Faith & A Good Conscience
FAITH AND A GOOD CONSCIENCE
A. Introduction: We are studying the fight of faith. I Tim 6:12
1. The fight of faith is the struggle we face to hold on to God's promises when we don't immediately see them come to pass in our lives.
a. In Eph 6:13 we are told to take the whole armor of God to enable us to stand in the evil day.
b. God's Word is His armor = information from the Bible. Ps 91:4
2. We have been looking at various facts from God's Word to enable us to stand until we see -- to encourage us as we fight the fight of faith.
3. Two vital elements in the fight of faith include faith and a good conscience. I Tim 1:18-20
a. And hold on to your faith; have a good conscience. Some, by not paying attention to these two things have had their faith shipwrecked. (Norlie)
b. Hold fast your faith and keep your conscience clear. (Bruce)
4. Faith and a good conscience are actually called weapons in some translations.
a. So fight gallantly, armed with faith and a good conscience. (NEB)
b. To fight like a good soldier with faith and a good conscience for your weapons. (Jeru)
5. In this lesson, we want to look at both faith and a good conscience, and see how they work together as weapons in the fight of faith.
B. Let's first make a few comments about faith.
1. Faith is trust or confidence in God.
a. Faith in God is faith, trust, confidence in His Word = you are certain that God has done what He said, and He will do what He has promised.
b. True faith expresses itself in action or agreement.
2. Faith (as the word is most often used in the NT) is agreement with what God says -- agreement that is expressed in word and action.
3. Sometimes, we think of faith only in terms of things such as healing and finances -- and those certainly are areas where we can exercise faith in God.
a. But what do you do when you aren't sick and all your bills are paid?
b. We are to live / walk by faith = continuous action. Rom 1:17; II Cor 5:7
4. There is a daily, moment to moment faith which we must learn to live by.
a. No matter what I see or feel, what God says in His Word is true.
b. Example: I feel God doesn't love me and there is no purpose for my life.
1. In the Bible, He says He loves me, and that He has a plan for my life. 2. Do I agree with my feelings or with God's Word?
c. Faith agrees with God.
1. Faith recognizes that, although the feelings are real, they are subject to change.
2. Faith recognizes that as I agree with God, my feelings will change.
5. Let's look at faith in connection with a good conscience.
C. A good conscience is one that is free from the guilt of sin.
1. A conscience free from the guilt of sin is vital if you are going to successfully fight the fight of faith.
a. This fight must be conducted with confidence, boldness. Heb 4:16
b. If your conscience is not clear, you will not / cannot have confidence before God to stand until you see. I John 3:21
c. And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us -- if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us -- we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God. (Amp)
2. This brings up a major problem -- we have all committed sins.
a. Guilt = the fact of having committed an offense, especially one that is punishable by law = we are guilty!!
b. We need to know what God has done with the guilt -- with the fact that we have sinned, that we are indeed guilty.
c. God removes guilt by punishing sin = paying for it, wiping out the debt.
3. A good conscience comes to us through knowledge of what God has done with our sins.
a. God is a righteous God who must punish sin.
b. He punished us for our sins by punishing Jesus in our place.
c. Christ's death on the cross and the Blood He shed was / is so effective that our sins have been remitted = removed; blotted out. Luke 24:46,47; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14
d. The sacrifice of Christ was so effective that God chooses not to remember our sins any more. Ps 103:12; Heb 10:16-18
4. God can and now does treat us as though we never sinned.
a. Because our sin has been removed, God is now able to put us into relationship with Himself = make us righteous.
b. Righteousness (right relationship with God) is a gift of God's grace given to us when we make Jesus our Lord. Rom 5:21; Rom 4:22-25; Rom 3:26
5. You must understand that your standing with God (position in relation to Him) is not based on you. It is based on something and Someone outside of you -- Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.
a. You didn't earn or deserve your standing with God by anything you've done.
b. You can't lose your standing with God by anything you do because it isn't dependent on you. It is dependent on Jesus and His work on the cross.
6. Rom 5:1,2 -- Therefore, since we are justified -- acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God -- through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation] to hold and to enjoy, peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace -- state of God's favor -- in which we [firmly and safely] stand. (Amp)
D. You must understand this so that you can differentiate between different kinds of guilt which plague us: Real Guilt = you have actually sinned; Feeling Guilty = a feeling of guilt which may or may not be based on fact.
1. Real Guilt:
a. If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, there is no more guilt for your sins -- before or since you became a Christian.
