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The Power of a Clean Conscience - Life of Paul Part 82

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
April 19, 2021 7:00 am

The Power of a Clean Conscience - Life of Paul Part 82

So What? / Lon Solomon

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April 19, 2021 7:00 am

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Hey how about taking the Bible. If you brought one with day-to-day acts chapter 23 will be coming there in just a moment but you know I am I old my youngest son John is 19 is finishing up playing baseball over Riverdale Baptist on this year's senior year and is that a game not too long ago where the umpire made a really questionable call that ended the evening made it against the visiting team well. Immediately the coach came flying out of the dugout heading towards the umpire to appeal the call and the umpire did what umpires always do in that situation, he turned his back and started walking in the other direction when I didn't stop the coach. The coach Right on common and the closer he got to be all the louder he started screaming out finally all turned around and there they were nose to nose, yelling and screaming at one another over the call.

Now I want to stop for a minute and take a vote take a poll, how many of you raise your hand.

Think the coach won that argument. Raise your hand.

How many of you think the umpire won that argument will you all right. The umpire did win and you know there are those situations in life like arguing with an umpire where no matter what you say or what you do are, no matter how righteous you think your point is, frankly, they're not instant. Listen, and his uncle make any difference what the reason I bring that up. You might be curious is because we've got an incident today in the life of the apostle Paul where he finds himself in exactly that kind of the situation and he comes up with an ingenious method to get out of the trouble that he was in.

We want to look at that and then of course we want to bring all about forward and talk about well so like what differences that make to you and me today.

So that's our plan little background before we did again here in acts chapter 23. The apostle Paul is in Jerusalem. He is finished his third missionary journey. It's the summer of 57 A.D. and Paul is going to the temple to pay for the expenses of some men were finishing up their Nazirite vow, and while he was there in the temple he was doing this to try to prove to the people in Jerusalem that he wasn't against Jewish laws, and he wasn't teaching against Jewish customs while he was in the temple. Some Jewish people from the city of Ephesus that were visiting the city recognized them and they accused him falsely bringing a Gentile into the temple will riot broke out.

And while the riders were in the process of beating Paul to death, the Roman army showed up and saved the Roman army commander, the Tribune ordered that Paul be flogged and interrogated to figure out what all the hubbub was about. And that's when Paul, as we saw last week informed the commander that he was a Roman citizen and everything came to a screeching halt. Now that's what we are. So let's pick up and see what happens next. The very last verse. Acts chapter 22 and the next day the Tribune released Paul.

However, because the Tribune still wanted to know exactly what the Jews were accusing Paul of the order, the chief priests and the Jewish high Council to assemble. Then he brought Paul in and said Paul before them.

Now the Tribune that we are tearing about here. He was the Roman commander of the city of Jerusalem and that he was roughly equivalent to a colonel and to mock today's modern army in 06. If you know that terminology and show your picture what is what he would look like in those days.

That's him and as you can see, you need nice legs to be attributed but anyway that's what the Tribune would've looked like any had a problem on his hands. Let me tell you what his dilemma was on the one hand, the imperial government of Rome considered any outbreak of hostilities, any civil unrest in any location to be a personal failure on the part about local ruler and so the Tribune needed to find some way to calm down this Jewish model before he lost his job. However, the way he could calm him down as a stamp all over, but he couldn't do that because on the other hand Paul was a Roman citizen and as a Roman citizen. He wasn't allowed in his hand a Roman citizen over to mom without a clear set of charges against him and so he figured all right, here's what I'll do to figure out how to get out of this dilemma. The Tribune said I'll get all the people involved together in one room and I'll say to them now, folks were all were all rational people here, let's all sit down like a bunch of adults and let's talk this thing out or did he have a surprise coming.

When he got all these Jewish people in the same room. Watch what happens here. Acts chapter 23 verse one then Paul standing in front of the Council looked intently at the high Council and said brothers I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God.

