Tag Archives: personal

Doing the Work of The Lord

Today’s message summary of June 4, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

If your focus is on the work of God, it will change you.  God should come first in your life.

If there is a lack of focus, there will be a hole in your life that cannot be filled by material things.

You can be confused over those things that you deem to be priorities.

Over time, God’s work can get lost within the course of life.  You can get so busy living and lose track of what is most important; yet, God has a plan for you each and every day.

The word of God is the most important part of your life.

Haggai 1:1-11

In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest: 

The Lord of Hosts says this: These people say: The time has not come for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.

The word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet: Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: Think carefully about your ways:

You have planted much

but harvested little.

You eat

but never have enough to be satisfied.

You drink

but never have enough to become drunk.

You put on clothes

but never have enough to get warm.

The wage earner puts his wages

into a bag with a hole in it.

The Lord of Hosts says this: Think carefully about your ways. Go up into the hills, bring down lumber, and build the house. Then I will be pleased with it and be glorified, says the Lord. You expected much, but then it amounted to little. When you brought the harvest to your house, I ruined it. Why? This is the declaration of the Lord of Hosts. Because My house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house.

So on your account,

the skies have withheld the dew

and the land its crops.

I have summoned a drought

on the fields and the hills,

on the grain, new wine, olive oil,

and whatever the ground yields,

on man and beast,

and on all that your hands produce.

 

Haggai’s words to the people of Judah was a revealing of their weakness toward the work of God.

  • Carelessness about the matters of God
  • Their sincerity concerning the things of God is small
  • Their leisure time was more important than God’s work
  • Their personal comfort was more important

Ezra 5:1-2

But when the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak began to rebuild God’s house in Jerusalem. The prophets of God were with them, helping them.

When you see and hear that God is at work, it places an expectation from Him upon your life.  As you remain obedient to Him, He will affirm your efforts and even provide the support that you need in service to Him.

Ezra 6:14

So the Jewish elders continued successfully with the building under the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah son of Iddo. They finished the building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius, and King Artaxerxes of Persia.

Ezra 7:5-6

Abishuas son, Phinehass son,

Eleazars son, Aaron the chief priests son

came up from Babylon. He was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which Yahweh, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he requested because the hand of Yahweh his God was on him.

 

The workforce was made up of everyone who had returned from exile.  Even though the people were afraid of the local residents, they still rebuilt the altar at its original site (Ezra 3:3).

The people overcame their fear in order to obey God.

Haggai points out the weakness of God’s people and what causes them to be distracted.  What are the distractions in your life that prevent you from serving and honoring God?

Haggai 1:2

“The Lord of Hosts says this: These people say: The time has not come for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.”

  • You can see it, but you won’t do the work
  • You can hear about it, but will not do the work.
  • You can receive from God the ability to do what is needed, but still choose not to do it.

 

The conflict here is your comfort versus God’s comfort (Haggai 1:3).

When is the right time to do God’s will and be obedient to Him?  The right time is when you see it, hear about it, and have received from God the ability to do it.

Deuteronomy 6:10-12

When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would give youa land with large and beautiful cities that you did not build, houses full of every good thing that you did not fill them with, wells dug that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves that you did not plantand when you eat and are satisfied, be careful not to forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.

Haggai 1:5, 7

Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: “Think carefully about your ways.”

You need to give consideration as to your ways in life.  You need to go over how you make your decisions and reflect deeply upon how you are spending your time.  He wants you to be thoughtful as to your ways.

God challenges you with your way of thinking here.  Before God asks you to do something, you need to consider how you are going to respond to Him.  He may give you something that will pull you out of your comfort zone.

God will enable you to do many things in your life if you simply remain obedient to His will.  Take pleasure in it, you please Him and honor Him, and God will honor you.

Are you taking care of God’s business?  It remains as a priority in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ.

Haggai gave words of encouragement only after the people were willing to obey.

Haggai 1:12-14

Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the entire remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the words of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. So the people feared the Lord.

Haggai, the Lords messenger, delivered the Lords message to the people, I am with you”—this is the Lords declaration.

The Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, the spirit of the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. They began work on the house of Yahweh of Hosts, their God.

Once the people began to fear the Lord, their own fear to proceed had subsided.  The people had to see God for themselves.

God’s message is “I am with you.”

Romans 8:31

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

Haggai 2:3

Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Doesn’t it seem like nothing to you? Even so, be strong, Zerubbabel–this is the Lord’s declaration. “Be strong, Joshua son of Jehozadak, high priest.  Be strong, all you people of the land”this is the Lord’s declaration. “Work! For I am with you”the declaration of the Lord of Hosts.

