Paul’s example of living in good conscience is a worthy example for us to follow. May we be able to say the same before any of our accusers.
Living in Good Conscience
And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.
God has gifted us with a valuable inward sensibility that warns, and when properly adhered to, restrains us from doing wrong. That inward sensibility or emotion is our conscience.
A Strong Inward Guide
Our conscience is a strong inward guide when we are young and sensitive. Yet, as we grow older, our tendency is to grieve or smother our conscience by avoiding its warning to restrain from doing wrong. As Scripture says, we can vex our righteous souls by listening to and adhering to the evil ways of society.
Consequences of Ignoring
In the Old Testament we learn about a man named Lot. He vexed his soul and eventually lost his entire family with the exception of two daughters. Yet, those two daughters were heavily influenced by their father’s decision to expose them to the evils of Sodom and Gomorrah. That exposure led to serious consequences.
Sodom and Gomorrah were wicked cities. The
citizens ignored their consciences and gave themselves “over to fornication,
and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the
vengeance of eternal fire.” (See Jude
Due to their rejection of God and their gross immorality
these cities were judged and completely destroyed. At some point, the citizens obviously chose
to ignore their consciences and follow their fleshly desires.
The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and their citizens gives a strong warning of what can happen if we choose to ignore our consciences and live ungodly. As we continue to smother that inward perception of what is right and what is wrong, our lives begin a downward path toward destruction.
Our Conscience Is a Gift
Our consciences are a gift from God that will help to steer us in a right path until we find salvation in Jesus Christ. Then the Holy Spirit will guide us in truth and wisdom.
Paul was able to say that he had lived “in all good conscience” as he stood before the chief priests and their council members. The Roman centurion commented that he found nothing “worthy of death or of bonds” for which to hold Paul. Even the chief priests were not able to prove any offense that Paul may have committed.
When standing before the governor Paul remarked:
And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men.
Paul’s example of living in good conscience is a worthy example for us to follow. May we be able to say the same before any of our accusers.
Lord, make my conscience sensitive toward You this day. May I listen and take heed to your small nudges.
Forgive me when I neglect Your guidance and fail to respond properly. Your path is always the right path that leads me to the proper outcome.
Keep me tender hearted and make me more like Christ each day.
Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Colossians 4:12
In The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians we read of a man named Epaphras. This man had traveled by unknown means to the city of Rome from the city of Colosse.
By stating unknown we realize that people in those days either walked or traveled long distances by caravan. However, we do not specifically know why Epaphras came to Rome. He could have come on business, been brought by Roman request, or have come particularly to seek out the apostle Paul for wisdom and direction.
Whatever his reason for coming to the capital of the Roman empire, he did wind up face to face with the apostle during the time of Paul’s confinement.
We learn several things about Epaphras during this particular period as stated in the epistle.
As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ. Colossians 1:7
A Saved Man
In Colossians 1:7 and 4:12-13 we learn that Epaphras was a saved man who served Christ.
His position in Colosse and the surrounding cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis was as a minister. Whether that was as the pastor of a church body or as a traveling evangelist or circuit preacher is of little consequence. He was definitely ministering and evangelizing the area.
A Faithful Man
The above verses also tell us that Epaphras was faithful.
Not only was he faithful to Christ, but he was faithful to those to whom he ministered. He spoke highly of the positive traits of the church.
By reading the account in Colossians we can also infer that he spoke of conditions concerning the church. Those were spoken of only because of Epaphras’ desire for help in his ministering to and the establishing of the saints in their personal walk with the Lord.
A Positive Man
Epaphras’s conversation was as any minister’s should be.
He spoke of the love shown by the Colossians toward each other, their faithfulness to Jesus Christ, their reception of the gospel, and the fruit that was being displayed by the church. He also spoke highly of their love of spiritual things (See Col. 1:4-8; 2:5). In no way was he negative of the members of the body of Christ where he served.
A Praying Man
We also see that Epaphras was a prayer warrior (Col. 4:12-13).
Scripture tells us that he was “always labouring fervently” in prayers. His prayers were not general; they were specific requests to God. Those requests manifest to us his desire to see the church “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”
His burden is further shown by his great zeal.
It is refreshing to hear a minister speak excitedly about his congregants and the growth that is being experienced by the individual members of the body of Christ where he serves.
Epaphras’s focus was on what was right about the church.
