Clear Conscience

1 Peter 3:18-22

18For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.


What experience that makes you smile or even laugh whenever you remember it? Someone was invited to watch a football game live. It was his first time to watch a football game in person. He does not know the rules of football. He was just excited to watch with his friends. During the game, he was enjoying eating his snack when the crowd suddenly stood and shouted; he also stood and shouted without knowing why.

It was fun for him shouting loud. Nobody complained of his loudness. Then at one time he saw a football player running so fast and made a score, a touchdown. He stood and shouted, but others did not shout, did not stand. He asked his friend why audience did not stand when a player made a score, a touchdown. He was told that it was a score of the other team. He was supposed to cheer for their home team not the other team.

Watching your favorite football team is exciting if they win games; you feel bad if your team is not winning.  Our personal reaction to winners and losers of games may expose instinctive desire to be winners. Nobody loves to be losers. We all want to be winners. A sports game has ending. Similarly, our life on earth will eventually end. Our reflection is: Will you be a winner or loser? The Scripture warns us in Hebrews 9:27. 27Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.

At the Judgment Day, God separates believers of Christ from the rest. In this world, believers are expected to suffer for Christ. Such life is not easily appreciated. Suffering is testing of faith in the Lord. If faith in Christ is genuine, we receive our reward if we suffer for Christ. We have to rely upon Christ to sustain us when we suffer for him.

1.  Suffer

18For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

The absolute divine solution to bring the sinful humanity to God is the suffering, torture, crucifixion and the death of Jesus Christ. The Lord has designed that believers can come to God only by faith in the sacrificial death of his own Son Jesus Christ. No other means. No other way. No unholy, no imperfect, no human effort, no sinful human can come near to God. Why? God is holy; God is perfect; God is righteous.

The holiness, perfection and purity of God is mighty powerful; it prevents, wards off, keeps off anything impure and deflects away imperfection from him at all times. Efforts, abilities or powers that are not godly can never come near the glory of God. We can never reach God on our own effort or initiative that originated from sinful nature.

By faith in Christ, we come near to God. Christ is the only way, the gate to God.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ declared in John 10:7-10, 7Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The Lord Jesus compared us to his sheep when we listen to him as our shepherd. Christ our Shepherd opens that gate of eternal life and keeps us safe from danger. Do you trust Christ as shepherd? Do you trust him to bring you to pasture and provide for your needs for contentment? By faith we have satisfaction and safety in Christ. Amen.

In our private life, we face a series of challenges, concerns and practical needs. We have basic physical needs like food, clothing and shelter or safety. We also need belonging to society and fellowship. Do you also need to achieve your potentiality? Can you trust that Christ provides and sustains you to attain your potentiality?

Not his dream

A wealthy man sent his son to study abroad. After his studies, the son returned home. The father expected that when he retires, his son will inherit the company. So, he told his son to work in their business and learn seriously how to manage the business. However, the son did not appreciate that his father dictates everything he does. The son wanted to establish his own legacy on his own way. So, he ignored his father’s instructions. Resisting instruction from parents is natural instinct of human sinfulness.

In comparison, Christ was born and lived as human; he exemplified obedience to his Father even unto his death. When Christ declared that he came for believers to have life in its fullness, only a few have seriously considered and trusted this declaration of Christ. We can reach our potentiality as believers only when we obey our Lord Jesus Christ.

Which is more precious to you: heaven or legacy? If you believe that Christ can bring you to heaven, will he not easily help you reach your potentiality? God can easily provide and sustain need to reach potentiality. How serious do you believe that reality?

Reflect on it: How do you practically interpret what was declared in Isaiah 30:18? 18The Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

Probably, you were praying for something significant or essential to you. Pray also for stronger faith and godly wisdom. You will sense peaceful gladness when the Lord has granted your prayer item. What do you do practically to receive the answer to your prayer? God gives opportunities where faith is tested and challenged. When you sense hesitation, pray that God gives you firm decision and take a necessary move.

Most often, we don’t easily appreciate divine opportunities we cannot recognize.

When God granted our prayers, we fail to notice it. God may have been leading us to his answer, and it takes practice of faith to discern the right step that God wants us to take. If we can genuinely trust that Christ takes us into his heaven when he returns, we should trust that his plan for us is best choice of life experience on earth. Do you agree?

If you have a hint of doubt that you live in heaven eternally, you cannot strongly trust that the plan of God is best for you. So, make sure that you are save deternally.

