Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day,” (23:1).
How could Paul say that… “a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.” Had he forgotten his past, who he was, all he had done to harm, persecute and even murder God’s children? Did his past just vanish? Was it obliterated?
But there it is, in print, in God’s Word, preserved for all eternity. Eternal truth in His God-breathed Word. And again, His Truth takes my breath away.
Paul was firm in his good conscience because he was convinced of God’s good and perfect work in his own life; God’s grace-filled work that had cleansed him of all unrighteousness and released him to live each and every day in His Abiding Assurance.
Consider His Abiding Assurance
Paul, on trial for his faith, facing imminent danger upon his well-being and even life, was not frazzled. In Paul’s own words, and in the midst of the chaos ensuing all about him, there is a calm that cannot be explained; except that Paul experientially knew, and thereby communicated and wrote much about, His Abiding Assurance.
- His Abiding Assurance Clears our ConsciencePaul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day,” (23:1).
- Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death, (Romans 8:1-2).
- His Abiding Assurance Manifests His Meekness But the bystanders said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” 5 And Paul said, “I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people,’” (23:4-5).
- Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! (2 Corinthians 10:1).
- His Abiding Assurance Develops His DiscernmentBut perceiving that one group were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the Council, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” (23:6).
- But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ, (1 Corinthians 2:14-16).
- His Abiding Assurance Cultivates His CourageBut on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also,” (23:11).
- Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear, (Philippians 1:12-14).
- His Abiding Assurance Advances His AgendaBut on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also,” (23:11).
- For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing, (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
- His Abiding Assurance Provides His ProtectionAnd he called to him two of the centurions and said, “Get two hundred soldiers ready by the third hour of the night to proceed to Caesarea, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen.” 24 They were also to provide mounts to put Paul on and bring him safely to Felix the governor, (23:23-24).
- But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; (2 Corinthians 4:7-9).
How do we respond to His Abiding Assurance?
We cannot secure His Abiding Assurance for ourselves. That is His work alone.
When we have trusted His finished work on the cross for the payment of all our sins, it is finished. We cannot add to His work, we must only accept, believe and trust it to be just as He has said. It is His work that Clears our Conscience to find rest in His Abiding Assurance.
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 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. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; (Hebrews 10:19-23).
Let us live each day, resting in His Abiding Assurance:…
…to Manifest His Meekness
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, (Colossians 3:12 ESV).
…to Develop His Discernment
for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord, (Ephesians 5:8-10).
…to Cultivate His Courage
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline, (2 Timothy 1:7).
…to Advance His Agenda
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen, (Hebrews 13:20-21).
…to Provide His Protection
But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one, (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
Let us seek to live like Paul in answering His Great Commission, enabled and empowered by His Abiding Assurance.
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:18-20).