[b]THE ANSWER OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE TOWARDS GOD[/b]
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
One writer has translated our passage as, [i]this is the duty of [u]all[/u] men.[/i] The duty of all people is to fear God and keep His commandments. This is the answer to Solomons own question as we find it in chapter 2 verse 3;
I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.
That 'thing' that he discovered, in the final analysis, is to [i]fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all men.[/i] There was no joy in the world, no joy in a life of sin, no joy in even an occasional sin. How can a man find happiness when the conscience is in him like a scorpion, stinging every hour of the day? (para Ravenhill) As the old hymn says, [i]trust and obey for there is no other way to be [u]happy[/u] in Jesus, but to trust and obey.[/i] Free from the penalty of sins and free from Sins power, one is set loosed 'to will' and 'to do' his/her duty, which is God's own pleasure.
[i]Sin In Moderation?[/i]
Solomon did not fall overnight. First he had to deal with his [i]conscience[/i]. The conscience is that inward voice, that unaffiliated member that speaks on behalf of God charging a person to walk in what they believe to be right. A thousand voices without has not the volume or the authority of that one voice within. How shall a man silence this troubling voice within? Here we read of Solomon;
I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine. We need read no farther to now have the full explanation of the future course of his life. Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. (Proverbs 20:1) and again... Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again. (Proverbs 23:29-35)
Adam Clarke states that, More iniquity springs from this one source of evil, than from any other cause in the whole system of sin. (end quote) Leaven is the elixer that distorts the drinkers of wine. Leaven is as symbol of sin. Both wine [u]and[/u] sin are intoxicating. Can either be taken in moderation? Take heed that you understand this one fact, sin often carries with it a spirit of slumber. There is no such thing as 'sin with no side effects.'
[i]A Clear Conscience[/i]
A clear conscience is not the same as a numb conscience. Sin comes in and at first has a 'numbing' effect, but when the effect wears off and the conscience reasserts itself. Then it happens as Solomon writes in verse 35, [i]I will seek it yet again[/i]. In this case the it is wine, but this holds true for all sin that temporarily circumvents the conscience. This is one of the reasons why sin can be addictive, it is because of the initial numbing effect that it has upon the conscience. The conscience begins to trouble the heart and that troubling has to be dealt with somehow. The only way to purge it is through the blood of Christ.
Yet, indulging in sin has a temporary effect that relieves the mind from the weight of the accusing conscience. I have relayed the story in times past of how wolves would be destroyed in the arctic by trappers. They would take a sharp knife and bury it 'blade up' in the ice and place just one drop of blood on the tip. The wolves would smell the blood and begin to lick the blade clean. As their own tongues were severed the taste of that fresh blood only hastened their death. So it is with sin.
Joy cannot rightly flow when the conscience is not affirming or approving of our actions. Can a person have joy and peace when the conscience is at war with intruding sin? When the throne room of the heart is being stormed by the enemy- is there any way to decry, peace peace? Sin is an enemy and the conscience is that inward watchman. Say what you will you will not soon train your conscience to cease performing it's God ordained duties. It will take your sleep and your peace of mind until it is satisfied that you have renounced the means of your own death, sin.
The conscience is faithful to make us conscious of what we have done before God. The Holy Spirit also is at work to bring us back into full obedience to the known will of God so that our joy may be full. Imagine this, the conscience rises up, the enemy accuses and the Holy Spirit is dealing [u]all at once[/u]. What JOY is there in sin? This is mass confusion! The conscience does not soon lie down. The enemy does not soon cease mocking and pointing the finger. The Holy Spirit is almost relentless in drawing us back to God and OUT of the snare of sin. What a mess of things? What trouble and shake up? What sin could possibly be worth even this much trouble?
The key to a joyful Christian life is walking in complete obedience to the [i]known[/i] will of God. Your conscience agrees with this statement. Listen for its affirmation when it is said again, [i]The key to a joyful Christian life is walking in complete obedience to the [u]known[/u] will of God.[/i] Your conscience and the word agree, especially when you have been in the word of God in study.
Sin leads to [u]anguish[/u] of mind. The conscience seems to provide almost a mental foretaste of Hell itself when we are in disobedience. And its all because God loves us. It has been called the 'sixth sense'. It is as to your heart what pain is to the body. Can a man take fire into his bosom and not feel the burning? So also, man cannot take sin into his life and not feel the heat of the flames. For this cause I believe it is proper to state that what is desperately needed in our times is a return to the truth the God expects His people to live in total obedience to the known will of God and walk before Him in a pure conscience. There is no other way to live a life of joy and peace and fully appreciate what it really is like to be a Child of God in right relationship. Nothing takes the place of Obedience.
