And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” (Acts 23:1, ESV)
As ambassadors of Christ, we have the power and liberty to be bold in our witness, courageous in our love, and fearless in our conscience.
What a powerful setting! The chief priests summoned the Apostle Paul before the entire Sanhedrin. This austere and intimidating audience would strike fear in most anyone. But Paul didn’t even flinch! We can almost imagine him standing ramrod straight, squaring his shoulders, and calmly looking each man in the eye. Gathering his thoughts, he stated boldly, “Brothers, I’ve lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” What a brave confession!
No Spirit of Fear
Remember, Paul was well acquainted with this group. Prior to his conversion, he was a staunch Pharisee who was probably fast-tracking a position on the Sanhedrin. He knew the Mosaic Law thoroughly. He learned it from the esteemed Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) – undoubtedly one of the members of the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:34). As a devoted Pharisee, Paul viciously attacked and murdered all who abandoned Judaism to follow the “new Christian religion.” He knew the Sanhedrin’s strict process of law. All too well he knew its method of intimidating interrogation. If anything, it wouldn’t surprise us if Paul would have been scared to death. Knowing their ferocity, we could understand if he stared at the floor and mumbled incoherently about why he “changed religions” and was stirring up so much trouble.
But this was the man who wrote, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 / NASB). He also wrote, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). When Paul told Timothy, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him” (2 Timothy 1:12), he confirmed his source of courage. It rested firmly on his personal relationship and fellowship with Jesus Christ.
We have that same source of strength! No need to hide our faith or wilt in the face of worldly pressure. Remember: He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37)!
- What would be your response if you were called to testify before the Supreme Court?
- How would you classify your Christian witness – as timid or courageous?
- What steps will you take to develop and maintain a clear conscience before God?