Sabbath, August 12, 2006
“In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.” Colossians 2:11.
“These lessons Christ gave in His teaching, showing that the ritual service was passing away, and possessed no virtue… True circumcision is the worship of Christ in spirit and truth, not in forms and ceremonies, with hypocritical pretense.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 399.
OUR CONSCIENCE AT WORK
1. What task is performed by our God-given conscience?
Job 27:6 My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.
John 8:8, 9 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
“God has lent men talents–an intellect to originate, a heart to be the place of His throne, affection to flow out in blessings to others, a conscience to convict of sin.” –Counsels on Stewardship, p. 114.
“It is not enough to be conscientious in your belief and practice: a man may be conscientious in bending his footsteps in a path that does not lead to heaven. That he is sincere does not prove that he is right. The sincere motives of his heart will not serve to change error into truth. Paul was conscientious in his persecution of the early Christians; but his conscientious zeal in a bad cause did not sanctify his actions, and bring him into favor with God. He believed that he was doing God service. But ‘he that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.’ We must test our conscience by the word of God.” –The Review and Herald, February 10, 1891.
2. What happens when our conscience is resisted too long?
1 Timothy 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
“When a person once neglects to heed the invitations, reproofs, and warnings of the Spirit of God, his conscience becomes seared, and the next time he is admonished, it will be more difficult to yield obedience than before. And thus with every repetition. Conscience is the voice of God, heard amid the conflict of human passions; when it is resisted, the Spirit of God is grieved.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 120.
THE STANDARD OF OUR CONSCIENCE
3. When will be revealed whether a person has heeded his conscience or resisted it?
Romans 2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
4. What is the only true standard to which our conscience may be oriented?
Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
“The idea is entertained by many that a man may practice anything that he conscientiously believes to be right. But the question is: Has the man a well-instructed, good conscience, or is it biased and warped by his own preconceived opinions? Conscience is not to take the place of ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ Consciences do not all harmonize and are not all inspired alike. Some consciences are dead, seared as with a hot iron. Men may be conscientiously wrong as well as conscientiously right. Paul did not believe in Jesus of Nazareth, and he hunted the Christians from city to city, verily believing that he was doing service to God. (Letter 4, 1889)” –Mind, Character and Personality, vol. 1, p. 322.
A PRIVILEGE NOT VALUED
5. What advantage did the Jews have over those of other nations?
Romans 3:1, 2 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
“‘There is no respect of persons with God,’ declared Paul. The apostle regarded himself as ‘debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians,’ as well as to the Jews; but he never lost sight of the decided advantages possessed by the Jews over others, ‘chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.’” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 380.
6. Who are the preservers of God’s law today?
Matthew 21:42, 43 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
“That which God purposed to do for the world through Israel, the chosen nation, He will finally accomplish through His church on earth today.
“Those who have been made free in Christ through a knowledge of precious truth, are regarded by the Lord Jesus as His chosen ones, favored above all other people on the face of the earth; and He is counting on them to show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into marvellous light.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 713, 716.
ARROGANCE INSTEAD OF HUMILITY
7. As the custodians of divine revelation, what position did the Jews have in respect to the written word?
Romans 2:17-20 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
8. Did they assume this responsibility with humility?
Matthew 23:5-7 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
• How can I be clean from sin?
• Do I hold a doctrine, attitude or erroneous opinion, similar to that of the Jews who misunderstood circumcision?
• What daily experiences do I make, that enable me to be a new creature?
• What do I constantly learn from Jesus, who transforms my nature to the likeness of His character?