2.  Save

19After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 

Christ went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—to those who were disobedient long ago; this statement had caused confusion even among scholars. Many theologians suggest that the imprisoned spirits were the spirits of the disobedient in the time of Noah. It has narrated in Genesis 6:4, 4The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

The rebellious angels were thrown out of heaven; they came down to earth and married human women. Their children were called Nephilims. They influenced others to live in wickedness. Because of their extra-ordinary abilities, other people admired them.

Scholars suggest that when Jesus died at the cross, his Spirit was present both in physical and spiritual world. He went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits in the days of Noah. How is that? God is omni-present. He is present anywhere anytime in the past, present and future at the same time. Eternity is always at present time.

Mysterious accounts in the Scripture are best explained in Deuteronomy 29:29 29The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us.

It is possible that the Holy Spirit prevented Apostle Peter from specifying details of what happened at the time after Jesus died and before he resurrected. Nevertheless, the imprisoned spirits of those who were disobedient in the time of Noah should serve as warning for us, and to make sure that we are saved from eternal punishment of sin.

When we repent of our sins, God forgives us. How do we know that we are forgiven by God? The Lord Jesus declared in Matthew 6:14-15, 14For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.15But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

When we repent, does God forgive us instantaneously? God’s forgiveness is conditional. The term “if” signifies condition of God’s forgiveness. He instantaneously forgives us when we repent but his forgiveness takes effect in us after we forgive others.

Forgiving others is godly command; we need inspiration of his Holy Spirit to forgive others. After God forgives us and removes guilt feelings from us, we sense clear conscience, and we hope and expect to resurrect and live with him in heaven eternally.

During water baptism, believers are submerged into the water; immersion into the water symbolizes burial of old self and coming out of the water during water baptism symbolizes birth of new life. By faith we believe that when Christ was buried, our old self was buried with him; at his resurrection, we resurrect to new life in him. Baptism by immersion is godly command that publicly exhibits faith and obedience to Christ Jesus.

In the time of Noah, the great flood washed away all the disobedient. The great flood was practical illustration how God washed away all our sins. Noah and his family believed in the Lord and were saved from the great flood. Similarly, when by faith we believe that the blood of Christ shed on the cross washed away our sins, we are saved from eternal punishment of sins. How do we know that God has cleansed us from the dirt of sin when we placed our faith in Christ as Savior? We choose to repent of our sins.

When we genuinely repent, we sense peaceful gladness and clear conscience toward God. When the Lord forgives us, we don’t feel guilty anymore. If in case, you feel guilty whenever you remember mistakes and failures you repented for, what should you do? Pray like: “God help me take practical steps to experience complete freedom from such guilt feeling.” Remember: God’s forgiveness takes effect in us only when we forgive others. Obedience to godly instruction practically proves that we trust God.

It challenges us in James 2:21-24, 21Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

It teaches more of Abraham in Romans 4:23-25, 23The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness —for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Faith and action worked together. Faith is completed when we obey God. The key to release his blessings is to follow his instruction. Listen carefully to his instructions.

If you sensed resistance, pray continually for stronger faith until you obey him enthusiastically. Pray also for godly wisdom to know which practical step you must take.

Obeying godly instructions from the Lord is practical display of trust. We trust his will as the best life we can ever experience in this world. To obey is to submit to his will.

3.  Submit

22who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Angels, authorities and powers in heaven submit to Christ. Christ is the King of kings. He is the Lord of lords. God has given him all authorities in heaven and on earth. Christ has mighty power and authority over all creations. Believers are called adopted children of God. We are given the right to become brothers and sisters of Christ.

How can you personally conceptualize that? It proclaimed about Jesus Christ in Hebrews 2:9-13, 9Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12He says,“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.” 13And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”

Is it not very glorifying feeling to be assured that we are brothers and sisters of the Lord of lords? It also declares somewhere that we are co-heirs with the King of kings. If we truly believe such eternal status, how should we practice our faith in Christ? What is it that may excite you so that you hope and long for the return of Christ?

During the first advent of Christ, when he was born as human Jesus, angels appeared to shepherds nearby and proclaimed to them about the birth of the Messiah. The shepherds found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was sleeping in the manger. What happened next? It says in Luke 2:17-20, 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Their joyful experience after they saw the baby Jesus prompted the shepherds to spread the good news about the newly born Messiah. And, when we sense the presence of the Holy Spirit of Christ in us, we spontaneously sense gladness, enthusiasm and desire to tell others about what we personally experience with Christ.

Pray for divine opportunity to tell others about your own experience with Christ.

May the Lord bring glad tidings as you celebrate the first advent of Christ!

May you have much enthusiasm as you long for his second advent!

Blessed Merry Christmas to everyone here and abroad!

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