Who Told You That You Were Guilty?
Discussing the topic of “Who Told You That You Were Guilty?” is a very dangerous thing to examine and some people will stumble in it. We’re going to discover that the only person we need to feel guilt from is God. Yet men seek to make us feel guilty for not living up to their standards, rules or laws. Yet it can create a problem because in our arrogance and pride we like to say that we are accountable only to God, yet we still hold onto our sin. Let’s look at the issue which people stumble in frequently. Let’s go to Hosea:
Hosea 14:9 – Who is wise?
This is going to be a little bit difficult to explain and even more difficult to live.
Hosea 14:9 – He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.
The very thing that we understand and rejoice in is the same thing the wicked stumble in. They can’t fathom it, and they can’t put it into practice at all. We think we are accountable only to God. We do not listen to what any man or even what our own consciences have to say. That is very dangerous. Yet, it is so easy to say, “Oh, I’ve heard the Lord on this,” or “The Lord hasn’t convicted me on that.” In the meantime, we have all this sin in our lives. The wicked stumble in this, but the righteous walk and run in it.
We have looked at the fall many times. As you begin to live the crucified life, you will find an absolute total freedom. You will no longer going be at the mercy of your own thoughts, guilt, or conviction. Many times people come to me and say, “I really feel guilty about this,” or “I thought this was bad in my life.” When we take a look at it, we find out they shouldn’t have felt guilty in the first place. It was just them telling themselves that they were guilty. This same thing took place at the fall in the garden. How many times have you presented the gospel or did something in the Lord and people accuse you of doing something unloving and unkind? Then you feel guilty and carry a burden. You think, “I did something wrong. I did something unloving.” You start thinking you are guilty because of man or from your own conscience which has become defiled. We need to return back to a good conscience in God. After they had eaten, this is what God said:
Genesis 3:11 – And he said, “Who told you that you were naked?”
One of the first things that happened after the fall in the garden was that man’s conscience died. It was totally destroyed. What God had made was totally perfect. Man was in the garden. Woman was in the garden. They were naked and felt no shame. They knew it was perfect. That was the way God created them. But, the minute they ate of the tree what was their conclusion? What did their conscience tell them? That they were naked and exposed, they needed to change or cover up something, even though God had not told them they were guilty.
Genesis 3:11 – And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
We grab all kinds of biblical wisdom and commentaries. We listen to sermon tapes, talk with our brothers and sisters, and come up with all kinds of conclusions about things that we should or shouldn’t have done. God comes to us and says, “Who told you that you were guilty? Who told you that you were in sin?” It wasn’t from God that they receiving this kind of wisdom and enlightenment or chastisement, was it? It was their own conclusions and thoughts. In the same way, governments set up all kinds of rules and regulations. We think that if we disobey those things that somehow we have done something morally wrong. Why? When Hitler came into power he laid down one rule after another, until eventually it was against the law not to turn a Jew in. Then it became immoral. Finally, people were doing the government and humanity a favor by turning in a Jew. They were not receiving from the Lord what was right or wrong. People came to those conclusions on their own. It begins when we come to our own conclusions and say, “I am guilty” or “I am innocent.” We are not listening to what the Lord has to say. Instead we listen to our own consciences which died in the garden.
Genesis 3:6 – When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.
We enjoy running around analyzing ourselves and looking at our lives. It is a very self-centered kind of activity. When I was taking psychology courses, we discussed the big questions people ask; “Who am I?” and “Where am I going?” and “Why am I here?” and “Why do I do all these things?” Worldly people talk and examine their lives to see what needs to change. Christians do the same thing. They don’t receive it from the Lord, (although they’ll claim it is from him), but their conviction and guilt comes from other people. It seems desirable for wisdom and you can talk, analyze, and find Scripture to back it up, but it is not coming from the Lord. Anytime we begin to examine our own lives, good or bad, we will come to the wrong conclusion. God asks the questions, “Who told you that you were naked? Who told you that you were guilty? Who told you what you did was wrong?” So, we have to begin to tune out what men say to us, and tune out even our own thoughts to hear from the Lord. God calls us to do lots of things that men will say are wicked and evil, but they are not. On the other hand, we say a lot of things to justify our innocence, but we really are guilty.
