, the word read there speaks of that which is read in his letters and known, and acknowledge speaks of that which is known through personal contact with Paul. What he's saying here is this. We wrote to you, and you read it in the letter, but then you also read it in my life, and the two matched up exactly in harmony. There was no separation there. We write nothing. There's nothing else that we're writing.

We're not trying to deceive anybody. We're not saying one thing by letter and living another way with our life. Paul told the church at Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 2, 10, he says, ye are witnesses in God also how holy, justly, and unblameably we behave to ourself among you that believe. His conscience was clear in the church.

He lived consistent life both in letter and in his life. And you can see why he says this, because when you get to 2 Corinthians 10, look what he says in verse 10. He says, this is what they were accusing him of, these false teachers. They said, for his letters say they are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak and his speech contemptible. He says, let such as one think this, that such as we are in word by letter when we are absent, such will we be in deed when we're present. You think I'm mighty in letter?

He says, wait till I show up again. So what he's saying is that the first part of this in 2 Corinthians 1, verse 13, he says, what you've read about us is what you will understand about us. It's acknowledge about us what you read and acknowledge the word acknowledge there.

It's my life, what you've seen. It matches up with what I've written is the idea. So why is it important for believers to live with a clear conscience before their fellow believers? If you have your Bibles, you can flip back there real quickly. But 1 Corinthians chapter 8, I just want to highlight this, because it's such an important truth.

1 Corinthians 8, verse 7, it says, how be it there is not in every man that knowledge? And he's talking about the knowledge that some people understood in that day that eating meat offered to idols, just understand, they lived in a Greek culture at that time, a lot of paganism, a lot of animal sacrifices to pagan gods. After the sacrifice was done, they would take that animal, bring it and sell it on the common market in the streets. If you've ever been in places like that in the world, like Israel today, Turkey and other places, they sell like meat, like open air meat like out on the street. I mean, I could have swore I saw a dog hanging skinned on it.

I thought that's a little goat or it's a dog. I don't know. Did not eat it. Did not eat it.

But I got some beef jerky, brought it home, and I told Eric Howard, I said, no, I'm teasing. 1 Corinthians 8, he says, not in every man. So some people felt like it was wicked to eat that meat offered to, to an idol because they had been around that.

They had grown up in that. They just, hey, I'm honoring this idol by eating this. Other people's like, that idol is nothing. That's just a piece of stone. That meat, it's a pretty good deal on the market. Let's just, there's, in the Bible teaches, there's nothing wrong eating the meat.

But then not everybody has that knowledge. That's what he's saying in verse 7. So howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge, for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol, and their conscience being weak is defiled.

Like they defile their conscience. And the Bible says, don't do that. Romans 14, verse 8, but meat commendeth us not to God, for neither if we eat are we the better, neither if we eat not are we the worse. So when you eat the meat, it doesn't make you more acceptable to God. It doesn't make you worse before God. It's just food. Verse 9, but take heed lest any man, by any means, this liberty of yours becomes a what?

Stumbling block to them that are what? So, okay, for if any man see thee which has knowledge sit at meat in the idol's table, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are, well, if they're doing it, Pastor Josh does it, it must not be bad. And through thy knowledge shall thy weak brother perish, for whom Christ died. Look what he says in verse 12. But when ye sin so against the brethren and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against who? Yeah, and so Paul says, wherefore if meat make thy brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world stands, lest I make my brother to offend. So I think there are certain things that are in the gray areas of life that nothing wrong to do. The Bible says there's nothing that enters the body will defile the body.

Well, if that's the case, nothing entering the body defiles it, but it does defile you if it's convicting to you to do that, but it is sinful if you do it and other people know it, and it is a stumbling block, then that's sinning against Christ. Well, I feel I have the right, and if they get upset about it, well, then you're going to stand before the Lord and give an account of that because the Bible says you're wounding their weak conscience, and you don't want to do that. You know what knowledge does? It defends its rights.

Love gives up its rights. So just be aware of that. If you ever feel like you have to defend something you're doing, that's a pretty telltale.

Does that make sense? Well, if I have to defend it, who am I defending it to, and who am I defending, and why am I defending it, and why do I have to defend it? So violating the conscience of a weaker brother is to sin against Christ. So in the church, have a clean conscience. Don't hold bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment, anger, purposeful separation, intentionally being unkind to somebody.

Those are sinful things to do. That should grieve your conscience, and I pray it does until you get it right with God. So number four, and we'll wrap this up, he had a clear conscience, fourthly, before God. His motives were right. He had a clear conscience in the church. He had a clear conscience as he examined himself and his motives. And number four, he had a clear conscience before God. The first point would have probably been better.

My hermeneutics weren't as clean tonight, but the first point would probably be a clear conscience with himself, would have probably been the better self. I got tied up in some word studies, and I didn't think through that. So anyway, that's just me thinking out loud. I have a little ADD sometimes. I don't know if you know this, but while I'm preaching, I'm thinking about other things.

So number four, a clear conscience before God. My wife's like, I know that, because when she's talking, I'm thinking about something else. I get in trouble for that, yes. It's all good until she asks a follow-up question. Y'all with me? So what do you think about that? I love that dress on you.

You look wonderful, baby. Boy, my girls will get me too. It's bad. Anyway, we got to keep going. I'm telling on myself. He's doing it again, Mom.

He's doing it again. I don't know. I get tired sometimes with my brain.

I don't know. I'm a guy. I'm a guy.

