Bible Study 2022
Keeping a Pure Mind
2 Corinthians 1:12-14 studies the word ‘conscience’. Paul writes, “For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. 13 For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand.”
Remember that Paul was being assaulted as to his integrity, as to his righteousness, as to his authority, as to his credibility, and as to his effectiveness. He was being attacked on every front. And in defense of himself, he appeals to the highest court that is on earth apart from God Himself, which is our conscience. His conscience was affirming that he was holy, godly and sincere.
Paul had conducted himself properly in the grace of God, in the world and toward the Corinthians. Conscience, then, is the highest court on earth. Conscience is the soul’s warning system. It is conscience, according to Romans 2:15, which either accuses us or excuses us. It either affirms us as being good and righteous and holy, or it indicts us as being evil and sinful and wicked.
And conscience is the best critic because it knows the innermost secrets of our heart, and nobody else does except for God. If we are going to have a peaceful life, if we are going to have a tranquil life, if we’re going to enjoy happiness and fulfillment, we’re going to have the kind of joy that gives us the freedom to serve God gladly, then we have to have a clear conscience.
Sinfulness is at the very core of the human soul. Jesus said in Matthew 15:19 - 20, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness and slanders. These are the things which defile the person.” And then He said, “The evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth what is evil, for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”
Frankly, it is human nature to love sin and hate God. Yet, though we are born that way, sin is not a weakness or a flaw for which we cannot be held responsible. It is an energetic, purposeful antagonism toward God that rises out of our will. Sinners freely, willfully and gladly choose sin. In other words, the sin that is in us manifests itself in a deliberate, willful rebellion against God.
Sin deposes God, usurp His authority and set self in His place. All sin is therefore, at its heart, an act of pride. Pride says, “Move over, God. I’m in charge; I’ll do what I want.” Therefore, all sin at its core is blasphemy because it attacks God. We were born with a sin nature, and so we love our rebellion, our pride, and we love our blasphemy. We seek every opportunity to manifest it.
But, we have a problem. We have a conscience, and conscience tells us we are guilty. It is like a relentless ringing in our spiritual ears. So what do we do? We try to silence conscience by camouflaging our sin, or redefining our sin, or disavowing our responsibility. So we do this in three ways. First, in order to quiet our conscience typically, we try to cover up sin.
Adam and Eve did this in the garden. It says in Genesis that when they sinned, the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. And then they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord. They tried to cover it up. King David tried to cover his guilt when he sinned against Uriah.
He committed adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. When she became pregnant, David first plotted to make it seem as if Uriah was the father, according to 2 Samuel 11:5 – 13. That didn’t work. So then, he had to scheme to have Uriah killed. That only increased his sin, and he continued to try to cover his sin. Later, when David was confronted with his sin, he repented.
He said in Psalm 32:3 - 4, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long, for night and day Thy hand was heavy upon me, my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.” His conscience just plagued him so that his life juices dried up. What is that? Saliva, blood and nerve fluid. He literally became a very sick man.
Secondly we try to attempt to justify ourselves. Sin is always somebody else’s fault. Again Adam blamed not Eve, but actually God. And he described Eve as the woman whom You gave to me, and therefore was blaming not just his wife but his God as well. Typically, people try to excuse their wrong doing because they think they have some valid compelling reason.
In our day, we even label sin as a sickness, label ourselves as victims, deny that we have ever done anything really wrong. The human mind is endlessly creative in trying to justify itself. Perverted thinking causes us to do that. Some blame their parents for not bringing them up the right way. Some people blame their addictions, like alcohol, like pornography and lust.
Thirdly, we are oblivious to our sin. We attempt to justify ourselves as victims, or we are oblivious to our sin. We’re so ignorant in terms of God’s law that we just sin inadvertently. And that’s what David said in Psalm 19. There are things we know and plan and premeditate; but there are things that just are the inadvertent activities of us having this sin nature.
We naturally tend to be insensitive to our own sin. That’s why Jesus said, before you go look at a speck in somebody else’s eye in Matthew 7, why don’t you take the two-by-four out of your own eye? We can see sin much better in others than in ourselves. And we don’t deal with the attitudes of sin that are in our hearts. We as human beings have a conscience that is triggered when we sin.
So what is sin? Sin, according to Scripture in 1 John 3:4, is the transgression of God’s law. Everyone who practices sin is lawless. Now, the central demand of God’s law is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” And the second is, “love your neighbor as yourself.” So, the epitome of all sin is to violate those two, to fail to love God and your neighbor.
Paul wrote, “The sinful passions are aroused by the law. I would not have known sin except through the law. The more sins I learned about, the more things my heart desired to commit. The law is just going to excite sin. In fact, Romans 1:32 says, even though they know the law of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, but they give approval to those who practice them.
