The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians.
I. The Explanation of his actions. 1:3-2:13
A. Rejoicing in the blessings of God. 1:3-7
B. Rescued from danger by God. 1:8-11 (the prayers of the saints)
C. Rebutting the accusations. 1:12-24
Paul states that he was honest and steadfast in –
1. His conscience. 1:12-14 It is no mistake that he began with conscience. He identified himself with everyone of them – as all men have consciences and are influenced by them. Paul stated how his conscience has been approving his life and this statement may be used to challenge the readers of their own state of mind – can you say the same?
a. What is the ‘conscience’?
A simple definition offered by Dr. Roy Zuck is that it is “the inner knowledge or awareness of, and sensitivity to, some moral standard.” That standard may differ with each individual ….. but even so the conscience is the faculty of man by which he has an awareness of some standard of conduct.
b. Who has a conscience? God tells us in His Word that every man has a conscience –
2 Corinthians 4:2 “commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
c. What does the conscience do?
1). As defined by the world.
It is often said that one should let their conscience be their guide, or follow your conscience. This was often termed the “new morality” and it stressed the thought that each person is free to determine for themselves the standards of their conduct. By following “the dictates of one’s conscience” the person can justify whatever conduct they may desire, for if a person is persuaded that a thing is right, then for him it cannot be wrong. This is simply the old immorality of man’s sinful nature which was defined in the book of Judges as “every man did that which was right in his own eyes”
Many organizations that claim to be churches follow this philosophy! They do not hold that the Word of God should determine their attitudes or actions – it is conscience that controls! This is religion operating on the authority of the slogan “if it feels good, do it”!
2). As defined by the Word –
a). A man’s conscience can be trained. The will of the flesh (sin)
(1). The defiled conscience. This involves the rejection of known truth until the truth no longer seeks to guide in the right way.
Titus 1:15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
Defiled means that it has been soiled or stained and can no longer be of use. Remember the Lord’s words in –
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
(2). The evil conscience.
Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
The natural guide of man does not direct to righteousness. The value has been changed, reset to the approval of the flesh.
Illustration: Garmin GPS would continuously notify us “Please maintain speed limit”. She was like our conscience trying to convince us to stay at 70 miles per hour. Our choice was to either keep our speed at 70 or change the settings. This is what we do with our conscience. This is what Paul wrote of in Romans –
Romans 1:21-23 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
(3). The seared conscience.
1 Timothy 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
They have hardened their hearts against the truth of God.
Romans 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
b). A man’s conscience can be transformed. Romans 12:1,2 The Word of God
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Since he had turned to the Lord for salvation, Paul had learned of Him and lived in such a way that he could depend upon the judgment of his conscience as taught by God –
Romans 9:1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
Conclusion: What can we do to have this testimony that we may honestly share with others –
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Philippians 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.