Ephesians 1:15-16 – Having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.
Others should hear about our faith because we have a testimony established among people who see the results of Christ’s life in us. It is the Holy Spirit’s work to produce Christ in us. Remember, it is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Paul understood he had been made a minister to the church. He saw it as a “stewardship from God.” He also understood this stewardship as a benefit to those who belonged to Christ. Paul felt an urgency to fully carry out the preaching of the word of God. He knew he carried the mystery of God in his being, a mystery that had been hidden to past generations. That mystery was now being revealed to Christ’s church. The mystery was the riches of God’s glory among the Gentiles, which is “Christ in you.”
This is the faith Paul says he heard of in the Ephesian believers. Their faith in Christ produced a love for all the saints. The glory of God is rooted in the love of God. Glory is not simply a cloud like Israel experienced on the mountain. It is the all-encompassing “Love of God.” God intends for His love to be manifested through His creation man. It was manifested in Christ and spreading in His church as these Gentile believers began to demonstrate God’s love among themselves and to others.
The love of God causes us to proclaim Christ to every man. Paul’s calling caused him to admonish and teach every man with all wisdom so he could present every man complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28). This was Paul’s purpose in his labor for God. The bottom line for Paul was to be used by the Lord to bring every man to the “measure of Christ.” The measure of Christ is to love as he loved. “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:12-14).
Father, I pray that the measure of Christ be revealed in my life. I thank You that Christ is in me as the hope of glory. I pray for faith and love to increase in my life as demonstration of Your presence. Grant me influence that will lead others to desire relationship with You.
Hebrews 11:1-2 – Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.
The writer of Hebrews establishes the fact, that “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). There are a number of different kinds of faith. We will consider three types in our devotional.
Natural faith is simply a mental assent. I have faith that my car will be in the location where it was parked. I have experienced a time when it was not where I parked it because it was parked illegally. Natural faith operates within the realm of natural reasoning. It is a reasonable expectation of a particular outcome.
Self-motivated faith falls into the category of “metaphysics.” Some call this kind of faith “mind over matter.” That is, if I can just believe hard enough, my circumstance will change. This kind of faith originates in the soul of an individual. It is self-generated and self-imposed on a particular area, which one believes for change to take place.
God-breathed faith is biblical faith. True faith is an operation of the Spirit of God. When the writer of Hebrews says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” he is not speaking of a manufactured faith. He understands it is God who gives faith. When one looks up into the heavens and acknowledges God as creator one has an open heart where faith can operate. The essence of faith is rooted in the cross of Christ. Paul states, “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20 KJV). It is not only faith in Christ, but His faith lived out through the believer.
The Father is raising up a body of believers who will demonstrate Christ’s faith to an unbelieving world. Many try to generate faith in the things they do for God, but the Father is looking for those who will open their hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to breathe Christ-like faith into their being. In essence, this is what being filled with the Spirit is about. It is the life of God filling the believer with the presence of the Godhead so that the faith of Christ may be manifested in the life of a believer. “Not I, but Christ”! This kind of faith captures the meaning of “sincere faith”.
Father, I thank You for opening my heart to receive Your kind of faith. First, to trust You for salvation through the cross of Christ and then to receive Your Spirit so I might fulfill Your intended purpose. Daily, breath Christ-like faith into my being I pray.
Romans 8:1 – All those who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
Through the conscience, the Holy Spirit guides believers by giving a sense of direction, a sense of purpose, and a sense of pleasing God. The Scriptures declare our position in Christ through faith, as sons of God. This includes you ladies as well, like men being part of the bride of Christ. The evidence of sonship is manifested in the guidance we receive from the Holy Spirit and confirmed in our conscience as we receive direction, purpose, and knowing we are pleasing God.
It is important to understand that growth takes time. One begins by coming to a sure knowledge of salvation. We have a sense of acceptance by God the Father, not because we have done anything to earn it, but Christ Jesus has done all to purchase salvation. Because of what Christ has done one can have confidence in their conscience of the assurance of salvation. One then grows in Christ, being guided by the Spirit of God. As the Holy Spirit guides, He leads the believer to a sense of the purpose of God.
When we seek the Lord for direction, it is appropriate to say, “Your will be done.” James speaks of those who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit” (James 4:13). James goes on to say, “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that” (James 4:14-15). The Spirit of God will help us in our choices as we request His involvement. Through His guidance we will know our direction.
Direction will lead to purpose. The Lord wants to establish a sense of purpose in us. Purpose is connected to growth in Christ. Early in our Christian walk, we may have a sense of purpose, but over time we should come to know our purpose. In our conscience, we should have both knowledge and a peace about God’s purpose in our life. For some, it may be family commitment, vocational calling, a specific task to be accomplished, a particular assignment in the local church, or a variety of other things.
However the Spirit of God may lead our life, one thing is for certain; His leading will produce knowledge of pleasing God. The Spirit only leads in a direction that pleases the Father. Practice the instruction which James gives, “If the Lord wills.” Form the habit of committing every day to the Lord. Expect the Holy Spirit to guide you, directing your path. Just as Solomon instructs, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Father, I commit my ways to You. I want Your guidance in my direction and in my purpose to know I am pleasing You.
Psalms 32:5 – I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide.
A good conscience is instrumental in having an inner awareness of conforming to the will of God. A good conscience will also let us know when we have departed from God’s will. The conscience gives both a sense of approval and judgment. The term, “a good conscience” does not appear in the Old Testament, but the concept does.