To this day. Now Paul certainly intended to go on from this opening statement to tell them some more. He certainly intended to say number one that he'd been in the temple for noble and a godly purpose number two that he had not brought a Gentile into the temple as rumored in number three that he was not teaching against Jewish laws and customs around the world as they had heard, but he didn't get to say any of that. Watch verse two. At this point, the high priest Ananias ordered those who were standing near Paul destroyed him on the mouth so long. Paul say all he said was he got a good conscience and eating in the mouth when I don't get it. Would Paul say wrong with friends. The point is, he didn't say anything wrong. The actions of the high priest simply tip us off to what was really happening in that room that high priest, and those members of the counselor commented that room from the very beginning with their mind made up about the apostle Paul. There wasn't anything he was going to say or do that was going to change their mind.

They had already good, concluded he was guilty. This was like arguing with the umpire that he had right here in verse three. Paul then turns to the high priest and said God is going to slap you.

You whitewashed wall. You sit there to judge me. According to the law and you yourself violate that very law by ordering me to be slap for no cause that this expression of whitewashed wall comes out of the Old Testament. Ezekiel 13 it was used there about a wall that was dilapidated and falling down the people covered with white wash to hide its true condition and by the time of the apostle Paul this and become a Jewish expression that was essentially attended being a hypocrite is what Paul called the high priest is a jury hypocrite.

Even today, somebody calls you will whitewashed wall.

Don't say thank you. It's not a compliment that they're calling will burst forth a bystander said to Paul, how dare you speak this way to God's high priest and Paul said wow, I wasn't aware that he was a high praise for its written Exodus 22 you shall not speak evil about the ruler of your people. You go along kimono you really expect me to believe Paul didn't know this was the high priest. No, I don't think he did. Ananias didn't become high priest of 47 A.D. Paul and been gone from Jerusalem for 10 years. By that point. In fact, Paul hasn't really been back to Jerusalem for almost 20 years now. 57 A.D. he didn't know who the high priest was he never seen this man. There was no CNN's picture had been on television. Paul had no idea what this guy looked like you say will certainly he was dressed in a way Paul could recognize the no, not necessarily the high priest only wore his ceremonial robes when he was officiating at temple ceremonies.

So it's very likely that he was dressed in ordinary clothing and Paul had no way to recognizing it's interesting though once he was informed this was the high priest Paul retracted his statement. He said you know I may not respect the man because of his character, but I gotta respect his position and I'll do that. But here we are now. Let's recap what to remind ourselves what the situation is Paul standing in front of the high priest and the Jewish Council.

They have already decided in their mind he's guilty is not a thing is going to say going to change their mind and body slap him in the mouth for saying nothing and so Paul says hey I'm standing in front of the umpire. I may not of gotten 1600 on my SATs, but I'm smart enough to figure out where this meeting is going and he comes up with an ingenious idea. Here's what happens. Verse six. Then realizing that some of the members of the high Council were Sadducees and some were Pharisees. Paul called out and said brothers I am a Pharisee the side of a Pharisee.

Hello, I am on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead and would Paul said this a dissension of fracas a donnybrook arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees on the high Council and the Council was split for the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, nor any Angels nor any spirits with the Pharisees acknowledge them all the unstable Paul did. He looked at the counseling center we got Pharisees and Sadducees on this thing. We got Democrats and Republicans on this thing all okay now you need to know the Sadducees, they were the, the more noble party in Israel. They were like the patrician leaders of Israel. They were like members of the House of Lords and theologically. Luke tells us they didn't believe in life after death, resurrection, Angels and Demons.