1. Rom 8:1 -- Therefore [there is] now no condemnation -- no adjuging guilty of wrong -- for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. (Amp)
2. I John 1:9 -- If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises] and will forgive our sins (dismiss our lawlessness) and continuously cleanse us from all unrighteousness -- everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, though, and action. (Amp)
b. What about those areas where we don't yet have victory and we continue to fall -- more than once a day??
1. Is it something you love and want to do? John 3:6 -- No one who abides in Him -- who lives and remains in communion with and in obedience to Him [deliberately and knowingly] habitually commits (practices) sin. No one who habitually sins has either seen or knows Him -- recognized, perceived, or understood Him, or has had an experimental acquaintance with Him. (Amp)
2. Matt 18:21,22 -- If this is the standard God holds us to for repeated offense, how much more will God?
2. Feeling Guilty:
a. We feel guilty when we've committed sin.
1. Therefore, don't sin!! And, when you so sin, be quick to repent. 2. And, be quick to believe that that sin is remitted, despite what your feelings tell you. I John 1:9
b. We also sometimes feel guilty when we haven't done anything.
1. You're not sure what you did, but you feel that you must have done something = false guilt.
2. False guilt has many sources: satan; our own wrong thinking; lack of knowledge; making and breaking our own rules.
3. If you feel guilty, but cannot identify anything you've done -- it's more than likely false guilt.
4. The Holy Ghost is here to point out sin to us so that we can immediately stop it. He doesn't keep us guessing!
E. Faith and a good conscience go hand in hand.
1. Faith is agreement with God; faith is believing what God says no matter what you see or feel.
2. In order to keep a good conscience, a conscience which will allow you to come boldly to God, certain you will receive the help you need:
a. You must apply faith to the facts about what God through Jesus Christ has done with the guilt of your sin.
b. When your own thoughts, inadequacies, short-comings, sin and satan accuse you, erode your confidence, make you feel guilty, you must be able to say: no matter what it feels like, God's Word is true.
3. God will not reject you because of your sin.
a. He is not dealing with you on the basis of your sin. He is dealing with you on the basis of what Jesus has done.
b. He is dealing with you on the basis of something outside of you. I Cor 1:30
1. He is not dealing with you on the basis of how much you did or did not read your Bible today.
2. He is not dealing with you on the basis of how much you witnessed today.
c. Because the basis of your standing with God the Father is Jesus and His work on the cross, and He and it don't change, your standing with God doesn't change.
d. I Pet 3:12 -- For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous -- those who are upright and in right standing with God -- and His ears are attentive to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who practice evil -- to oppose them, to frustrate and defeat them. (Amp)
4. God's help doesn't come to you because you don't sin.
a. God's help to us is called mercy and grace.
b. Neither can be earned or deserved -- they can only be received by someone who is confident they will receive. Heb 4:16
c. That kind of confidence comes from knowing and believing what God has done for us in and through Jesus Christ.
F. Let's look briefly at two examples of faith and a good conscience working together to produce the confidence necessary to receive help in time of need.
1. Paul at Melita. Acts 28:1-9
a. Paul was bitten by a snake as he gathered wood, but he shook the snake off and no harm was done. Then he prayed for a number of people and they were healed.
b. Let's read Acts 7:58; 8:1; 9:1,2. Do you think any of those pictures flashed in front of Paul's eyes when he looked to God for help in time of need?
c. Paul had to believe and agree with the very scriptures the Holy Ghost used him to write down for us to read.
2. Peter and John at the gate Beautiful. Acts 3:6,7
a. They spoke to this man and he was healed by the power of God.
b. Let's read Matt 26:69-75. Do you think that picture ever flashed into Peter's mind -- especially just about the time he was ready to pray?
c. Or this into John's head? Matt 26:56
d. How did these men get beyond that? How did they know their denial of Jesus wouldn't short - circuit the power of God?
1. Jesus taught them about remission of sins. Luke 24:45-47
2. They understood some things about grace and faith -- they knew it wasn't their own power or holiness that did it, but faith in the name of Jesus. Acts 3:12;16G. Conclusion: To fight the fight of faith, you must have faith and a good conscience.
1. You must know that God's help to you is dependent on Him and what He has done for you.
2. Your part is to believe what He has done for you and to rest in that.
3. When you know that God hears and answers because of His character (grace and mercy) and because of the standing He has given you in and through Christ, it becomes easy to trust Him for results.