Robert Wurtz II
| 2006/8/14 8:21||Profile|
[b]THE END OF THE COMMANDMENT[/b]
Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: (I Timothy 1:5)
The dispensation of God leads to love both to God and man, through faith in Christ. The whole purpose of salvation is man's [i]reconciliation[/i] to God. You did not join yourself to a creed, you joined yourself to a [i]person[/i]. Very often religion is reduced to a series of 'do's' and 'don'ts', but this is most unfortunate. God used the illustration of marriage to show the 'mystery' between Christ and the Church. Some in our times have taken hold of this fact and ran it to its wildest extremes, but we must not allow their 'excessive' and 'immoderate' teachings to [u]stigmatize[/u] this truth in our minds. We have come into a relationship with God again through Jesus Christ. Would you discribe your marriage in terms of what you can or cannot do? Or what you must or must not do? Truly their are these aspects to marriage; but they do not fully represent the nature of the relationship.
Religion alone leaves the heart under the influence of all its vile tempers and evil propensities; FAITH in Jesus Christ purifies the heart. It readies the person to function in a restored relationship with a holy God. It offers a heart of flesh in place of a heart of stone. This brings the nature of the person into harmony with the nature of God. Regeneration removes the spirit of disobedience and gives in its place the Spirit of Obedience, which is the Holy Spirit. As Rev. D.L Burch says, "the Sin moves out and Jesus moves in." This is a complete change in rulership and dominion. A New King is on the throne of the heart.
Religious exercise cannot take away Sins power or penalty. The Gospel proclaims pardon, through the blood of the Lamb, to every believing [i]penitent[/i] sinner. That is, to everyone who has surrendered to Christ in humility. This is a heart with a willingness to obey God. Godly sorrow brings a person to this humility that positions the heart to submit to God. Godly sorrow produces a repentance, a turning from sin, in which turning back to sin is no longer considered an option.
The design of God in giving this dispensation to the world is that men may have an unfeigned faith, such as lays hold on Christ crucified and produces a [i]good conscience[/i] from a sense of the pardon received. The conscience can only be purged by the knowledge of the blood applied. This truth is all that will allow the conscience to lie down satisfied that all is well with the soul. The Holy Spirit comes in and the love of God is shed abroad in the heart. He whose soul is filled with the Holy Spirit resulting in love to God and man, has a pure heart, a good conscience, and unfeigned faith. But these blessings no soul can ever acquire, but according to God's dispensation of faith. (para Adam Clarke)
This is the whole point of the Gospel, that we might be restored to God in reconciliation and might come to know Him. Some want eternal life? But what is eternal life? Is it merely living forever? Is it escaping the wrath to come? Leonard Ravenhill points out in his interview:
And this is life eternal, [u]that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ[/u], whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)
We need to be saved from Sin because Sin and 'sinning' are an affront on our relationship with God. Worldliness in our relationship to Christ is like unfaithfulness in marriage. This is why it is impossible to love God and the world at the same time. This is why it is impossible to 'serve' God and Mammon at the same time. This is why idolatry is as adultery in marriage. God expects faithfulness and when our hearts turn aside after some other thing- that 'turning' damages the relationship. If left unchecked it can be fatal to the soul.
Perhaps this is why Jesus did not tell the woman caught in adultery, Go and sin less or that Paul did not tell the thief , let him that stole steal less, it is because in order to maintain our relationship with God we need to walk away from sin with an attitude of going and sinning no more. Sin is the [i]antithesis[/i] of love. We don't always view it that way because we are not accustomed to placing ourselves in the shoes of the offended. Sin hurts. Sin hurts someone.
When I was a small child I was sent to a Christian summer camp at a Salvation Army campground. As often happens, the teenagers were giving the 'juniors' (12 and under) a hard time about coming around their dorms. This was a hurtful thing to us because we wanted to hang out with them. It became a sore spot. A few nights later a serious prayer meeting broke out in the junior dorm in one of the rooms. 'Yours truly' (I) was manning the front door stopping the Teens from coming over to see what was going on. "Now, boys, just head on back over to your dorms, this is the junior side and yours is the teen side." At once, and I shall never forget if I live to be 100 years old, a dear elder said in the most solemn and yet soft tone, "That's not brotherly love." I dropped my head, the teens went in and the rest is history.
Do we stop to think about how sin effects others? Do we stop to think about how some of the things we say 'hurts' others? Do we even care that people are human beings and have feelings? Have we become so hard that we can say a cross word to a person and not even bother us? God help us! I think about how Jesus wept. Is it a mark of spiritual maturity that one would no longer weep for others? For their hurts and how we may hurt them? The truth often 'hurts' and we should [u]never[/u] not tell the truth as it is to avoid hurting someone (the truth of the Gospel at least). Sometimes pain is a good thing if it gets the healing process started. That is [u]NOT[/u] what I am talking about. Everything we say is not always truth. It is not always in the right 'spirit' either.