Now, our present culture today reflects this passion for sin. We live in a culture where the passion is now legitimate. Our entire culture reflects this passionate love for sin and nobody wants to hinder it. Nowhere is this more visible than in the social media world. Its programming is purposely designed to appeal to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.
There is nothing that offends God because there really is no God they say. Instead of the language of moderation and self-control, everybody seems to hold up the language of feelings and self-esteem. Pride isn’t a sin; you’re supposed to feel good about yourself. Envy makes you feel bad about yourself. Somebody writes, “There’s a sense that sin, if it exists, is a problem of psychology.”
Sin is not based on absolute moral standards. Instead, it is a question of each person’s own preference. In other words, what is sin to me may not be sin to you. The real danger of sin, is anything that does damage to your ego. And no sin is as evil as the attitude of those who believe sin offends a holy God. If you don’t define the disease properly, you’re never going to find the proper cure.
Churches that once would want to confront sin, now don’t confront it. We have allowed the world to redefine God’s moral law and even to redefine God’s character and make Him more tolerant of sin than He is. Constant exposure then to the Word of God is essential. There is a cultural war going on and churches should not be swayed. We need to keep God’s standard of true holiness and true purity.
What sin is the most serious? Keeping a pure life is very challenging. The answer is, the sins of the mind. Jesus said, it’s what’s in the man’s heart that comes out that is defiling. The real challenge in our lives, is to keep a pure mind. And the only way that’s going to happen is to be continually in the Word of God. No sin is more destructive to the conscience than the sin in your mind.
Sins in the mind assault the conscience like no other sins because, the conscience is the only deterrent. A Christian friend can be a deterrent to sins of action. But the only deterrent that you have in your entire life to sins of the mind is your conscience. And you need to feed the Word of God constantly into your mind so that your conscience really operates with full power.
Only you and God know about them. 1 Corinthians 2:11 says, “Who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?” Many people who won’t do evil deeds are nevertheless evil in their thoughts. A person who abstains from fornication might convince himself that it’s all right to indulge in pornography because no one will ever discover such a private sin.
Scripture says his guilt is the same before God as if he acted it out. That’s why his conscience is so demanding. To indulge in sins of thought is to molest your conscience directly. Those whose thoughts are impure cannot have pure consciences. Titus 1:15 says, “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled nothing is pure; and even their mind and conscience are defiled.”
Unfortunately, once it’s begun the practice becomes all too easy. Sins of the mind can happen anytime, anywhere, and that is why when you begin to cultivate sins of the mind, you are putting yourself in a terrible situation because you can’t escape it. You think that it’s okay because it’s not on the outside. But it is worse on the inside, because it is breeding habitual iniquity.
No one ever falls into adultery. We read about that with leaders. The adulterer’s heart has been shaped by a long process of sinful lustful thoughts. And James 1:14-15 says, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
Christ rebuked the Pharisees because they observed the external ceremonial law and they neglected the moral part inside. He says, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness for even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Not only is murder a sin, but so is anger; not only is adultery a sin, but so is lust. Try to tell that to our culture. Cultivating sins of the mind not only defiles the mind, but it displaces worship for which we were saved. And it can be defined as a form of blasphemy. The sins of our thought life go unconfessed more than any other kind. They are the character-damaging sins.
That’s why the New Testament says in Acts 15:8, “God knows our hearts.” So God knows whether we have a lusting, coveting, angry, selfish and proud heart that is cultivating all of those sins of thought or whether or not our heart is given over to worship to Him. What’s going on in your heart is the test of your character. The thoughts of your heart are only known to God and your conscience.
There are three ways the mind engages in sin. First, the sin of remembering. To bring back a memory of a past sin is to repeat the sin all over again. Sin has a way of impressing itself on our memories with vivid sensations we cannot shake off. Secondly, sins of scheming. The mind begins to lust, and it develops the full fantasy. And it schemes, and plots, and plans, the premeditative sin.
And then the third kind, imaginary sin. Committing adultery in the heart, coveting in the heart, day dreaming about being married to someone else, musing about a luxury that you want in your life. Literally millions of people live in this kind of fantasy sin. Say with Paul, “Our proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity we’ve conducted ourselves in the world.”
What should be going on in the deepest recesses of our minds and hearts? What should be happening there? The thoughts of your heart reveal the truth. Job was very aware of the danger of sinful thoughts. He consciously, deliberately set a guard on his heart to avoid such things. When God saved us, we were saved to be true worshipers. And true worshippers read their bibles and live accordingly. Let us pray.