Sensing His Leading
Having a good conscience means let the Holy Spirit of God be in control of your conscience.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends, how in the world are you? Yes, indeed, that little corny greeting establishes the fact that this is indeed your good friend, Bob Cook, and you and I are back together again, sharing across the miles the blessed inerrant Word of God, the Bible. You and I’ve been walking through 1 Peter, we’re in chapter 3 and we’ve been talking about things that make your witness for Christ effective. First of all, make sure that you’ve sold out to God, sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. Have you said an eternal yes to Him? Have you told Him once and for all that you want what He wants rather than what you want?
Is the war over? That’s the question. If God hasn’t won in your heart, how do you expect Him to win in somebody else’s? That’s the logic of the first point there. Ready always, stay on the job, be ready to share your faith in Christ with anyone where God opens up the door.
And then he says, “Give an answer for the reason of the hope that is in you.” Small thought here, testimony doesn’t have to be laced with so much emotion that it doesn’t make sense. Some people feel that the more intense and passionate and emotional their testimony is, the better it is. Not necessarily. The Christian faith is a logical and sensible faith and it does appeal as much to the mind as to the heart. To be sure, God deals with my sinful heart and out of the heart of man, Jesus said, proceed all the things that need fixing, but a reason of the hope, it needs to make sense. Well, all I’m saying is your witness for Christ needs to make sense. Be sure that you know what you’re talking about, be sure that you know what the scriptures say. That’s why I always have advised students at the college when I ministered to them through the years as president, I advised them to master Scriptures that made the gospel clear. One such string of gospel verses I’ve shared with you off and on during the years that we’ve been on the air. Some of you remember that, don’t you? I got it from the Navigators, whose headquarters is out there at Glen Eyrie in Colorado.
But that string of verses, six of them, the fact of sin, Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” That’s the fact of sin. Sin is a reality in your life. Then second, the penalty for sin, the wages of sin is death. I oftentimes say, you do your best but you fail, don’t you? Yes, well, if you keep on doing your best but failing, what do we have to look forward to? Physical death, surely, but eternal death, as well. There’s a penalty attached to sin. Then the third verse in that string of gospel verses, is entitled, “The penalty must be paid.” Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed for men once to die, but after this, the judgment.” You do your best but you fail, you come up before a holy God and you have to settle the score with him. The penalty must be paid.
Then the fourth verse in the string of gospel verses is Romans 5:8, Christ paid the penalty, Christ paid the penalty, “but God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The penalty is already paid. He died for every one of your sins, past, present and future. The penalty is paid. And so, in the fifth place, salvation is a free gift. Salvation a free gift, Ephesians 2:8 and 9, “For by grace,” that means free for nothing. God’s riches at Christ’s expense, is the acronym there. “For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” Salvation is a free gift and the sixth and final verse in that string of gospel verses, then says as it’s titled, You must receive the gift, you might add in order to have it. You want a gift, you have to take it.
And the verse there is John 1:12, “But as many has received him,” God’s gift turns out to be a wonderful person, doesn’t it, the Lord Jesus. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Now, that’s a string of gospel verses. And you master that and you have something that makes sense, a reason of the hope that is in you. You get the idea. Then things that make your witness effective. We went on to mention meekness, which has to do with your attitude toward other human beings, realize that they are God’s special creation, and they are of infinite value to God and thus you need to approach them with that attitude. “Then respect with meekness,” it says, “And fear.” The fear of God surely, but also the realization that you’re dealing with something as dynamic as a live wire.
This is something you don’t fool with. You don’t play with it. You don’t play fast and loose with human feelings, and then expect at some point or other to get serious about the matters of eternity. It doesn’t work that way. Years ago, a boy came in to complain to me, he said, “People are talking about me.” I said, “What are they saying?” “Oh, they say, I just… I play up to all the girls.” And he said, “I’m having particular difficulty now. The girl I’m dating now I’m trying to win her to the Lord. And I can’t seem to get anywhere.” What he didn’t see, of course, was that his tendency to play up to all of the ladies had inhibited his ability to share Christ with any given individual. I pointed that out to him, he was amazed, he’d never thought of that before. We had some prayer and he got straightened around. And I think later on he fell in love with a fine girl, got married and is doing alright.
