A Clear Conscience
May 7, 2019
The Bible teaches that one of the rewards of saving faith is a clean conscience. The scriptures explain that God provides peace that surpasses understanding, and one of the ways that God does so is by providing a clear conscience concerning our relationship with Him. The Gospel of Jesus Christ explains that Jesus came into the world as God in flesh to fulfill all of the Father’s eternally unconditional promises as the Messiah of Israel. The Father swore upon Himself to deal with the issues of sin that separate His people from Him. Since we as people are not righteous and fall short of the glory of God, we are unqualified to close the gap that sin causes. God, according to His mercy and grace, took it upon Himself to close that gap, explaining how He would do so as the Messiah. Thus, the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ was sufficient to deal with the sin problem. As a result of Jesus’ life and atoning sacrifice, mankind is able to have peace with God, having sins pardoned through the conduit of faith. As a result of this faith, Jesus administrates the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of His followers, who then convicts us about the sin, righteousness, and judgments of Jesus while conforming us into His image. This spiritual regeneration renews our thinking according to the spiritual cleansing of the soul through the Word of God. One of the benefits of this spiritually driven work, is that our conscience is cleansed as well.
The concept of justification in the Bible doesn’t teach that we are made righteous when we come to Jesus Christ by faith. Instead, the scriptures teach that we are “declared” righteous. This means that, even though our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, we have been born again by the Spirit, conformed into the image of Christ, and we are sanctified unto the Father’s holy purposes, our flesh remains. Which means we still sin and make mistakes. Every honest Christian knows this! Still, the patient and progressive work of the Spirit provides assurance to God’s children in spite of these failures. Since our works didn’t play a role in our salvation at the beginning, our works don’t play a role in our ability to stay saved. It was Jesus’ job to save us at the beginning, and it is His job to keep us in the possession of the Father. The Holy Spirit is able to communicate this truth so that in spite of our continuing failures and mistakes, our relationship with God remains steadfast and our confidence concerning God’s promises remains intact.
The testimony of Job explains that God has been providing this sort of assurance for a long time. Even though Jesus didn’t come until well after the Book of Job was written, God’s Spirit was still working in the lives of God’s people in similar ways. The Bible testifies that Job was a blameless and upright man; meaning that he was a man of faith in God and His gracious revelations. As a result, Job was able to receive the benefits of faith. He didn’t receive all of the benefits that Christians enjoy today, but the scriptures show that he was certainly a recipient of God’s assurance. The testimony of Job 31:35-40 explains that Job was confident in his relationship with God. This isn’t to say that Job felt he was perfect and worthy to stand approved before God by his own merits. The full context of Job’s testimony explains that Job attributed his good works to God’s influence. If not for God’s revelations and mercy, Job would not have shown good works. Job confessed that his works were the bi-product of his fear of God because of the glorious things God revealed to Job. So, while Job was blameless and upright and confident in his relationship with God, Job was also humble to state that God was the cause.
In Job 31:35-40 Job hoped that anyone would listen to the full depth of his testimony. Job was accused of being a hypocrite, but knew he was innocent of those accusations. He felt that the evidence he provided to defend his personal integrity was sufficient to prove any accusation against him as wrong. Job felt the case of his accusers was weak. Job felt that his defense was strong. Therefore, he longed for anyone to hear his defense so that his name and reputation could be cleared. Job missed the connection he had with God and the relationships he was able to leverage to share the Lord with others. Job defended himself and his reputation in hopes that those connections could be restored, or that he could just die without soiling the integrity and testimony of God that the Lord manifested previously. Job hoped that God would just answer him. More than anything, Job just wanted to hear from God. Job wanted his defense to be considered by God. Job had a clean conscience regarding the accusations of hypocrisy, but Job hoped that God would hear his defense so as to reconnect with him in the manner that God did before. Job’s suffering made him feel distant from God. Job felt like an enemy of God. Job knew that hypocrisy was not his sin at the time, and so he longed to know why God seemed to distant. Job’s defense was like Job’s prayer and plea to God to see that his heart was indeed pure in that area, hoping to inspire God to reconnect.
Job’s friends tried to convince Job that his relationship with God seemed severed (though it wasn’t) because of his sin. Therefore, Job sought the Lord to be his chief accuser. Job knew that God knows all things, and so desired that God would be his Judge. Job wanted God to play the role of a Prosecutor and document the accusations He had against Job. This way, Job could see and know the issue that made him feel distant from God. Job didn’t care about the judgments others made, because they had no eternal weight or merits. It is God alone who is Judge. If there was an accusation to be made concerning sinful matters of the heart, Job knew that only God was qualified to make those accusations.
Thus, Job hoped that God would write a book and deliver it to him. This way Job could see the true cause of his suffering. Job stated that he would take God’s book of accusations and wear it proudly on his shoulder and like a crown. This means that Job was confident that God would see things like Job did. Since God knows the heart, Job knew that if God were to document the truthful accusations against him, they would pale in comparison to the good things God had done through him in his life. Job had nothing to hide. If the worst things of Job’s life were the weak accusations of his friends, Job had no issue with putting those things on display so that they would pale in comparison to the wonderful things God had done in his life previously, and all others would see that to be true. In other words, Job had nothing to hide. He had no shame in his life that he tried to keep secret. He was not confessing to be perfect, but he was confident that the righteous works God had in his life previously were sufficient evidence to show that God approved of Job’s faith and fear. For those who have the approval of God because of faith, what is there to be ashamed of?
Job concluded his speech by offering yet another witness in favor of his innocence. Job explained that if he were guilty of hypocrisy and had secret sin in his life he was trying to hide, he welcomed more judgment into his life – more suffering – through the judgment of his land. When God judged Adam for his sin in the Garden of Eden, He cursed the ground. God made it so that mankind would not be able to produce fruit according to His desire, but instead would produce thorns and thistles. The consequence of sin makes it so that the effect of human righteousness is sharp, dangerous, and useless. Job invited God to expose his faults if they were true as his friends accused. Job invited God to cause his land to produce thorns, thistles, weeds, and brambles to provide compelling evidence of his sin, just like God did in the Garden of Eden. Job was confident that his land would not transform that way. Job knew he didn’t receive gain or increase by unjust means. He didn’t steal from others. He didn’t covet and swindle people out of their possessions. He didn’t take anything by force. Once again, Job had a clear and clean conscience. He wasn’t perfect. He was open to receiving accusations against him that were true. He repeatedly confessed his willingness to repent if some fault was truthfully brought to his attention.
Still, in the manner of hypocrisy like his friends stated, Job knew he was clean. The final words of Job’s defense show that, those who have good standings with God are not made perfect, but are confident in the mercy, grace, and longsuffering of God that enables us to continue with Him in spite of our natural faults. Job didn’t make sin his normal practice and daily habit. Job embraced the righteousness and purposes of God by faith, with zeal and fear. As a result, God assured his heart so that, no matter the things that might be said against him, Job knew that his relationship with God was intact unto eternal life, though things seemed contrary in this one. Those who can navigate the trials of life and slanders of others with this kind of assurance, can enjoy the peace of God that surpasses understanding, being enabled to persevere whether circumstances change or not.