Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Privilege of a Pure Conscience

I read only three verses of 2 Timothy 1 before the phrase captured my attention. A pure conscience. Paul wrote this. Paul, who in his own words persecuted Christians[i] and described himself as the chief of sinners.[ii] Paul, who lamented in frustration, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”[iii] because he found his flesh and spirit in conflict, and his flesh sometimes the winner.[iv]

Yes, Paul had quite the past, and even though he was converted, he still had failures in his flesh. Maybe some transgression was fresh in his mind as he wrote these very words to his beloved son in the faith. Nevertheless, he stated to Timothy that he was serving God in a pure conscience.

My own guilty flesh strutted confidently through my thoughts. But Doris, it accused, this may not apply to you: YOUR past is bad because, you know, YOU were just bad. It is true. I was just bad. I was self-absorbed, sensation-driven, selfish, resistive, and defiant.

My guilty flesh puffed itself up again. Ha! You have to admit it, you were as bad as all that BEFORE you trusted Christ, and SOMETIMES you are STILL THAT BAD. Again, it is true. The same flesh I had before I became a Believer still lives with me. I have the same temptations. I have the same conflicts.

But Apostle Paul, I understand you! I totally get why you can tell someone you are living now with a pure conscience. No matter what we did to earn our guilt, God gives us the privilege of having a pure conscience. Why? Because of our identification with Christ and His finished work on the Cross.

Paul said to the Corinthians, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.[v] Now, those who know me may find it difficult to view me as righteous (my husband may find it especially hard), but that’s exactly how God sees me!

Therefore, Paul writes that we should be constantly counting upon the fact that we are dead to sin, but alive to God.[vi] My identification with Christ is so complete that God sees me as having experienced co-crucifixion, co-burial, co-resurrection, and co-glorification.

So Apostle Paul, on this particular issue, I’m right there with you! I, too, have a pure conscience. Since I am crucified with Christ,[vii] sin and guilt have no dominion over me. God sees me as not guilty. I gladly and gratefully claim that I suffer no condemnation because I am in Christ Jesus![viii]

[i] Acts 26:9-11

[ii] 1 Timothy 1:15

[iii] Romans 7:24

[iv] Romans 7:15

[v] 2 Corinthians 5:21

[vi] Romans 6:11

[vii] Galatians 2:20

[viii] Romans 8:1

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