Summary: A Clear outlined message on how to have a clean conscience
OPENING ILLUSTRATION: The story is told of a man that consulted a doctor "Ive been misbehaving Doc, and my conscience is troubling me". he complained, " And you want something that will strengthen your willpower? asked the Doctor. "well no said the man I was thinking of something that would weaken my conscience."
Transition: As Christians we are often taught to pay attention to our behavior as well as our thought life and rightfully so. We seldom think however about our conscience. Our conscience is that inner voice that helps us distinguish between right and wrong/good and bad. Our conscience is shaped by our values shaped by the word of God or lack thereof. It can be both seared and defiled. ( Titus 1:15, 1 Timothy 4:2 ) Our conscience needs to be cleaned because without this we will walk in condemnation and lack of faith. A clean conscience comes from the following:
1. COMMITTMENT to holiness Vs. 12
Paul had a clean conscience in writting to the Corinthians because he had a committment to holiness. Living a pure and holy life gives us confidence because sin separates us from God. Sin makes us feel condemned and unworthy. A clean conscience begins with a committment to holiness.
2. CONTINUOUSLY act with pure motives Vs. 12
Paul looked back on his life and at his present and understood that his motives were good. We must always do the right thing for the right reasons. The question should not be what am I doing? but Why am I doing this? All that we do should be for God’s glory.
3. COMPLETELY trust God’s grace not human wisdom Vs. 12
The opposite of trusting God’s grace is human effort or wisdom. The unmerited favor or grace is something that we must depend on not on our earthly wisdom. A conscience that trusts the grace of God is clean because self trust puts us on the spot but trusting his grace places the results of what we do on Him. If we do what God wants the results are His problem!
4. CONDUCT ourselves as true believers Vs. 12
Paul had a claen conscience because his talk and his walk as a Christian were in agreement. His conduct like ours should be right in the sight of other believers as well as unbelievers. If I am going the speed limit I do not need to fear when I pass a state patrolman. ( Proverbs 28:1 )
5. COMMUNICATE with clear speech Vs. 13
Paul shared that his life was an open book with no need to try to read "between the lines" Paul said what he meant and meant what he said. As Christians we must be truthful in our speech and communicate without using words that could have two different interpretations or meanings. A clear conscience comes from not having to wonder about our past words. ( Psalm 12:1-4 James 5:12 )
6. COUNT on the Lords return Vs. 14
The apostle had and kept a clean conscience by always looking forward to the return of the Lord. When we live our lives in such a way that we expect the Lord to return then our conscience is cleared. What if it were today? This anticipation of the Lord’s return also instills in us a sense of excitement and readiness. expecting His return is good for our conscience if we respond properly.
Closing: Someone said, The trouble with the advice "Follow your conscience" is that most people follow it like someone following a wheelbarrow-they direct it wherever they want it to go and then follow behind"