“And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in ALL GOOD CONSCIENCE before God until this day.”
The Bible teaches us that our conscience holds the records of our right and wrong deeds; our works, thoughts and actions. We also have heavenly records that record everything we’ve thought and everything we’ve done and our conscience is like a copy of that. Our conscience also guides us to discern between what’s right and wrong. It has these two functions.
So how is it possible that Paul could say what he says in Acts 23:1 given the fact that he sinned against Christ by persecuting the church and murdering people in the past? And how can he say it when we know that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”?(Meaning all people have sinned and departed from the sinless state of God’s perfection.)
The answer is found in the Everlasting Covenant and the heavenly sanctuary where Jesus interceded on his behalf and where Paul accepted the truth, believed in God the Father and His Son and asked forgiveness of his sins. Paul was completely forgiven and cleansed from all his past sin, from all unrighteousness. Paul’s conscience was purged of any record of sin and all that remained was his obedience to God’s commandments, “all good conscience”.
“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of SINS THAT ARE PAST, through the forbearance of God”
We can also have this clearing/cleansing every time we sin if we confess, repent and ask forgiveness for our past sins as we commit them, just like Jesus taught us to do in the Lord’s Prayer.
“And FORGIVE us our sins;
for we also forgive every one
that is indebted to us. …”
Here are some examples of the purging of sin under the New Testament; and also the relationship between sin and our conscience:
“But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was PURGED from his old sins.”
(“Old sins are past sins, not future sins.)
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, PURGE your CONSCIENCE from dead works to serve the living God?”
Sin is dead works because “dead works” are works that bring forth death. The Bible tells us “the wages of sin is death…” Paul is telling us that sins are permanently purged from our conscience, which means we shouldn’t hold on to the guilt from those sins either. That would be false guilt and unbelief. True guilt turns us to God to receive forgiveness of sin, that’s the true and only function of God given guilt over breaking His laws.
“And almost all things are by the law PURGED with blood; and without shedding of blood is no REMISSION.”
“For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once PURGED should have had no more CONSCIENCE of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is NOT POSSIBLE that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”
The blood of animals under the Old Covenant could never remit, erase or purge anyone’s sin, only the blood of Jesus could and can do that under the New Testament. He also remitted all the sins of the Old Testament saints when He entered into the heavenly sanctuary where He offered His blood sacrifice for the remission of their sins too. The Bible also teaches us that Jesus never made His perfect offering in any man-made holy place, but ONLY in heaven within the true sanctuary that God the Father made Himself (Hebrews 9:24). Jesus Christ ratified all their obedience to the Old Covenant sanctuary system and its laws after He ascended into heaven (Hebrews 9:15).
So Hebrews 10:2 is saying that if the Old Testament sacrificial system (earthly sanctuary/priesthood) had been perfect there would be no need for another system or priesthood to take its place. (And following that logic, Jesus wouldn’t have ever had to die.)
If the lawful operation of the Old Covenant had been perfect, it would have been able to purge sins forever, erasing them from our heavenly records and our conscience. But it wasn’t perfect because it couldn’t purge or erase sins. However, the original sanctuary in heaven which was used as a pattern for Moses to look at and to make a copy from is perfect under the New Testament in the blood of Jesus Christ.
By observing the heavenly sanctuary at mount Sinai, Moses was able to make a similar earthly sanctuary that’s called a shadow of the very image of the true sanctuary in heaven (Exodus 25:40; 26:30; 27:8;)
“For the law having A SHADOW of good things to come, and NOT THE VERY IMAGE of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.”
“Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, see, saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.”
The original sanctuary in heaven was designed to work with better sacrifices and offerings than those offered under the operation of the Old Testament covenant system.
“It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. FOR CHRIST IS NOT ENTERED INTO THE HOLY PLACES MADE WITH HANDS, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us”
Jesus didn’t make His perfect offering in any earthly sanctuary or on any earthly man-made altar or mercy seat; but only in heaven in the true sanctuary that God the Father made.
“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A Minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.”
“For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this Man have somewhat also to offer.”
“For if He were on earth, He should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto THE EXAMPLE AND SHADOW of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, see, saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.”
