As Paul defended himself before Felix and his accusers in Acts 24:10-21 he makes a great statement in regards to the way he had lived his life:
“I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” (Act 24:15-16)
Notice Paul said the he strived to have a conscience without offense (a clear conscience ESV). Because Paul knew there would be a judgment (24:25) and so he strived to live his life the best way he could so as to have a clear conscience in whatever he do for God or and men.
We too need to strive to have a clear conscience before God and men. But how do we do that? Let’s look at four other verses were Paul talked about his conscience to learn the answer.
Be Selfless – In his relationship with the church at Corinth, Paul said, he had a clear conscience because he had conducted himself in “simplicity” toward them (2 Cor 1:12) or as Thayer’s defines it, he was not self-seeking but was generous of heart toward them, he was selfless.
As we strive to have a clear conscience before God and men we too need to be selfless. Selflessness will require us to be generous toward God and men by giving of ourselves, our goods and our time. No longer will we plot or scheme against others; instead we will go the second mile and look out for the interest of others as we would look after our own interest (Php 2:4).
Be Sincere – In addition to being selfless in his relationship with the Corinthians, Paul also said he had a clear conscience because he had conducted himself with “sincerity” toward them (2 Cor 1:12). Paul’s purposes and aims of life were sincere, meaning they were pure and since his motives were pure they were open for all to know and examine.
As we strive to have a clear conscience before God and men we need to be sincere in our actions. Sincerity demands that we will be honest and open with others about our motives and intentions and since we are selfless our actions will be pure.
Be Truthful – Paul had a clear conscience because he was not deceitful or crafty but instead he was truthful in all things (2 Cor 4:12). When Paul opened his mouth truth came out. Not only did he speak truth but he went one step further and renounced shameful, underhanded ways.
As we strive to have a clear conscience before God and men we need to be truthful in our words and dealings with others. As We need to truthful with God by humbly confessing to Him our sins so that we can say “I know nothing against myself” (1 Cor 4:4). Truthfulness must permeate our dealings with others for it is in truthfulness that we will find favor and delight from God (Pro 12:22).
Be Loving – Paul had a clear conscience because he had a heart full of love (1 Tim 1:5; 1 Cor 13). When Paul acted, he acted out of love. He would later say, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Gal 5:14) For Paul, a clear conscience was rooted in love; love for God and love for men (Mrk 12:29-31).
As we strive to have a clear conscience before God and men we need to love them and act on that love. If we have love we will be patient and kind; we will not be envious nor boastful, arrogant or rude. If we have love we will not insist on our own way; nor be irritable or resentful; we will not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoice with the truth. If we have love we will bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things (1 Cor 13:4-7). If we have love we will have a clear conscience.
Having a clear conscience is not just something that happens because of perfection but it’s something that happens because we strive for it daily by being selfless, sincere, truthful, and loving.
If you’ve messed up and you conscience has been seared don’t give up. You, like Paul, can have a clear conscience with the strength that comes from Christ (Php 4:13). God bless you today.