To build the temple was going to require strength. God’s encouragement was to say “be strong” three times.

When the Spirit of God is with you, there is no need for fear.  He will enable you to complete the task at hand.

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Life Beyond Salvation

Today’s message text from Melvin Gaines:

The evidence is overwhelming and unmistakable.  God’s presence in our lives is easy to see.  Unlike the contentions of those who doubt His existence or make claims that there is no God, there are many facts that we can point to that refute or cancel out the views of the atheist or agnostic.  This is not, however, about proving God’s existence to the non-believer, for a non-believer ultimately takes a position that is similar to that of an atheist or agnostic.  To deny that God exists is to ignore the evidence of His presence.

God’s presence is evident in the miracles of nature.  Only He can orchestrate the perfection of the earth, its atmosphere, its rotation, its distance from the sun that allows for optimal life for humans on earth, and the perfect balance of resources that sustain and promote overall population growth.  Seeing the miracles of God from a distance is one thing, but knowing Him on a personal level is a completely different thing.

To have a personal relationship with God requires more than just knowing who God is, because even Satan knows who God is.  An atheist or agnostic has no concept of a personal relationship with God.  A non-believer must make a decision to accept who Jesus Christ is in order to begin the journey of having a personal relationship.  A believer in Jesus Christ, as a result, must continue to grow and develop in his or her understanding of God to have a fulfilling relationship with Him.

Successful growth in a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ is not a certainty for the believer.  It requires the believer to do what is necessary to promote the relationship.  Please note that God is always ready and always willing to develop a relationship with you.  He is not fickle in the same way that you and I are about our fellowship with Him.  We have to make the effort to meet Him where He is as we develop our personal relationship with Him.  Why is this such a difficult thing for us?  Answer:  He is God and you are not.

The essence and nature of God, summed up in a brief phrase is eternal love and holiness. There are many, many verses that support God’s love.  In addition to John 3:16-17, here are just a few:

1 John 4:9-11

9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.

Galatians 2:20

…and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

The essence of God’s love is aptly described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

4 Love is patient, love is kind.

Love does not envy,

is not boastful, is not conceited,

5 does not act improperly,

is not selfish, is not provoked,

and does not keep a record of wrongs.

6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness

but rejoices in the truth.

7 It bears all things, believes all things,

hopes all things, endures all things.

 8 Love never ends.

But as for prophecies,

they will come to an end;

as for languages, they will cease;

as for knowledge, it will come to an end.

Romans 5:8

But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

Romans 5:8 should always remind us who we are in comparison to who God is…we are sinners; nevertheless, God loves us!  The talking points that describe God’s love in 1 Corinthians are certainly achievable as long as we are practicing humility in our actions.  We have to practice humility because we are fleshly, which is in conflict of God’s nature.  We are unable to love in the same way as God’s essence of love without the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  Without the Spirit, this is who we are:

Ecclesiastes 7:20

There is certainly no righteous man on the earth

who does good and never sins.

Romans 3:10-12

10 as it is written:

   There is no one righteous, not even one.

11 There is no one who understands;

there is no one who seeks God.

12 All have turned away;

all alike have become useless.

There is no one who does what is good,

not even one.

This is why it is foolish to rely upon your salvation, through God’s grace, of course, to be sufficient in the development of your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Your desire to develop a personal relationship with God should go hand in hand with your desire to learn about Him.

Proverbs 1:7, 22, 29-33

7 The fear of the LORD

is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and discipline.

22 “How long, foolish ones, will you love ignorance?

How long will you mockers enjoy mocking

and you fools hate knowledge?

29 Because they hated knowledge,

didn’t choose to fear the LORD,

30 were not interested in my counsel,

and rejected all my correction,

31 they will eat the fruit of their way

and be glutted with their own schemes.

32 For the turning away of the inexperienced will kill them,

and the complacency of fools will destroy them.

33 But whoever listens to me will live securely

and be free from the fear of danger.”

Proverbs 2:1-6

1 My son, if you accept my words

and store up my commands within you,

2 listening closely to wisdom

and directing your heart to understanding;

3 furthermore, if you call out to insight

and lift your voice to understanding,

4 if you seek it like silver

and search for it like hidden treasure,

5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD

and discover the knowledge of God.

6 For the LORD gives wisdom;

from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs 9:10

 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,

and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Proverbs 19:27

If you stop listening to correction, my son,

you will stray from the words of knowledge.

Psalm 119:66

Teach me good judgment and discernment,

for I rely on Your commands.

