III. A CONSCIENCE VOID OF OFFENSE—A GUILTLESS CONSCIENCE
A conscience void of offense is a guiltless conscience. To be guiltless means that all wrongdoings which were condemned by the conscience have been dealt with before God and have been forgiven by Him. Hence, there is no more feeling of guilt and condemnation in the conscience. This is expressed in Acts 24:16 in these words: “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men.” Once you make an error, you should always deal with it immediately so that there will be no offense, guilt, or blemish on your conscience. Your conscience should be free from condemnation before God as well as free from accusation before men. Your conscience should respond clearly when it is touched.
Brothers, this is a very serious matter. You may be able to fool everyone else, but please remember, you can never fool your conscience. Especially in times of the church’s degradation and confusion, many people like to debate about doctrines and dispute over matters of service to God. If you have a conscience void of offense and have thoroughly dealt with everything before God, then when you argue with others there will be a clear, confirming response within you. But suppose you did not obey the light you saw, or you did not answer a certain demand of God, or you were unwilling to forsake something as God required. Then there would be an offense in your conscience, and you would not be able to speak words that carry weight and which evoke a clear, confirming response within.
In the past years we have met many people who were like this. Sometimes we ourselves are the same because our unwillingness to answer a certain demand of God causes an offense in our conscience. This offense becomes a leak within us. And even though we sing and minister, our spirit is not strong, neither do our prayers and words have a clear sound. Then one day, by the grace of God, we deal with the particular offense and answer God’s demand. Immediately the offense in our conscience is gone, the sound of our prayer is changed, and when we stand up again to give a testimony, there is an inner confirmation which is a conscience void of offense.
Today, during the church’s degradation, it is not easy for one who serves God to keep his conscience free from offense. Paul spoke such a word while he was being judged. At that time not only the worldly power was resisting him, but the authorities of Judaism were continuously condemning him with the Word of God and the laws of the Old Testament. It was not an easy thing for Paul to keep a conscience void of offense before God. He was able to stand before the Gentile officials and the Jewish rulers, that is, both the political and religious groups, and say with a loud voice, “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men.” As far as politics are concerned, he was innocent; and as far as religion, that is, the laws of Judaism, is concerned, he was faultless. His conscience before God was solid, not hollow. There was no leak, hole, offense, guilt, sin, or accusation in his conscience. He was able to stand before both groups and speak clearly and with weight.
The leaders of the Jewish religion had a guilty conscience before God. If Paul had questioned them, just a light, little prick would have proven that they had a bad conscience. Since Paul’s conscience had been dealt with before God, he could say that his conscience was without offense; therefore, he was a man who served God and was also a man of prayer. His conscience was supporting him because there was no flaw in it. By the cleansing of the precious blood, we must keep our conscience free from any offense so that we may be men of prayer.
(Lessons on Prayer, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)