In Psalm 32, David was smitten in his heart because of his lack of trust in the power of God (2 Samuel 24:10). His guilt turned to joy when he sought the Lord’s forgiveness (Psalm 32). In the New Testament, the term conscience is found most frequently in the writings of Paul. Some people argue erroneously that the conscience takes the place of the external law in the Old Testament. The conscience is not the ultimate standard of moral goodness. “I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not acquitted by this; but the one who examines me is the Lord” (1 Corinthians 4:4). Paul examined his life, including his motivations and could not find any problems. Paul understood the Lord would be the final judge.
Under both the Old and New Covenants, a good conscience is formed by doing the will of God. Under the Old Covenant, Israel received the Law of God and it was inscribed on the hearts. In the New Covenant, God’s will is inscribed on the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit. He reveals the will of God through the Word and the conscience becomes sensitized to that will. The believer is then able to discern God’s judgment against sin. “When the Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:14-16).
The conscience of the believer has been cleansed by the work of Jesus Christ. It no longer accuses or condemns. Part of a believer’s responsibility is to live to maintain a pure conscience. Equally important is not encouraging people to act against their conscience. The reason it would be wrong to encourage actions against one’s conscience is that it would not be an act of faith. “He who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
Father, I thank You for the inner awareness of conforming to Your will. Help me maintain a pure conscience as I walk in faith, doing Your will.
Hebrews 9:14 – Cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
A good conscience is necessary for the believer to be able to navigate with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If one’s conscience is dull from not being listened to, it produces an inability to hear the guidance of the Spirit. The writer of Hebrews makes the contrast between the Old Testament sacrifice of the blood of goats and bulls and the New Testament sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. In Hebrews 9:13, he states that the sacrifice of animals was “sanctified for the cleansing of the flesh.” In verse 14, he asked the question, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Your conscience gives you an awareness of God’s will. Many years ago, I walked through a very difficult period in my life. Because of hurt, I made some poor decisions. In my choices, I disobeyed God when I ignored my conscience. I found that it became easier and easier to serve a dead work over obeying God. One day, I came under deep conviction and turned loose of my will and declared “Lord, I only want Your best.” Immediately, I experienced the “blood of Jesus cleansing my conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” My conscience was back in full operation and once again I was able to make difficult, but correct decisions. Thank God for the cleansing blood of Jesus! That experience taught me that the word of God is true regarding a “seared conscience” (1 Timothy 4:2).
The conscience becomes the believer’s guidance system as it is cleansed by the blood of Jesus and surrendered to the Holy Spirit. I believe the conscience was part of “Divine DNA” given to man when God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life as recorded in Genesis 2:7. When man fell, the divine life departed and man was left with a natural life. The conscience remained and carried a sense of right and wrong. It helped give man a moral guidance, but was very deficient without the Spirit of God. Man was left to his own devices. Through the new birth, the conscience once again is connected to the “Divine DNA” through the Holy Spirit.
In our awareness of God’s presence and His will, the Holy Spirit can release spiritual gifts. A good conscience is vital for us to be sensitive to the Spirit’s guidance through gifts like wisdom, knowledge, and discernment of spirits. Ask the Lord to search your heart and show you any areas in your conscience that need cleansing. Allow the Spirit to apply the blood of Jesus to any areas which He reveals to you. A fully operating conscience will cause you to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s will in guiding your life.
Father, I ask for the searchlight of Your Spirit to examine my conscience and make me aware of any non-functioning parts. Show me any compromise I have made that restricts my conscience from being fully operational. I pray for the ability to hear Your Spirit’s guidance at all times.
1 Timothy 1:5 – The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Paul identifies three necessary components in order to fulfill the goal of his instruction. The stated goal is “love.” In order for God’s love to operate through us, we must have “a pure heart” and “a good conscience” and “sincere faith.” God’s love is first pure. The world knows many types of so-called love, but “divine love” is pure beyond our ability to comprehend. The Father sent His only begotten Son to demonstrate “pure love.”
It is impossible to understand pure love by just having someone tell you about it. It is impossible to comprehend pure love by reading about it. Pure love has to be lived! Jesus of Nazareth lived the pure love of the Father. It is one reason He could say to His disciples, “When you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). As we develop our relationship with the Lord Jesus, we will experience the development of His love in us. The believer is “joined to the Lord.” “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6:17). God’s love in the believer is present because the believer has become “one spirit” with Him.
The second component necessary for pure love to operate through us is found in a “good conscience”. The conscience is a critical part of our mind. It regulates our sense of “right and wrong”. Before we came to Christ, the conscience was a moral guide to our fallen nature. It is a sensitive part of our human-make up which can easily be damaged and quit working. “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2 KJV). Through the blood of Christ, our conscience is made clean. “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).
The third component is sincere faith. When I think of sincere faith, the word “humility” comes to mind. A sincere faith is a faith that operates through the spirit of humility. Love is an operation of faith. Pure love is an action of our love toward others before they demonstrate any kind of love toward us. This requires faith. Jesus is our example of “sincere faith.” He always operated in the spirit of humility. His actions always had others in mind. True faith causes us to keep our eyes on Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith.
As we read the Scriptures and the instruction of the apostles, let us make “love our goal”. Remember, God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son. The Son demonstrated the Father’s love. Now, we have been joined to God by the Holy Spirit and His Love is within our being. Let us love others as He loves us!
Father, I ask for the power of Your love in me to dominate my heart, my conscience, and my faith in all my relationships with others, believers and unbelievers alike.