Genesis 3:7 – Then the eyes of both of them were opened…
Now they had insight and knowledge. They were able to see and examine what was right and wrong. They had eaten of the fruit, but their consciences had died. In the beginning, they didn’t run around worrying about right and wrong. They were in a place of perfect rest. God would have told them what was right and what was wrong. God would have communicated all of that and they could have had fellowship with God, instead of debating about what is right and wrong. Think about a lot of the discussions that go on in the body; “Is this right? Is this wrong?” The burden that we carry trying to decide what is right and wrong was not there before the fall. They were perfectly at rest.
Genesis 3:7 – Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked.
Yes, they realized. They had not been told they were naked. They had not been told it was sin, but they realized it.
Genesis 3:7 – So they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Man has been doing this ever since the fall. Men come to us and tell us that we are guilty. We start sewing little fig leaves to cover ourselves, to make ourselves look better. Think back to churches you have been in and the people you had relationships with. Remember how they manipulated you, how they controlled you with a false sense of guilt? There are plenty of things to feel guilty over, just don’t waste your time falling for what man has to say.
It is easy to see why the wicked will stumble in this, because the minute you move man out of the way, then pride can set in and say, “I’m not going to listen to any man.”
Genesis 3:8 – Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day…
God comes in a non-threatening way, at a time in which the day is cool. It is a relaxing time. They hear the faint rumblings of God walking into the garden. Once the conscience has died and we have that sense of guilt, what do we do? We run from the Lord to hide from him, to stand behind the fig leaves we have established. That is why God said, “Who told you that you were guilty?” If they had run out into the open and said, “God, we sinned. We ate the fruit and we have this sense of shame. We don’t know where it came from, but forgive us,” they would have found the cleansing and the forgiveness they desired. But, when we begin to have man’s sense of guilt, we put this guilt on ourselves. Look back in the past. What did you seek to do? You sought to cover yourself, and so then when you hear God coming to really deal with you, you run from the very one that would forgive you. This is what is so backwards about carrying around a false sense of guilt that either a man puts on us or we put on ourselves.
Genesis 3:8 – Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
They hear him coming into the garden, but they run to hide. A lot of you are running and hiding from him who seeks to cleanse you and forgive you, because you carry around the burden of guilt that you cannot deliver yourself from at all.
Genesis 3:9 – But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
That is the question. God wants to dialogue, he wants to talk. He wants to sit down and reason with you. He wants you to say, “I don’t know where I’m at. I don’t know what is going on. I don’t know why I got here. Is this guilt from you? Should I carry this load of guilt around?” He wants us to be in the open and to reason with him, to lay down the shame and the guilt in order to get to a place of forgiveness again. What is always the aim of psychology? “Where am I going? What am I doing? Who am I? I don’t know where my life is anymore or I don’t know what is going on.” Psychology based on man asking himself the question. God longs to come to each of us and say, “Where are you at?” That brings you into a relationship with God that’s not based upon a relationship with a man, or a preacher, a book you read or anything else. It is the living God coming to each individual and asking, “Where are you right now in a relationship with me?” But you see, most people aren’t interested in a relationship with God. They just want to get out from under the guilt. Or they like the fig leaves they have sewn together. They like hiding in the corners doing what they want to do. Yet, God comes to draw us out in the light, to sit down before him to answer his question and say, “God, we don’t know where we are at. We don’t even know how we got in this situation. We weren’t listening to you. We ate of the tree. What we did was wrong. What should be done?” See how God comes in the cool of the day. He comes in a way of love. He comes in a way of mercy, but they run from it. We need to come into the light, his light, to be fully accountable to him and not accountable to any man or our own conscience.
Genesis 3:10 – He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
The dialogue begins. They feel guilty for something they should not feel guilty for. How sad it is! Look in the body. How many people don’t feel guilty for the things they should feel guilty about, but then they feel guilty for things they shouldn’t feel guilty about?” It makes no sense at all. This happens when our conscience becomes defiled and we are separated from God. He is the one with the insight and the one who can correct us. He can purify us so why are we running away?
Genesis 3:11 – And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
Now they carry the burden of deciding what is good or bad. That is the burden that God wants you to lay down. You ate from the tree of good and evil, so you have wisdom and knowledge but God asks you to lay it down. We have discussions, preachers and all sorts of books that will tell us what is right and wrong, but we won’t do the one thing God wants us to do. He wants us to ask, “What is right about my life and what is wrong about it?” Then the peace flows and the grace can come in. So no matter what man says, if God tells you it is right, it is right. If men tell you that you are right, and God says you’re guilty, then they are wrong.