His concerns focused on what would help the church go further in their walk with Christ. He wasted no time in gleaning instruction from Paul that would help him further his ministry to these people.
There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus. Philemon 23
A Standing Man
Epaphras is also mentioned in Philemon 23. Here he is described as being a “fellowprisoner.”
Was he arrested while visiting the city, arrested while ministering in Colosse and then brought forcefully to Rome, or arrested later and brought back to Rome, we do not know. We only know his stand for Christ led to his imprisonment of some sort.
The mention of his name in Paul’s letter to Philemon lets us know that Epaphras remained faithful in spite of difficult circumstances.
Faithfulness is a characteristic that each of us should covet especially in these times of uncertainty. Faithfulness, service, zeal, and prayerfulness should be the description of every saint’s character.
What characteristics show Epaphras to be a man of God? What other characteristics should men of God display? Are you faithfully serving the body of Christ? In what way? How can others serve faithfully?
Grandfather lay in his hospital bed thinking of family and friends. He knew they would miss him if he left for Heaven; but, oh, how he wanted to go.
Grandfather missed his dear wife of sixty years. Every time he caught the scent of vanilla he thought of her placing it behind her ears. He wondered why she always smelled so when she passed through a room until he caught her doing it one morning. Heaven must smell like vanilla, he thought.
“Grandpa, are you awake?” It was one of his grandchildren come to visit.
“Yes, Jeremy. I’m awake. Just lying here thinking about your grandmother. I sure do miss her.”
“I know, Grandpa. It must be hard without her around after so many years. But you’ve got us to keep you busy. Your breakfast is cold. Did you not know it was here? Let me get you something hot from the cafeteria.”
“No, Jeremy. I knew it was here. I just didn’t feel like eating.”
“But you’ve got to eat so you can keep up your energy. Please, Grandpa. You’ve got to eat.”
“I know, Son. But I’ve got other things on my mind.”
“Grandpa, we love you. Please get better. We need you. Dad is going crazy trying to keep up the business. Sarah and Joe need you to help with their first garden. And I, well, I need you too.”
“I know, Jeremy. I know.”
“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.
During a time of imprisonment in Rome, the apostle Paul revealed his desire to depart this earth and be with Jesus in Heaven. His longing is often interpreted as his desire to no longer endure the sufferings that he bore.
However, I believe Paul had a deeper longing than merely escape. His personal relationship with the Lord was only made stronger by the sufferings which he endured.
The Christ that Paul met on the road to Damascus had become his sole purpose for living. Every breathing moment was lived intently to bring honor to Christ’s name.
For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21
Knowing that others needed the same grace, mercy, and forgiveness that he had received kept Paul busily sharing the gospel. The thought that anyone would die without the knowledge of Christ was unacceptable. The world must know Jesus Christ and His resurrection power.
Just like Grandfather in our story, Apostle Paul lay in his cell desiring to go to Heaven. He knew his family and friends would miss him. But, more importantly, there were many whom he had never met who needed to hear of Christ.
Paul thought of the Philippians who had ministered to him in his time of need although they were experiencing poverty. Suddenly he realized that his bondage in Rome might be a discouragement to them.
Epaphroditus was in Rome. Whether he was in the same cell with Paul or just visiting, I do not know. But I do know Paul dictated an important letter for Epaphroditus to pen down.
That letter sent to the Philippians expressed that Paul’s current imprisonment was only a display of Paul’s bond to Christ. His bondage served as an encouragement to the brethren to speak boldly of Christ.
But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.
So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;
And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Was it Paul’s time to leave for Heaven? Not yet.
Paul realized his purpose on this earth was not yet met. Heaven would come, but now was not the time. Souls needed to hear the gospel.
Cell doors were not a deterrent to the gospel message. Being behind cell doors gave Paul time to pen letters which we can read today. These letters are now part of the New Testament that you and I can read for ourselves.
Grandfather knew that his family needed him. It gave him comfort to know that one day he would be in Heaven and see his lovely wife again.
But today, well, today was not his day to go. Today was his day to get better.
I love to see horses galloping across a mountain ridge, muscles bulging, nostrils exhaling steam in the crisp air. What a picture of strength and power to anyone who views such a sight.
The Strengths We Lean Upon
Mankind has depended upon the strength of the horse to defeat his enemy in battle, but it is a strength upon which we are commanded not to depend.
The strength that we must depend upon can only come from the Source of All Strength who desires to bestow us with power that confounds the unbelieving onlooker and draws their attention to Almighty God.