Oh, dear. Well, that’s human nature, but we have to face it, don’t we? Yes, we do. You don’t fool with the electric current of eternal life. You approach your relationship with another human being with the knowledge that this is something that is terribly important and terribly powerful. Your influence on other people is so powerful. That’s something that you and I have to re-learn and re-learn over and over again. Our influence on other people is tremendously powerful, more than we know. You’re dealing with the electricity of eternal matters. So you approach that whole relationship with a great deal of healthy respect.
Well, then, he said, having a good conscience, and I think that’s where we left off the last time, we’d just started to talk about conscience. Conscience, of course, is that God-implanted faculty that reminds you when you’re getting out of line. It’s possible to deaden your conscience as well. The Bible speaks of people who, having sinned constantly, have their conscience, it says, seared as with a hot iron. The place where they don’t care anymore.
Someone was interviewing on TV, a year or two ago, some person who had been what they call a hit man. He would actually kill people for hire. And of course, his face was away from the camera so that he wouldn’t be identified, but his voice was clearly distinguishable as he was interviewed. And I remember the interviewer asked him this questions, he said, “How did you feel when you killed your first person? “Oh,” he said, “It upset me, I felt bad. But,” he went on to say, “After a while it got to be routine. It doesn’t bother me at all.” When you and I can’t conceive in our position, we can’t conceive of killing any other human being. It’s something we don’t really have within the purview of possibilities in our lives, and yet it’s possible to have your conscience seared. You do one wrong thing, you tell one lie, you step over the bonds of morality once, you take one drink, you gamble once, you embezzle once. And by and by, it gets to be a matter of routine and you don’t think about it with any sense of guilt any longer.
That’s the way human nature is. Now, when the Lord Jesus Christ comes into your life and becomes your Lord and your Savior, conscience is now inhabited and controlled. I was searching for the right word. Conscience is now inhabited and controlled by the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. And so your conscience now comes alive in a sense that it wasn’t before. It’s strange, you’ll find believers apologizing for things that you might have shrugged off. A friend of mine who was in a position of tremendous responsibility and leadership in a Christian organization where I happened to be on a committee, was making a report, and as his report went on, he made certain statements, all of which sounded fine, to me. The report was received and some conversation ensued, suddenly he said, “I want to correct something. I gave the impression that so and so and so and so was true but it really was this way.” And he then corrected what he had said. Conscience. Why?
The faithful Spirit of God had reminded God’s faithful servant at this point that he’d better straighten that misconception out before the meeting went any further. Was it a matter of great consequence? No, it didn’t matter to me, and I don’t think it mattered that much to other people in the room, but it mattered tremendously to the man who was saying it. Having a good conscience means let the Holy Spirit of God be in control of your conscience. You give God half a chance and he will guide you. “The Lord shall guide thee continually and make straight thy paths,” it says. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths, God will keep you straight if you let him.
How do you work this? Does it come to be a constant examining of every word and sentence and every relationship with the fear that you’ve said or done something wrong? No. Does it get to be a kind of a neurotic process of going around apologizing for everything? No. Relax. You could be yourself. But be yourself under the control of the Holy Spirit of God and you can be sure, beloved, that God will nudge you, God will speak to your heart and mind and conscience when it is necessary. And when he does, straighten it out right away. Don’t wait. If you told a small untruth in giving a report and your conscience nudges you and you’re reminded that that wasn’t quite true, straighten it out, say right then that I need to change what I said here because it wasn’t exactly accurate.
You see what I mean? Be sensitive to the leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and God will keep your conscience clean, having your conscience purged. How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your consciences from dead works to serve the living God. Let him keep your conscience clean, so that you’ve got a good witness to other people. Well, we’ll come back to the rest of this verse the next time we get together.
Dear Father, today, may our consciences be clear and our hearts be tender in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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