Paul was one of the most courageous men ever to live on this earth. His unshakable courage is clearly in view in Acts chapter 24. Unjustly charged with serious death-deserving crimes, prosecuted by one of the top attorneys of the Roman world, and being judged by the corrupt Roman governor Felix, he does not flinch. He speaks boldly as he denies the most serious charges against him and then goes on to accuse his accusers of grave injustice in their handling of his case.

Building a bridgehead
But his self-defense has a greater purpose than his own release. He defended and cleared himself of the most serious charges to form a bridgehead, from which he launched an all-out attempt to win Felix’s soul for the Lord. His good conscience gave him the courage to defend himself and to “attack” the conscience of Felix with the Gospel. His clear conscience in the face of multiple false accusations gave him confidence before God and, therefore, also men (Acts 24:16).

Bald Samsons
But guilty consciences turn people into cowards. A guilty conscience silences the Christian at home, at work, at college, and in the church. I’ve seen powerful preachers become bald Samsons in the pulpit because they compromised their consciences through the fear of man, majority votes, peer pressure, family considerations, or potential consequences.

Martin Luther King said: “Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”

Before God then men
If we do not have confidence before God, we will not have it before men. The loud protesting inner voice will quieten or silence our public voice. But if we keep a clear conscience before God, we can courageously stand before men, not just to defend ourselves but also to evangelize and witness for Christ.

If you preached faithfully yesterday, let the re-assuring inner voice of conscience encourage you to press on, whatever the discouraging external voices of your critics may be saying. Maybe ask God to turn up the volume of the former in order to drown out the latter.

1. The world-transforming power of a good conscience
2. A good conscience is an educated conscience
3. A good conscience is an exercised conscience