We each have leaned upon our horses of money, family, friends, and societal status. Our experiences have taught us, however, that these horses will not sustain us.
The Horse of Religious Pride
The Bible tells us about a man named Paul who leaned upon his horse of religious pride. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and considered himself blameless concerning the law. Some might say he was a bully who used the law to hide his own weaknesses.
Paul’s intention was to destroy the followers of Jesus. Yet he was brought to his face in the dirt on a road to Damascus. The brilliance of God’s presence stripped him to the foundation of his religious beliefs. The walls of his resistance were broken down by a voice from heaven, “[I]t is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (Acts 9:5). Left blinded, Paul’s companions led him by the hand into Damascus where he was left on Straight Street. When the dust settled, three days had passed before he finally regained any sight.
“[I]t is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Acts 9:5
The Horse of Self-Sufficiency
It was there on Straight Street where the Master Architect in Heaven began to reveal His plans for Paul’s life. Through the disciple, Ananias, God began laying a new foundation that would enable Paul to truly know Christ and the power of His resurrection.
Following God’s instructions, Ananias lay his hands upon Paul speaking words that opened the windows of Paul’s understanding. His life’s calling was revealed to him. He would be God’s witness to all men, experiencing great things “for Christ’s sake” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Paul’s experiences “for Christ’s sake” soon revealed a path that would take him through mental, physical, and emotional suffering. Having a weak body and contemptible speech, his horse of self-sufficiency toppled.
Seeking deliverance from his weaknesses, God’s words of wisdom came to him, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The True Source of Strength Revealed
Humbled to submission, Paul realized that he could do nothing without the indwelling power of Christ. He became thankful for his weaknesses because those weaknesses revealed Christ’s strength at work through him. In fact, his weaknesses became the tools that God used to make his ministry powerful.
“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
The Transformation That Must Take Place
What transformation must take place before we can truly become strong? With Paul, this transformation began with prayer, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).
God gave Paul a simple instruction, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” Paul obeyed and was led to the city of Damascus, and there the cracks in his foundation were replaced with the solid foundation that enabled him to truly stand for Christ.
As Paul yielded to God’s plan, his life was transformed. He found that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him. The horses that he had previously depended upon were laid aside.
“And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:3–5).
The Weakness That Drives Us to the True Source
Many are the stories that one could tell of those who “out of weakness were made strong” (Hebrews 11:34). Weakness is the catapult that drives us to God’s presence. It is the horse that bucks us into the arms of God’s abounding grace that is given to us as we submit to its transforming power to conform us to the image of Christ. We learn to embrace this misunderstood friend as we lay ourselves prostrate before a holy God and wait for His enduement of power from on high.
Circumstances of life may have left us in difficult places. Yet as we yield to God’s transforming power, we will discover that He can make our lives fruitful regardless of any handicaps or weaknesses that hinder us.
Emptied of our own strength, we must acknowledge that the horses of this world cannot empower us. We must then choose to embrace the Source of All Strength, our Almighty God, who enables us to do all things through Christ.
My prayer for you today is that you will focus not upon your weaknesses but upon the One who can accomplish great feats through you that will confound unbelievers and draw them into the arms of the true Source of All Strength.
When you feel weak and defeated may the following verse be an encouragement to you. It has helped me tremendously when my weaknesses have tried to overwhelm me.
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward [me]; that [I], always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
Dear Father in Heaven, I realize I have no strength of my own. I confess that I have depended upon the horses of this world and they have failed me.
I now lay them aside and embrace You as the Source of All Strength. I yield to Your transforming power. Enable me to fulfill Your purpose and follow Your plan for my life.
Thank you for Your indwelling presence that will make my life fruitful and will empower me to do Your will through Christ my Saviour. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
My father taught me about faithfulness. It wasn’t just the words he spoke or the result of any forceful action on his part. It was, however, a daily lesson.
My father taught me faithfulness by simply being faithful.
Faithful to Family
My father was faithful to my mother. No other woman entered his thoughts or entertained his attention.
The word divorce was never mentioned in our home. In fact, I probably didn’t even know the word until my later years in school. My mother never had to worry about where my father was. He always told her where he was going and usually how long he expected to be away.
