Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Invisible Umpire

"Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace." 2 Corinthians 1:12
The apostle Paul writes with great confidence that his conduct in the world and towards his fellow believers is right before God. The questions that his boast raises are the following: 

How can Paul be so sure that he is right and who or what determines what is right and wrong?

Although Paul did not depend on his conscience to determine whether he was right before God, he regarded his conscience as the umpire of his life.

"I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me." 1 Corinthians 4:3,4

The One who determines what is right or wrong is God Himself. We cannot depend on human wisdom or the world's wisdom or even on our own wisdom to determine what is right and what is wrong. However, we can choose who or what will govern our conscience.

The conscience is the invisible umpire who judges according to one's own standard, the world's standard or God's standard.
For example, if I choose my feelings and desires to govern my conscience, I will live according to what I desire and will be ok with that. Or, if I choose to let what is socially acceptable or that which the media communicates is acceptable to govern my conscience I will live according to the world's standard and be ok with that. Likewise I can choose to let my conscience be governed by what I, myself consider to be right and live according to my wisdom and be ok with that.

The problem, however, is that what is ok for me may not be ok for you. In that case, who is to say what is right and what is wrong?

A quick test will help you think about this question of what determines what is right or wrong:

  • Is same sex marriage ok? Why or why not?
  • Is murder ok? Why or why not?
  • Is incest ok? Why or why not?
  • Is adultery ok? Why or why not?
  • Is fornication ok? Why or why not?
  • Is stealing ok? Why or why not?

Perhaps your general answer would be something along the lines of: as long as I don't harm another person, I can do what I like and that's ok.

The problem, once again is, who determines what is harmful to another person?

As a believer in God as the Judge of all, I choose to align my conscience to the righteousness (that which is ok before God) that is at work in my life by the influence of the Holy Spirit and revealed by His Word. Every believer has received the gift of righteousness that is at work in his or her life (see Romans 5-7). Together with God's revealed will (the Bible), the Holy Spirit makes God's heart and willl known to the believer's conscience so that s/he can have the confidence that s/he is living according to God's standard with integrity and godly sincerity. God's gift of His presence and the revelation of His will is the grace by which the believer is called to live his or her life.

Can we say with Paul, "Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace."?

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Joy of True Fellowship

 Image courtesy of Photostock at

"We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make (y)our joy complete." 1 John 1:3,4

True fellowship with one another comes out of the fellowship each one of us has with God.  At the same time, true fellowship with one another is hindered when we don't have true fellowship with God.

"God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." 1 John 1:5-7

The fruit of fellowship with God should be that the believer lives by the truth.

"The man who says, 'I know him,' but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him." 1 John 2:4

When believers don't live by the truth, they will hinder true fellowship with one another. The greatest joy is found when believers walk in the light and together have unhindered fellowship with God.

As much as I believe that God always works despite us, I also believe that God is looking for a people who are committed to fellowship with Him and fellowship with one another.

Unity is a very powerful thing. Where there is true fellowship, God will pour out His Spirit (Psalm 133). Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is inexpressible joy. The joy and love we experience when we are reconciled to those we love will be poured over a people who are committed to living in unity and love.

My prayer is that the Church would receive revelation, would experience and would live according to what Christ has purchased for us by His blood. The truth is that Christ's death has opened the way for man to have true fellowship with God and one another (Ephesians 2:14-22). Through faith in Jesus, the believer is made one with God and with every other believer. This is a divine mystery that could only be accomplished by God. To live "by the truth" is to live according to the reality of our union with God and one another. The question is, "Will we live according to this amazing truth and be devoted to fellowship with God and one another?"

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." John 15:9-12

Friday, 13 February 2015

The anarchy of the soul

 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

The oxford dictionary defines the word anarchy as:

1. a state of disorder due to absence or non-recognition of authority or other controlling systems
2. absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, regarded as a political ideal.

Origin: mid 16th cent: via medieval Latin from Greek anarkhia, from anarkhos, from an - 'without' + arkhos 'chief,ruler'.

The Bible makes it clear that society is moving towards a state of lawlessness -

"For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work" (2 Thess 2:7).

The power of lawlessness that is driven by the man of lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:3) opposes God and the truth so that people are deceived and "refuse to love the truth and so be saved" (2 Thess 2:10).

"God is not a God of disorder," Paul writes but is the God who is the highest authority and in whom true freedom is found.

James writes, "the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does" (James 1:25).

The deception is in the idea that true freedom is the absence of a governing authority and any controlling system. In the name of tolerance and enlightened thinking, we are developing a society that is turning its back on God's authority and will and we wonder why our young generation is confused, abandoned, dislocated, hopeless and angry. The truth is that when man is left to himself, he moves toward the anarchy of the soul.

Without the governing presence of the Spirit of God within man, sinful man, who is seperated from God, is given over to the desires of the flesh (see Romans 1:18-32)! His mind, his emotions and his will are influenced by every sinful desire and every influence of the world. Left to himself, man experiences the anarchy of the soul that ultimately leads to self-destruction. The prodigal son left the place of authority and order (his father and home) to live a life of freedom. What that led to was the anarchy of the soul that led him to the pigs.

God wants His creation to live in fullness of life. Creation will only experience freedom when it submits itself to the authority and will of God. Creation is waiting to be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God (Rom 8:21)! Those who are governed by the Spirit of God are the sons of God who live in the glorious freedom of God's order (Rom 8:14). Hallelujah!

I believe God is calling His people to renew their trust in His absolute authority and His good, pleasing and perfect will. Only a people who rely on the authority and wisdom of God will experience true freedom and live life as God purposed it for man.

"Trust in the Lord will all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5