Nothing. The Pharisees were more like the plebeian leaders of Israel, they were more like members of the House of Commons and theologically they believe that all of these issues and so what Paul did, knowing that the animosity between these two groups ran as deep as the Mississippi. Paul figured out a way to turn the two groups on each other in the middle of this council. Verse nine and there was a great uproar and some of the Pharisees stood up and began to argue heatedly in Paul's favor, saying we find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose an angel or spirit has spoken to him in the dispute between the two groups. The Pharisees and Sadducees became so violent that the Tribune was afraid Paul was going to get torn into pieces in the middle so he ordered the troops to come and take Paul back into the barracks notices hysterical. Would Paul did hear you don't think so hysterical.

What he did. He got the Pharisees and the Sadducees so bad at each other that they completely forgot about him will you get it later. I got home, but the point is by playing the Pharisees off against the Sadducees like this. He divided this council so badly that there was no chance this council will ever be able to agree against charges against him now. Was not only a stroke of pure genius on the part of Paul.

It was also very providential. Listen, if this council had been able to agree on charges against Paul, it is certain for political reasons that Roman Tribune would've turned Paul over to them for the disposition of this case and if Paul had been turned over to that high Council. There is no doubt that Paul's earthly life would've ended in 57 A.D.) Jerusalem were to see in the weeks to come about several different plots to kill Paul that some of these people come up with better killing) town where you know God was there with Paul's like that he had 10 more years for Paul to live and serve Christ. This was providential but Paul thought to do this and and it is hysterical it really is all right well that's as far as we want to go in the passage for today because it's time to ask our most important question you know what that question is, so are you ready want to hear you down and overflow here we go. Are you ready okay 123 right is a lot someone say I don't agree. It's hysterical. But other than that, what difference is that it is made to me. Well, let's talk about. I want to go back to the first thing Paul said in verse one. Remember what he said.

He said I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God. Up to this day. That's an amazing statement he's talking, of course, since he came to Christ. He said my conscience is completely clean about everything I've done in my life. Amazing statement. I want to spend the rest of our time today talking to you and me as followers of Christ about our conscience in bringing Paul's statement to bear on our life. First let's define what is a conscience what you look up in the dictionary. It will tell you that it a conscience is the inner part of a person that tells us when were doing right and rebukes us when were doing wrong. A conscience is like a little moral gyroscope inside each one of us that warns us when were starting to go off course our consciences, like having our very own personal Jiminy Cricket if you understand what I'm saying in the Bible tells us four very important things about our consciences. Let me tell you what they are number one. The Bible tells us in Romans chapter 2 that every single human being is born with a conscience use a lawn if God says that in the Bible. He obviously does not know some of the people that I know will wait a minute that leads to number two, which is that the Bible also tells us it's possible for a person to deactivate their conscience would not work anymore. First Timothy chapter 4 talks about people whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron in the picture here is that of a conscience that is so covered with scar tissue that it has no feeling left anymore and it doesn't work anymore. People can do this. You say how does a person do this while it's easy folks by continually justifying our wrongdoing by continually ignoring our conscience when it goes off.

If you do that long enough. A person can reach the point where our conscience just shuts down the honey work anymore doesn't even register anymore. Now everyone of us here this morning.

Everyone of us knows somebody who's gotten to this point everyone of us as a friend or neighbor or somebody in our office or some relative we spent Thanksgiving with good and this is a person who can do the most heinous things the most ethical things. They can lie right to your face, they can cheat they can steal they can deceive they can manipulate and they don't have the slightest pang of conscience about it. No remorse whatsoever, no moral reaction at all.

We all know somebody like that post before I change it to Jesus Christ. I was exactly like that I could do the most unbelievable things and my conscience completely didn't bother me because I turned it off and as a result of that I lost all direction in life. I was self-destructing in life and maybe you're here and you've got a similar problem will I've got some great news for you. Number three.

The third thing the Bible tells us about our conscience is that it's possible for us to turn our conscience back on again.

Hebrews chapter 9 says the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses our consciences what the Bible is telling us here is that when we embrace Jesus Christ as our personal savior, God is a wonderful thing for us. He reboots our conscience. So it starts working again, and that's a great thing because trying to live life without our conscience. Working is like trying to drive on the Beltway wood blindfold on.

