“And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men.” (Acts 24:16).
Paul said the above to the governor of Caesarea when he was being persecuted and prosecuted for the christian religion. What Paul said is a great summary of our faith.
We can hang our religion on the peg of, “a conscience void to offence”. The conscience is the soul aware of sin and iniquity.
The meaning of offense is a two edge sword. On one side of the blade that cuts is leading or causing others to sin by our way of life. The second side of the blade is being led into sin yourself.
To be aware of sin is an ongoing effort. When the spirit was first quickened within we become aware of the reality of sin and our participation in it. But as time goes by and as we stay in the mode of self-examination, prayer and repentance, we discover more and more iniquities that are buried inside of us. These iniquities cause us to sin whether it be willful or unawares.
All of our actions affect others and the environment around us. Sin makes us do and act in a certain, specific sinful manner. Discovering sin within and repenting of it will change that act and our action. This in turn will change how people perceive us and act around us. It will have the same effect on the world around us.
It is important to note that we do in fact have influence and sway on not only people but our environment or sphere we live in. Remember, everything is first and foremost of a spirit. When our spirit is off kilter that affects all other spirits around us. This is why when we get right our world gets right because our spirit is right.
If we are aware of sin and iniquity then we can stop sin and iniquity. We can change our lives and all those around us. We can be like Paul who always had, “a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men”.
Let me backtrack here for a moment. It is important to focus on not self and sin but on God and our fellow man. We do not want to offend or sin against either one. This should be an utmost heartfelt desire. If we are driven by this wish and hope to not offend then we will repent of sin and do everything in our power not to. It is a matter of priority.
Which is most important? To not sin or to not offend? The desire to not sin is centric. It is looking at self. The desire not to offend is looking at our fellow man and God. Ideally we uplift and edify others first and give them priority over self.
Paul didn’t say that he wasn’t a sinner or that he was focused on repentance. Paul said, “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men.”
We should all adopt the idea and ideal of Paul. Let’s focus less on the blade edge of self and sin and concentrate more on the edge that does not offend.
The Blade That Does Not Offend