The conscience of man, is the part of man that tells him if he is guilty or innocent. The problem is it died in the garden. Returning to Christ will move you back into the place where you can obtain again a good conscience. Even the world talks about it in children’s songs. Remember the song in Pinocchio “Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide”? Yet as man uses his conscience, the world grows more wicked because we ate of the tree. We decide what is good and bad, but we don’t have a good conscience. We need to return to a good conscience in the Lord.
1 Timothy 1:3-5 – As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience…
Our old conscience needs to be crucified and made holy, to be made alive again in Christ. Again, the question is “Who told you that you were guilty?” Is it your good conscience that God gave you or is it just your old conscience running around trying to decide what you want to change?
1 Timothy 3:5 – The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Many think they have love in their life, but they don’t have a good conscience. Yet, they have never gone before the Lord to let him deal with that conscience, to let him purify and crucify that which is evil.
1 Timothy 3:7 – They want to be teachers of the law…
They want to preach the gospel and declare the good news.
1 Timothy 3:7 – …but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
They stand up before you and they say, “We know this is the truth. This is right. This is wrong. This is the way we ought to conduct ourselves. This is what it means to be a Christian. This is innocent. This is guilty. They declare things with confidence. But because they do not have a good conscience nor do they understand what a good conscience is they don’t have the slightest idea of real truth. We must become a people that have a good conscience before God. The only place you can get that is from the living God. It will have to come down to a one-on-one relationship with the living God. I cannot give you a good conscience. I can barely describe to you what it is and how it comes out. All I know is that he can give it to you and he can work it. You see, a lot of people don’t think a good conscience is possible.
Titus 1:15 – To the pure, all things are pure…
To those who have their consciences cleansed by God, they can see all things as they really are. They can see the truths or the lies. “To the pure, all things are pure.” They can see things clearly because they have been purified. God has done the cleansing, but it says:
Titus 1:15 – But to those who are corrupted …
That is, their consciences aren’t quite clean. They might have a 90% clean conscience, but there is still 10% that is corrupted, if that were even possible.
Titus 1:15 – But to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.
Lots of people who claim to be Christians don’t believe it’s possible to get a good conscience. What does verse 16 say?
Titus 1:15-16 – …In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
If you don’t have a good conscience from God, then you need to ask, “God, am I detestable? Am I disobedient? Am I unfit for doing anything good?” Because as long as we run around judging ourselves and doing it in our own power or letting other men judge us, we are hiding in the bushes and can’t walk in a relationship with God. We can’t know right from wrong no more than Adam and Eve knew right from wrong.
1 Timothy 1:18 – Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight,…
How do we fight the good fight? How do we get in and fight this battle? There are all kinds of how-to books, but look at what Scripture says:
1 Timothy 1:19 – …holding on to faith and a good conscience.
It is imperative that we become a people with a good conscience, a conscience that comes from the living God. How do you know whether you have a good or bad conscience? It is very simple. If you have to be convinced over and over again that what you are doing is sinful before God then you don’t have a good conscience. If somebody has to sit down with you for hours on end, lay it out in the Holy Spirit in order to get you to see, then you don’t have a good conscience. The conscience is like a string that the wind blows. It is very sensitive and responds to the slightest movement of God. The conscience is that first inkling of what’s correct. It is the most sensitive part of our soul. Before we ever think, act or do anything, this is where we have a sense of right or wrong.
1 Timothy 1:19 – …holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.
Men give themselves to all kinds of things in Jesus Christ like miracles or speaking in tongues, but how many times do you hear people say, “I’m giving myself to a good conscience”? How many people talk about praying for a good conscience? When was the last time you heard anybody in any prayer group say, “I need a better conscience”? Why? Because it goes to the most inward part of who we are, all the way to the fall, to the first thing that was defiled. In order for God to cleanse our conscience, it must be a powerful work that hurts. Everything else God tries to deal with effects outward things that men can see or things that we feel the effect of when he tries to crucify. Yet dealing with your conscience is where God has to really do some major purification deep down inside. Let me tell you, that does not compare to the outward discipline you have been through, not at all.
1 Timothy 3:19 – …holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.
People do all of the other things that God talks about but they let go of a good conscience. The ship just goes straight into shore and is totally destroyed.
Now, look at Verse 20. I want you to see how serious this is. It was the first thing that died in the garden and it is the first thing that he will deal with powerfully. You think you have wept over sin! Just wait until God deals with the secret thoughts of your heart. We are talking about the conviction, where God whispers and you sense the sin. Peter experienced this when Jesus turned and looked at Peter, and Peter went out and wept bitterly. His conscience was finally where it should be. Before, Peter argued and debated, didn’t he? At that point, Jesus turned and looked at him, and Peter went and wept. We are talking about that kind of walk with God.