Faithful to Employer
My father was faithful to his employer. He never laid out of work no matter how he felt. Unless he was in the hospital or deathly sick at home, he always rose early in the morning, did his chores, gave Mom a special kiss and told us goodbye. He gave his employer ‘an honest day’s work’ whether he received an honest day’s pay or not.
Faithful to Parents
My father was faithful to his parents. He always checked in on them, prepared and shared garden produce, and raised a beef for them each year.
Faithful to Children
My father was faithful to his children. We were secure in his love for us. He did without to provide our needs. There was always food on the table and clothes on our backs.
Money was hard to come by, but if he could afford it, he would do his best to provide what we needed.
As a child, I never had to go to bed hungry or worried that my father would never return home.
Faithfulness Brings Joy
Faithfulness is a Bible word. Paul speaks of faithfulness in Colossians 2:
“For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”
Displayed by the Colossian Brethren
Paul spoke highly of the faithfulness that was displayed by the Colossian brethren. They exhibited a steadfast walk of faith that brought joy to Paul’s heart.
The Colossians’ walk of faith was due to the faithfulness of the One they put their trust in, Jesus Christ.
Following Jesus’ example of living, a fruitful life laid the foundation for a solid walk that led to an abundance of thanksgiving.
“Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9
“But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3
Faithfulness Gives Joy to Relationships
The Colossians enjoyed the blessings of a true relationship with their Savior.
It brings joy to my heart to look back and remember my father’s steadfast faithfulness to his family.
His walk of life was a path that I could tread upon with thankfulness, but Christ’s faithfulness to me is the most important example of faithfulness I could ever discover.
To further your studies in Colossians, check out Ms. Clark's Bible study, So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome available from WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan.
My father-in-law was a pastor until his recent death. As such his family name is well-known and respected even though he has left this present world.
An Exhortation to the Family
Speaking to the family during the funeral, my brother-in-law exhorted family members to live in such a manner that the family’s name and his father’s legacy not be spoiled.
It was an important exhortation that challenged children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews alike to live circumspectly because their actions could damage a man’s memory and his lasting spiritual influence to his church and community.
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.
Colossians 1:10 tells us that Paul’s desire for the Colossian brethren was for them to walk worthy of the Lord’s name.
Walking worthy means living appropriately.
My brother-in-law’s desire was that every family member walk worthy of the family name. In other words, they were to live and conduct their affairs in the way that would be appropriate of the teaching and training that they received of this man of God.
An Exhortation to the Colossian Brethren
The apostle Paul desired the same from the Colossian brethren.
He desired that they behave in a manner appropriate for those who are part of the family of God. Their lives were to reflect the gospel teaching and training that they received from the Lord and of which they were to preach and teach to others. Their actions would then bring glory to God instead of disgrace to His name.
An Exhortation to Walk Worthy of Christ
In like manner, our exhortation is to walk worthy of our Lord. Our behavior should portray the teaching and training that our Heavenly Father has given us.
If we are a child of God, then we are a member of God’s family and, as such, can do great harm to our Heavenly Father’s name if we do not behave appropriately.
We have a great responsibility to preserve our Heavenly Father’s reputation to this world which desperately needs to hear the gospel. Let us, therefore, decide that we will not do any damage to His precious name.
As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,
That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
Over 2000 years ago Christ was crucified on a cross in Jerusalem, Israel.
The land of Israel at that time was under the jurisdiction of the Roman Empire.
Although declared innocent, Christ died as the condemned on a Roman cross.
What significance did Christ’s death have?
Why does all of humanity look back to that moment on Golgotha?
And having made peace… Colossians 1:20
God is the great peacemaker
When man ponders peace, his mind is invaded with thoughts of war, rumors of war, the loss of countless lives taken in war, and his own inner war.
When mankind speak peace
Mankind usually speaks of peace only in terms that concern relations between neighbors or that concern relations between various nations of the world.
The need for a greater peace
However, the need for a greater peace emerges. That need is for peace between mankind and his Creator.
Mankind has broken God the Creator’s established law thus bringing the separation of mankind from his Creator. That separation could not be removed until the penalty the law demanded was paid.
The law required the death of a perfect sinless sacrifice (without spot or blemish). Mankind is not perfect or sinless; therefore, mankind could not and cannot pay this debt.
God is holy and just
Because God is holy and just, His demands for justice must be met.
What is justice?
Justice means that sin or the breaking of the law must be judged and condemned.
The law sets the standard. We cannot meet that standard because we are lawbreakers. We have broken the law. Therefore, the law condemns us.