I don't mind out-numbered at home. So a clear conscience before God. 2 Corinthians 1.14. I'll finish up with that verse, but it says, As also ye have acknowledged us in part that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus. Some of the false teachers were trying to accuse Paul of mishandling the word of God, but he declares in 2 Corinthians 2, the next chapter in verse 17, he says, For we are not as many which corrupt the word of God, but as in sincerity, but as of God in the sight of God, speak we in Christ. And then he says the same thing in 2 Corinthians 4.2. It talks about that he would be in the sight of God.

So Paul saw God as the one who he was ministering before and in whose sight he was held accountable for. He refers here to the day of the Lord in verse 14, and that's not talking in an eschatological sense of like the tribulation period when God brings fiery judgment upon the world. What he's actually talking about there is the day when the believers will stand before God. And he says here, notice in verse 14, he says that we are your rejoicing, even as he also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.

So what does that mean? What he was saying there is when we stand before God, I'm going to rejoice that God allowed me to minister to you and to see the fruit that God produced in your life through allowing me to minister to you. And I'm going to be so glad to see where you are in that day and what God did in your life. And I will rejoice over you.

And you'll also rejoice over me because your prayers. Remember last week in verse 11, they prayed for him and helped him while he was in a struggling season in his life physically. And that Paul, they partook in the fruit of Paul's life, and they're going to rejoice in what God did in Paul. It's the same thing with our missionaries. We'll have a missionary letter read tonight, and we get to rejoice in what they do. And one day when we stand before God, we're going to be like, praise God, we were a part of that ministry over in Africa and over in Australia and over in the Philippines. We were a part of that missionary over in China. Man, I'm so excited to know what God did in there, and there'll be this rejoicing going on. Isn't that going to be a great day when you stand before God and say, hey, I remember mentoring them. I remember counseling with them.

I remember them growing through the reengage and then their marriage being fruitful. I remember that and how God grew them, and now they're being commended before the Lord. What a rejoicing.

What an exciting time. And so, friend, can you say that your conscience is clear before the Lord as you come to this forethought, that you're living a life of purity before the Lord, that you're not wasting time in your life and your energy? Let me just close with some keys to having a clear conscience. Make sure you're faithful in the word of God. Thy word if I hid in my heart that I wouldn't sin against the Lord. Secondly, be obedient to the word.

Hear it, obey it. John 14, 15, if you love me, you'll keep my commandments. Jesus says, be one who prays early and often. Matthew 26, 41, you know, when you're with the Lord, there is a purifying that happens. Spend time even in silence before the Lord. Examine your heart of sin and ask God to examine you. Psalm 139, 23, and 4, we talked about. When sin comes in your life, quickly repent of it.

Get right with God, 1 John 1-9. Praise God for the forgiveness. Sometimes people carry false guilt, which is true. Sometimes people pray for God to forgive them for the same thing for a week, a month, a year. It's like, are you still engaging in that sin? No, I quit it, you know, a year ago or six months ago, but I just feel so guilty.

I just can't get past it. Well, your problem is you're not trusting in God's word. And instead of, because what you're doing is God says, if you confess your sin, I'm faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. That's what he said, but you're not believing he's doing that. So the problem is not that you need to love yourself.

You need to love yourself. The problem is you need to believe him. So you never get to the worship of God for the forgiveness he gave you because you keep asking him because you don't believe him.

You see the problem? You should have been worshiping him. God, thank you for the forgiveness, but you never say that.

You never get to the worshipful part because you're over here still groveling because you don't believe him. And if you just believed God that he forgave you, well, how do I know if you gave me? Well, because the Bible says it. I don't need a feeling when I have a verse.

God's word is a greater foundation of truth than how I feel. So go to Psalms 32 in life and read that. And Paul says, I acknowledge my sin. I confess my sin unto the Lord and thou forgave us the iniquity of my sin. God, you forgave me. You know, get to the point of worshiping him for the forgiveness he gave you.

I think so many Christians are robbed of worship of God because they don't believe God's word or they're believing maybe an attack by the enemy of doubt of God's grace upon their life. You know, when the woman left and Jesus says, neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more. She didn't need to feel guilty the rest of her life about that. But she needed to look back and say, let that motivate me never to do that again. So God has given us all a conscience.

It's not a perfect system, but it's a warning system from God and it sits as a witness against us. And so tonight you have a clean conscience. You have a clean conscience, void of offense is the way God's called us to live. Amen.

Let's all stand this evening. Take a time of prayer. Maybe you need to come and spend a moment before the Lord. Maybe something God spoke to your heart about.

Maybe, maybe something with your life, your motive. Maybe with a fellow believer in the church. Maybe if maybe a neighbor, a coworker, somebody in the world, maybe just before God, you say, Lord, maybe you just want to come and say, search me.

God, I feel clean before you. I feel like there's nothing, but I just, I just want to do what David did and ask you to examine my heart and whether at your seat, whether at an altar, maybe just want to take a moment and reflect, reflect upon this. If you're here and you don't know the Lord Jesus as your savior, I would encourage you tonight to come.

We have men and women that could sit down and show you from the word of God, how you can know when your life's over that you'll be in heaven. Father, we thank you for your word. It is, it is our wisdom. It is our light.

It is our understanding. We want to honor you with our life. And we ask tonight that you would hold us up like a clay pot, so fragile, so thin. But through Christ, you've made us beautiful in grace. And as you examine us, Lord, is there any cracks that we've tried to fill in ourselves that need to be filled in with grace? We can't work our way into favor and forgiveness. We can just humble ourselves and plead for mercy. We pray that you would examine our lives and cleanse us from any sand, Lord. May we be people of integrity and people of the book. In Christ's name, amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-26 14:06:23 / 2023-02-26 14:29:40 / 23

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