When you grasp the nature of God, His grace to you and His unconditional love for you in spite of who you are (Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 5:8), you can’t help but WANT to know more about who He is.  And there’s the rub…your desire to know Him and grow in your personal relationship with Him is based upon how serious you are about God.  In other words…”Do you take Him and His Word to heart?  Do you take God seriously?”

We already have the assurance of eternal life by trusting in Jesus Christ because His Word promises this to us (Acts 16:31).

1 John 5:11-13

11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

 12 The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

There has to be a foundation as you build your relationship with Jesus Christ.  He is the foundation of your faith, your development, and your growth.  A strong foundation begins with a Cornerstone:

1 Peter 2:1-8

1 So rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, 3 since you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 Coming to Him, a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God— 5 you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it is contained in Scripture:

   Look! I lay a stone in Zion,

a chosen and honored cornerstone,

and the one who believes in Him

will never be put to shame!

7 So honor will come to you who believe, but for the unbelieving,

   The stone that the builders rejected—

this One has become the cornerstone,

 8 and

   A stone to stumble over,

and a rock to trip over.

  They stumble because they disobey the message; they were destined for this.

Your growth in your personal relationship starts with Jesus Christ and continues with a key phrase—obedience to His Word.  We will only grow in Christ in our ability to maintain fellowship with His Word.

Psalm 1:1-3

1 How happy is the man

who does not follow the advice of the wicked

or take the path of sinners

or join a group of mockers!

2 Instead, his delight is in the LORD’s instruction,

and he meditates on it day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted beside streams of water

that bears its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither.

Whatever he does prospers.

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,

and do not rely on your own understanding;

6 think about Him in all your ways,

and He will guide you on the right paths.

When you remain obedient, God blesses your obedience with His faithfulness—remember that it is in God’s nature to be faithful because of His love for you (Galatians 5:22).

God also responds to our persistence in seeking Him, our patience in waiting on Him and in our desire to know more about Him:

Philippians 4:6-7

6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

1 John 5:14-15

14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.

Finally, in building your personal relationship with God, it is to be done with humility.

Luke 18:9-14

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else: 10 “Two men went up to the temple complex to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’

   13 “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, turn Your wrath from me—a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Salvation through Jesus Christ is sufficient for eternal life, but not enough to experience the abundant life…

John 10:10

A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

The abundant life that Jesus refers to comes from developing your relationship with Him through the following:

  • A desire for His Wisdom
  • Obedience to His Word
  • Persistence with patience
  • Reverence to Him in humility

Pray for His wisdom and focus upon these things each and every day.  It starts in His Word and builds you up as you trust in Him and rely upon His presence.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.


God With Us

Matthew 1:18-25
The Nativity of the Messiah
18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.
20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 See, the virgin will become pregnant

and give birth to a son,

and they will name Him Immanuel,

which is translated “God is with us.”

24 When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her 25 but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

When we look at the story of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, we find that it is more than just a baby boy’s birth–it is, in fact, seeing God at work. It is the story of God being among His creation. God’s plan was to have Immanuel dwell with us. Even though He came to be with us, He did so as God in the flesh.

Why did God choose to be among us and leave His kingdom? The short answer is that we could not go to Him in our sin. He is a holy and righteous God that would never allow sin to enter His domain. As a result, God, who is holy, righteous and just, came to us to do the work that would make us righteous before Him. God loves us so much that He desires to be present with us. We are reminded, even in the very beginning, that God walked with Adam. This was before the fall of man. His desire was to dwell and walk with man, but He does not excuse the sin that we possess, which calls for the need for a Savior.

Why didn’t God use a great person of faith to do this work? While people like Mother Teresa and Gandhi were great people indeed, none of these great people could do the work that God was to do. God did not have a fear of man, while Abraham, a great man of God, was unable to take on such a burden where a sacrifice needed to be made.

Genesis 12:12-13
12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ They will kill me but let you live. 13 Please say you’re my sister so it will go well for me because of you, and my life will be spared on your account.”

Jesus was willing to come to earth to dwell among us to give His life for us on the cross. God is life in Himself. Without God, there is no life. He came into the world to save us, not Himself.

What about Moses, a great man of faith?

Numbers 11:10-12
10 Moses heard the people, family after family, crying at the entrance of their tents. The LORD was very angry; Moses was also provoked. 11 So Moses asked the LORD, “Why have You brought such trouble on Your servant? Why are You angry with me, and why do You burden me with all these people? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth so You should tell me, ‘Carry them at your breast, as a nursing woman carries a baby,’ to the land that You swore to [give] their fathers?