Sin separated man from God
The condemnation of our sins separated us from God. To be reconciled back to God, the penalty for breaking God’s law had to be paid. That debt could not be paid by mankind.
God desired reconciliation
But God, in His wisdom and love for mankind, knew the one and only way that reconciliation could be accomplished. However, that pathway was costly. Costly not for mankind, but for God Himself.
That reconciliation was made (Col. 1:22) in the body of Christ’s flesh through His death, His sacrifice on the cross, so that it would be possible for us to be presented as holy, unblameable, and unreproveable in His sight:
As a reconciled people
In a reconciled state
The pathway to reconciliation came at a great cost.
→ redemption → forgiveness → reconciliation
By him to reconcile all things unto himself… (Col. 1:20)
Man cannot solve the peace problem
Man could not and never would be able to solve the peace problem between himself and God.
However, God initiated the peace process by sending Christ to die for you and me.
The shedding of Christ’s blood at Calvary was for the reconciliation of all things unto Himself.
The reconciliation of all things (Col. 1:16, 20)
That are created
That are in heaven
That are in earth
God Himself paid the price for redemption
Christ’s sacrifice satisfied the demands of the law. His death paid the redemption fee. His substitutionary death on the cross satisfied the Law’s demand for justice.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:14).
Because Christ paid the debt for the guilty and because justice was met, mercy can be bestowed.
Therefore, God has chosen to show mercy to those who will accept His sacrifice, believe on His Son, and ask for forgiveness of sin.
God Himself made a way for man to be reconciled to Him
The message of the cross is that God loves mankind. He so loved mankind that He was willing to step out of heaven, be manifested in the flesh, and place Himself on a cross to pay our sin debt.
His death and subsequent resurrection back to heaven show that He is Almighty God. Now that the price of redemption has been paid, He, as Almighty God, can show mercy and grace to His creation.
Those who reject His sacrifice, however, refuse to accept His substitutionary death for their sin. Therefore, they refuse reconciliation, peace with God, and a future home in heaven.
Those who reject Jesus Christ, reject the peace that mankind can experience between man and his Creator.
If you have not received Christ and His substitutionary death for you, please accept Him today.
You can know the peace that only comes by allowing Him to be your Saviour.
Paul exhorts those who have received Christ to walk in Him (Christ Jesus).
This exhortation by Paul presents several ways that walking in Christ is displayed. See if you can find them in the following verses:
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:6-8
As we are taught
When children are very young, they must learn to walk. That skill is taught and encouraged by the parents and/or other caregivers.
As newborn babes in Christ, we also are taught and encouraged by those in spiritual authority over us.
We first must be rooted.
Having our salvation planted firmly in Christ, our doctrines taken directly from the Word of God, and maintaining an ongoing personal relationship with Christ as Lord, we will be built upon a firm foundation.
Then we must be built up.
As a tree begins to grow, it must have nutrients, water, and sunlight to continue the process or it will soon wither and die.
The Word of God will strengthen us. It is the water of life that sustains our spiritual growth. Jesus Christ will guide us as we seek His guidance. His Holy Spirit will teach us all things that we need to know in order to walk in a pleasing manner.
This process will establish us in the faith.
However, added to that process will be life’s experiences. The situations and trials of life will teach us to lean on Christ and reveal to us that we can trust Christ to be all He has promised.
As we abound in thanksgiving
We can then abound in thanksgiving, knowing that Christ has and always will meet our needs. He is our loving Creator who has prepared the way for us to receive salvation by giving His own life as a sacrifice. His sacrifice paid the debt for our sin. That debt is a debt no mortal man can pay.
We must be teachable
A man or woman who is walking in Christ is also teachable.
The more we study God’s Word the more we find ourselves desiring to know more about our Lord. We also find ourselves desiring to please Him in every area of our lives.
The more we study God’s Word and confirm to the image of Christ, the more we recognize the depths of deception and are able to prevent its attack from deceiving us.
We must learn to detect deception in all its forms
We must learn to sift philosophies and opinions through the filter of God’s Word. The more of God’s Word that we know, the more capable we are to detect the deception of evil when it is presented to us as truth.
God’s Word is truth. A real relationship with Christ is a presentation of truth. A person who walks with Christ is a person who walks in truth.
If you have received Christ as Lord, then I hope you are walking with Him today. May your conversations with Him be enlightening and enjoyable.