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Troubled Conscience - God's Gift

Mark 6:14-16
King Herod heard about this, for Jesus' name had become well known. Some were saying, 'John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.' Others said, 'He is Elijah.' And still others claimed, 'He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.' But when Herod heard this, he said, 'John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!' (NIVUK)

Jesus was getting well known, liked, respected and feared.  But who was He?  The opinions were a 'prophet', Elijah or John the Baptist.  King Herod (the son of Herod the Great, who killed all the baby boys in Bethlehem, and ruler over Galilee), had recently killed John the Baptist so his guilty conscience opted for John.  Mark seems to make a special connection with Jesus' command to the disciples to preach repentance with what Herod had heard about Him (Mark 6:12).  

If so, it is unsurprising that Herod was being plagued by memories of John the Baptist telling him to repent of marrying his brother's wife (Mark 6:17-18).  Refusing John's preaching, putting him in prison and then being trapped into executing him, Herod knew he was in the wrong.  Jesus now came with the same message, so did His disciples, and Herod thought that Jesus was another form of John the Baptist coming to judge him in some supernatural way.  Herod was very frightened.

'Who is Jesus?' This is a different question to, 'Who is Jesus like?'  All God's servants have some of the characteristics of Jesus - they have God's same Holy Spirit in them.   But Jesus had all the fullness of God (Colossians 1:19).  So, He spoke with wisdom like the prophets, He did miracles like Elijah, and He confronted consciences like John the Baptist. But even John the Baptist had his own conscience tested by Jesus (Mark 1:7).  When God is present, He challenges the conscience.  And the same is true when His representatives (like John the Baptist, or you!) stand for what is right.  God's light reveals what is hiding in the darkness.  That can be very disturbing (John 3:19-21) to everybody except those who love Him and want Him to reveal their faults so that they can repent and be restored.

The good news is that a disturbed conscience can be the start of finding a new life in Christ.  That was also open to Herod, but he was too proud to submit to John or Jesus.  Before we are too eager to proudly identify unrepented sin in others, we will do well to follow the example of King David: "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24).  Being aware that hidden folly might lurk in our hearts is a sign of God's Spirit stirring our conscience.  Wanting the Lord to show us so that we can repent is a sign that we are children of God (Romans 8:14).  As we seek God's laser light on our lives, and change to match His design specification on our lives, we will be, "'…children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.' Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life." (Philippians 2:15-16).  The troubled conscience is God's gift to get us back on track.  Pray David's prayer today.

Gracious God. Thank You for knowing me and giving me a conscience. Forgive me for ignoring my conscience and Your Word. Please shine Your light on those areas of my life which offend You so that I might repent. Help me to allow You to work through my life, so that Your light might fall in the dark places around me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams