The Value of a Clear Conscience: Acts 24:16
“16) In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.” Acts‬ ‭24‬:‭16‬ ‭
Let’s slow down and dig deep into this verse. It embodies an important concept that Paul both lived and taught. He understood the importance of a blameless and pure conscience before both God and man. Let’s take a moment and unpack this nugget of biblical truth.
In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul went so far as to say; “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and good conscience and sincere faith.” These were important to Paul and the New Testament church! (Take a moment and read Romans 9:1; 1 Timothy 1:19; 1 Timothy 3:9; 2 Timothy 1:3; Hebrews 9:9, 9:14, 10:22, 13:18; 1Peter 2:19; 3:16; 3:21-22)
Yet Paul issued a strong warning that the human conscience can be both defile and seared. (See 1 Corinthians 8:7 and 1 Timothy 4:1-2). This happens by living in sin and adopting the values of the world. According to 1 John 1:5-7, you can deceive yourself into thinking you have fellowship with God and yet walk in darkness. You can be religious while living a lie at the same time.
This is the result of biblical ignorance. Human conscience alone cannot be trusted. The mind of the believer must put aside deception and be renewed by truth and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. (See Ephesians 4:17-24) Through this process the human conscience can be quickened according to the Word of God.
This ensures that the child of God is walking in the Spirit and not the flesh. (Compare Romans 8:5-17 and Galatians 5:13-24) The conscience of the flesh is very different from the conscience of the Spirit. The same is true of the personal morals and values of a carnal Christian who is walking in the flesh compared to a born-again Christian who is walking in the Spirit.
Obedience to the Word of God is important at this point. It should be noted that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. (See Ephesians 6:17) Many merely religious people and carnal Christians suffer from biblical illiteracy.
The broader context of Acts 24 now becomes important. It serves as a contrast between two groups of religious people. The high priest and the elders of Israel had no problem with lying, deceiving, twisting the truth and plotting the murder of an innocent man. Their conscience was defiled and their morals distorted, but they were dressed in the garb of religion. As a result, their temperament was rude and their demeanor boisterous.
Paul on the other hand was calm, peaceful, honorable and given to truth. He stood before the Governor and calmly laid out his case. His conscience was clear and his motive and conduct for being in Jerusalem was pure.
So how does this context relate to our day? The difference between apostate churches and those churches walking in truth, the gospel and agape love is chilling. They are all under the banner of religion, but they are polar opposites when it comes to morals, values, obedience to God and His Word and walking in light and agape love.
Do not be deceived in these days. Jesus taught that you shall know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:13-23) Stand back and examine the fruit and compare it to the Word of God.
My observation from Acts 24 is that the high priest and elders of the people failed the truth and clear conscience test. They were producing bad fruit! Meanwhile, Paul convincingly passed the test. But notice, it wasn’t religion that made the difference, rather it was the gospel and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that set them apart from one another.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global