And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offense toward God, and toward men.
I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN A CONSCIENCE VOID OF OFFENCE?
1. Conscience is the secret testimony of the soul, whereby it approves things that are good and condemns those that are evil. A good conscience is purified by the blood of Christ (1 Timothy 1:5; Hebrews 9:14). An evil conscience is loaded with guilt (Hebrews 10:22); and a hardened conscience does not feel the evil of sin (1 Timothy 4:2).
2. To have a conscience void of offence three things are necessary. First, a good rule of conduct; secondly, an impartial comparison of our conduct with that rule; and thirdly, a conviction that there has been a conformity of conduct to our rule.
3. That man who has a conscience void of offence towards God is inwardly pious, and practises all the duties of piety.
4. He who has a conscience void of offence towards men carefully follows two rules. First, he injures no man, either in his person, in his property, or in his character; and, secondly, he does all the good which is in his power to every man with whom he is connected, both in word and deed.
II. HOW SHOULD WE EXERCISE OURSELVES TO HAVE A CONSCIENCE VOID OF OFFENCE?
1. Let us use those means by which we may obtain an enlightened conscience, that we may understand our duty both to God and men.
2. It should be an invariable rule with us to do nothing at any time, or under any circumstances, contrary to the dictates of conscience. When we act contrary to our views of things we are self-condemned.
3. In this holy exercise we should abstain from the appearance of evil; for if we yield to anything which our own mind condemns, or to anything which appears evil in the eyes of wise and good men, we shall soon fall into great and gross sins (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
4. That we may keep a conscience void of offence, let us be careful not to enter into temptation.
5. As a farther help in this important work, let us be vigilant.
6. To watchfulness let us add prayer. Let us pray for wisdom to conduct us safely through difficult circumstances (James 1:5).
7. It is essentially necessary, in this blessed exercise, to avoid secret sins. These are fully known to God (Psalm 90:8).
8. While we set God before us, in His justice and purity, and in His awful majesty and glory, we shall be careful to keep a conscience void of offence.
9. Let us be conversant with death and judgment.
Parallel VersesKJV: And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.