You can do it, but you're probably not going to like the result. And that's the same thing is trying to live life without a conscience that's working you know when I gave my life to Christ and in 1971 are the bandit that pointed me towards Christ was a guy that lived in Durham I was in Chapel Hill about 8 miles away did come to town every Saturday and and and that's only time I ever saw him I didn't have his phone number.

I did not get in touch with him and so was I was reading the Bible I got to the place in the middle of the week. One week where I decided that maybe the maybe this was really true and I wanted to I want to give God a chance in my life but I did know how to do that and I did not get in touch with him so I got them on my knees and this is the prayer I prayed I said not God.

I don't really know if you're real in this Jesus character I'm I'm really confused about but but you know I'm going to give you my life are among enter and at the end of that month.

If you haven't proven to me that you can really make my life worth living.

If you haven't proven to me that you're real. I reserve the right to take my life back. But if you prove it to me.

You have my life for good. Amen is a lawn that is the most miserable salvation prayer I've ever heard in my life.

Well, you're right, it is what you want their help in me, and he was there helping me Brendon fly by the seat of my pants here.

You know what I'm saying is a wonderful verse of Scripture first Samuel 16 seven man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord sees the heart, and I believe God sat up in heaven, and looked down and heard that prayer and since Solomon that is the worst salvation prayer I've ever heard in my life but you know I'm a little past the prayer and see your heart and I see you mean business phenomenon or your heart will you know week later I got back down on my knees to God, unconvinced I'm totally convinced I don't know what you going to do with the hippie with long hair, love beads, a tank top bellbottoms, motorcycle boots and smoke so but whatever you going to do with me a deal. The deal you got my life for good.

Now what was it in that one week that so convince me God was really say yeah what was that, I mean did did you see an angel drop out of heaven. Did God do like 10 drop dead miracles for your something that convinced you that much know you know what it was, you know, it was if the things that I was able to do the week before that never bothered me. All of a sudden my conscience was beat me up. That's what he was and I said to myself, you know what I didn't turn my conscience back on. In fact, in those days, to be honest I want back on.

I said, but somebody turned it back on the good stuff. I used to be able to do a week ago and never think a thing about now it's eating me up on the inside. I didn't do it nobody else did it.

God has to be real if he could do that inside of my life and that's what convinced me Jesus Christ was real and that's why gave my life to Christ. Folks, if you're here and you've never trusted Jesus in a real and personal way. Let me just say, flying without your conscience on is the most dangerous thing you can do like driving on the Beltway wood blindfold and the wonderful news is when you come to Jesus Christ. God turns your conscience back on and that's a protection that's a wonderful thing forth and finally, God tells us in the Bible that to serve God effectively, we must have consciences that were Hebrews chapter 9 verse 14 says the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses our conscience from dead works so that we can serve the living God is a lot I don't understand how to serving God and having my conscience back on how to understand how those are connected will let Psalm 24 tell you how who may ascend the hill of the Lord who can stand in his holy place. The person who has clean hands and a pure heart to see friends are. God is a holy God and if we want God's power to flow unhindered through our lives.

We need to be serious about having clean hands and a pure heart which means we need to have a conscience that works a conscience that makes us acutely sensitive to even the smallest acts of sin and disobedience that Paul understood this. He understood the power the columns from having a clean conscience before God.

That's why he was able to stand in front of that high priest in acts 23 and be as bold as he was, because as he said I've got a clean conscience as I stand here. That's why Paul said to Felix, the Roman governor. Acts 24 I strive always to DT my conscience clear before God and men. That's why when Paul wrote to Timothy and said Timothy is a servant of God. Here is the formula for success. He said the good fight by holding on. Look at this to say in a good conscience. Your Robert Murray McShane, you may not know that name lived in Scotland.

