Thoughts from the Sycomore’s weekly reading of Acts...
23:1 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” 2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” 4 Those who were standing near Paul said, “How dare you insult God’s high priest!” 5 Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’”
I was reading this text and wondering to myself, how many of us can actually say that they had fulfilled their duties to God in all good conscience to this day? I was like—those are pretty audacious words! Especially, with what he says to the high priest in response to being punched in the mouth! Actually, these words and what he says afterwards offer us some insight regarding his good conscience. I don’t think Paul is saying that he is perfect. In fact, in his “apology,” it clearly reveals his willingness to admit to the fact that he actually made a mistake (though I’m not sure that this is even a mistake!). But his “apology” also reveals the key to a good conscience before God.
You see, mistakes are not the obstacles to a good conscience. It’s what we do in light of those mistakes that do. Having a good conscience before God is dependent on the intimacy of relationship that we have with him as well as understanding that it’s actually a process. God is ultimately the one who lets us know that we are “good” before Him. A good conscience is also a process. I think that we sometimes apologize or admit to our mistakes way too easily. We do so to diffuse the situation or basically because we’ve simply been caught. The PROCESS to a good conscience involves a journey of confession, repentance as well as restoration. We come to the realization that we have sinned against God and God alone—and the recognition and acknowledgement of that is called confession and repentance. Grieving that we’ve done this is a significant part of this process. However, our good conscience isn’t complete until we embrace His restoration as well. Again, none of this would be possible without the invitation to this “good conscience” that is made possible by Jesus’ journey to Calvary. Again, it is our relationship with Him that “justifies” the goodness of our conscience. #desiringGod2017