1 Timothy 1:20 – Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.
This is not a minor issue with people in the body, and don’t think that this cannot happen. I am not trying to threaten you to get a good conscience, but to show you just how serious this battle really is. Now, you may be looking at all that’s right and wrong, what looks good and noble or what you want to surrender, but what we are really talking about is a good conscience before God. One that is clean so that as you walk about daily you can sense what God is going to do, and what is right and wrong before you ever do the right or wrong. When you do the right, you can celebrate fully knowing it is right. Then before you ever begin the wrong, you will sense the guilt and not move in that direction. Alexander and Hymanaeus did the outward things, but they avoided a good conscience. They weren’t doing it from the heart. They weren’t doing it from what was deep from within. Paul had probably warned them over and over again saying, “This has to change. You have to become different. It has to come from deep within.” They refused to do so, but still laid claim to the name of Jesus Christ. Paul decided to hand them over to Satan to teach them a lesson. They began to suffer the outward consequences for all of their sin in order that they might learn that the outside has to match the inside. Don’t think that this can’t happen. Again, I’m not trying to threaten, I’m trying to warn in the greatest of love.
In 1 Peter 3:21, water baptism means that you come before God and willingly say, “I’m going to keep a good conscience before you at all times.”
1 Peter 3:21 – And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
One of the central things that water baptism means is the cleansing of impurities from our heart and conscience. Before, we couldn’t discern or know God’s will. Now when he comes in the cool of the day, instead of running and hiding, we keep a good conscience so that we can fellowship with him. Long before man ever sees the outward actions, we sense inside that we are beginning to hide from God because somewhere we have sinned. A good conscience keeps us from ever committing the outward sins. Think of the sins that you have committed and how you silenced that voice over time. You knew something was wrong, but you kept ignoring the quiet voice that was telling you, “You know this isn’t right.” After you get caught you remember that his voice tried to stop you.
Water baptism is a declaration before God that says, “You’re giving me a good conscience, God. I’m not going to let go of it. When I sense the guilt rising up in my conscience, I’ll run to you. I’ll say, ‘Lord, how did I get here? Let’s deal with this.’ I will keep a good conscience before you, Oh Lord.”
First we must stop judging ourselves, and quit trying to examine the things in our life that need to change. We try to carry this burden, but who tells us we are guilty? And so it says:
2 Corinthians 10:12 – We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.
That is exactly what happened in the garden. Adam and Eve ate and measured their righteousness and holiness to themselves by themselves, by their own grace and strength and they came to a wrong conclusion. It will happen every time. You can read the Scripture and apply the ink. Every time you will justify yourself when you should condemn yourself and you will condemn yourself where there is nothing to condemn. We are not a wise people when we judge ourselves as to what is right and wrong. When we start to measure ourselves, God says, “Who told you that you were guilty?” The answer should have been “We told ourselves we were guilty.” Men can make us feel guilty things that we should not feel guilty for. If being naked when nakedness was not a sin made us feel guilty, then how much more can men control us? They can put guilt trips and burdens on us to keep us from hearing what God has to say.
2 Corinthians 10:12 – When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.
Do not say you are innocent in any matter unless God says you are innocent. Conversely, do not think you are guilty of anything unless God himself tells you. Even if you are correct, you don’t know how to deal with it.
This is one of the most freeing things in Jesus Christ. No longer am I under the burden of man’s attitude toward me or what he says I am guilty of. If I don’t hear it from the living God, I don’t believe it. Satan accuses me and points out things in my life, but I don’t believe it. I want to be in a living relationship with God so that I can hear from him. Now, if God chooses to speak through men, that’s fine. If he wants Satan to harass me to keep me from false pride, that’s fine, but I am hearing it first and only from God. This way, I am not manipulated by man or circumstances; I’m not being refined by those outward things.
Acts 24:1 – Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor.
Man and all of his religion come to oppose the message of the cross, and they think they are doing it in a good conscience. They are sincere. I get tired of hearing that all of the time. “Oh, they’re sincere. They don’t think they’re guilty.” Of course they don’t. They have a bad conscience. So, get over it! Just because a man thinks he’s sincere doesn’t mean that he is not sincerely wrong.
Acts 24:2 – When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: “We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation.”
