Paul tells Timothy in his 2nd letter, “I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience” [1 v.3] How necessary to have such a conscience. How shattered his conscience must have been after his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. As soon as he could, after Ananias came to him. he was baptised to wash away his sins and then he was preaching in the synagogue – that Jesus really was the Messiah.
Christ was now “in” Paul – he told the Galatians, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith …” [2 v.20] Then in 4 v.19 he told the Galatians he was “in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.”
He begins his letter to Timothy, as with all his letters, “To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy and peace from God the father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” [v.2] Our minds can ‘slide’ over his familiar way of greeting his readers; but where would we be without this “grace” – linked with the mercy of God – creating a special kind of “peace” in our hearts? We would be nowhere!
Think of the occasion Jesus was in a Pharisee’s house (Luke 7 v.36-49) and “a woman of the city” came “weeping” and washed his feet with her hair. The Pharisee did not at all approve – but Jesus said, “I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much.” He tells her, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Paul, who had been a Pharisee was to fully relate to the state of mind of that woman.
Compare this with yourself – ourselves! The challenge to us in our thought processes when our “conscience” seems reasonably OK, is creating the impetus to make a commitment to Christ, or continue and build on a commitment we have made – when it is not a strong one that makes its presence fully felt to dominate our minds – as happened with Paul. Our chapter indicates that Paul had been involved in Timothy’s conversion. Paul says “I remember your tears” [v.4]. We are told nothing of his father, but he was blessed with a mother and grandmother’s influence and their example of “sincere faith” [v5]
What kind of faith dwells in us? Has it had to faces challenges to overcome that has made it strong? Or, has it so far slid past challenges and has yet to be exercised to create in you “a clear conscience”? Or maybe you are keeping your “conscience” in a side room of your thinking – just for a while? Sadly such side rooms tend to become the permanent abode of a conscience until it is too late! The last 2 chapters of the Old Testament are particularly challenging to those who honestly admit to themselves they have this problem. .