Here in Acts 24 Paul is ultimately on his way to Rome to stand before Caesar himself, but before he arrives at Rome Paul has the opportunity to share his salvation testimony many times to those who have him in custody.
Here his accusers the Jews have just like in the case of our Lord have brought trumped up charges against Paul and are spewing out their lies.
Paul begins to make his defense first by saying how he lives his life.
This is interesting, listen to what he says again; v16 /“And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” /Paul is saying that he uses his conscience to live in such a way that he might not offend God or man.
I want to you to zero in on that one word used by Paul here; the word “/conscience/” because that’s what I want to talk about for the next weeks.
I had a hard time finding a verse that sums up the thought of conscience like this one.
Not because the word /conscience/ isn’t used elsewhere in the bible; that’s not the case at all.
In fact, the bible is so full of places and events where the /conscience/ of men and woman just like us comes out like a mighty river; its overwhelming how much of this theme there is in the bible!
But the chances are you have never heard of any or maybe not many sermons or lessons devoted solely to the theme of conscience.
That’s a shame, because Paul said that he used his conscience; that it helped him be what he was for God.
Paul lived in accordance with his conscience, not against conscience!
Paul was what he was because he knew how to live and use his conscience!
Chances are that you have never given serious thought to your conscience; but you know its there, because you feel it when you have went against it.
But most of us follow our conscience as we would follow a wheelbarrow.
We push it in front of us in the direction we want to go regardless of what it says.
I want you to know that your conscience can either be the one of greatest gifts that God has given us to live by “if” it is used properly.
But on the same token, when we go against our conscience, live against our conscience we will never have peace of mind and of heart!
You cannot escape conscience.
You have to live with your conscience or live against it!
Now to get the bible’s perspective on the theme of conscience we have to use our bibles.
The word “/Conscience/” is not mentioned in the Old Testament /per/ /say/; but it is there in principle.
That might not mean much right now; but that is important.
Because there are those that who use this absence as their ‘ace in the hole’ as their excuse that this word or that word is never mentioned in the bible and because of that they rationalize that its permissible to leave it out or ignore it completely.
There are really some that deny that conscience is in the OT.
Before we get into the bible; Can I say that if something isn’t written in black and white in our bible chances are that it is in there by principle.
The bible doctrine of the /trinity/; One God but three different persons, is a word you will never find in your bible; but its there by stated principle.
The bible doctrine of the /rapture/, that the saved are to be ‘caught away’ to meet Christ before the tribulation and millennial kingdom start; is never stated in the bible by the word /rapture/ per say; yet it is in their by stated principle.
The words ‘/Sunday school’/ isn’t in the bible per say; but it is in there by stated principle.
/But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
To him be glory both now and for ever.
Amen./ 2 Pet 3:18
/But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
The word conscience isn’t in the old testament per say, but it is just about every in principle!
Adam and Eve
Gen. 3:7-11 They realized they were naked, they felt guilty when God came to walk with them, they ran and hid.
Because of their conscience!
Some say that Adam grew a conscience after the fall; but I believe he had one before it.
Joseph and His brothers
Remember how that Joseph acted like he was an Egyptian two times in front of his brothers, Why?
To active their dead and guilty conscience.
Joseph acted pretty ruff with them, didn’t he? Listen to what rolls off their tongues, some twenty years after the fact they sold Joseph as a slave.
Their conscience gets the best of them now, v21-22!
Their conscience has awakened!
When David cut off part of Saul's skirt while Saul was asleep, David's /heart/ smote him (see I Sam.
He knew that he should not have done this to the king of Israel.
Even though Saul was not a godly man, he was the king.
David could not respect the man, but he had to respect the office.
His conscience bothered him when he treated the king that way.
David’s sin of Numbering Israel
2 Sam 24:10 And David's /heart smote him after that he had numbered the people/.
And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
This was a sin of pride in David’s Life.
His conscience, his heart smote him; struck him after he had sinned!
The Wicked and Righteousness
Pro 28:1 /The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion./
Why we ask?
Because of Conscience.
That’s what causes the wicked to flee and that’s what causes the boldness of the righteousness.
All in all, the word conscience is used in the NT 32 times!
21 of those times it is used by Paul and the other times used in connection with Jesus Christ.
Jesus and the Adulterous Woman
This woman was caught in the very act of adultery.
Notice that Jesus didn’t dispute there claim.
A holy God is honest about sin, but he reacted to it differently than those there as well.
Notice v9 to see the work of conscience in them!
Paul in his unsaved state
Paul actually thought before he was saved that he was doing God a favor by taking out this new movement of Christianity.
He did it sincerely, he said before Agrippa Acts 26:9-11.
/“I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.”
Do you see that conscience is a bible theme not just a NT theme!
It’s everywhere, just about it.
What is conscience and how is it described?
What it is
What is conscience?
The word "conscience" in our English language comes from two Latin words.
/Con/ means "with" or "together," and /scio/ means "I know."
From the Latin, our English word "conscience" means "to know with" or "to know together."
To know with what?
To know with ourselves and to know within ourselves.
Conscience is that inner knowledge that helps me to know myself.
The Greek word used in the New Testament, /suneidesis/, means exactly the same thing.
It comes from two Greek words, /sun/ and /oida/, that mean "to know with."
Conscience is that inner faculty that indicates to us whether our actions are right or wrong, according to the standards within our hearts.
Oswald Chambers gave a good definition of conscience: "The conscience is that innate faculty in a man's spirit that attaches itself to the highest that the man knows."