They, of course, begin with flattery. Verse 3 goes on to say;
Acts 24:3-4 – Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude. But in order not to weary you further, I would request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly.
Men think they have a good conscience. But Paul is a servant of the living God. The only thing their conscience tells them is this…
Acts 24:5-8 – We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ring-leader of the Nazarene sect and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him. By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these changes we are bringing against him.
Some of you would have fallen prey to this. You would have stood up and said, “Well, I’m guilty on some of these things because it is true that I went into this one town and a riot did break out. I mean, I really wasn’t trying to start the riot, but it did happen. I’m really sorry. Forgive me.” You assume guilt where there is none and you take on a burden that you should not take.
Acts 24:9 – The Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true.
I know the pain of this myself. I’ve heard that I’m a cult leader so many times that I’ve thought, “Am I a cult leader? Am I totally out of my mind?” The only difference is, I can’t lead myself.
Acts 24:13 – When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense. You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me.”
His conscience is clear so he can speak with this kind of assurance. He doesn’t fall prey to their condemnation or slander, or the way they twist or pervert things. He knows that preaching the gospel causes all kinds of trouble, but he is not the one causing the trouble. He knows that riots can break out, but that doesn’t matter. He speaks the truth as God shows him. You see, without a good conscience we don’t know what the truth is, and then the facts become very twisted and perverted just as these men are perverting the facts in order to condemn Paul. This is how Satan works with us. He comes to us to twist and pervert the facts of the situation to make us feel guilty. Men seek to do the same thing, and we do it to ourselves as well. The only solution is to run in before God to get a good conscience. If you are supposed to be guilty, then accept the guilt and if you are innocent of the matter, then stay innocent. It is very, very simple.
Acts 24:14 – However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets.
Paul can say, “I belong to a sect. I agree that I am in a cult.” Why? Because his conscience is clear. But they think it is evil and they’ll use it to condemn him. There is nothing to be ashamed of because Paul hasn’t done anything wrong. Paul says, “I admit that is what they say, but I’m not doing anything wrong.” Paul can say that because he heard from the living God as to whether his innocent or guilty. Most of us are enslaved to our own wicked conscience or what other men say we are guilty of, and there is no freedom in that. We run from the very one who will deal with the sin in our life. We hide behind the trees and our fig leaves from the one who can bring us into the glorious freedom that is in him. Now, this is important, verse 15 says:
Acts 24:15…and I have the same hope in God as these men.
They hope in God as Paul hopes in God, but what is the difference between them? What is the difference between heaven and hell? They both have the same hope and they say they want Jesus Christ. They both say they want to belong to God. The difference is a good conscience or a bad conscience. One has a bad conscience condemning that which is good and the other has a good conscience and is in a living relationship with the living God. That is the only difference. Everything else is the same. Their religion, their Bible, and their doctrines are all the same. The ideas are the same, they have the same calling, and the same prayers, but what divides these men from truth and lie? Whether or not they have a good conscience. Look at what Paul says in Verse 16:
Acts 24:16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.
They have the same hope, but one doesn’t have a good conscience, nor does he seek to keep a clear conscience. If you’re going to let God begin to deal with your conscience, some days you will be doing nothing but repenting. You will wake up early in the morning and feel guilty until you go to bed at night. He will clean your conscience and make it sensitive. He’s going to get you to a place where you don’t even commit the sin. In fact, you won’t even think to commit it because your conscience is clean. Again, our conscience is that first stopping point. It is before sin ever gets into the mind, spirit, or body. It is that first thing before it ever gets into the mind. The spirit and before it comes out of the body.
Romans 9:1 – I speak the truth in Christ I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit.
The conscience and the Holy Spirit are one in the same. The conscience is walking in step with the Holy Spirit. Look at the confidence with which Paul speaks. He stands up and declares in all confidence, “I am not lying.” How many of us have that kind of conscience? How many of us even believe it’s possible? You see, to the pure all things are pure. They understand that power and grace exists that can cleanse and make a man pure. Look at what Paul says. “I speak the truth in Christ — I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit.” Listen! If you want this kind of relationship with God, then let him cleanse your conscience. Let him give you a good conscience. Go home today and say, “God, I pledge to you again to keep a good conscience before you,” Then begin to walk very carefully, quietly, and slowly before the living God. Be extremely slow to say, “I am innocent or I am guilty.” One thing a good conscience works is humility. Be slow to act, believe, or do anything. Our conscience should have a listening quality that says, “Is the Lord in this or not?” How many times I have justified myself, but I didn’t hear the voice confirming it was true? I didn’t hear him speak to me, and the words just fall flat. So, you get halfway through it and eventually, as your conscience becomes cleansed, you say “Never mind, it doesn’t apply.” Who told me I was innocent? Who told me I was guilty? Let’s go to 1 Corinthians 4:3. Paul says:
