“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:17)
Knowing and doing are two different things. Over and over the Lord Jesus Christ taught that blessings from heaven come when we do God’s will. Knowing God’s truth yet not obeying the truth is faithlessness. When Jesus spoke today’s verse he had just taught his disciples a stunning lesson of humble service by washing their feet. They had been too involved in arguing among themselves over who should be considered greatest among them to stoop before each other to perform such a menial task (see Luke 22:24). Jesus taught them humility serves others and is great in God’s sight. How then do we think we serve God while refusing to do His will? Elaborate theological arguments are offered to reject the role of obedience in salvation. But still the Savior says, “he that does the will of My Father in heaven” will enter the kingdom of heaven, not those who merely say “Lord, Lord” (Matt. 7:21). Yes, there is a big difference between knowing the truth and doing the truth. Do God’s will today and the Savior will bless you for your humble service to Him.
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron…” (1 Timothy 4:1-2)
Yesterday we learned that a conscience can be “good” while in sin, as when Saul had a good conscience while he persecuted Christians (Acts 23:1; 26:9-11). Today we learn how a conscience that was once trained in righteousness becomes seared; without feeling and broken. For the Christian, it happens when he or she chooses to “depart from the faith”. Deliberate sin, practiced time and again, overrules the promptings of your conscience until finally it is useless as an early warning devise against sin. To prevent a seared, unfeeling conscience you must be careful not to violate your conscience. Once you start doing so it becomes easier and easier to sin, and your conscience is gradually destroyed. Even then, God is ready and willing to forgive you if only you will repent. You can rehabilitate your conscience by God’s grace and your faith. Better still, refuse to practice sin and you will avoid damaging your conscience in the first place.
Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. (Acts 23:1-2)
Although Paul had lived with a “good conscience before God”, it had not prevented him from persecuting Jesus. The human conscience can never be the final judge of sin and righteousness, nor was it ever intended to be. The function of the conscience is to advise a person of right and wrong conduct based on how the conscience has been trained in what is right and wrong. A poorly trained conscience will not warn a person of a sinful act (as when Paul persecuted Christians). A conscience can even be seared so that it is no longer sensitive to sin (1 Tim. 4:1-2). Be careful to train your conscience with the truth of the gospel. A good conscience relies on God’s word to teach it what is right and wrong. Then, it will function well to warn you of sin and encourage you to do what is good. Do not “let your conscience be your guide” (your conscience may be wrong); Let God’s word guide your conscience. Your conduct will then please God, and you will “have a conscience without offense toward God and men” (Acts 24:16).
“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.” (Colossians 1:21-23)
Sin separates from God; it makes us God’s enemies. In sin, we were God’s enemies before our conversion. Yet, God’s love and grace is so great that he sacrificed his Son Jesus Christ to reconcile us to God. “Through death” you were presented to God as holy, blameless and above reproach in His sight. But, please take note of what follows: “—if indeed you continue in the faith…not moved away from the hope of the gospel”. Without a doubt, this statement shows that salvation is conditional (“if”). Your hope is sure “if indeed you continue in the faith”. So, it is possible to return to sin and move away from the hope of the gospel. Make it your aim today to remain “grounded and steadfast” and not to be drawn away from God and back into sin. Why would you want to become God’s enemy again?
And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (Mark 4:37-41)
In fear his disciples awoke Jesus and scolded him for sleeping as the storm threatened their lives. At his word there was a great calm, provoking fearful amazement and wonder in the disciples: Who could Jesus be? This is yet another proof that Jesus is the Son of God. But, here is today’s lesson: Jesus Christ calls on us to have faith not to worry over things that are under his control. Faith fully trusts God, never doubting that what he has promised, he is able to accomplish (see Romans 4:19-22). What we perceive as disastrous, the Lord sees as our opportunity to have faith in him. So, instead of scolding the Lord when trials come and he does not act on our timetable, keep putting your faith in him. This is our faith: “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Then one of the lawyers answered and said to Him, “Teacher, by saying these things You reproach us also.” (Luke 11:45)
Jesus did not set out to insult people when he taught heaven’s truth. Through no fault of his own, many were insulted by the plain truth he spoke. This lawyer (scribe of the Mosaic law) felt the sting of rebuke from Jesus as he pronounced three woes on the hypocrisy of the Pharisees (see Luke 11:37-44). God’s truth cuts in all directions, exposing every sin and error of one’s heart and life. The question is, will we be insulted when we learn God’s truth, or will we be humbled and corrected by it? How you react to the truth of the gospel says a great deal about who you are – and who you want to be.
“Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 4:4-5)
The sweet psalmist of Israel advises how to avoid sin when your heart is provoked. When you are agitated and anger is looking for a place to abide in your heart, choose a different course. Meditate on God and do not sin. Ponder the calming assurance of God’s favor and blessings as you pillow your head. Instead of giving in to anger’s loss of self-control, pause and redirect your energy toward righteousness.
When you are tempted to be angry toward others, speak graciously and act peaceably toward them. Calm your soul, avoid the sin of anger and put your trust in the Lord.