How would Moses bear the burden of the entire world? He couldn’t do it. Only God Himself could bear the burden of the entire world.

The name of Immanuel…God with us. The name of Jesus…because He will save everyone from their sin.

What about David? Read the account of the sin of David and misuse of his power and authority in 2 Samuel 11:14-27. More than just the adultery that David committed, he demonstrated that he could not be trusted with the power and authority. Jesus declared that He was the One who was given all power and authority, but He never abused that power.

John 8:3:11
3 Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. 4 “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. 5 In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?” 6 They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him.

Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. 7 When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”

8 Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. 9 When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. 10 When Jesus stood up, He said to her, ” Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, Lord,” she answered.

“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”]

God made the choice to come to earth to forgive…not to condemn.

What about Isaiah? All he could do was confess his unrighteousness in the midst of a holy God:

Isaiah 6:1-5
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe [a] filled the temple. 2 Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another:
Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Hosts;
His glory fills the whole earth.
4 The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.

5 Then I said:
Woe is me, for I am ruined,
because I am a man of unclean lips
and live among a people of unclean lips,
[and] because my eyes have seen the King,
the LORD of Hosts.

What about Jeremiah?

Jeremiah 20:7-9
7 You deceived me, LORD, and I was deceived.
You seized me and prevailed.
I am a laughingstock all the time;
everyone ridicules me.
8 For whenever I speak, I cry out—
I proclaim: Violence and destruction!
because the word of the LORD has become for me
constant disgrace and derision.

9 If I say: I won’t mention Him
or speak any longer in His name,
His message becomes a fire burning in my heart,
shut up in my bones.
I become tired of holding it in,
and I cannot prevail.

God loved His people so much that He readily proclaimed the truth from His father, and no one would keep Him from proclaiming the message of His Father.

John 17:4-5
4 I have glorified You on the earth

by completing the work You gave Me to do.

5 Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence

with that glory I had with You

before the world existed.

Jesus was born in order to carry out the message of truth and would not be deterred. His message was one that no one else could deliver.

John 8:26
“I have many things to say and to judge about you, but the One who sent Me is true, and what I have heard from Him—these things I tell the world.”

He loves us and cares for us in a very personal way. When Jesus spoke, we were able to see His heart for His people and His love for us.

Romans 8:3-4
3 What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, 4 in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

There is no one on earth that could carry out the message that God can. Let’s remember that the Christmas that we celebrate was indeed God Himself coming to us to do His work. He came to save His people and deliver them from their sins.


A Clear Conscience in the Holy Spirit

Have you ever heard the famous quote, ‘Always let your conscience be your guide?’ Do you know whom that quote is attributed to?  If you guessed Jiminy Cricket, you are absolutely correct.  This phrase was made famous in the Disney movie Pinocchio in 1940.  ‘Let your conscience be your guide’ has been quoted in other plays and movies since its introduction in Pinocchio 70 years ago, but the essence of that quote, your conscience, is much older than that.  In fact, having a conscience is as old as Adam and Eve.

The definition of the word ‘conscience,’ (WordNet Dictionary, Princeton University), is a motivation that is derived logically from ethical or moral principles that govern a person’s thoughts and actions.  Note, in addition, that it also refers to a person’s own sense of right conduct, and it also means that your conscience will trigger within you a feeling of shame or recognition that something wrong has occurred.  We all know that feeling very well, and Adam and Eve knew it, too.

Genesis 3:1-7

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’ ” “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

It was at this very moment that Adam and Eve knew the feeling of shame (they realized that they were naked, which up until then was no big deal), and they knew they had to cover themselves up.  They now were aware of both good and evil, and each of them now had a conscience.

Because Adam and Eve succumbed to sin and disobedience, we all have a conscience to go along with the propensity to commit sin.

Now, at first blush, you may conclude that having a conscience, in other words, knowledge of good and evil, is necessary to distinguish things that are right, and things that are wrong.  On the surface, that’s true.  A conscience will alert you to those very things.  One needs to keep in mind, however, that it is not just having the knowledge of right and wrong that is important—it is also what you do with that knowledge.  If you recall, we also learned that a conscience is also what one can determine as right or wrong in his or her own eyes.  It is because of who we are, and our war with the flesh, our perception of right and wrong is invariably skewed because of our propensity to be subject to sin.