1 Corinthians 4:3 – I care very little if I am judged by you or any human court.
Haven’t we seen that clearly? The rest of verse 3 says:
1 Corinthians 4:3 – Indeed, I do not even judge myself.
Paul did not carry around the burden in his life of deciding if he was in sin or not. “Indeed, I do not even judge myself,” he says.
1 Corinthians 4:4 – My conscience is clear…
Paul’s humility is evident because he waits on God to show him if he is guilty. Even though God isn’t telling him at that moment that he is innocent doesn’t mean that Paul is really innocent. It just means that God isn’t going to deal with that today.
1 Corinthians 4:4 – My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent.
We must be continually humble and dependent upon God. God may not show me anything today, but that doesn’t make me innocent. Stop judging yourself and let God judge you.
1 Corinthians 4:4 – My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
Let the Lord begin to judge you and do the work. Let him come into the garden of your life and say, “Who are you, where are you at and what are you doing?” We need to say, “Lord, I don’t know. Tell me. Where did I sin? Where am I going wrong?” We must lay down the justifications and reasons, and get rid of our own opinions about what is right and what is wrong. Listen to a good conscience that speaks to you, and everything will become totally different. Everything! What the world doesn’t call love you now will understand to be love. What the world calls hate you will now understand clearly as love poured out. Listen to what Job said:
Job 27:6 – I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.
That is where Job failed. If you take a look at Scripture, you’ll see he was rebuked for his boasting. Do not begin to say to yourself, “I will not let God come to me.” Let him come to you and do the convicting. Let him break you.
Let’s go to John 14:15 and find the solution. The world has an abundance of counselors and teachers. Even the church has many counselors and self-help books. But let’s look at what Scripture says.
John 14:15 – “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
Come before God and say, “OK, God, I’m willing to do whatever you command. I give myself to you. I pledge a good conscience towards you,” then see what he says he will do.
John 14:16 – And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever
We receive our own counselor that comes to encourage and correct us. That counselor speaks to everyone who comes before God and says, “I will be obedient in all things. I will keep a good conscience before you.” The counselor will inspire, rebuke, cleanse, and do all of the things that a counselor does. If the Holy Spirit is your counselor, why do you need man or your own wisdom and knowledge? If you have the living God who corrects, inspires, and says whether you’re innocent or guilty, what else do you need? This is wonderful freedom and complete rest. I no longer carry the burden or try to figure out my own life and whether I am innocent or guilty. What freedom never again to be manipulated by any man, circumstance, laws, or rules. I have a living relationship with a counselor who will tell me what to do and what is right and wrong in every circumstance.
John 14:16-17 – And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever the Spirit of truth.
The Holy Spirit tells us the truth. If you don’t want the truth, then you will not listen. The reason we love our own voice is we love the lie. We like men telling us whether we are guilty or innocent because we don’t want to face the truth of who we really are and what we really have to give up. When the comforter speaks, he is correct and to the point. We have a counselor that the world cannot see, and those who are worldly know nothing about him. We have a relationship with him who will speak to us, judge the sins in our lives, and inspire us in righteousness. The world doesn’t even believe that he really exists. They cannot accept him because they neither see him nor know him, but you know him for he lives with you and in you. We are talking about a relationship with the living God coming into our lives and often saying, “Where are you? What are you doing? Let’s talk.” We can listen to a conscience that says, “You are guilty,” or “You are innocent,” or “Don’t listen to this or that.” He is a counselor in every sense of the word.
John 14:18 – I will not leave you as orphans.
A lot of you feel like orphans because you’re not pursuing a good conscience. You are saying, “Where is the Lord?” and “Why can’t I hear his voice?” I become very worried when people say to me over and over again, “I just can’t hear God’s voice.” That is a serious problem, because Jesus did not go away to leave us as orphans on our own to try and figure out what’s right and wrong. He came to dwell with us in the most intimate of levels.
