A Clear Conscience Before God And Man

Daily Scripture readings for July, set #17:

– Leviticus, chapters 5-7
– Psalm 39
– Matthew 17:14-27
– Acts 24

I’m reminded again after today’s Leviticus readings that there are definitely more interesting sections of the Bible than Leviticus. BUT, I made another observation along the theme of repetition. In verses 8-13 in chapter 6 God commands THREE TIMES that the fire on the altar not be permitted to go out. Okay. We get it: don’t let the fire go out. But why?

Psalm 39:11 jumped out at me today, making an interesting connection between discipline and personal loss: “When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him.” Is this verse teaching that discipline is more than just physical suffering or trials, but also the loss of things that one holds dear? What about the loss of a loved one?

The famous “faith like a mustard seed” passage is found in today’s Matthew 17 reading: “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (vs 20-21). What does this verse really mean? Today’s post is all about questions, because all these texts from today’s readings have so many implications. What if I have faith that God wants me to rob a bank? What if I have faith that I can jump off a building and not die? What if I have faith that I can change God’s will? I’m being intentionally ridiculous here, but the reality is that many people use this verse as a proof text for ideas that are just as ridiculous. But what then does this text MEAN? I’d love to open this up to discussion, because I honestly don’t know. (Also, as a sidenote, I found a typo in my small leather-bound ESV! Matthew 17 skips from verse 20 to verse 22, without listing the number for verse 21. Anybody else’s ESV have that typo?)

Acts 24 returns to the movie script theme, with Paul being brought before the governor Felix. Paul gives such a good defense of himself that he is able to continue in house arrest and regularly converse with the governor for two years! Verse 16 is noteworthy: “So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.” Wow. Notice the word “always.” And then notice that it’s toward BOTH God and man. And then notice that Paul takes “pains.” Paul is really setting an example here. Living in such a way as to always have a clear conscience… what a concept. Paul acknowledges that it’s difficult, and yet he still aims for it.

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