Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Good Conscience...

In studying to teach 1 Peter 3:8-22 this morning, I ran across this quote
from Jon Courson's Application Commentary linking the ideas of verse 18 (Jesus' suffering and death in our behalf) with verse 16 (having a good conscience) which I found somewhat profound...


A good conscience is not dependent upon what we do or don't do,
but upon what Jesus did. I can truly have a good conscience if I understand
that the sins, shortcomings, and failings that are part of my history were
completely paid for by Christ. No one knew this better than Peter.

Cursing vehemently, he swore he didn't know Him, as he
stood in the courtyard of Caiaphas - for just as Jesus said he would, Peter
denied Christ. Aware of his failing, he wept bitterly. (Luke 22:64)

Peter went on from there to become a man who was mighty in
ministry, a man who was totally restored because he understood that Jesus Christ
died for his sins of betrayal, rebellion, and blasphemy.

The same evening Peter openly denied Jesus, another disciple
secretly betrayed Him...

After selling Him out for thirty pieces of silver, Judas'
conscience bothered him greatly. "I have betrayed innocent blood," he
said as he threw the money on the floor of the temple, wanting to reverse the
deal. But realizing that the priests would not allow him a way out,
Judas hung himself (see Matthew 27:5).

Both men failed Jesus in the same evening. One went to
hell, the other went on to great things. What was the difference?
They each chose a tree. Judas chose a tree from which to hang himself.
Peter chose a tree upon which to look. Truly, there is great power in
seeing the Cross.

"I'm too poisoned," you say. So were the Israelites...

By the tens of thousands, they were bitten by snakes that
sent poison coursing through their veins. The cure? God told
Moses to put a brass serpent upon a brass pole in the middle of the camp - and
whoever would look upon it would be healed (Numbers 21:8). Those who
took this to be trivial and simplistic died in the desert. Those who
simply lifted up their eyes and looked upon the serpent were completely
healed. This served as a sneak preview of what would happen when the Son
of God became a serpent, became sin, and hung on the Cross in our place (2
Corinthians 5:21).

So, too, there are people who say, "Guilt will not dissipate
simply by looking to the Cross. What's needed is years of analysis
followed by years of counseling." Peter says otherwise. Because he
looked to the One hanging on the tree - even though he had been bitten by his
own sin - Peter was forgiven immediately and went on to great ministry.

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