Conscious of the Conscience

November 12, 2009 at 4:54 pm | Posted in Acts | 15 Comments
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Acts Chapter 20 is the beginning of the farewell section of Acts. The Apostle Paul had a genuine love for the churches the Lord had used him to start, and he wanted to visit them one last time. It was while he was in Corinth that the Holy Ghost gave him the Book of Romans.

When Paul, Luke, Timothy, and Titus meet at Troas, we get a picture of their church services: they met on the Lord’s Day, at night, at someone’s house. They shared a meal. Then they observed the Lord’s Supper, and they declared the Word of God. The Holy Spirit gives us the account of Eutychus – the man who fell out of church (literally!)

Paul went to report to the Ephesian elders. His report is written as more of an address than a sermon. It is not what we would consider “evangelistic.”

In this report Paul describes the past (Acts 20:18-21), and he highlights his faithfulness. He describes the present (Acts 20:22-27), and explains how he had no interest in doing anything other than serving the Lord. He describes the future (Acts 20:28-35) as being a time of coming dangers.

In Acts 21 we find that a large part of Paul’s third missionary journey was spent collecting a love offering from the gentile churches to send to the Jerusalem church. He was also occupied battling the Judaizers, who were very determined.

It was Paul’s desire not to see Christianity defiled with a mixture of Judaism. This desire for the purity of the Gospel message drove him to Jerusalem despite of all the warnings not to go there. When Paul reported about his trip, the Judaizers were ready right away with their rumors. Paul tried to cooperate by not giving offense, but he could not compromise the message of salvation by grace alone through faith alone, and he could not compromise in the area of undivided fellowship with the gentiles.

Paul was arrested wrongfully when a riot broke out. The riot was caused by Jews who claimed he had brought his gentile friends into the temple. The Roman authorities kept him from being killed. They thought he was someone else at first, but he spoke Greek to them, so they let him speak to the Jews, and he then spoke Aramaic.

Paul declared what he had personally seen and been involved in:

And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.

Acts 21:19

He was impressing the Jews with this testimony until he mentioned the word “gentiles.” That word almost started another riot.

Claudius was going to have Paul scourged, but then Paul revealed that he was a Roman citizen. Roman citizens were not to be bound or scourged. Claudius had obtained his Roman citizenship by bribery. Paul had inherited his Roman citizenship from his father – he was “born free.”

It had been preordained that Paul was going to Rome – it’s just that God was making it so that Rome would foot the bill for the journey: Paul was going as a prisoner.

There is no Acts 12:5 in Acts Chapter 22.

Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

Acts 12:5

Paul was in prison. The Judaizers were probably influencing the church in Jerusalem. And Satan was probably influencing the Judaizers. We must never let Satan stop our prayers.

In Acts Chapter 23 Paul is taken by the Roman captain before the Sanhedrin. He testified as a defendant, but his testimony was really preaching.

And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

Acts 23:1

When the Bible uses the Word “conscience” in this verse, the Holy Ghost is telling us that our conscience applies the standard for our behavior, not that it sets the standard. You may have seen the stereotypical movie tough guy who lives by a “code.” He will rob, kill, and extort, but he won’t allow a lady to be insulted, or maybe he won’t shoot somebody in the back. That is the world’s idea of “conscience,” in which each person determines his own behavior by whatever happens to offend him or her. It is not the Bible’s idea of conscience.

We do not know if the Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Hebrews, but we do know that one reason it was written was to explain the difference between being a Jewish Christian and a Jew who wants to be called a Christian. Hebrews explains the seared and the evil conscience. The Apostle Paul used the word “conscience” 21 times in his letters.

Paul didn’t particularly enjoy being slapped in the face as a petty raging insult by Ananias the high priest, and he called him a “whited wall.” Then he brought up the Resurrection – which he knew would divide the council. The Sanhedrin had now officially rejected Jesus, Peter, and Paul.

Paul’s sister and nephew warned Claudius of a plot to kill Paul, so Claudius knew he had to get him out of Jerusalem. He had Paul taken to Caesarea and turned over to Felix the Roman governor and imprisoned in the palace.

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  2. […] Acts 21:25 […]

  3. […] Acts 20:29, emphasis added […]

  4. […] people obey because of conscience: Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience […]

  5. […] for itself with what it’s going to be filled. As living, breathing vessels, with souls and consciences and consciousness, God made us so that we can think and make decisions. Some vessels are “fitted” to […]

  6. […] Is Running Out 17. Insincerity, Inaccuracy, or Incompletion? 18. Promoted with Straight A’s 19. Conscious of the Conscience 20. The More You See, the Better You Look 21. The […]

  7. […] In the Millenial Temple there will be no “separating wall.” In the Book of Acts we saw that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Paul because they thought he had brought Gentiles into the Temple. […]

  8. […] He has kept you alive this far. (Jeremiah 51:50) Remember the poor. (Galatians 2:10) Remember the good examples that God has given you (Acts 20:31), and the bad examples. (Luke 17:32) Remember your brothers and […]

  9. […] Apostle Paul was almost killed in a riot, but he was rescued by Roman centurions and allowed to address the crowd. He testified to them […]

  10. […] He makes these accusations against us in two places: a. In our consciences (I Chronicles 21:1) b. Before the Throne of God (Job […]

  11. […] his way to Jerusalem. He was trying to make it there for the celebration of Pentecost, and it was a very important missionary journey. He was planning to depart on the “morrow” – the next day – and this was the […]

  12. […] What if Jesus was quietly writing out the names of some of the Pharisees’ mistresses or girlfriends – women with whom they themselves were committing adultery? Whatever it was He was writing, it convicted their consciences. […]

  13. […] B. God’s people should be distinct in their conscience. […]

  14. […] very well be the conviction of the Holy Spirit, or it might be your not-quite-completely-calloused conscience. In other words, your attitude about Christians who live consistently with what they claim they […]

  15. […] was part of Paul’s missionary team, and his personal physician, but he had not walked with Jesus personally while Jesus was on earth […]


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