He was a Scottish preacher who led an incredible revival in Scotland in the 1830s and early 1840s. He died at the age of 29 Robert Murray McShane accomplish more in 29 years for God than most people doing 99 years for God and in writing to a fellow servant of Christ about this issue of the power of a clean conscience. Here's what he said and I quote he said how diligently the cavalry officer keeps his saber clean and sharp every stain he rubs off with the greatest care, remember you are God store his instrument in great measure. According to the purity of the instrument will be the success it is not great talents that God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus and then he said this a word spoken for Christ. When your conscience is clear is worth 10,000 spoken in unbelief and soon and his right as you know were about ready to move in our new facility here and it's a $92 million building project in a three years ago we took pledges. We called him building for life, and I stood up here and I ask all of you to consider driving the same cars and sitting on the same furniture and staring at the same drapes and walking on same carpet and wearing the same clothes and using the same appliances for the next three years so that you could make a contribution to building for life in putting this facility up for the glory of God. And after that message I had a guy come up to me and said you know what you are shameless.

He said to me, he said, how can you stand up there and asked people to do that to give money to continue doing to this church like that. He said how do you sleep at night and let me tell you what I said to I said you know I sleep fine at night. Honest, I do.

And let me tell you how I can stand up there and do that it's because I got a clean conscience about asking and that I have it for two reasons. Number one because Brenda and I are making some of the very same sacrifices they were asking everybody else to make. I'm not asking people to do anything that were not doing and number two because I'm asking people to do this for the glory of God and not for the glory of Lon Solomon on asking people to do this so that we can transform people's lives for Jesus in Washington, not so we can build Solomon's Temple and say what I'm saying and I said and I know that's true in my heart.

God knows that's the motive of my heart and I can stand up with a completely clean conscience and asked people to do it and that explains the boldness of what I can get up on much shameless but I'm bold because my conscience is right when I ask people for this, and friends in any situation of life.

This is why Paul could be bold in front of the high priestess. Conscience was clean and in any situation of life. You go into if you want to be bold for Jesus Christ going to need a clean conscience.

Listen to what Proverbs 28 says it says the wicked man, the man with the dirty conscience he flees, even when no one is after him, but the righteous man was a clean conscience is bold as a lion in a human to be bold for God. One of the secrets.

Remember what Paul told Timothy is a good conscience, they still cannot understand that, but how does a person how I keep a clean conscience as a follower of Christ before God, I'm so glad you asked because in closing I will give you four quick suggestions number one my first suggestion is you want to keep a clean conscience before God will then listen to your conscience before you act.

Is it possible to go back and clean up a dirty conscience yeah but it's an awful lot of trouble that you don't even need to do if you listen to your conscience before you do stuff. This is why God tells us to wait on the Lord to slow down to pray about things to ask ourselves the question is, is really going to be worth the price I gotta pay to go back and clean it up.

After I do it because I know the Holy Spirit is going to make me go back and clean it up. After I do it or what I rather just do the right thing to start with, and that I don't have to mess with clean it up well when you slow down long enough to ask that question.

I'll tell you there's a lot of things you might feel like doing you don't do is Avalon is too late for me. I've already blown way past Jiminy Cricket on the way.

On the other side on some things I've done. So what about me if I've already done some things that that my conscience is bother me about what will I do. Well, I've got three more suggestions for you. Number one. If you defiled your conscience with something you've done. First of all number to make a decision that a clean conscience is worth any price you're going to have to pay for that. It doesn't matter how much humiliation is going to bring your how much embarrassment it's going to bring you your willing to pay any price to go back and get your conscience clean before God. Number three if you if you made that decision. Then, first of all, go make it right with God. What you did you say how do I do that by confessing it without excuses by getting on your knees and saying God is not going to try to explain it.

I'll call it what it is, it was lying. It was cheating.