John 14:18 – I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
“I will tell you what’s right or wrong. I will tell you the sins in your life and when to deal with them. You’re just going to have to wait on me, aren’t you?” That is why Paul says, “My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t mean I’m innocent.” There may be a lot of things God has to deal with, but in his wisdom and divine love he knows when to bring them to me. There may be seasons in your life where you are under conviction and a heavy weight for a few years. He knows what is best for each individual and he will come and dwell as a father dwells with his children. He will not leave us on our own. I know many people that claim to be Christians yet are orphans in Jesus Christ because they won’t give themselves over to a good conscience. They want to debate and talk. But, it comes down to some very quiet things deep within.
John 14:19-20 – Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
What causes God to dwell within us and to fellowship with us? “A pledge of a good conscience.” Go into the prayer closet saying, “I will keep a good conscience before you,” and then slowly walk out and listen to what the counselor says. If he says you are guilty in something, then let him have his way with that until he is through. If he says you are innocent, then believe him in that also. If he tells you, “We’ll talk about it later,” then wait until he is ready to deal with it. He is the one who has the truth, not you.
If we could cleanse our consciences, we wouldn’t commit outward acts of sin.
Hebrews 9:14 – How much more than with the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts …
He can cleanses us from wrong acts, not just that guilty feeling. But, when the conscience is clean and purified, then the acts will stop on the outside, because the conscience is sensitive. There were a lot of sins I committed when I was young in the Lord. I wasn’t convicted until way into the sin. Now, there are a lot of sins that I don’t even start outwardly because I feel the guilt before it ever happens. Some sins that are now totally dead, so they don’t even enter my conscience. It is a matter of letting God cleanse, purify, and make holy. Then the outward things will stop. If outwardly a lot of sin exists, there is much more going on inside.
Hebrews 9:14 – How much more than with the blood of Christ…
This is a positive promise. If we humble ourselves before him and surrender, God will cleanse our consciences.
Hebrews 9:14 – …who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
What a glorious freedom to have a clear conscience! You can sing and fellowship before the living God in total freedom. You can even sing, “My conscience is clear!” That doesn’t make me innocent, but today I can sing because we are in a relationship. God is a loving father, and so he will cleanse and purify. Give yourself to the Lord and say, “Cleanse my conscience. I pledge to keep it clean, and at the first sign of sin I will repent.” He will get down to some very, very specific things in your life, and when you get down to the smallest things, the conscience is being purified. Some people have to commit many large sins outwardly before they admit their guilt. That is not a good conscience.
If you are willing to make this pledge, then have some faith and some confidence.
Hebrews 10:19-22 – Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God …
He wants to give you a clean conscience. That is the whole point! When God was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, he didn’t come with all of his angels to destroy Adam and Eve, did he? He came with the greatest of love. He came in the most gentle fashion he could. He came at the most relaxing point of their whole day to talk to them and ask, “Where are you?” How many people say, “I’m just not convicted”? Why do you want to wait for conviction? God comes to say, “I know something is wrong here. Can we work this thing out, or does it have to be a battle? Do I have to come in judgment and bring discipline? Can’t we just sit down and reason it out so you can be made clean?”
Hebrews 10:22 – Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience…
We are talking about a sprinkling, really. We think it is the worst conviction in the world and he is striking us deep in our hearts. We have this deep pain and he is convicting us thoroughly. By the time he is all done with us we have only been sprinkled. What a powerful sprinkling.
Hebrews 10:22 – …sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
If you sprinkle the conscience with the blood, the outward parts of the body will be clean, also. If I had a clean and soft conscience, I wouldn’t commit any act of sin. By the time you see the sin, it means there is something wrong with my conscience.
Hebrews 10:23 – Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
He is able to cleanse us in his timing and as he sees fit, not with all of your grand wisdom of what’s right and wrong. Not with all of the fig leaves you sew together and all of the things that you can do. He can do the cleansing and the purification. If we would have confidence in him and allow him to do it, it would be done.
Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
I added this Scripture in here simply because when I say that we just have a relationship with God and I don’t have to listen to any man, he immediately draws me into fellowship with other men. He speaks to me through other people. Yet I always keep that dependence and complete reliance upon the living God.
Satan loves to give us this wisdom of good and evil in order to make us feel guilty, because then we are in his camp and he knows we will hide from God. We try to solve the problem on our own with our own effort and strength. We want to hold onto some aspect of our flesh or we just don’t want to surrender to God. When a man won’t come out and surrender himself before the Lord, he’s holding on to some aspect of sin or self. Satan doesn’t care what part of self you hold onto, he just wants you to hold onto it! Then he will falsely accuse you. He will bring things against you in order to keep you from dealing with these things and keep you away from the living God.
