1 Corinthians 4:4 – My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. (NIV)
I find today's highlighted verse to be very insightful, especially when I try to justify things that I have done which are questionable. I convince myself that what I'm thinking or doing is right, so, therefore, God will understand, accept, and perhaps even bless my choice. The trouble with that kind of thinking is this: I'm trying to create God in my own image instead of His.
When Paul wrote, "My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent", he was leaving himself vulnerable to attack by his opponents. They could use it to indicate that the great apostle Paul had sinful flaws and was not perfect. They could point their fingers at him and condemn his ministry because of his personal confession. On the other hand, some folks may have been convinced that Paul's deeds were all right, but he is reminding them that God would judge him for being a sinner, not a saint. It strikes me that Paul wanted to show his imperfection in order to give God the greater glory for His true judgment and great mercy.
In our society, we all come across Christians who never seem to question their motives, choices, or deeds. As long as their conscience is clear, they can keep on doing what they want, how they want, and to whomever they want. They equate a clear conscience with approval from God, rather than seeing the truth and understanding that they are sadly and sinfully deluding themselves. As Paul clearly suggests, it doesn't matter what we think about ourselves; only God can judge if we are truly innocent. No matter how much salve or cover we place over our consciences, God knows our motives completely, and it is those deeply personal parts of our minds, hearts, and consciences which will be judged, no matter who we are, what we've accomplished, or how we are perceived by other people.
Points to ponder: Do I use my faith to justify my bad behaviour? If I were God, what would I judge me for?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are sinful creatures with shameful secrets and hidden deceits. We convince ourselves that our behaviour is acceptable and our consciences are clear. Forgive us for being deluded by our own vanity and enticed by our own charms. Remind us of our failings, help us to confess our sins, and enable us to change our ways. In Your holy name, we humbly pray. Amen.
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