It was deceiving. It was manipulating here is what it is God, and I'll call it what it is and I'm going to confess it is sin and ask you to forgive me. First John 19 if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

And remember what Hebrews 9 said that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses our consciences from dead works when you confess it.

God cleans it, but McShane said he said I am persuaded that I ought to confess my sins more to confess in the moment I see it to be soon. I must never think us into small to need immediate application of the blood of Christ will is right. Finally, once you got it right with God. Here comes the really hard part friends. Number four if there were any people involved.

You gotta go back and make it right with people. You gotta go back and make it right with the people that were involved in what you did remember our little friend Zakia's member him lived in Jericho.

Zakia's was a wee little man and we little man was he don't know the song don't you know the song I went to synagogue growing up and I know this, all of course you know this all sing it with me. He climbed up in the Sycamore tree for the Lord. He wanted to see and win the Savior came passing by. He looked up in the tree and he said that PS you come down because I'm going to your house today. Very good, very God now now what is the point will after he after the Lord went to his house and Zakia's gave his life to Christ and got the real disease.

Remember what he said. He said Luke chapter 19.

What ever I have cheated anybody out that he was a tax collector need cheated people. There was no doubt about it. He said I will pay them back four times the amount that I cheated on the years Amanda got the real disease and friends. If our wrongdoing involved other people in any way. The only way we can cleanse our consciences to do, what exactly is this to say I'm going back and making it right with the people that were involved in. Remember step two. I don't care what it cost me. I don't care if it humiliates me on fear of an embarrassingly out-of-town with money it cost me. I want to clean conscience. This means that you might need to send in an amended tax return. This means you may need to go fix the lie that you told her fess up to the cheating that you did with that professor at school he means you may need to take back the stuff that you stole her break off the immoral behavior been involved in cargo seek the forgiveness of somebody that you hurt if you live your husband about how much you spent at the store. You gotta telling ladies if you told your boss gentleman that you were sick, but you really were going to play golf.

You gotta go back and telling say why in the world. What I do something insane like that.

Well only one reason you do something insane like that and that is because you made a spiritual decision that you want Jesus Christ to use your life and you understand that for that to happen. It takes a clean conscience so whatever cost you. You going to go get your conscience clean you know here McLean Bible church as your pastor, I want to make something clear to you. My goal here at McLean Bible church is not to make McLean into a church that God uses to the fullest to say why Nono don't listen. My goal is not to make us into a church that God uses to the fullest friends. My goal here is to make everyone of you into a person that God uses to the fullest because of all of you become people to God using to the fullest and you make up this church, we will become a church of God uses and of God's will use your life and of God's going to use my life. One of the key elements is we gotta be like Paul, we gotta be able to say to the best of my knowledge, I have a conscience that is clean before God and before man now. That's when the Holy Spirit can flow through a life so that's not where you are ladies and gentlemen than my challenge to you today is, if you really want God to usual life pay whatever price it takes and go get to be that way. But for what our heads bowed in her eyes closed. I want to give just a moment to do business with God.

If you need to do some things in your conscience that is we talked about it of come up on the radar screen.

I hope you'll talk to God right now and say Lord give me the courage. Whatever take someone to go make these things right so that you can really use my life. If you need to talk to God want to do that now, Lord Jesus, thanks for reminding us in the Bible that we are ambassadors for Christ that you left us here not to make money or amass power and fortune you left us here so that you can use our lives to make an impact on other people's lives for Christ and father having a clean conscience is essential if were going to see you maximize our service for Christ.

So my prayer today is that for every follower of Jesus here that our greatest goal in life would be for you to use us for the glory of God and that to that end, we would be willing to make it our passion in life to keep a clean conscience so that the Holy Spirit can flow through us, unhindered and unfettered. Now for some of us here that need to go clean some things up. God, I pray you give us the courage to do that change our lives and change the very way we live as we were here today and make us useful in your service because we heard the word of God today and I asked these things in Jesus name God's people said Amen

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