Saturday, 17 May 2014
For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. 1 Corinthians 4:4
The sense of this verse is hard to understand in some translations. However, the NIV does a good job of it –
“My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”
Paul, speaking of his work as an apostle, and in his ministerial duties in handling the mysteries of God (see verse 1 for context), felt convinced that he had done and was doing his best in presenting it properly. However, he acknowledged that just because he “felt” he had a clear conscience in no way implied that he was without guilt in the matter.
This verse is an important one in presenting to us, and the world at large, the fact that guilt has nothing to do with how we perceive our standing before God. We may be (and are because of the fall of man) guilty of an offense against God whether we realize it or not. This is no different than turning onto a road with a 35 mile-per-hour limit and going 45 even though we saw no sign at the point where we turned onto it. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and feelings of innocence are irrelevant.
Paul understood that God is sovereign and that if he had done something wrong in his gospel ministry, even unknowingly, he bore the responsibility for his actions. In the end, he states his affirmation that “He who judges me is the Lord.” We are His subjects and to Him we are accountable. Therefore, doctrine really does matter. People who dismiss this precept and arrogantly state that “doctrine doesn’t matter” will face much loss at the judgment seat of Christ.
The Bible is a book of doctrine and it has been given to us for our learning, guidance, and instruction. When we fail to handle it properly, we are offending God who gave it.
Life application: Better to spend your time with your nose in the Bible in expectation of approval before Christ, than to ignorantly walk through your Christian life, hoping for a light sentence at the judgment of rewards and losses on that great Day.
Lord God, Your word shows me that ignorance of Your law is no excuse. Whether my conscience is clear concerning my doctrine, it doesn’t mean I am innocent in regards to it. You have spoken and it is up to me to properly handle what You have given. And so Lord, open my eyes to the truth of the word; give me a desire to approach it carefully and with respect. And thank You for allowing me to know Your mind through it! Amen.