Fulfilling your duty to God-Part 1

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Fulfilling your duty to God-Part 1      

Acts 23: 1 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” NIV Bible

Extra Reading: Acts 23:1-11

I am sure you are about to ask me this question: ‘How could Paul say such thing? He had fiercely persecuted Christ’s church. One may even go further to say that he had not only opposed God; he had been God’s enemy! What did Paul mean by what he said? Paul’s meaning was this: He had sincerely believed that in all things he had been fulfilling his duty to God. He had opposed Christ and persecuted the church in all good conscience (see Acts 26:9). Even though Paul had, in fact, done great evil, his conscience had remained clear (see Acts 24:16). But if this was so, how then could Paul have written Romans Chapter 7? “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do-this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18-19).In Romans Chapter 7, Paul is describing his own inner spiritual conflict and his inclination to sin. Here before the Sanhedrin, however, Paul is talking not about his inner spiritual struggles but about his outward behaviour. When Paul says here, “I have fulfilled my duty to God,” he means that he has fulfilled his duty to God outwardly. Paul wrote essentially the same thing to the Philippians, saying that as far as legalistic righteousness was concerned, he was faultless (Philippians 3:6).

However, Paul put no confidence in his own righteousness; rather, he put his confidence in Christ’s righteousness, which he had appropriated by faith (see Philippians 3:9). Even though our conscience may be clear, that in itself does not justify us in God’s sight. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Corinthians 4:4). Very often, like Paul, we think we are doing good, but in fact we are doing evil. Our conscience is clear, but it has misled us. God will also judge us for the evil we have done in ignorance. We see from verse 2 that Paul had barely begun his speech before the Sanhedrin; he was hoping to persuade them further that he was a good and faithful Jew. But when Ananias the high priest heard him say, “I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience,” he got so mad that he ordered Paul to be struck on the mouth. Other history books reveal that this Ananias was a corrupt and evil man. Ananias was high priest from 47 to 58 A.D. To strike a man being questioned was against the rules of the Sanhedrin. According to verse 3, it was highly illegal to strike or punish a man who had not yet been determined guilty. Not knowing it was the high priest who had given the order to strike him, Paul turned to him and called him a “white-washed wall”. Such a wall looks new and strong on the outside, but inside it is weak and full of decay. Jesus called the Jewish leaders “white-washed tombs” (Matthew 23:27). These Jewish leaders appeared good outwardly, but inwardly they were evil and corrupt.  From this incident we can learn that there are times when we must speak out clearly against evil men (see Mark 13:11) But at other times it is better for us to remain silent (see Mark 14:60-61; 15:3-5; 1 Peter 2:23).

Prayer: Father God, help us to fulfill our duty to You well. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

Rev. Samuel N. Modise       

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