The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
A clear conscience is a precious and wonderful thing. Hear the Preacher! Its value cannot be measured on earth. Without one, your soul nervously looks around to see who is watching or coming to get you. With one, you fear no evil. You can take on any opponent. Why be afraid? You know you are righteous; you know the Lord is with you.
What a huge difference! Sin makes men cowards. The wicked fear mere shadows and run away. They dread judgment in this world and the next, much like the condemned angels (Matt 8:29). The holy God torments their souls with doubt and fear (Job 15:20-25).
They imagine enemies and hide. They are easily intimidated. Their hearts fear this is the time they will be caught and exposed, punished and judged. For courage, they drown their conscience – with noise, man’s praise, activity, false religion, alcohol, or drugs.
The righteous fear nothing. Godliness makes great men with courage. They are like the fearless lion, which does not turn away from any (Pr 30:30; Num 23:24; Is 31:4). It is able to sleep in the open as easily as in a thicket, for its great confidence and boldness.
Reader, greatness is before you. Do you see it? Believe it; understand it; seize it. Do not leave this proverb until you grasp it in both hands, and never let it go. A pure conscience will make you great. You will fear nothing. The Lord will be your sword and shield. No enemy will stand before you. No trial will expose or condemn you. Greatness is yours!
The LORD put a candle in each man to search and judge his thoughts and actions (Pr 20:27). It is called the conscience. This internal light from God judges each man’s actions as wrong, or excuses them as right (Rom 2:14-15; I Cor 2:11). The Lord will chase you with this fearful enemy inside, if you sin against Him (Lev 26:17,36; Ps 53:5).
When wicked Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with the woman taken in adultery, He asked for the first stone to be cast by any man without sin (John 8:1-11). From the oldest to the youngest, their consciences condemned them, and they left Jesus and the woman alone.
Could David have faced Goliath with a guilty conscience? How? With sin on his conscience, he would have had no confidence in God’s deliverance, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment. But his heart and mind were pure before the Lord. He would not have feared, if the whole Philistine army had fought him (Psalm 3:6; 27:1-6; 46:1-5).
The great men in history, God’s great men, always had pure consciences. They could go boldly in God’s power against any enemies or circumstances (Ps 112:7). They feared no man. They knew, if put on trial, nothing wrong could be laid against them. There was no weakness in their faith; they knew the Lord was with them, not against them (Is 26:3-4).
Paul went on trial without fear of any man accusing him of wrongdoing (Acts 23:1). No threat of danger moved him (Acts 20:24). Daniel and three friends had no fear of death threats (Dan 3:16-18; 6:10). And Moses did not fear the wrath of the king (Heb 11:27). These are but a few of the exploits done by those who did know their God (Dan 11:32).
But Cain, the profane murderer, was filled with morbid terror of invisible danger (Gen 4:13-15). He responded like his father, Adam, who trembled in fear amidst the Garden’s trees, when God merely called his name (Gen 3:9-10). The consciences of Joseph’s brethren were still chasing them 22 years after selling him into slavery (Gen 42:21). But Joseph, though falsely charged and convicted of attempted rape, could stand boldly before Pharaoh and his father as savior of Egypt and his family. Glory!
Young reader, do you hear the Preacher? Seize greatness! Keep your conscience clear, pure, confident, and bold. Do not spoil it by playing with sin, even private sins, even sin in your thoughts. The candle of the Lord does not miss the private sins of lustful thoughts and secret fantasies. It will condemn you and steal your courage from the inside out, while you are trying to put up a front of righteousness and boldness on the outside.
Older reader, a polluted conscience will ruin your life. Facing a spouse, meeting the pastor, or disciplining the children will all be different with sin in your life. It will stifle your marital life, for you are hiding a secret from your closest friend. Sermons will become fearful and irritating rather than learning opportunities, for you are sure the preacher is chasing and fighting you. A hypocritical or sinful father will have a hard time disciplining his children, for he knows they are more righteous than he is.
If you are not as confident and bold as you should be, humble yourself before the great God now, Confess and repudiate your sins! He is faithful and just to forgive, and by His Spirit and grace He can restore your conscience and courage. Do it now, dear reader. Do not let this opportunity for greatness in the sight of God and men slip away from you.
Pure David wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps 139:23-24). See also Psalm 19:12-14. With David and Paul, exercise yourself to always have a conscience void of offence before God and men (Acts 24:16). Exercise yourself toward this goal today, by prayer and self-examination before the throne of God.
This great possession can be yours, more than any saint of the Old Testament; you have fuller knowledge of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins than they had. You can come boldly before God with full assurance of faith (Heb 10:22), and by faithful obedience to Him through Jesus Christ, you can be gloriously confident (I John 3:18-22). If you have this good conscience, have you answered God with it by baptism in water (I Pet 3:21)?
The disciples of Jesus Christ for the last two thousand years have been the greatest men and women on earth. Their consciences pure, their lives holy, they had boldness and confidence in the face of torment, torture, and death. And their enemies sometimes knew by their great boldness they had obviously been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). What could move them? “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31). Glory!
No man ever spoke and lived like the Lord Jesus Christ. No man ever had a conscience free from even the slightest taint of sin like Him. When the time came for His death in Jerusalem, He headed boldly in that direction (Luke 9:51). His courage at all times was marvelous: it caused Pilate to marvel (Mark 15:5). Why speak when on trial? He knew He was immaculately innocent, and He knew God was with Him. Glory! Do you believe on the Son of God, dear reader? Believe on Him today! Believe on Him now!