Do we stop to think about how we have hurt God with our behavior? We all know what it feels like to be hurt. We don't often put the shoe on our foot. Well, guess what, God knew that would happen. And I believe this is one of the main reasons we have a [u]conscience[/u]. It almost forces us to put the shoe on OUR foot and feel what the one we hurt is feeling. The heaviness and sorrow. The pain of one kind or another. Those words echo in my mind over and over again, "That's not brotherly love..." In time I bagan to examine and weigh my words carefully before I spoke them to try to see if those words would come off wrong or be taken wrong. At times I have been better than others, but it has helped me keep from opening my mouth and letting em fly!
Do you have a good conscience towards [i]man[/i]? When you get down to pray is there a face that comes up before you that you may have offended and you just can't seem to get anywhere in prayer? Maybe you need to make that call or send that letter? One of the greatest problems in Christian Perfection circles, I think, is an attitude of not saying "I'm sorry" or "I apologize." What is behind this? "I'm in perfection- I don't [i]have[/i] to apologize." Are we blinded by our own perceptions of our own goodness until we can't even admit wrong? Again, don't worry, your conscience will sure let you know. The Holy Spirit will also come alongside and let you know if you have not hardened yourself in that area too much. Keep your conscience pure before God. Keep it pure before man. Be willing to heed its counsel and make amends where need be.
Robert Wurtz II
| 2006/8/17 8:08||Profile|
[b]THE DUTY OF ALL MEN[/b]
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
What was the finality of Solomons experience? Sin all but destroyed Solomons relationship with God. Sin did to Solomons relationship with God what abuse, neglect, and unfaithfulness will do in a marriage. We have to focus on this. We have to start seeing sin as God sees it. When we sin against God we hurt Him at His heart. We have all been hurt by those we love. Some are familiar with the terror of abuse or the loneliness of neglect? Some have felt the sting of unfaithfulness?
We are not in a relationship with a creed or an inanimate object, we are in relationship with a person, Jesus Christ. Sin is 'personal 'between us and God. That is, it is a personal relationship issue. It may have wide reaching effects and hurt many people, but as David said in Psalm 51, Against Thee alone have I sinned and done this great evil in Thy sight. (para) Notice how personal the repentance and confession was? He did not look on a list of 100 commandments and look down on #37 and say, "Oops, I missed one!" NO! He understood the personal nature of the close relationship he had with God and felt the sin as it really is.
What did he say? "Renew a right Spirit within me." A 'right' Spirit? A right Spirit is the Spirit of obedience. Cast me not away from your presence. This is a pleading for the relationship to continue. "God, all I want is you- take my houses, take my lands, take my dreams, and take my plans" (as the old saying goes). Take anything, but don't take your Holy Spirit from me! This is a man who loves God more than anything else.
Yet, Solomon in the end knew he had lost out with God. He seemed to nearly have gained the whole world, but what about his soul? What about us? What about a little sin? What about sin in moderation? Every sin we commit knowingly is an affront on our relationship with God. Do we respond like David? How did Solomon respond? One of the saddest passages in all the Bible was Eli's response to the prophet when the declaration of judgment was pronounced, "Let the Lord do what seems right to Him" (para). What? What did you say? You mean to tell me you are going to let God just walk out without trying to plead for mercy? Do you sons mean more to you than God? What a most terrible thing. Yet, have we done the same type thing at times? Not really reckoning with what we have done and downplaying the implications? God help us.
Joy stops flowing and conviction fills the void when a true believer sins. Heaviness from the weight of a transgressed conscience saps the happiness of a Christian. It only takes entertaining [u]one sin[/u] to awaken the conscience. Evil thoughts (like birds) are flying through the head and we stop shooting them down and they build a nest in our hair. This is why James said that if we offend in one point of the law we are guilty of all, at least thats how the weight of a transgressed conscience levels the crime.
The reaction to the conscience and conviction? WOE is me! WOE is me! What have I done? We do Christians no favors by leading them to believe they can have a 'little sin' in their life and be OK. Why? Because the conscience does not agree with this. [u]The conscience will keep on being the conscience no matter what we do to the Gospel.[/u] We cannot alter its make up. We can silence (sear) it or numb it, but we cannot change some basic preprogrammed variables. The main thrust of the conscience? Not ONE known sin can be tolerated to remain. It only lies down when we have FULLY submitted to God.
Robert Wurtz II
| 2006/8/18 8:55||Profile|