Jesus made His offering as a High Priest. God operates by His law. Because Jesus was ordained by God the Father by an oath and not by the earthly law of the Levitical priesthood or under the earthly sanctuary; Jesus’ position and offering took place under the Mechisedecian priesthood under the New Testament laws governing the heavenly sanctuary, “the true tabernacle which the LORD pitched and not man”.
“If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
For the priesthood being changed,
there is made of necessity
a change also of the law.
For He of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.
For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,
Who is made,
not after the law of a carnal commandment,
but after the power of an endless life.
For HE testifieth,
Thou art a priest for ever
after the order of Melchisedec.
For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.”
The Old Covenant Levitical priests were made priests by the law of God; but Jesus was made a High Priest by an oath; by the promise of the Everlasting Covenant of God the Father. Even so, the New Testament also operates under the laws of God the Father as does the heavenly sanctuary. There are laws that protect us from Satan, he is bound within the restrictions of God’s holy covenant of salvation. We need to know what those laws are and exactly how they work.
According to the covenant Jesus’ blood is called the blood of the Everlasting Covenant (Hebrews 13:20) and Jesus is also called “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” because His blood stretched back that far to cover the first sins of Adam and Eve (Revelation 13:8). The Everlasting Covenant is the gospel of Jesus Christ and is present under both the Old Covenant (animal sacrificial system / earthly sanctuary) and under the New Covenant by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the offering of His blood within the heavenly sanctuary.
The Old Covenant system of operation was permanently eliminated and replaced by “the new and living way”. Anyone who goes backwards to operate under that old system has removed themselves from Jesus and salvation and has “fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4). They also have no right to eat the communion of the Lord’s Supper (symbolic body and blood of Jesus that takes away our sins) because that is the altar that we partake of now under the New Testament.
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; NOT WITH MEATS, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. We have an altar, whereof they have NO RIGHT TO EAT which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.”
Jesus and the Word of God are our daily bread. Without both of them, we are spiritually dead and do not have salvation.
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”
We must believe and obey God’s word:
“And Jesus answered him, saying, IT IS WRITTEN, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”
What is Jesus referring to and where was it written?
“And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no. And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in His ways, and to fear Him.”
“He taught me also, and said unto me,
Let thine heart retain my words:
keep my commandments, and live.”
“Keep my commandments, and live;
and my law as the apple of thine eye.”
“Forsake the foolish, and live;
and go in the way of understanding.”
“The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.”
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey His voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto Him: for He is thy life, and the length of thy days”
Here is the spiritual reflection of the Everlasting Covenant found under the Old Covenant:
“And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”
Obedience and salvation continued:
“But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were OUR EXAMPLES, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them FOR ENSAMPLES: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed LEST HE FALL.”
(Ensamples means examples. We are supposed to learn from their mistakes and the example of God destroying them (the curse of the covenant) because of their unrepentant sinning)
“And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, MAKING THEM AN ENSAMPLE unto those that AFTER should live ungodly”
We have been given hope through God’s covenant on how to daily overcome sin in our lives by cooperating with the power of His Holy Spirit. We can’t do it without Him. We must continue in repentance by putting sin away continually.
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.”
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are IN Him. He that saith he abideth IN Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.”
“This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in HIM is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with HIM, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, AS HE is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ HIS Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make HIM a liar, and HIS word is not in us.”
When we actively and daily keep God’s covenant, we are keeping His commandments even though we may commit sins daily. This is because we are doing what He told us to do if and when we sin. We are commanded not to sin, so God’s expectation for us and our daily goal is to NOT SIN, but the LORD also knows that because of our flesh we have strong carnal desires and we may slip and sin even though in our spirit we don’t want to and even though He has made it possible for us to keep His laws.
This is the same conflict and battle that the apostle Paul talks about and he said that he had to die daily to his sinful desires so that he wouldn’t lose his salvation.
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?
So run, that ye may obtain.
And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.
Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown;
but we an incorruptible.
I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
But I keep under my body,
and bring it into subjection:
lest that by any means,
when I have preached to others,
I myself should be a castaway.”
This is a constant battle where we must not say that “we can’t keep God’s laws” because that would be calling God a liar and unfair. God has called us to obey His laws, please don’t let man-made doctrines fool you into believing Satan’s lies instead of GOD’S TRUTH. Amen.