Since we were talking about Jiminy Cricket and letting your conscience be your guide, hears what R.C. Sproul had to say about conscience:

“It was Jiminy Cricket who said, ‘Always let your conscience be your guide.’ This is good advice if our conscience is informed and ruled by the Word of God. However, if our conscience is ignorant of Scripture or has been seared or hardened by repeated sin, then Jiminy Cricket theology is disastrous.” – R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith (page 151).

Even Scripture refers to both the good and weak-minded conscience where the differences in successes and failures are quite clear:

2 Samuel 24:10

David’s conscience troubled him after he had taken a census of the troops. He said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I’ve done. Now, Lord, because I’ve been very foolish, please take away Your servant’s guilt.”

1 Corinthians 8:12

Now when you sin like this against the brothers and wound their weak conscience, you are sinning against Christ.

Psalm 16:7-8

I will praise the Lord who counsels me—even at night my conscience instructs me.  I keep the Lord in mind always.  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Romans 9:1

I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience is testifying to me with the Holy Spirit.

Since our conscience is highly susceptible to fleshly influences and sinful propensities, we need something more to help us overcome what comes all too naturally for us.  We need more than our conscience to overcome the flesh.  We need the saving grace of Jesus Christ, who empowers us with His living Word and the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Without Jesus Christ, we have the same fate that Adam and Eve experienced once they transgressed against God…separation from God.  Sin separates us from God’s very presence because sin is rooted in ungodliness, while God is holy.

Genesis 3:23

So the Lord God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.  He drove man out, and east of the garden of Eden He stationed cherubim with a flaming, whirling sword to guard the way to the tree of life.

Sin separates us from God, and full-blown sin leads to death…not just physical death, but also spiritual death.  It is our eternity that is at stake.

Matthew 10:28

Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Our eternal destiny is sealed in our belief in Jesus Christ as Savior, but it is also our assurance that we have an Advocate that covers our sin.  We need an Advocate because our conscience alone does not cover our sins.  God knew, from the very beginning, that all of us would need a Savior.

1 John 2:1

My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the righteous One.

Our conscience needs reinforcement.  Where does this reinforcement come from?  The Holy Spirit is the living Spirit of God that is always present in the life of the believer.  God’s Word gives us instruction that helps us to see things from God’s perspective instead of in our own perspective.  Both God’s Word and the Holy Spirit are the guiding forces as we navigate through life and learn how to live our lives according to His will.  Your conscience will only take you so far in that direction; in fact, it does not necessarily lead you to the things of God.  Remember, your conscience makes you aware of good and evil, but it also allows for the flesh in your life to determine what is good and evil, and the flesh, in all circumstances, has nothing to do with the things of God.

Matthew 16:23

But He (Jesus) turned and told Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s.”

Romans 7:18

For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh.  For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.

We need both the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to beef up our sense of right and wrong and lead us into holy living.  Why both?  The Holy Spirit focuses on the things of God and teaches you as you speak to others and make decisions.  God’s Word, the Bible, provides the information that gives you insight into how God can truly help you to rely more and more upon the Holy Spirit and conform to His will in everything that you do.

John 14:26

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

Even with the presence of God’s instruction through His Word and the Holy Spirit, we are still reminded to pray to withstand and overcome temptation and the flesh that we will always experience as long as we are in the world.

Matthew 26:41

Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, operating through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, teaches you how to be holy and not rely just upon the flaws of relying only on your conscience.  He calls us as His people because He has higher expectations for us in our pursuit of Spirit-filled living.

Leviticus 20:26

You are to be holy to Me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be Mine.

1 Peter 1:15

…but, as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct…

Of course, all of this is a moot point unless you have Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.  No standard of living without Christ is sufficient because we cannot be holy without His loving, saving grace.

Ephesians 2:1-10

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to this worldly age, according to the ruler of the atmospheric domain, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and by nature we were children under wrath, as the others were also. But God, who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. By grace you are saved! He also raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavens, in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation—created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

Have you stopped and reflected on the significance of the presence of the Holy Spirit as a believer in Jesus Christ as your personal savior?  Without Christ, we are unable to meet God’s holy standard of goodness.

We need to continue prayerfully that we can live beyond what is considered worldly and live according to what is godly.  God’s standard is the standard that we must continually seek, above and beyond our mere conscience.

Colossians 3:5-10

Therefore, put to death whatever in you is worldly: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, God’s wrath comes on the disobedient, and you once walked in these things when you were living in them. But now you must also put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his practices and have put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of his Creator.

Psalm 24:3-5

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?  Who may stand in His holy place?  The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false, and who has not sworn deceitfully.  He will receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Your conscience is clear as long as you are relying on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.

2 Corinthians 13:13

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB® and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines.  All rights reserved.