Revelation 12:9 – The great dragon was hurled down that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.
Remember the evil one controls the whole world, so he will use the whole world to tell Christians they are guilty. Everyone in Satan’s camp, everyone who pleases self, will seek to put a guilt trip on you. Read some of the old stories about the persecution and trials of Christian martyrs. The enemy (often religious people) would tell the saints to repent, to come to their senses, and to seek God. They push a false sense of guilt. Who told you that you were guilty? It certainly wasn’t the living God.
Revelation 12:9-10 – He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”
I see so many of you falling prey to the accuser. One of the things to do if you are not sure who accusing you is to run to the living God, and Satan will quit accusing you. Satan doesn’t want you stepping out from behind the tree and saying to God, “Here I am and I have sinned.”
Revelation 12:11 – They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
They overcame by the blood of the Lamb. The blood cleanses and sprinkles our conscience. It sprinkles our sense of what is really right and wrong, of what is holy and unholy, not our logic or wisdom, not how Satan will tell us, “You are guilty in this or sinful in that. You are naked and need to be judged.” Some of those things can be very factual. But, who said you were guilty? Who told you that God wants you to deal with it today?
Revelation 12:12 – Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.
Satan, in his arrogance and his pride, was willing to be in heaven day and night to accuse us before God. Now that he has been kicked out and fills the earth, what do you think he will do to those who seek to love the living God? He will use those who belong to him to accuse you. Listen to the living God as to what is right and wrong, and submit to him as a loving father to counsel you as he sees fit. If I listened to what everybody told me I was guilty about, I would be a complete basket case and not do anything. When I try to be loving, kind, and gentle, I’m too kind, loving, and gentle. When I rebuke someone sharply, I’m too mean or not loving. Accusations always exists, so the only thing I can do is ask, “God, where am I guilty? Where are they correct? What needs to change and be different?” It must drive me to a living relationship with him, and if he tells me I am innocent on something, then it is none of their business. I might say, “My conscience is clear,” and that doesn’t make me innocent, but God hasn’t told me otherwise. The wicked will stumble in that very statement. There are a lot of wicked men who say, “Oh, I don’t have to hear it from any man. I’m just hearing it from the living God.”
Psalm 51 shows us an example of God using man and circumstances. God even uses Satan to show us our sin. Paul was sent a messenger of Satan to keep him from pride, because he had a potential for pride. God uses our enemies and even godly men to show us our sin. It is all him, no matter how sin is shown. We need to be in a relationship with God so that we can recognize him in all of the different ways that he will come. All of the understanding of right and wrong have to come only from him, even though he uses other ways to show us.
Psalm 51:1 – For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him…
Here God used a man to bring conviction to David. Later we will see how deeply David saw his sin. This was written after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. David prays:
Psalm 51:1-4 – Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.
David conspired to murder. He included other people in his scheme. It would look like on the surface that David didn’t sin just against God, he sinned against a bunch of people. Yet David knew that justification or condemnation comes from God only. When I say that you must not listen to any man, but hear only from the living God, don’t think it’s any easier. Don’t fool yourself. If you can’t take Nathan the Prophet (a man) revealing your sin, you’ll never be able to pray properly before the living God. You’ll never accept his conviction.
Psalm 51:4 – Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.
David listened to what God had to say. Let me say it again, you don’t know what conviction is until God begins to reach deep into your conscience. For many of you, it is all outward right now, but he will move more and more. You think you’ve wept! You will really weep when he gets to your conscience, and it is a grand weeping. It is holy, cleansing, and refreshing. It is life. You’ve never felt conviction like this before. You will say like David:
Psalm 51:5- Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
God is cleansing deep to the conscience. You will feel a devastation inside that says, “I was a sinner in my mother’s womb. From birth I was sinner. I feel like this because of this one sin.” When God speaks and moves within your conscience, you will say, “Surely…” You will stand up with all of the surety that heaven can work and muster within your conscience, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Right now, most of you have to be convinced to be convicted. “OK, that’s wrong.” Yet it’s just your way of giving up on the debate but not from a pure conscience. You are not saying it from deep inside when your conscience has been tested. Otherwise you would say, “Surely I was a sinner from the beginning.”
Psalm 51:6- Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
This is where God is headed and what he’s after. He wants to cleanse the conscience, and he will seek to do that blessed work that we might serve him. Find the freedom in him, and then you will never again fall prey to man or to yourself.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.