Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, "My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day."
Thoughts for Today:Easton's Bible Dictionary defines the word "conscience" as follows:
"that faculty of the mind, or inborn sense of right and wrong, by which we judge of the moral character of human conduct. It is common to all men."
Throughout his writings of the New Testament, Paul uses the word "conscience" at least 28 times -- I guess that would mean it describes something he is both familiar with and feels is very important. Yet over the last ten years modern man has abandoned the term almost completely.
Think back to the last television show, news program, magazine article, book you read (non-Christian), or movie you watched. Does anyone ever use "conscience" as a reason for any decisions? The answer is mostly no. The government, Hollywood, the judicial system, big business, higher education -- all want to determine right and wrong for us, not our own "faculty of the mind... inborn sense... common to all men." When did we stop trusting ourselves to make the right decisions? How did right and wrong become so confusing?
The Apostle John gives us the explanation in 1 John 4:4-5, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them." If you sometimes feel like Paul from our passage today, standing alone with your "good conscience" against the entire world, take heart, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
Questions to Ponder:Do you sometimes feel outnumbered and outgunned? Does it seem like everyone around you accepts as truth the world's point of view? Does this surprise you? Even in the Apostle John's day, Christians dealt with similar issues. Paul's example is to follow our conscience and John's instruction is to accept our ultimate victory ("You are from God and have overcome them"). What about today's lesson needs to be applied in your own life? Have you begun to let majority opinion sway your beliefs? Have you compromised the absolute truth of the Gospel?